Day in, day out, there are many different processes at work in the body. Red blood cells are being produced, cartilage is being transformed into bone tissue, new skin cells are being made, muscles are becoming stronger. The body therefore needs nutrients to help all these processes run smoothly. These are extracted from food and are circulated around the body via the bloodstream. The key to a healthy body is a balanced intake of nutrients. Just as much as the horse needs, so feed as you need.
Sufficient nutrients in the right proportions support a healthy body
A balanced diet for horses consists of a large amount of roughage, together with free access to fresh drinking water. They must consume at least 1.25 % of their body weight in dry matter from roughage. They need fibre to keep their large intestine and the microflora living there healthy. Many horses are also able to obtain sufficient energy and protein from their roughage. It is only when horses have to do more considerable work that extra concentrates are necessary. This provides them with extra energy, protein, vitamins and minerals.
Concentrates don’t just provide horses with extra energy and protein. They also contain vitamins and minerals that are essential elements of a balanced diet. In fact, these are what determine the ideal dose of concentrates.
We are seeing a trend where people are starting to feed their horses fewer concentrates and more roughage. We are happy with this development. Horses are herbivores and need a lot of roughage. People often feed less than the recommended amount of concentrates to limit the amount of energy. Roughage can contain sufficient energy and protein. The amount of vitamins and minerals is never enough. Consequently, when horses are given only roughage, or less than the recommended amount of concentrates, there is a shortfall in certain vitamins and minerals. It is then necessary to supplement the diet of these horses with a balancer.
What are balancers?
Balancers are highly concentrated supplements that are added to the ration to ensure that horses receive all the nutrients they need in the right quantities and proportions. We can split balancers into two different groups: balancers for daily use and balancers for temporary use.
- FOR DAILY USE
Balancers for daily use primarily balance the daily ration by evening out any shortfalls. Here, we are mainly talking about vitamins and minerals that are not present in sufficient quantities in the daily ration.
- FOR TEMPORARY USE
Balancers can also be used to meet the horse’s temporarily higher needs for specific nutrients. That’s why Cavalor has balancers that can be fed in the short term to support the horse in building muscle
or gaining weight.
Vitamins and minerals as part of the natural diet
The horse is an animal of the steppes, evolved to live in the wild. They lived in herds and were constantly on the move. Did you know that a horse could cover up to 15 km every day in the wild? During the day, they would spend some 16 hours grazing. Scattered over the large distances they covered, they ate what they found: different types of grasses, herbs and also bits of trees and shrubs. These provided them with all they needed.
Since the domestication of horses, they have been kept in ever smaller areas. They often spend the majority of their time in a stable and are ridden several times a week. Modern pastures contain only a few types of grass and are mostly rich in energy and protein. This limited variety of grasses and herbs means that roughage is much less varied than in nature and is thus much less rich in certain vitamins and minerals.
So a lot has changed in the life of horses, but internally their digestive system looks just the same. Horses that are stabled cannot graze and therefore need all-day access to other sources of fibre to nibble on, such as hay or straw.
Most horses are given concentrated feed alongside hay. However, for some horses that is not necessary. Horses that do not have to work hard, for example, can obtain more than enough energy from their roughage and do not need concentrates. What they do need, are vitamins and minerals. This is because the grass in their pasture or the hay they are given in the stable does not contain nearly enough vitamins and minerals to ensure that all the essential processes in the body can run smoothly. The effects of long-term vitamin and mineral deficiencies and their consequences on horse development and health have
already been widely demonstrated in scientific research. You cannot always recognise vitamin and mineral deficiencies immediately. In the longer term, they can be seen in poor hoof quality, a dull coat, colour changes in the coat, poor performance, etc.
Quantity, quality and proportions – all equally important
Avoiding deficiencies is consequently of key importance. Ensure that you provide a balanced diet that contains sufficient vitamins and minerals. Pay close attention to the label when you want to give your horse a vitamin and mineral supplement. The absorption of minerals is highly dependent on the form used. Inorganic forms are generally less easily absorbed than organic forms. Consequently, not everything listed on the label can be absorbed.
In addition to ensuring that horses take in enough minerals, it is also important that they absorb the right balance of the various minerals. The balance between the various minerals in the body is very important to the proper functioning of all the body’s processes. An excess of one specific mineral such as phosphorus can, for example, hinder the absorption of another material, calcium for instance, and consequently lead to deficiencies and problems.
Here at Cavalor, the concept of “feed as you need” is uppermost in our minds. Horses should not be fed unnecessary amounts of concentrates. Too much energy in the diet can result in sore muscles and obese horses. Furthermore, every horse is different and a tailored diet is always better. Activity levels and management also play an important part in determining an appropriate ration.
For horses that do not receive a complete feed (little or no concentrate feed, simple grains, etc.) or with temporary specific needs (muscle building, weight gain), Cavalor has a range of ideal balancers. Which supplement is most appropriate will depend primarily on your horse’s needs.
BALANCERS FOR DAILY USE:
- Cavalor Nutri Plus: Vitamin and mineral balancer for a balanced diet for sport horses.
- Cavalor Nutri Grow: Vitamin and mineral balancer for a balanced diet for breeding mares and growing young horses.
- Cavalor Nutri Fiber: Vitamin and mineral balancer enriched with extra fibre
BALANCERS FOR SHORT-TERM USE IN SPECIFIC SITUATIONS: