Ration Evaluation and Balancing

shutterstock_59912758_350Art and science are combined to determine the best feeding program for your horse. The foundation of the ration should be based on science. The mission of Equi-analytical is to provide you with facts about your feeds to scientifically balance your ration. Once the foundation ration is established, art and experience come into play to provide your horse with a well formulated, practical diet.

For a thorough job of ration balancing, multiple nutrients and their interactions with one another should be considered. Most professionals use computer programs to evaluate all factors. The information contained on this site is for demonstration purposes and to give you a feel for the ration evaluation process. To make the best use of your feed analysis results, consult with your nutrition professional (feed dealer, extension agent, consultant, veterinarian). Their knowledge of daily nutrient requirements and feed composition will help you to develop a fundamentally sound, fact based diet for your horses.

Feed analysis results and rations can be evaluated on either an as sampled or dry matter basis. As sampled results may be used when all feeds offered are of a similar dry matter. For example, hay and grain generally average about 90% dry matter (88 – 92%). If they are the only feeds offered, the ration can be balanced on an as sampled basis.

Pasture, on the other hand, contains a significant amount of water and is much lower in dry matter. It can vary in dry matter (15 – 65%) depending upon the stage of maturity, season and geographic location. As such, rations containing feeds that are low in dry matter (i.e., high in moisture) are typically balanced on a dry matter basis.

Examples of balancing a hay/grain diet on an as sampled basis and a pasture diet on a dry matter basis appear on this site. These rudimentary examples are presented to provide an insight into the mechanisms of evaluating your ration. They are not meant as a course in nutrition, nor as the only approach to ration evaluation. Work with a nutrition professional or veterinarian for a complete evaluation.