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Providing your horse vitamins and minerals

Quick facts

  • Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that horses need. The National Research Council’s (NRC) “Nutrient Requirement of Horses” lists estimates of daily needs.
  • Ration balancers provide your horse with the vitamins and trace minerals most forages lack.
  • You can choose a ration balancer based on the type of hay you feed your horse.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s feed directions when feeding commercial feeds.




Vitamins are organic compounds that horses need in very small amounts. There are fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and water soluble vitamins (C and B-complex). The National Research Council’s (NRC) “Nutrient Requirement of Horses” lists estimates of daily needs for vitamins A, D, E and the B-vitamins (thiamin and riboflavin). Since vitamins play a large role in normal metabolism, supplementing vitamins over NRC estimates may prove to be advantageous in certain cases.


Feeding a ration balancer

Woman pouring horse ration balancer into pan
Small amounts of a ration balancer can provide the vitamins and minerals a horse needs.

A ration balancer is a commercial horse feed designed to provide the trace minerals and vitamins your horse needs. It’s high mineral and vitamin content allows you to feed it in small amounts. Ration balancers don’t add energy to the diet.


Author: Marcia Hathaway, professor emeritus of Animal Science, College of Food Agriculture and Natural Resource Sciences

Reviewed in 2021

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