Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Feed Myths and Truths; What you can't see is just as important as what you CAN !

Myth: I always choose pelleted feed because it doesn't have much or any molasses in it.

Although it makes intuitive sense that sweet feed contains lots of molasses and pelleted feed contains none, often that is not the case even though appearances would certainly suggest it is. In truth, pellets may or may not contain molasses in varying quantities and it would be impossible to tell which did and how much without having the ingredient formulation sheet in front of you. Believe it or not, I have seen dry, well made pellets that contained as much or more molasses than the goopiest sweet feeds on the market.

Myth: Fixed formula feeds are always superior to flexible formula feeds.

The first thing to understand is that the nutrient profile of flex formulas is actually fixed. What changes in a flex formula are the ingredients used to achieve a fixed nutrient profile.

Whether or not flex or fixed formulas are more suitable for your horse depends on a lot of factors, including such things as the price point of ingredients, how "flexible" the ingredient profiles in flex formulas really are (usually not very flexible, believe it or not), which ingredients are being substituted and at what rate, and probably most importantly, how fussy your horse is regarding relatively minor ingredient changes which may have minor influences on feed palatability each time a batch is reformulated. Of course if your horse has known allergies to specific ingredients a fixed formula that doesn't contain any allergenic ingredients may be best. As a very general rule of thumb with lots and lots of exceptions, the cheaper the horse feed in question the more likely it is to be a flex formula rather than a fixed formula feed.

Myth: Quality is the last thing horse feed manufacturers worry about. I listen to media reports abd I feel like I'm playing Russian roulette with my horse's well being every time I buy a bag of feed.

The reason feed manufacturing incidents that harm horses make the media at all is because they are exceedingly rare events. While anything can happen to any of us at any time, and while there are still a (very) few fly by night outfits out there that are peddling who only knows what to whomever will buy it, these sorts of companies and the products they sell are usually pretty easy to identify. Often it's as simple as looking at the length of time they have been in business.

I think you'd be surprised at the rigorous QC measures that reputable equine feed manufacturers have in place. You'll often find the symbols for such certifications as ISO 9001, Fami QS, Six Sigma and many others printed somewhere on each bag of feed. If you are in doubt about quality control, by all means ask someone what measures are in place to assure quality control.

I'm working on another post answering a few more of the questions I have been regularly asked through the years in regards to horse feed. If you have any thoughts or questions you would like discussed please let me know in the comments section.


Harmony, Maisie and Missy napping in the sun


Bear was waiting for someone to drive him around in the Kubota . . .

. . . and Jo the fainting goat was trying to steal the hay out of the back
Chimano taking an afternoon nap
Rocky and RampalFaune had his tail flagged and was on full alert a moment later Winston, Faune and Gus took off for a gallop Clay
Rocky Johnny and Stormy were soaking up the sun


EvenSong said...

I've never heard of "fixed" and "flex" feed! How does one tell? I generally use Purina, because I figure they have a certain consistency. But I had one bag last summer that the herd pretty much turned their noses up at (it was replaced, no questions asked)...I wonder if an ingredient was substituted?

Jason said...

I doubt it, EvenSong. Likely just some variation in the same ingredients they always use. It happens.

cheyenne jones said...

A good and valid point well made!

Nicole said...

I do like this post I think it's important to educate yourself about is in our horse food. I would like to mention that according to the law, the ingredients listed on the bag only have to match what's inside twice a year. So its a god idea that what ever brand you purchase you research the company very thoroughly.