How To Read A Horse Feed Tag

How To Read A Horse Feed Tag

As a horse owner who is involved, there is no doubt that you have spent time carefully selecting a feed which can match your horse’s requirements. We are sure that you have actually read the purpose statement on the feed tag which identifies the grain that will best suit your horse’s stage of life. It is very likely that you have even studied the guaranteed analysis in order to determine the feed’s crude protein, crude fat as well as crude fiber levels. However, while this is a really great beginning, there is a even bigger story to be told from each and every bag’s feed tag; one that is much more interesting than you may ever realize it to be.

Understanding what the guaranteed analysis really tells you

The guaranteed analysis is actually an excellent place to start when reading the feed tag as this table is all about what a feed company can really guarantee is in their horse feed. This is quite significant for maintaining consistency. If you really think about all the different types of ingredients in a bag of horse feed, which include forage and grain products, the primary reason why these guarantees are vital becomes much more obvious. Ingredient prices as well as fluctuations because of the season, the weather and other variables can quite easily change the composition of a bag of feed. Moreover, since rapid diet changes are not perfect for equine gut health, feed companies like Amino Pharma guarantee that certain nutrient levels (generally in a range, with a minimum and a maximum level) will also be included in each bag. Furthermore, the guaranteed analysis also guarantees that the nutrient levels meet the requirements that are established by the National Research Council and the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO). For horses, guaranteed analysis requirements include the following: Crude protein Crude fiber Crude fat Acid detergent fiber Neutral detergent fiber Calcium Phosphorus Copper Zinc Selenium Vitamin A The guaranteed analysis on several horse feeds will also include lysine, which is the no. 1 limiting amino acid for horses. Sugar as well as dietary starch levels are also needed to be guaranteed if a horse feed is marketed with any claims of carbohydrate. While each feed’s guaranteed analysis will differ from the other, several share quite similar ranges of nutrients to meet a horse’s particular stage of life. So, if multiple guaranteed analyses look really similar, how does anyone manage to select the best horse feed? As it turns out, there is quite a bit of information which cannot be found simply on the tag’s guaranteed analysis alone.

Read the entire ingredient list

The 2nd piece to this puzzle involves reading the complete ingredient list on the feed tag. While this actually sounds quite boring and sometimes daunting; it can really be quite eye-opening. Following are a few things to look for: Organic vs. inorganic trace minerals Organic vs. inorganic selenium Any bonus ingredients, like added probiotics for horses Decoding minerals Minerals are quite literally the backbone of the horse’s body, making up each and every organ, tissue and cell. They play quite a important a role in every single body system, from skeletal and muscular development to nervous system function as well as hair and hoof health. While just present in very tiny quantities in a bag of feed, they are very vital for the overall performance of your horse. Trace minerals further make up a very small percentage of a horse’s daily intake, which is why their bioavailability is so crucial. Bioavailability has to do with the rate in which they are actually absorbed and then utilized in the body. Organic trace minerals (like manganese, copper, zinc and cobalt) are absorbed at higher levels and are much more readily utilized by the horse as they are presented in a form that mimics the form in which minerals are actually found in nature. Furthermore, on the feed tag, organic minerals will be listed as the mineral name, followed by the word “proteinate,” “methionine” or “amino acid complex.” You can quite easily spot inorganic minerals because they will be listed as the mineral name followed by the word “oxide” or “sulfate.” For example, the ingredient “zinc oxide” is an inorganic version, which is both cheaper as well as less conducive for optimal horse health and performance. You must read the feed tag to check the feed’s trace mineral status. Ideally, you should choose a feed that contains 100% organic zinc, copper, cobalt as well as manganese.

The selenium connection

Selenium is even considered a trace mineral, and in horses, it is particularly noteworthy because too much or even too little can be detrimental and also really fatal. Selenium is a highly significant mineral in the antioxidant pathway, which is why it is important for recovery, metabolism and endurance. Inorganic selenium is quite easy to spot on feed tags and will be listed as “sodium selenite.” On the other hand organic selenium, will be listed as “selenium yeast.” Be careful: Some feeds use a mixture of both types of selenium. Thus, you should choose feeds that contain only 100% selenium yeast for best possible results.

Ingredients to support gut health for horses

Your last and final task in reading the ingredient list on the horse feed tag is to actually check for any bonuses. Yes, organic minerals should be non-negotiable, however it is possible for your horse to get much more out of its feed! You need to simply think of this like the prize at the bottom of the Cracker Jack box. One such example is added probiotics for horses. However, be careful how you really interpret these, because not all probiotic supplements, or good gut bacteria, are created equal. You can always call us to clarify further how they source and add probiotics into their feeds to make sure their viability and efficacy. Look on the feed tag for ingredients such as “yeast culture,” “hydrolyzed yeast,” “dried brewer’s yeast” or any particular strain of probiotic bacteria. These ingredients can actually increase your horse’s ability to fully digest as well as utilize the feed, thanks to beneficial bacteria while also potentially saving you from having to purchase any sort of additional equine supplements.

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