Read­ing a feed bag

Your Horse (UK) - - Contents -

What do all those in­gre­di­ents ac­tu­ally mean? We help you un­der­stand what’s what

The prod­uct name on the bag gives you an idea of which equine types it’s most suit­able for, but this isn’t al­ways the case. “Don’t be too quick to dis­miss a prod­uct based on the name,” says Sarah Nel­son, a nu­tri­tion­ist from Spillers. “A com­pe­ti­tion feed could also be suit­able for a se­nior or laminitic horse, de­pend­ing on its con­tents.” Re­mem­ber it’s a good idea to con­sult a nu­tri­tion­ist be­fore mak­ing any changes to your horse’s feed — es­pe­cially if you’re un­sure about what to give him.

Check the use-by date

Be­fore feed­ing, check the bag is in date. Just like us, horses don’t want food that’s past its best. “Legally, bags need a best be­fore date,” says Sarah Parkin­son, a nu­tri­tion­ist at Allen & Page. “These la­bels are of­ten sewn into the bag. We also in­clude a batch date. If there’s any prob­lems with it, we can trace it back to when it was pro­duced.”

What’s in the in­gre­di­ents?

Sim­i­lar to a ready meal at your lo­cal su­per­mar­ket, your horse’s feed bag lists its in­gre­di­ents. This is a le­gal re­quire­ment and in­gre­di­ents are listed in descend­ing or­der, ac­cord­ing to the amounts in­cluded. Look­ing at the in­gre­di­ents is im­por­tant, es­pe­cially if your horse has an in­tol­er­ance to some­thing. “It also gives you an idea of the con­tent, for ex­am­ple whether it’s high in fi­bre,” says Sarah Parkin­son. “Avoid be­ing guided too heav­ily by whether a feed may con­tain a cer­tain in­gre­di­ent,” adds Sarah Nel­son. “It’s the nu­tri­ents that the feed pro­vides, rather than the in­gre­di­ents, that ex­ert the over­all ef­fect on the horse.”

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