Reading a feed bag
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.”