Walk into any feed store and you may find yourself rather intimidated by all of the different choices that feed manufacturers produce. Do you find yourself looking at the pictures on the front and descriptions/names in order to decide? Do you resort to asking an employee - who more often than not will just go by the pictures and names in order to make their recommendations? Guess what? That's EXACTLY what the big manufacturers want consumers and retailers to do.
Next time, ignore the flashy marketing and pull several of the tags off of those feed bags and just simply compare ingredients. You may be surprised at how identical many of them are. Often, you'll find that a brand like Dumor is identical to the more expensive Purina Omolene - guess what, they are made by the same company and likely bagged at the same mill!
Notice that many of those feeds, even from different brands, contain the same ingredients. The most common are: Sugar Beet pulp, dehydrated alfalfa meal, distiller's grains, soybean meal/hulls, grain byproducts, molasses, various vegetable oils, and vitamins/minerals
Interested in equine nutrition, I decided to earn a minor in Livestock Nutrition while I earned my undergraduate degrees in Biology and Chemistry. It was a fascinating course of study, and I put the knowledge to work immediately at our horse riding in Nashville stable!
To be honest though, it doesn't take a chemistry degree to understand the basics about equine nutrition. Just start researching the common ingredients that you just found on all those labels that you pulled off of your favorite bags!
Next, look at your own horse's needs based on their health/age/work level, and research what the university experts say that YOUR horse needs. Now just start to pair up the best common ingredients to the specifics of your horse's needs.
Ok, so now that you've got all of this research homework to do, we'll give you the list of ingredients that we incorporate in our custom ration. Now, be aware that our feed goals were the following:
1. Maximize nutritional content while minimizing volume fed. (ours is formulated at feed rate of 1.5lbs per 1,000lb horse)
2. Building and maintaining top lines on breeds notoriously more difficult to keep good top lines on (as well as on seniors)
3. Overall cost reduction while providing a super premium, highly digestible feed.
4. Reducing sugar/starch content while keeping fiber/protein/fat at very high levels
5. Feeding it as a wet mash to reduce risk of choke.
6. Incorporating hoof growth, digestive probiotics and mare calm ingredients
7. Depending more on natural sources of minerals and vitamins - than man-made ones.
8. Basically, feeding a super rich ration balancer formulated for a region high in natural levels of Fe and Se - to go with our quality free choice hay/pasture (each horse averages 40 lb per day)
So here is our ingredient list: Sugar beet pulp shreds, distillers grains, freshly ground whole wheat, canola oil, soybean meal, salt, biotin, diatomaceous earth, MgO, Vitamin A palmate, ZnSO4, CuCl