Have you ever wondered what is actually in our horses’s feed? Not just the ingredients, but what is ALLOWED into animal feed?
I’ve always wondered… because of an experience I once had.
I HATE TO COOK BUT I LIKE TO FEED…
As I’ve stated many times, I’m totally not into cooking, but I am into feeding (or maybe ‘nutrition’ is a better term).
Long ago, when I was a young producer, one of our locations was a feed mill. At the time, I didn’t have horses and really wasn’t thinking about anything except getting the job at hand done successfully… but I do remember thinking that “there’s no way they can control what’s happening in the environment here… hmmm… “. It didn’t feel like animal food was quality.
Now, this was probably 35 years ago, and I have no idea what laws have been passed, if any. But at the time, it was clear to me that animal food ingredients and preparation did not have the same kind of protocols as human food. No surprise there.
Because of this, I try not to feed any grains or pellets unless they are created by a smaller/local company where the ingredients lists look like it has fewer or less or cleaner ingredients – that I can actually read and understand.
SO ON MY HUNT FOR CLEAN FEED, I RESEARCHED STABLE FEED (no affiliation)
I liked the idea of Chia for horses. Every time I feed Chia, the topline fills out, they become very regular, their coats become more shiny… I like Chia.
After poring over the website, I decided that for me, I couldn’t afford the large feed bags – although I wanted to buy some because it looked really yummy and healthy – I could afford the supplements.
So, I purchased a few supplements for a few of the horses: Norma, Dalton and Finn.
When the supplements arrives, I was very impressed with the quality! I could easily identify what was in the package and the little treats of dried blueberries. Nice! The horses loved it and I almost immediately saw differences in Norma’s topline and coat.
This made me want to go back and convince myself to purchase the larger bags of clean feed. Part of that process was writing to the company and asking questions. Which I did.
I wrote to Stable Feed and asked them why they use soy.
Their answer was eye opening.
I ASKED THEM WHY THEY USE SOY, AND THE ANSWER WAS EYE-OPENING – BASICALLY CONFIRMING WHAT I SAW WITH MY OWN EYES SO MANY YEARS AGO.
The owner of Stable Feed actually wrote back to me fairly quickly. Here was her response to my question of why they use soy. This is her actual email from start to finish.
Regarding soybean, it’s a bit of a long story.
First, the history of horse feed. I’m sure you’ve heard the slogan, “Science You Can Trust”. It should be posted right next to DuPont’s slogan, “Better Living Through Chemicals”. In 1972 President Richard Nixon signed the EPA into existence to try to stop companies from dumping their toxic waste into rivers and quarries. There would now be designated disposal sites and there would be fees associated with the disposal of hazardous waste. The large feed companies, Cargill and Purina, generate millions of tons of waste that was classified as hazardous waste because it could cause disease. This was going to cost them millions of dollars in disposal fees so they drafted the 1972 Hazardous Waste Recycling and Relabeling Act and put it in front of Congress for promulgation. The Act allows them to recycle and relabel hazardous waste as “by-product” and allows them to put it into food for NON-food animals: horses and dogs. So; horse feed was created to save the manufacturers of cattle, hog and chicken feed money, not to create health in your horse. The question asked was not “Should horses and dogs eat our garbage?” The question was, “CAN they eat our garbage and how much toxicity can they consume before they die?” They are now dying. I’m not okay with that.
To be fair, horses are very good at extracting nutrients from poor quality foods so feeding them the hulls, shells and other scraps from other feed was not horrible, but agricultural chemical use was limited and regulated because of the known hazards to human health. We sprayed very little on crops at that time so the toxicity and residues from the waste did not cause health problems. Today we spray almost 300 million tons of RoundUp on crops and because it no longer works on weeds, it is often used with 2-4-D and Dicamba. The safety levels for those chemicals, set by Monsanto, used to be 50 ppm but regulatory capture has allowed that level to rise over time. It is now at 360 ppm for food and as high as 500 ppm for water. But…..companies do not have to test for the unstable chemical compounds so the levels recently found in foods are as high as 2700 ppm (Cheerios). When rain falls there are measurable amounts of glyphosate and it’s adjuvant chemicals. We pee RoundUp. It is in the breast milk of women. It is, quite literally, everywhere.
A 2019 study done by the University of Minnesota, funded by the Morris Animal Foundation, found a direct causal link between the endocrine disrupting chemicals in equine feed and their environment ,and the dramatic increase in EMS, IBD, neurological disorders that are undiagnosable….. I believe that we are now killing our horses with the feed produced by the companies that promote “Science You Can Trust.” The mapping of many human disorders also shows a causal link between these chemicals and illness like Parkinsons, Alzheimers, Autism (6yrs and younger), IBD, infertility…… Since these chemicals disrupt hormone signaling there are some researchers who are beginning to explore whether or not the spike in gender dysphoria is also connected to the fact that the unborn are particularly susceptible to harm when their mother is exposed to these harmful chemicals. https://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/article/morris-animal-foundation-funded-study-shows-endocrine-disrupting-chemicals-linked-equine
Instead of looking at things from a cost perspective, I looked from a bioavailability of nutrients and NO CHEMICALS. There are few known nutrition minimums for horses but those we do know were considered and needed to be provided and balanced. The three limiting amino acids, Lysine, Methionine and Threonine are critical for absorption so they were extremely important to me. I could use synthetics, but the bioavailability is low and I wanted to do as much with food as possible. There aren’t a lot of great choices for foods that provide lysine, methionine and threonine to horses. Soybeans are one of the best ways to provide those necessary nutrients to animals. If you heat the beans you destroy the trypsin inhibitors and significant amounts of the phytoestrogens, so that is what we do. We source it from Amish growers who have certified organic land so we don’t introduce the endocrine disrupting chemicals to the horses body. There is a lot of buzz about pea protein but peas are heavily sprayed with RoundUp and are all but impossible to find “clean”. Hemp protein would be my choice because it is on par with soybean meal but is lower in phytoestrogens (most plants have them) but it is cost prohibitive and the USDA will not allow me to use it.
It’s a a difficult task to educate horse owners about the dangers of continuing to feed products manufactured by companies that use waste. It is even more difficult to educate veterinarians and nutritionists because the nutrition classes at Universities are funded and staffed by Purina scientists. The University of Minnesota continues to feed Purina at the hospital and continues to allow them to teach their nutrition courses despite their own research showing that it is destroying these wonderful animals. The research dollars and paying for the expansion of their diagnostic capabilities are the price our horses are paying. People are accustomed to 1) feeding cheap food to their horses 2) believing Science You Can Trust 3) and are unaware that their vet and/or nutritionist are taught by Purina Reps. My margins on the feed are very low because it costs a lot to make when you use quality ingredients. If I try to add in hemp I will need to raise the cost of the feed by almost $9.00 to just recoup the added cost. I think that’s a bridge too far during these hard economic times and without a solid education behind me.
I hope this makes sense. Everything we do is done with respect, reverence and a sense of responsibility toward the horse and their owners. We know it’s imperfect, but it is the best we can do given the restrictions we face: regulatory and economic.
JUST BECAUSE OF THIS ANSWER, I SPLURGED AND NOW HAVE A BAG OF BOTH FEEDS SHIPPING TO ME!
I did it. I pulled the trigger and purchased one bag of each type of feed: the Sainfoin and the Biome Blend. I’m excited! I will let you know how it all turns out.
The reviews are long and very positive… You can read the reviews on the website.