Understanding your horse’s feed bag

Professor Jo-Anne Murray
PhD, MSc, PgDip, BSc (Hons), BHSII, RNutr, PFHEA University of Glasgow Veterinary School

Understanding what you are feeding your horse is important in ensuring you are providing the best for your horse. Interpreting a feed bag label can be challenging, European law dictates what can and what information must be written on your horse’s feed bag. Therefore, there is certain information that must be provided on the feed bag:

  • The species of animal that the feed is intended for and the directions for its correct use.
  • The batch number and the best before date.
  • The name of the feed.
  • The name and address of the company that are responsible for the accuracy of the information provided on the feed bag.
  • A description of the feed; e.g. is it a complete feed, a complementary feed.
  • Vitamins A, D and E, this includes the active substance level and the date at which the vitamins expire. It must also be stated whether the vitamins are added to the feed or are naturally present in the feed.
  • The total amount of copper and whether it is added or naturally present in the feed.
  • The amount of protein, oil, fibre and ash present in the feed.
  • The amount of calcium (if higher than 5 %) and phosphorus (if higher than 2%) present in the feed.
  • Information on any antioxidants, colouring or preservatives that have been added.
  • Information on any micro-organisms added; e.g. type of micro-organism, strain, number of colony-forming units and the length of time that the micro-organism remains active.
  • List of ingredients in descending order by weight, so the largest amount first and the lowest amount last.
  • Some manufacturers may also provide the following information on the feed bag, although they are not legally obliged to do so:

    • Other micro-minerals (also know known as trace elements) and whether they have been added or are naturally present in the feed.
    • Other vitamins, and whether they are added or naturally present, along with how long they are viable for.
    • The total sugar and starch content.
    • Other information can also be added as long as it relates to factors that can be substantiated in measurable terms.
    • Feed manufacturers are not permitted to claim that a feed can prevent, treat or cure a disease.

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