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The More You Know About Feed


By Nancy Brannon, Ph.D.

Horse owners have some typical concerns about the feeds they buy for their horses, as well as some common misconceptions. Triple Crown feeds representative Dave Perkins was on hand at Halls Feed and Seed in Collierville, TN on Saturday February 23 to “answer all nutrition questions” that customers may have, Perkins said. Appointments were not necessary and Dave was available all day at Halls to offer feeding advice.

One of the common current concerns that folks have is “concern about the starch and sugar content of feed,” Perkins explained. That concern is warranted by owners whose horses may have Cushings disease or another disease related to high sugar and starch content, but for most horses, it’s not a major problem. “Some folks may see corn as a ‘problem’ in feeds, or oats or other grains. But the majority of horses do fine on moderate amounts of starch in their feed,” Perkins said. “Only a small percentage of horse need super low starch feed.”

Triple Crown has gone a step further in feed analysis by linking with Equi-Analytical Laboratories ( to provide independent analyses of Triple Crown feeds. So Triple Crown makes the data analysis, e.g., the sugar and starch values of their feeds, in addition to a complete analysis of all the other ingredients, publicly available. “Moderate starch means about 20.5% on the total sugar/starch index,” Perkins explained as he produced an analysis chart listing the Triple Crown feeds and several categories of analysis.  He also warned that “some feeds may be low starch, but have lots of sugars, so you have to consider both. Triple Crown is one of the few feed companies to be totally transparent about all the ingredients in feeds.” An in-depth article about the role of fibers, starch and sugars in rations and their effect on horse health is on the Triple Crown website:
Perkins finds that “A lot of folks have older horses and developing senior feeds is an important focus for us. Our Senior Feed has no grain, but has lots of fat. Alfalfa meal is the main ingredient, then beet pulp and soybean hulls – a super source of fiber. The Senior Feed is 10% fat and 14% protein content, along with numerous chelated minerals , probiotics, and many other ingredients necessary for the health of older horses. It’s the small things, like trace minerals and probiotics, that are so important but difficult to get at the right levels.

“Another major focus is feeds for performance horses. Performance horses need a higher level of starch and sugars – the energy producers.

“The amount of fat in feeds is important to horse owners, too. People are learning to evaluate feeds on more criteria than just protein level,” he said. “Any oil equals fat. But not all oils are equally good for a horse’s health. There was a time when adding corn oil to a horse’s diet was considered a good source of fat. But research showed that corn oil is high in Omega-6 fatty acids and you really want higher levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, too. So Triple Crown put together a blend of flax seed, soy, and rice bran oils to create Rice Bran Oil Plus.” This can be fed to all horses, and works especially well for performance horses and horses being fitted for show. It combines a balance of Omega-3 (increases immune function) and Omega-6 (energy utilization) and beneficial effects on gastric function (Gamma Oryzanol).

“Lots of folks feed small amounts, double handfuls, to their easy keeper horses. But most feeds are designed to be fed at rations of 4-5 pounds per day per 1,000-pound horse. Anything less and the horse doesn’t get all the vitamins and other nutrients that are needed,” Perkins explained. So for easy keeper horses, Triple Crown developed Triple Crown Lite. “You feed a plastic cupful (about the size of a McAlister’s large iced tea cup) and the horses get all the nutrients they need without encouraging excessive weight gain.

Triple Crown feeds contain a “micro package” of essential nutrients called EquiMix. It is a blend of supplements in their feeds that insures improved digestion and helps protect horses from the effects of exposure to mycotoxins and pathogenic bacteria. Some of the ingredients include: kelp meal, a source of natural organic minerals such as boron, chromium, and vanadium; digestive enzymes; live yeast cultures such as Yea-Sacc 1026, a yeast beneficial to improve fiber digestion and increase protein utilization, while helping stabilize cecal and colon pH; mycotoxin protection; and Sel-Plex, organic selenium from yeast; organic minerals.

Much more information and articles about nutrition are available at the Triple Crown website:

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