There is always a label on food bags… that no one reads.
And yet, the legislator has made a certain number of information compulsory for the information of the consumer… well, of the owner of the consumer!
The first thing to look at is the name of the food, not to be confused with the trade name.
It is a mixture which, thanks to its composition, is sufficient to ensure a daily ration. It alone provides all the necessary nutrients.
From a nutritional standpoint, the horse can ingest its entire ration in the form of granules or flakes since, like cattle, it does not have an absolute requirement to absorb long fibers.
The problem is to have despite everything a minimum duration of ingestion of 4 to 5 hours per day. It is therefore necessary to multiply the number of meals, possibly with an automatic distributor, and to provide “chewing gum” filling which is of no nutritional value but takes a long time to eat.
The advantages are numerous: rapid distribution, ease of storage and conservation, good food balance, regularity of intake, ease in case of transport.
This being the case, it is good to remember that this denomination of complete food is a lure because if once again, in terms of food intake it is possible, the horse needs to be taken care of and therefore forage remains essential.
Simply, in conditions where the supply of fodder is difficult, it can be significantly reduced… by being aware of the risks that such a diet poses to the horse in the long term.
It is a mixture which contains high levels of certain substances and therefore it must imperatively be combined with other foods. The generic term “concentrates” is sometimes used in connection with “high levels” in the definition.
And the whole question is: what are these other foods? The same nutrients are not needed to supplement a ration consisting exclusively of fodder or, on the contrary, a cereal + hay ration.
Add to that, which must be supplemented according to the needs of each type of animal, and you will obtain the maddening diversity of complementary foods.
Thus, a feed complementary to grass or hay intended for a non-breeding adult horse will be moderately rich in protein and relatively energetic. A complementary feed intended for lactating broodmares will be high protein.
If you have grassy surfaces, complementary foods can be a good solution. They allow for a moderate cost (and a small number of bags to store) to offer your horse a full ration while remaining relatively easy to use.
But you should always remember that these feeds were formulated for a specific situation: if the label indicates that the feed is complementary to forage AND grain for horses in intense work, it will not be suitable for your pony who does not eat. That weed and who goes out for two hours every week. It also supposes a contribution of cereals. So it will not be suitable if it is given on its own to a good level show horse.
It is the old CMV (Vitamin Mineral Supplement). It contains at least 40% ash, in other words substances that do not burn, minerals.
More and more frequently, we find in these foods other compounds, organic this time, like essential amino acids.
Mineral supplements are a whole world. We will therefore address this issue in a future article.
It is a food prepared from molasses which must represent at least 14%. 100 of total sugars.
So you can have a little molasses used both for its energetic characteristics, its pleasant taste, but also for its clumping power in your granules without it being a molasses food in the regulatory sense.