Triple Crown Nutrition’s Knowledgeable Horse Feed Consultants are Available and Happy to Assist You, Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 4 PM, EST, at: 800.451.9916.
Question: Why do feeds labeled for IR horses have high iron?
Insulin dysfunction in horses and people can lead to elevated blood iron levels, this is a symptom of insulin dysfunction and not a cause. Even though elevated blood iron is a symptom of insulin resistance and not a cause high blood iron levels may exacerbate insulin dysfunction and this is the basis for the concern related to insulin resistance and iron intake in horses and diabetic people. While insulin resistant horses and people need to be aware of iron intake levels they do not need to panic or try to avoid iron. On the contrary, iron is an essential nutrient and needs to be included in the diet. The most important detail related to iron nutrition is that iron intake needs to be “in balance” with zinc, copper and manganese. As long as the proportion of these four minerals (including iron) is within a desired range then the amount of dietary iron becomes less important. That being said, one would still not want to feed large amounts of iron to an insulin resistant horse even if the mineral balance is correct.
Complicating matters is the fact that iron is one of the most abundant minerals on the planet. Almost all feedstuffs and macro mineral sources contain iron. However, much of this “innate” iron is in the form of iron oxide (otherwise known as rust) and is not biologically available to the horse, (here’s an important point – ), even though it will show up in total iron content of a feed or forage. In other words, the guaranteed level of iron on a feed tag will include all forms of iron even though some of the iron inherently found in the ingredients will not be available to the horse. This is why many feed companies do not even include an iron guarantee. Feed companies that do guarantee iron levels do so to provide total disclosure to customers who are concerned about iron intake levels. They are not trying to show how low the iron content is, but rather demonstrate that the iron level is in balance with zinc, manganese and copper.
I routinely add a small amount of available iron to a feed to ensure that the balance between iron and zinc, manganese and copper is within my desired range. This ensures optimal iron metabolism and reduces the negative effects associated with high iron intake.
As long as iron levels are between 1 to 1 and 1.75 to 1 (iron to zinc) in a feed or forage it will not be a problem for insulin resistant horses. The average iron requirement for adult horses is approximately 500 mg per day, as long as total iron intake is “balanced” and between 500 and 1,200 mg per day it should not be a problem for insulin resistance horses.
Problems with iron intake and insulin dysfunction occur when iron intake levels exceed 1,200 mg per day and/or are greater than twice the zinc intake. The two major causes for this are: 1) very high levels of iron in forage and 2) very high levels in a mineral supplement. Note that high iron levels in feeds (while they do exist) is not a common problem. Also note that feed companies that do not guarantee iron levels often have higher than average iron levels in their feeds.
Question: How does soy effect my horse?
The effect of soy on horses has been debated among horse owners as well as researchers and vets for decades with no exclusive conclusion having ever been reached. Therefore, the discussion, especially within social media, continues today. However, much of the information that I see debated back and forth on social media sites does not address some of the basic information that we do have conclusive data on, therefore, I will attempt to present what is known and what is not known at the present time.
- Soybean meal, which is the primary soy product utilized in horse feeds, has been fed to horses, livestock, dogs and other animal species for more than 75 years. Therefore, in the absence of conclusive research there is plenty of clinical and anecdotal evidence that demonstrates the safety of soybean meal in animal diets. The reason that soybean meal is widely used in animal diets is that soybean meal is one of the best sources of dietary essential amino acids and provides these dietary essential amino acids in a preferred ratio which means soybeans and soybean meal can be used to support desirable growth, muscle development and overall health in animals.
- Raw soybeans and soybean meal (soybeans minus the oil) do contain several substances that are considered to be “anti-nutritive” meaning they interfere with normal digestion, absorption of nutrients into the body and/or cause inflammation of the digestive tract. These anti-nutritive substances are destroyed by heat treatment and since all soybeans and soybean meal used in commercial animal diets are heat treated the presence of these anti-nutritive compounds is a non-issue. (Note – these anti-nutritive compounds will still be active in raw and under-cooked soybeans and soybean meal. Therefore, if you prefer to incorporate your own soy products into your diet or animal’s diet proceed at your own risk. The presence of these anti-nutritive compounds used to be a concern many, many years ago before adequate heating protocols were developed.)
- Soybeans contain phytoestrogens and other metabolically active compounds that are not completely denatured by heat treatment. The presence of these compounds is where most of the concern with the use of soybeans lies today. The basic question that people want an answer to not just for their horses but also for their own personal well being is do these metabolically active compounds present a risk or benefit or are they inert and therefore of no concern. As many of you have already discovered, data published in scientific journals related to this question in horses is very limited. Many of you are also astute enough to recognize that data reported for people or rodents do not necessarily have significance for the horse due to major differences in their physiology. Therefore, all of us must rely more on clinical and anecdotal evidence to answer this question. Please keep in mind that soybean is not the only source of phytoestrogens and other metabolically active compounds in a horse’s diet. For example, alfalfa and clover are also quite high in these substances. I will state here that in my nearly 50 years of feeding horses and my 35 plus years as an equine nutritionist responsible for the diets of tens of thousands of horses that an individual horse that presents with a sensitivity to soy almost always presents with a sensitivity to alfalfa and clover as well. Therefore, when I hear someone say or read on social media where someone states that they removed soy from their horse’s diet and all became well I always have a strong suspicion that much more was changed than the simple removal of soy from the diet whether the horse owner realized it or not. Horses can be susceptible to food sensitivities and soy is only one food among many that individual horses may be sensitive to. In my practice I have encountered horses that were sensitive to oats, beet pulp, soy, corn, barley, timothy hay, alfalfa, clover and many other food and environmental compounds commonly found in contact with horses. Some of these sensitivities were true “allergies” but many more were the result of an immune system shifted into hyper-drive due to intestinal inflammation or systemic inflammation.
- This is what people who wonder if soy is having a negative effect on their horse’s health and/or behavior need to know:
a) Most horses have soy included in their diet.
b) 98 – 99% of the horses that have soy included in their diet do not present with any ill effects due to soy. This includes fertility in mares and stallions, behavior of any sex, growth or immune response
c) If you have a horse that falls into the 1 – 2% that truly are sensitive to soy, then this is a very real and very significant concern that needs to be addressed. These horses need a diet free of soy and almost always free of alfalfa and clover as well which means your best approach is to “home mix” a diet that is grass hay based and is supplemented with a soy free mineral and vitamin product such as EquiVision’s Equine Nutrimix. Horses needing additional protein and/or energy can be fed oats, an omega-3 supplement and/or an alternative protein source such as whey, peas, or colostrum. (Note: if you remove a soy containing product from your horse’s diet but continue to feed or add alfalfa and your horse still “gets better”, then the primary problem was most likely something other than the presence of soy.)
d) Many of the health concerns attributed to the presence of soy in a horse’s diet are actually a result of undetected underlying issues such as intestinal inflammation, leaky gut syndrome (can trigger IR), nutrient imbalances, deficiencies and/or excesses or anatomical conditions.
In summary, sensitivity to soy in horses is a real condition but only for relatively few horses. Therefore, while a horse’s poor performance or undesirable attitude may possibly be caused by the presence of soy in the diet, the probability of it being caused by soy in the diet is not very high and other possibilities should be ruled out before blaming soy as the primary culprit. When someone takes soy out of their horse’s diet by discontinuing the use of a commercial product that contains soy they are changing many things in addition to the removal of soy, therefore, if an improvement does occur it may be difficult to determine if the improvement was a result of soy removal or a result of other changes made concurrently.
Question: I’m looking for a grain free concentrated feed. I see your senior feed bag says grain free but I’m noticing the second ingredient is wheat middlings. Can you explain this to me?
Wheat middling are processed to remove most of the starch (we people eat the flour) and what is left is no longer a grain. The hull of wheat is sorted into 2 different categories during the processing of flour depending on the amount of hull and flour that is contained. Wheat Bran, contains mostly hull with a very small amount of flour while the midds particles are a bit smaller and the final product contains a slightly higher level of flour. Midds are almost essential for pellet quality and the fiber digestibility is good.
Distillers grain is the same – corn or barley is fermented for beer, ethanol, etc. – which burns off the sugar/starch – what is left is high protein, low sugar/starch product that is a great source of low NSC protein for animals – the resulting product is not considered a grain as the nutritional construct is different from a grain.
Each of these products would represent no more than 5% of the total formula of a diet.
Here is a chart that shows how the components of wheat differ from the original grain
|Wheat||wheat bran||wheat midds|
|% Crude Protein||13.694||17.549||18.485|
|% Crude Fiber||3.269||9.743||9.385|
|% WSC (Water Sol. Carbs.)||5.751||8.489||8.042|
|% ESC (Simple Sugars)||2.739||5.189||5.11|
|% Non Structural Carbo. (NSC)||66.661||29.798||32.917|
|% Non Fiber Carbo. (NFC)||70.757||34.691||36.836|
|% Crude Fat||2.083||4.572||5.068|
Here is a chart that shows how the components of Distillers grain differ from the original grains
|% Crude Protein||8.9||11.9||31|
|% Crude Fiber||2.3||5.8||7.4|
|% WSC (Water Sol. Carbs.)||3.3||6.8||5.4|
|% ESC (Simple Sugars)||3||3.3||6.2|
|% Non Structural Carbo. (NSC)||73||59||10.4|
|% Non Fiber Carbo. (NFC)||76||65||24|
|% Crude Fat||4||2.4||11|
Question: How do I add/keep topline on my 17H thoroughbred broodmare?
There are many reasons why a thoroughbred in particular will have a weak appearing topline.
The first is genetics – many thoroughbreds have an angular topline due to their pedigree. I know of female lines that pass a weak topline down through multiple generations, especially horses taller than 17 hands as the horse in question here is. There are things that can be done to improve the topline in these horses but they will never present with the full muscular appearing topline that is desired.
The second is misalignment of the vertebrae. Subluxation of the spine will interfere with muscle and nerve function and result in a weak topline. A good chiropractor can adjust the horse and often make substantial improvements if this is the case. Acupuncture is sometimes used concurrently to improve nerve function in the back.
The third is poor utilization of nutrients. This can result from either poor absorption and/or poor metabolic utilization. The approach to fix this situation is to improve digestive health and increase nutrient density of the diet in order to promote absorption of greater amounts of amino acids and energy substrates.
The fourth is poor carriage – the horse for whatever reason carries itself in a way that does not utilize the back muscles sufficiently. There are exercises that are on the internet that can be used with the mare to promote increased utilization of back muscles – keep in mind that this usually results due to motility problems elsewhere in the body.
From a nutritional standpoint this is what can be done:
- Increase the amount of Senior to 8 – 10 pounds per day and decrease balancer to 1 pound per day.
- Increase alfalfa to approximately 6 pounds per day.
- Incorporate digestive conditioners in the diet such as EquiVision’s ADR and Fish Oil Factor
- Incorporate a muscle building supplement such as EquiVision’s The Difference (www.equivision.com)
Question: Are your feeds made in the USA?
Our feeds are manufactured at various feed mills throughout the United States. All of our bulk ingredients (soybean meal, soy hulls, midds, etc.) would be from the USA. Vitamins and minerals would all be sourced from North America (US & Canada). We do not source any ingredients from China or any other pacific rim country.
Question: In humans, fat causes insulin resistance at the cellular level. Why do the low starch feeds in equines have such a high fat percentage with the baseline diabetes and pancreatic knowledge we have learned in human research?
I am the nutritionist for Triple Crown Feeds. They forwarded me you question about added fat in equine feeds that have been formulated with a low inclusion rate of starches and sugars. The amount of fat added to the concentrate – 6 % – is actually a very small contribution in the form of fat to the total diet. If the horse eats 6 pounds of that feed per day, he is only getting about 163 grams of fat from the feed. For a horse that consumes 15 pounds of forage (which naturally contains about 2.5 % fat)and 6 pounds of such feed, the percentage of fat in the total diet is only 3.49% fat! Since the grain has been taken out of the concentrate – calories have to be made up with something – so fat and fiber is added in to compensate. There are many healthy, non-metabolic horses that are now fed low starch feeds in order to prevent problems down the road, not just horses with problems already. So the calories are necessary for many of these horses that are working and competing.
In contrast, the human diet is recommended to not exceed 20% of calories from fat daily, and most people consume way more than that – and therein lies the problem.
Question: I am feeding TC Complete.. it contains whole oats and I am finding them in my horses manure. Why do you not use crimped oats so they will get chewed and digested?
Horses are pretty efficient at utilizing oats as long as their teeth are in good condition. There is a significant amount of research that shows that the added digestibility of crimped oats (about only 5%) is offset by the added cost of processing the oats. Oats are digestible, the hulls are not. If you look closer at your horse’s manure, you’ll most likely see the (outside) hull is present and the (inside portion of the oat) the “oat groat” is gone.
Question: Do you use GMO ingredients in your feed? I do not see that you list non-GMO soybeans.
Soybeans are commonly genetically modified , but soybean meal is a quality source of protein and this is why you find it in our formulations. The US Government does not require identification of GMO grains so it would be nearly impossible for us to guarantee that feeds contain no genetically modified ingredients.
Triple Crown does offer a GMO-free feed line called Triple Crown Naturals. The Naturals Pelleted Horse Feed offers a A nutritious corn free, soybean free, GMO free recipe. Naturals Horse Feed contains EquiMix® Organics, a unique combination of advanced supplements formulated to keep your horse at its healthiest.
Question: I am curious why you list vitamin E in the synthetic form as opposed to the more natural form? Also, many of your minerals and vitamins are listed in percentages, why do you not list them all as mg/serving?
We do list “vitamin E Supplement”, but it actually contains both the synthetic form and natural form. Research has shown that the only time natural vitamin E is more effective vs the synthetic form is in Vitamin E deficient horses. For a horse that is not vitamin E deficient the difference between natural and synthetic Vitamin E diminishes.
According to the American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) we legally must list our guarantees as percentages. To turn a percentage into mg/lb simply multiply the percent by 4,536.
Question: I have a gassy horse, I heard that fish oil has been used to reduce gas in humans, could this help in horses??
Absolutely, due to the anti-inflammatory properties of Omega 3′s (found in fish oil) they can be helpful to a gassy horse. It really helps to work to remove the substrate that is causing gas (think starch) and then help to reduce the inflammation that gas/acidosis has caused. Supplement with Omega 3′s but also make sure to use low starch products which means a NO GRAIN diet.
Question: The ingredients list for TC 30% includes Beta Carotene. How much is present & from what source ? What % of the total Vit. A is it?
We separate vitamin A from beta-carotene in our guaranteed analysis. Yes, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A by the horse, but we do not assume a certain percentage conversion. Therefore, vitamin A levels in our feeds are just that – vitamin A levels. We add supplemental beta-carotene in addition to vitamin A to provide the benefits of this carotenoid to horses that do not have fresh grass available to them. The source of beta-carotene is a commercially available fat soluble powder that is usually derived from algae found in Australia. The amount of beta-carotene supplied from our feeds is proprietary but conforms with current recommendations of 70 – 120 mg per day.
Question: My favorite horse was recently diagnosed with cushings disease. What feed do you recommend for him? He is a 20 yo retired quarter horse gelding.
Thank you for contacting us with concern for your horse, I’m sorry to hear that he has been diagnosed with Cushing’s. Fortunately we have several feed options that are wonderful for Cushing’s horses. . If you could provide me with a little more information as to what feed he is currently on, and how much he is eating daily that would be very helpful. Also how is his body condition; does he need to lose weight, gain weight, or is he at a good weight?
The most important thing that you are going to want to consider when feeding is the amount of non-structural carbohydrates (starch and sugar, NSC) in his feed. We have 3 feed options that are very low in NSC, our Lite Formula (9.3% NSC), Low Starch Formula (13.5% NSC), and our Senior Formula (11.7% NSC). The one I recommend will depend on your horse’s current body condition and his nutritional needs. We also have a timothy/orchard grass chopped forage product called our Safe Starch Forage. The Safe Starch Forage is mixed with vegetable oil instead of molasses. It too is low in starch and sugar and has an NSC of only 8.7%. It is mixed with a vitamin and mineral pellet allowing it to be fed as a horses whole diet. It can also be used to replace a portion of your horse’s hay to supply good him with good quality fiber.
All of the Triple Crown Feeds include our Equimix Technology that is specific to the Triple Crown Feed line. This is our “goody package” that is made up of digestive aids including digestive enzymes, probiotics, yeast cultures, and mycotoxin protection as well as organic minerals and organic selenium. This package is extremely beneficial to senior horses as well as horses with metabolic issues in that it makes their digestive tract more efficient and effective. It allows them to absorb more of the nutrients in their diet and breakdown the starches and sugars in their small intestine instead of allowing them to pass to their hindgut where they are not properly absorbed, or can cause metabolic upset.
Question: Your Triple Crown Lite formula states a 515 ppm minimum of iron. Could you please tell me the variance to maximum levels of iron one might expect to find lot to lot?
Thank you for inquiring about the iron levels in our Triple Crown Lite. We set our nutrient guarantees as close as we can to the actual levels contained in our feeds. The FDA takes samples of all commercial feeds on the market on a routine basis to ensure that nutrient levels do not fall below the guaranteed level on the label. With that said, the iron content in our Lite Formula will not fall below the guaranteed 515 ppm minimum listed on the bag. The iron source that we use in our feed is derived from organic sources, making it more digestible. These organic sources also prevent the iron from binding to and affecting the absorption of other minerals in the horse’s intestine. Also take note that Triple Crown is one of the few feed companies to guarantee iron levels as well as other nutrients in their feeds.
Feeding or Nutrition Question: I have a 30+ year old Arab with Cushings and Insulin Resistance. He started to lose weight so my vet suggested Triple Crown Senior. He has been on the Senior for almost 2 months and still hasn’t gained any weight. He gets 7 cups of TC Senior, 2 cups of Beet Pulp twice a day and free choice hay and pasture. He is not eating much hay although the dentist just did his teeth and they are fine. Any recommendations?
Assuming that you horse is approximately 900 pounds (give or take) you would need to feed him a minimum of 5-6 pounds per day of TC Senior to meet his vitamin and mineral requirements. He is not getting enough with his current feeding schedule. I would recommend increasing his feed from 2 pounds per day to 5 pounds per day. Because TC Senior is beet pulp based and high in fat and calories, there would be no need to continue to feed the beet pulp. 5 pounds of Senior per day = 20 kitchen measuring cups per day. Increase the amount slowly over the course of a few weeks. If after 30 days of being on 5 pounds of Senior you don’t see a difference in his weight, you can increase the amount that you are feeding him; but remember that you want him to gain weight slowly. TC Senior is low in starch and sugar and ideal for horses with Cushing’s or Insulin Resistance.
As for his hay… offering him free choice hay is ideal if he needs to gain weight, but we need to make sure he’s eating enough. You want to make sure that he’s getting a minimum of 1% of his body weight in good quality fiber per day. This can be in the form of hay, pasture, forage, or TC Senior. Is he having difficulty eating it? Do you notice that he’s chewing his hay into balls or that it’s passing through in his manure? If so, we will want to consider a fiber substitute that is easier for him to digest such as our Safe Starch Forage or hay cubes.
Question: So I am considering your Lite product but wish it did not contain soybean oil. Can u tell me it the oil is organic or at least from non-GMO soy?
The soy oil in Lite is part of our Equimix premix (probiotics, organic minerals, etc.) that is added to the total formula in small amounts. The amount of soy oil that would be fed to your horse with 2 lbs. of Lite per day would be less than a drop from an eye dropper. The oil used cannot be identified as GMO free as GMO grains are not identified within the US. Thousands of horses have benefited from the condensed vitamin and mineral nutrition in Lite over the past 13 years it has been on the market.
Question: Do you have a feed for a HYPP horse?
With HYPP horses, you want to try to keep the total Potassium in the diet under 1.2%, lower than 1% if you have had a horse with episodes. TC Low starch has a potassium level of .75% which easily covers both requirements The unknown issue is your hay. Make sure you stay away from alfalfa hay because it tends to be high in Potassium, so check with your local grass hays.
Oats works well because grains are typically low in Potassium, but an oat only diet will not provide proper balance of vitamins and minerals. Oats could be fed with 30% supplement if you have an HYPP horse that is an easy keeper. Feed Low starch to a harder keeper and really monitor your hay. You may even want to limit the amount of hay you feed as long as you are feeding a high fiber feed such as low starch. Avoid potassium containing electrolytes and mineral supplements , as well as molasses, orchard grass hay, and wheat bran as they contain high levels of potassium.
Question: I would like to know about the preservatives in your feeds, why do you use them, how fresh is the feed and what is the effect of the preservatives to my horse who has always eaten preservative free feeds?
We use a combination of Proprionic acid, which is a naturally produced fatty acid in the hind gut of the horse, and some citric acids. Both are added to help prevent mold growth and control natural yeast from fermenting. Since the preservatives are natural products, there is no effect on the horse.
We like to see the feed sold from the dealer within 2 months of age and a little longer for the pelleted feeds.
Question: Do you have a horse feed with glucosamine/MSM in it? I am aware that some other makers do have a horse feed with glucosamine in it? Are you planning any time in the future to have such a food or something similar?
We do not intend to manufacture a feed with glucosamine or MSM for 3 reasons. First, the FDA has not officially given approval for these ingredients to be included in a feed. These rules are enforced by the individual states and some states look the other way, but other states will not allow you to register products with these ingredients. Therefore, the feeds could be pulled from the market at any time.
Second, these products are very dose specific, so if every horse ate the same amount of feed, you could add the glucosamine/MSM and the horse would get the proper dose. However, what will realistically happen is that some horses will get too little and others too much.
Finally, not every horse or horse owner wants to add these ingredients and they would add cost to the product that many customers would be unwilling to pay. We hope this helps you understand our position.
Question: What are your thoughts on feeding black oil sunflower seeds?
Feeding these seeds is very popular in Australia and has since spread to other parts of the world. Black oil sunflower seeds (BOSS) provide a combination of protein and energy (from their high fat content). So horses receiving BOSS usually have a nice shiny hair coat and maintain weight well. High performance horses, however would be better served by alternative fat sources since BOSS are very high in omega-6 fatty acids, but almost void of omega 3 fatty acids. The calories per pound is about 2.6 Mcals.
Question: Feeding a Broodmare
I will soon be switching my pregnant mare over to a mare/foal feed and I’m leaning towards TC Growth. What are the recommendations for feeding a 14H large pony (around 1000lbs), during the last 90 days- late lactation? If I am feeding less than the recommended amount, at what rates should the 30% supplement be fed in addition?
Toward the last trimester, making sure the mare is supplemented properly with vitamins and minerals is most important. Therefore, switching to growth is a good idea. The minimum feeding rate for a horse the size you describe would be 5lbs per day. Since she is a 14HH, 1000lb pony, I’m guessing that keeping weight on this mare is not a problem. If 5lbs per day is too high a feeding rate, reduce the feed to the amount of growth needed to matain the body condition you want and add in 1lb of the 30% supplement.