Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: What does the guaranteed analysis listing on a feed tag really mean to me as a horse owner?

By Emily Dickson

A: The guaranteed analysis is an excellent place to start when reading the feed tag because this list is all about what a feed company can guarantee is in their horse feed. This is important for maintaining nutritional consistency with your hoses.

If you think about all the different ingredients found in horse feed, including forage and grain products, the reason why these guarantees are important becomes more obvious. Ingredient prices and fluctuations due to the weather, the season and other variables can easily lead a manufacturer to change the composition of its feed.

Since rapid diet changes are not ideal for equine gut health, feed companies guarantee that certain nutrient levels (typically with a minimum and a maximum level) will be included on the tag for each bag.

The guaranteed analysis also guarantees that the nutrient levels meet the requirements established by the National Research Council and the Association of American Feed Control Officials. For horses, guaranteed analysis requirements include:

  • Crude protein
  • Crude fiber
  • Crude fat
  • Acid detergent fiber
  • Neutral detergent fiber
  • Calcium
  • Phosphorus
  • Copper
  • Zinc
  • Selenium
  • Vitamin A

The guaranteed analysis with many horse feeds will also include lysine, which is the number-one limiting amino acid for horses. Sugar and dietary starch levels are also required to be guaranteed if a horse feed is marketed with any carbohydrate claims.

While each feed’s guaranteed analysis will differ, many share similar ranges of nutrients to meet a horse’s particular stage of life.

Since many guaranteed analyses look similar, how do you manage to choose the best horse feed? As it turns out, there is quite a bit of information that can’t be found on the tag’s guaranteed analysis all by itself.

The second piece to this puzzle involves reading the entire ingredient list on the feed tag. While this sounds boring — and sometimes daunting — it can actually be quite eye-opening.

Here are a few things to look for:

  • Organic vs. inorganic trace minerals
  • Organic vs. inorganic selenium
  • Any bonus ingredients, such as added probiotics for horses.

Emily Dickson is the lifestyle marketing manager for Alltech, with company headquarters based in Nicholasville, Ky.

Click here to read part 1 of the Aug. 12, 2021, installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: What’s the nutritional link between amino acids and various types of protein? Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.