“Exactly what horses should be fed, ingredients, protein content, vitamins, minerals and amount, forever is an owner’s query.”
Opinions widely vary from cowboy to horseman to breeder with feed manufacturers becoming involved in the quite controversial issue.
Sympathizing with the dilemma, Dr. Harry Anderson has determined what he considers optimum nutrition for equine health and performance.
With a doctorate degree in nutrition from South Dakota State University, Anderson developed an equine ration based on lifetime experience.
He was a feedlot nutritionist 35 years including 26 years at Garden City before becoming a private consultant.
“Feed must be absorbed into the horse’s gut for maximum results. It’s all about efficiency of what the horse eats,” said Anderson, now of Weatherford, Texas.
While complex for lay horsemen, the nutritionist simplified his equine feed philosophy into three parts.
“Feed should be processed by the extrusion procedure, which is the same technique used to make dog food,” Anderson said. “Extrusion processes feed’s starch to digest in the horse’s small intestine where it is far more efficient.
“Secondly, a seaweed product in the feed improves environment in the cecum and colon of a horse enhancing digestibility,” Anderson continued. “Seaweed also increases blood flow while supporting horses’ immune function and enriching overall health.
“Third and maybe the most important part of the feed is chelated trace minerals which increase their bioavailability,” Anderson insisted.
Horses need trace minerals in minute quantities. “They trigger the production of enzymes and hormones for growth, reproduction and healthy maintenance of the horse,” Anderson explained.
However, it was a challenge to design a product meeting needs of foals, working mounts, breeding equine and geriatric horses.
“I developed one feed for all horses by varying the amount they eat per unit of bodyweight,” Anderson explained. “Higher absorption of the feed’s nutrient concentration is how we meet the animal’s needs.”
Owners who fed Anderson’s equine ration began demanding it in such quantity that the nutritionist started his own feed company.
Total Feeds, Inc., features the original horse ration called “Total Equine,” but has expanded with other lines of feed.
“Basically, a 1,000-pound-horse should be fed four pounds of Total Equine a day,” Anderson said. “The horse will have extra room in the gut, to increase hay or grass consumption meeting nutrition needs.”
Horses’ hay consumption can drop by up to 30 percent, and some owners do not feed any forage.
Actually, the original horse ration can be fed efficiently to most species of livestock. “Dogs love it, while turkeys and rabbits do quite well on the feed,” Anderson said. “However, Total Equine cannot be fed to sheep, llamas and alpacas due to the high level of copper.”
Sold only in 40-pounds bags, Total Equine is usually more expensive by the pound than other sacked horse feed. “However, less feed is required while improving horse health and performance, therefore becoming an economical ration,” Anderson insisted.
A couple varieties of the equine feed have been developed for horses with dietary restrictions. Specialty formula equine mineral supplements including one for joint therapy are also available.
“Total Bull” is a feed working especially well for bucking bulls, cattle used for roping, and calf creep. There are also specialty feeds designed specifically for goats and dogs.
“Our mission at Total Feeds is providing the highest quality animal rations for a wide range of species,” Anderson reiterated “The focus has always been on optimum health and performance through excellent nutrition.”
There are now 40 Total Feed distributors serving more than 1,300 dealers nationwide. “We are still a family business operated by wife and I with our two sons and a daughter-in-law,” Anderson verified.
Feed was made in Muenster, Texas and Perris, California, but a mill at Butler, Missouri, now also formulates Total Feeds.
“We are excited about having closer access to the products in our area,” said Jana Barcus of Better Equine at Paola. “It will sure save our Total Feeds distributorship some freight costs. We will be pulling feed out of there by the end of this week.”