Is Your Feed Fresh?

Would you buy the feed in the photo above? What information would you need to make your decision?

If you thought to check the date codes- this is critical!

Okay, so you have the date codes… Now what?

All manufacturers have guidelines on how long their feed is fresh. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the brand(s) you feed and what they recommend. We don’t always get to select which bags we purchase at the store, but it is a good idea to always check the date codes! This is also a good time to mention that different manufacturer’s have different ways to print date codes, so you may have to look up how the manufacturer you use prints theirs. This is Triple Crown feed, so let’s take a look at their guidelines…

“For best freshness and palatability, recommend feeding Triple Crown fortified feeds within 3-4 months from the date of production.”

Please note this says feeding and not purchasing! Some of us buy in bulk. So, when you go to purchase feed, make sure you don’t buy so much that it will not be fed in that 3-4 month window. The code on the seal strip of the bag is the date of production, not the sell by or expiration date.

“However, feed will meet guarantees, and, under safe storage conditions, will be safe to feed up to 6 months from the date of production.”

This feed is from January and March. The January bags are definitely out of the 6 month window, and the March bags are approaching it. However, the March bags are out of the recommended 3-4 month window for freshness and palatability.

Regardless of production date, DO NOT use if product is moldy or has insect contamination.”

Never feed moldy feed or feed with insects!!! This has been discussed in this group previously.-If you purchase a bag of feed that is moldy or has insects, bring it back to the feed store for a replacement or refund. Unless, of course, it became moldy or full of insects on your watch (still don’t feed it).

*Please Note* The feed in this photo being sold out of date is not the fault of Triple Crown. I spoke with an employee at the feed store who told me it was an issue with their rotation, and that they even opened a few bags before creating the display and they “looked fine.”


I would likely pass on this feed. I would buy the March bags if I was in a bind since they are within the 6 month guarantee, however I would prefer fresher feed if it was available. Do I think the January bags would hurt a horse as long as they are mold and insect free? No, I don’t. However, nutrient loss does occur over time. I work hard to balance my horses’ diets. I don’t want to take a risk that their feed doesn’t provide the nutrition I’m counting on!

A version of this post originally appeared on Equine Nutrition Education. Check out the link for further discussion!

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