Last Friday, I opened up a discussion on saving money with rising feed costs: (https://www.facebook.com/groups/equinenutritioneducation/posts/927690657902914/).
There were some wonderful tips in that thread on how to save money and/or ensure your feeding program is efficient. With that being said, one thing I recommended not doing is switching to a lower cost feed to save money. Why? Because you almost never save money with this approach.
Coincidentally, later that day, I attended a presentation at the Horse World Expo titled: “Ingredients in Horse Feed; Fact & Fiction,” presented by Dr. James Lattimer of ADM Animal Nutrition. My biggest takeaway from the presentation? There is no way to make a feed cheaper without sacrificing ingredient quality. My second biggest takeaway was this meme, of course, (I totally stole it).
So, what makes a premium feed? Digestibility and bioavailability are key. The values on a guaranteed analysis tell us nothing about digestibility and bioavailability. For that, we need to look at ingredients! It is possible to have two feeds with identical guaranteed analyses but are very different in quality. What looks good on paper will not always translate to performance.
To further complicate matters, price does not *always* reflect ingredient quality. There are many expensive feeds out there that I would not consider premium. These are typically feeds that are marketed toward a specific niche market, not necessarily the everyday choices you have at your local feed store.
Some feed companies only offer premium feeds, while other companies have premium lines, economy lines, and everything in between. Non-premium feeds certainly have their place in the market and I’m not advocating against using them. Above all else, I want to drive home the point that switching from a premium feed to a cheaper feed will almost never save you money. As several of you pointed out, premium feeds often have lower feeding rates. So while you are paying more per bag, you are paying less per day!
When we feed horses, we should look at cost per day, not cost per bag.
One more time: Calculate your COST PER DAY, not cost per bag.
Questions? Comments? Drop them in the comments section below!