On March 7, Farnam, known for its wide variety of equine products from equine dewormers to fly sprays to equipment, and Purina, one of the country's most recognized and respected manufacturers of animal feeds, announced they had become partners in the manufacturing and promotion of a new, premium line of horse feeds and supplements. Platform horse feeds and supplements were created to avoid over-supplementation while delivering state-of-the-art nutrition to horses of all ages and uses. The feeds and supplements should be available to horse owners by late April.

Platform horse feeds and supplements will be sold under the Farnam brand, but will be manufactured and distributed by Purina. The formulations of the four Platform feeds--Pleasure, Performance, Mare and Foal, and Senior--are unique to the Platform brand.

"We know what vitamins and amino acids and minerals a horse needs," noted Bill Sadler, PhD, of Purina Mills/Land O'Lakes. "There are a lot of ingredients that can fulfill those needs, but the actual 'recipes' or formulations are uniquely different for Platform" than any other Purina feed.

Platform feeds are designed to be higher in fiber and lower in starch than other premium feeds, and they are produced in a pelleted format.

Chris Jacobi, Farnam horse products president, said this is not a matter of taking a feed that already existed and slapping a Farnam label on it. "This was formulated for Farnam," he explained. "We've been working on this project for two years. Research showed us that there is a concern (among horse owners) of over-supplementation of nutrients and minerals. The challenge was to develop a complete feed without worry if supplements were needed and added."

Many supplements contain vitamins, minerals, and other additives that can alter the balance of a horse's diet when added on top of a balanced feed. The Platform supplements--Joint Formula, Hoof Formula, Complete Electrolyte, and Weight Formula--are designed to deliver only what is needed to address that problem, not additional vitamins and minerals already found in a balanced premium feed. While designed to be used with Platform premium feeds, the supplements can be used with any other balanced feed.

Feed Ingredients

The nine primary ingredients in the Platform feeds are flaxseed, beet pulp, distiller's dried grains, stabilized rice bran, beta carotene, natural tocopherols, selenium yeast, chelated minerals, and yeast cultures. Jamie Lopez, PhD, an animal nutritionist with Farnam, described the value of these ingredients:

"Flaxseed is the greatest source of omega-3 fatty acid, and its presence helps to balance the ratio between omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which is vital to the immune system. Flaxseed is also rich in lignans (a class of dibenzylbutane derivatives), shown to benefit the metabolic system in many animals.

"Beet pulp, a highly digestible source of soluble fiber, helps ease feed through the digestive system. It provides more calories per unit than hay, and horses find it palatable. Beet pulp can be beneficial to horses prone to colic and horses that need a low-starch diet.

"Distillers dried grains are high in fat, low in starch, and contain protein rich in methionine. This ingredient is also full of B vitamins.

"Stabilized rice bran is an excellent source of fat and digestible fiber. It is high in natural forms of vitamins E and B. The oil in rice bran is high in a compound called gamma oryzanol, a potent antioxidant that has been shown to aid in muscle tissue accretion (buildup), much like steroids, but without the negative effects.

"Beta carotene is the natural precursor to vitamin A, and it has some inherent anti-oxidant properties.

"Natural tocopherols include all the natural forms of vitamin E. Natural E has been implicated to be beneficial for some forms of tying-up syndrome.

"Selenium yeast has been recently approved for use in equine feeds. It is a natural, organic form of selenium and is highly absorbable. Feeding selenium yeast results in higher serum concentrations and tissue reserves.

"Chelated minerals are minerals bound to an organic compound such as proteins and amino acids. They are absorbable and result in biological benefits such as improved hoof quality and immune status.

"Yeast cultures have a beneficial probiotic-like effect in many animals, resulting in improved digestive function and higher nutrient absorption. This can be particularly helpful to young horses whose gastrointestinal tract function is just developing, older horses that may be losing some gut function, and horses recovering from illness and trying to re-establish gut microflora. Also, yeast cultures are beneficial to hard-working horses or lactating mares that need optimal digestive efficiency during these stressful periods."

All the Platform feeds are designed to be fed with high-quality hay except for the Senior feed, which contains all the fiber needed by the horse on a daily basis.

The Platform Pleasure feed is designed for sedentary or lightly worked horses. It has 12% protein, 4% fat, 13.5% fiber, and low starch.

Platform Performance is designed for medium- to hard-working horses and contains 14% protein, 8% fat, 10% fiber, low starch, and a high level of vitamin E.

Platform Senior contains 14% protein, 6% fat, 19% fiber, and vitamins E and B complex. It is created in a softer pellet that is very digestible and can be soaked and made into a mash.

Platform Mare & Foal has 16% protein, 8% fat, 10% fiber, and a high level of vitamin E. This feed is designed for third-trimester and early lactating mares and can be used for weanlings up to 18 months of age.

Supplement Ingredients

The Platform supplements also will be manufactured by Purina and marketed under the Farnam name. A unique aspect of these supplements is that they are color-coded, so there is no mistaking which supplements you are using or have placed in the feed tub. The also are designed to be fed in one-ounce-per-day servings.

Platform Joint Formula (color coded red) contains glucosamine HCL (5000 mg), MSM (500 mg), ester C (250 mg), chondroitin sulfate (250 mg), and hyaluronic acid. Platform Hoof Formula (green) contains zinc, copper, biotin, lysine, and methionine. Platform Weight Builder (white) contains prilled fat for concentrated calories. Platform Complete Electrolyte (brown) contains sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, amino acids, and other minerals and vitamins.

Farnam and Purina also designed a line of Platform horse treats that contain trace levels of essential vitamins and minerals, but not enough to upset the balance of a horse's diet. Five pounds of treats come in a re-sealable bag.

Rick Blomquist, CEO and president of Farnam, summed the new partnership up by saying this unique joint venture sends a message to other manufacturers and distributors in the equine industry: "This is about the consumer and end user, and you might have to look outside your own shop for the right logistics. We've done things (in creating the Platform line) that one company can't do on its own."

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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