Horse Feed: Going Green?

Are horse owners willing to "go green" in the ways they feed horses and in the packaging of those feeds?

The 24th Alltech International Animal Health and Nutrition Symposium covered a myriad of topics for all species, but the theme of the recent conference was "The Greenest Generation." Basically, the company that is best known in the horse industry for being the title sponsor of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games 2010 focused on looking at how companies are using developments in nutrition science to revolutionize the way we feed the world and raise animals. This fits in with several articles we have published, or which are coming, in The Horse magazine. In March we discussed breaking parasite life cycles by targeting rather than by overdosing with chemicals (less chemicals in horses equals less chemicals in the environment). In May we focused on natural fly control and eradicating erosion. July has a piece on operating an environmentally friendly farm. August looks at "Ethanol from Corn: Where's the Horse Feed?" discussing the demand on our croplands for uses other than hay and horse feed because of "green" fuel. And we will continue this trend in reporting.

At the Alltech conference, several days of discussions focused on feeding horses, but one talk that stuck in my mind was Stephen Duren, PhD, discussing "green" horse feeds. For example, supplements are an economic consideration for many horse owners, but now we must look at that issue in an environmental light.

Horse owners like feeding supplements. Some are necessary; some aren't. Those that aren't usually don't hurt our horses; the excess is merely excreted in urine or feces (making for expensive pee and poop!). But Duren brought up another point: those excess supplements aren't just expensive excrement, they also pollute.

The excesses, whether they be protein, selenium, potassium, or something else, end up in our soils and groundwater. That means eventually they end up in us.

It's not just the contents of a horse feed bag that can cause environmental concerns, but the bag itself.

Most of you are probably too young to remember taking burlap feed bags back to the mill for refills after you got livestock feed. That, as Duren said, was a great way to recycle, but also a great way to spread disease.

Now there are strong plastic feed bags, which aren't recyclable, and paper feed bags, which are, but which aren't as strong. There also are combination paper and plastic feed bags, which, unless you strip apart the plastic from the paper, aren't recyclable.

Who thought going green could be so complicated?

Focus on Education and Community

The Horse magazine and TheHorse.com are focused on educating horse owners about horse health, care, management, and welfare, as well as keeping you up on what is going on in the equine industry. We do this in a number of ways, including this publication, electronic newsletters, Webinars, video Horse Courses, downloadable articles on specific topics, an equine directory, images and illustrations, and product information.

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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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