Recently there has been discussion in my barn about switching feeds. New feed would be more expensive, but the claim is you can feed less so the cost evens out some. Also, it's said that the high fat supplements won't be necessary so it reduces cost there. I did some homework, and the possible new feed has the same calorie content as the old.
Can processing and/or quality of ingredients make that big of a difference? I would think that 1 kcal = 1 kcal, but maybe not?
Agree with sk. If the stuff is higher Calorie then sure you could feed less, but if the value is the same you should feed the same. Calorie or kcal is an energy unit and is supposed to reflect the value of a certain amount of food after you factor in digestiblility yada yada.
If splitting hairs you can get into all manner of discussions that amount to diddley concerning everything from feed form to gut flora competition to nutricuetical benefit to cofactor vitamin and mineral deprivation disrupting enzymatic function of the Kreb cycle to whatever.
But nutshell, if the horse is getting a balanced ration and does not have any special needs then a calorie is a calorie.
Sure, a calorie IS a calorie, but it's source DOES matter.
And yes, I HAVE done that.
My TB gelding, the original JB, went from over 9lb of Horseman's Edge sweet feed to 6lb of Dynamite pelleted feed. Even at a slightly higher calorie/lb, there was loss of total calories. But, the calories there were were much lower in sugars, so more effective calories.
I did the same thing with my OTTB mare when I got her. She was on 6lb of Dynamite plus 2c oil (and something else at the time, can't remember what). I replaced the oil with rice bran for a loss of calories, and she gained weight. I later replaced the Dynamite with alfalfa pellets and a v/m supplement - again, loss of calories, but another spurt of weight gain. Lower sugars again. She was actually my first "grain free" experiment and it's been a fun ride
You can't automatically know that replacing one feed for another feed will equal fewer calories AND the same or better weight, until you try. Depending on the source of the calories, you may come out ahead or on the losing side.
______________________________ The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET
Thank guys! As for my own horse, she's a BCS of 6ish on the house sweet feed, so she would not actually be affected by the switch (afaik the new feed would replace the strategy). But board may go up if it happens. I was wondering if the marketing claims had any basis in fact.
Wendy, I actually read some other KER article on feed processing while researching this, but I didn't come across that one, thanks.
It sounds like it's possible to feed less depending on the source of the calories. I'll be curious to see how things work out.