The label on your horse’s feed bag provides valuable information to help you make feeding decisions for your horse.

Known as the feed tag, this label describes the nutritional composition of your horse’s feed and how it is intended to be used.

Whether you are looking for the right high-protein feed for your growing foal or a low-fat feed for your easy keeper, the feed tag can help you decide.

But unless you have a degree in equine nutrition and an affinity for mental math, it can be difficult to interpret all of the information presented on the feed tag.

Fortunately, feed manufacturers are required by law to include certain information on the tag in a standardized form. This makes it easy to compare feeds and select the most appropriate one for your horse.

In this article, we will help you understand all of the information presented on a standard feed tag and give you some important tips for selecting feed.

If you need help choosing a feed for your horse, you can browse our feed database which contains information on over 2,500 feeds. You can also submit your horse’s information online and our nutritionists can assist you for free.

Feed Tags

The following is a sample feed tag showing the standard components. Each of these parts of the feed tag is explained in further delay below.

Feed Tag - Horse Feed Guide | Mad Barn Canada

 

Product Name: The name should be appropriate based on what the product is designed to do. Product names cannot imply any health-benefit claims that cannot be proven.

Purpose Statement: In the United States, this statement describes the type of horse this product is designed for, such as a pregnant or senior horse. It also describes the intended use of the feed, such as for maintenance or weight gain.

In Canada, this statement describes the form of the feed (if it is in a form other than a mash), such as a pelleted or liquid feed.

Selenium Statement: Only required on Canadian feeds, this statement describes the selenium content of the feed in mg per kg.

Guaranteed Analysis: This section provides information on the concentration of basic nutrients in the feed.

Ingredient Statement: In the US, all ingredients are required to be listed on the feed tag in order of inclusion by weight.

In Canada, the feed label does not have to provide an ingredient list, but can instead direct the customer to contact the manufacturer to receive the ingredients list.

Directions for Use: This section should describe how much of the feed to provide a horse based on body weight and other considerations. It must contain enough detail so that the consumer can safely and effectively use the feed.

If the product is fortified with minerals and vitamins, manufacturers set the feeding rate to ensure that the horse receives the correct amount of nutrients to match body weight.

Manufacturer’s Info: This tells you the name of the company that manufactured the feed and where they are located. Contact information may or may not be provided.

Net Weight: The total weight of the feed product.

The Guaranteed Analysis

The guaranteed analysis (GA) contains information about the levels of certain macronutrients, vitamins and minerals found in your horse’s feed bag.

In the US, the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) dictates the nutrients that must be listed on the GA for all fortified horse feeds.

While the GA contains some of the most useful information on the feed tag, it can be difficult to interpret. The numbers shown describe the concentrations of nutrients in the feed and not the actual amounts.

You will need to do some math to calculate the actual quantities for the individual nutrients in your horse’s diet.

Below is a description of all of the nutrient values that are required to be listed in the GA under US law.

Macronutrients

These are the nutrients that your horse requires in large amounts, such as fat, carbohydrates, and protein. The following macronutrients will be listed on the GA.

  • Minimum percent crude protein (CP)
  • Minimum percent crude fat (fat)
  • Maximum percent crude fiber (CF)
  • Maximum percent acid detergent fibre (ADF)
  • Maximum percent neutral detergent fibre (NDF)

Macrominerals

These are minerals that are required in larger quantities in the equine diet. Macromineral requirements for horses are typically stated in terms of grams per day.

  • Minimum percent of calcium (Ca)
  • Maximum percent of calcium (Ca)
  • Minimum percent of phosphorus (P)

Trace Minerals & Vitamins

Trace minerals (microminerals) are required in smaller quantities compared to macrominerals. Trace mineral requirements for horses are typically stated in milligrams per day.

Vitamins are organic substances that are required in the horse’s diet.

  • Minimum copper (Cu) concentration in parts per million (ppm)
  • Minimum selenium (Se) concentration in ppm
  • Minimum zinc (Zn) concentration in ppm
  • Minimum vitamin A in International Units (IU)

Nutrients that are present at insignificant levels are not required on the feed tag.

Canadian Feed Tag Regulations

The regulations for feed tags in Canada are slightly different. In addition to the nutrients listed above, Canadian feed tags also generally list:

  • Macrominerals (as percentages)
    • Sodium
    • Magnesium
    • Sulphur
    • Potassium
  • Vitamins