Horse Feed FAQs  Answers to common questions about feeding horses


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Feed Freshness 

Nutrena feed bags are marked on the tag with a code that indicates what day that bag of feed was produced on.

On the tag, look for "Lot:" followed by a series of numbers and/or letters. The first two digits (may be letters or numbers) indicate which plant made that product, and then there are 4 digits strung together - the first digit indicates the year, so anything made in 2016 would have a 6, anything after the 1st of 2017 has a 7. Then the next three numbers are called the "Julian Date Code" - these number the days of the year. So, Jan 1 is 001, Jan 2 is 002, and so on until December 31 is 365.

Example: WB6121 or 596121. These Lot codes would indicate product made in 2016, on the 121st day of the year, or May 1st.

The first day of each month corresponds with the following Julian Date code:

  • 001 = Jan 1st
  • 032 = Feb 1st
  • 060 = March 1st
  • 091 = April 1st
  • 121 = May 1st
  • 152 = June 1st
  • 182 = July 1st
  • 213 = Aug 1st
  • 244 = Sept 1st
  • 274 = Oct 1st
  • 305 = Nov 1st
  • 335 = Dec 1st

About Nutrena Horse Feeds

Empower Balance, SafeChoice Special Care, and SafeChoice Senior. Any of these products support the nutritional needs of horses that have problems such as Cushing’s syndrome, Equine Metabolic Syndrome or insulin issues. 

SafeChoice Original and SafeChoice Perform are also options for horses who need controlled starch levels in the diet due to potential health conditions, but still need enough starch in the diet to maintain higher performance levels.

ProForce XTN is our highest calorie horse feed. 

Empower Boost is also available as a high-calorie supplement, designed to be fed along with a traditional horse feed.

Empower Balance is Nutrena's lowest calorie product.

Yes, Empower Balance is our ration balancer product.

SafeChoice Senior, Triumph Senior and Triumph Complete are all options for hay replacers/extenders. 

These products contain enough roughage to replace the hay/pasture portion of the diet, when fed according to the directions.  See respective product pages for feeding directions.

We do not certify our products weed free, however the pelleting process used to produce both SafeChoice Senior and Triumph Complete kills any weed spores.

This is generally sufficient for taking product in to Certified Weed Free parks, however it is best to contact the park you are visiting ahead of time.

All Nutrena horse feeds contain soy in varying amounts.

Empower Boost is a stabilized rice bran product, designed to supplement a regular feed.  It is not meant to be fed as a stand-alone feed.

ProForce Fiber is Nutrena's main beet pulp based product.  SafeChoice Senior and ProForce XTN also contain beet pulp.

Yes. Our products may contain genetically modified ingredients.  It's important to remember that all grain is technically genetically-modified, as simple plant breeding is a form of genetic modification.

Agricultural biotechnology (including genetically engineering grain in a laboratory to enhance desired traits) is thoroughly researched, regulated, and safe to feed to your animal. GMO ingredients are prevalent in the feed supply chain. Because grain for feed is purchased in bulk from large storage facilities, it is not possible to tell which corn has been genetically engineered. It is possible to specifically purchase "non-GMO" grains, but this comes at a premium price.  Producing feed with non-GMO grains would be cost prohibitive.

The US Department of Agriculture has facts about Agriculture Biotechnology on their website:

Product Selection

Empower Balance is Nutrena’s lowest calorie options, and also has the lowest recommended feeding rates.

Feeding rates and total feed intake need to be assessed. Increasing the exercise level for the horse is also a good idea.

The first thing to do is to make certain the horse is healthy, has been de-wormed properly and has had good dental care. After that, make certain the horse is getting good quality hay and is being fed an appropriate amount, by weight, of the product being used.

ProForce Fuel or ProForce XTN are excellent products for increased weight gain, and are our highest calorie-per-pound feed. SafeChoice Senior and SafeChoice Perform are also excellent product choices in our feed line-up.

If a top-dress supplement is desired, versus using a complete feed, Empower Boost High-Fat Rice Bran is the product to use. At 22% fat, adding just 1-2 lbs per head per day can make a significant difference in adding weight.

If a horse weighs 1,000 lbs and should weigh 1,200 lbs, feeding rates can be moved up to at least the level of the desired weight of 1,200 lbs. A weight tape or the weight calculation method from heart girth and body length can be used to monitor weight. Estimating weight without measurement is not very accurate.

Miniature horses are generally fairly “easy keepers”. Empower Balance, SafeChoice Special Care, SafeChoice Senior, and SafeChoice Maintenance work very well for them. They should NOT be allowed to get fat!

Age 15 has been used as a guideline, but there is a lot of individual variation based on dental care and early life health care.

Signs that your horse is ready for a senior feed include loss of muscle condition, trouble keeping weight on with their current diet, and decrease in coat and skin condition quality.

For horses having trouble chewing forage, SafeChoice Senior is a good option regardless of age.

Broodmares need to be on a quality maintenance diet, such as SafeChoice Maintenance, for the first two trimesters of the pregnancy. The body structures of the foal are being developed through this time, and a quality nutritional program for the mare is critical to the health of the foal.

Around the beginning of the third trimester of the pregnancy, nutritional demands on the mare’s body begin to drastically increase – this is where the growth of the unborn foal begins to dramatically increase. A mare’s body will give nutrients to the developing foal, then what is left will go to the mare, so supporting her with a diet such as SafeChoice Mare & Foal, which is designed for just this time period, is ideal.

Nutritional demands on a mare continue to be high through the first several weeks of lactation – when the foal is taking its total diet from her milk.

Once the foal begins exploring other food options, such as creep feed and hay, and begins to not rely quite as much on his dam, then a broodmare can be switched back to a nutrition program that still provides quality nutrition, but not quite at the high levels found in a Mare & Foal feed.

Also, foals can creep feed on a Mare & Foal feed, to begin their journey in to being fed regularly along with the mare.

Health & Management

For a horse that is overweight or an easy keeper, we recommend Empower Balance. 

For an underweight horse or harder keeper, we recommend SafeChoice Special Care or SafeChoice Senior.

First, restrict access to lush pasture, using a grazing muzzle if needed.  If your horse is an easy keeper or overweight, you can feed Empower Balance.

If your horse is being worked or needs additional calories to maintain weight, we suggest feeding SafeChoice Special Care or SafeChoice Senior.

Yes, they have similar requirements. They seem to be a little more efficient than horses, so they may require the lower feeding rates.

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and indicate the quality of the protein sources in a feed. Horses cannot synthesize all of the amino acids. Lysine, methionine and threonine are the first limiting amino acids. If they are deficient, the horse cannot make full use of the protein for hair coat, hoof growth and muscle development.

All Nutrena premium horse feeds contain optimum levels of amino acids, for ideal muscle development and maintenance.

Horses vary quite a bit in how much they need to eat to maintain body condition. It is always a good idea to start at the low end of the feeding rate and increase to the required level.

Salt intakes may vary by temperature, humidity and exercise level. Horses will regulate their salt intake if it is available at all times and may require more salt than can be included in a feed due to palatability. Salt consumption is important to maintaining the horse's water consumption as well.

Horses do best with relatively constant feeding rates. If a horse is being worked hard for a few days in a row, adding a third meal may be useful, but each meal should not be over 0.5% of bodyweight and should be at equal intervals. 

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