Today’s horse owners are more enlightened than ever when it comes to their animals’ health. Modern horses are asked to serve as high-level athletes, beloved companions, financial investments and family members—it’s natural for owners to seek the best nutritional plan for their equines.
The revolutionary Platform™ Feeding System was developed to keep pace with the increasing needs of horses according to their lifestyle demands. The concept, a total individualized nutrition plan, synchronizes superior feed with complementary supplements that can be tailored to horses’ specific needs.
Q&A with Jaime G. Lopez, Ph.D., Farnam’s Animal Nutritionist
Q: How are the feeds categorized within the Platform system?
They are segmented according to equine lifestyles and activity levels. Platform Pleasure Feed is designed for sedentary and lightly worked horses; Platform Performance Feed is designed for moderate-to-hard working horses; Platform Mare and Foal Feed is for growing foals and lactating mares; and Platform Senior Feed is for aged horses. Platform’s foundation of premium specialty ingredients is the basis for the system. Each ingredient has been chosen for its key contribution to the overall nutritional profile of the feed. Optimal levels of nutrients ensure that horses are getting all they need from their chosen Platform Feed. Specific nutrient situations arising from age, stress, activity level and other conditions are addressed through the supplements.
Q: What about the complementary supplements—what’s so important about them if the feed supplies so many nutrients? And why is over-supplementation such a bad thing?
The Platform Supplements are designed to complement the feeds and avoid superfluous over-supplementation, which saves money and enhances the effectiveness of the complete program. The supplements, color-coded to easily feed multiple supplements to one horse, come in a palatable, extruded form that makes them clean to handle and difficult for a horse to sort out. What makes them essential to the comprehensive feeding program is the fact that each of the Platform Supplements—Joint, Weight, Electrolyte and Hoof—was designed to target specific equine physiological challenges. Each formulation is based on state-of-the-art nutritional science and do not duplicate vitamins and minerals found in the Platform Feeds.
Over-supplementation can be hazardous to your horse’s overall health in several ways. Vitamins are organic compounds the body needs for normal functioning. The fat-soluble vitamins--A, D and E--are stored in the body. Excesses of vitamins A and D can be toxic. Water-soluble vitamins, including the B vitamins and vitamin C, are flushed out in the urine when the body has more than needed. Minerals must be kept in balance. Feeding high levels of one mineral can lead to problems with absorption of another. The best way for horses to get the right balance of minerals is naturally, through a well-balanced nutritional program based on high-quality feeds.
Q: Can you talk about some of the unique ingredients that go into the feed line, making it premium and state-of-the-art?
There are nine primary ingredients that are found in each Platform Feed: flaxseed, beet pulp, distiller’s dried grains, stabilized rice bran, beta carotene, natural tocopherols, selenium yeast, chelated minerals and yeast cultures. Here are some interesting facts to note about each one:
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, 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.
Distiller’s 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, much like steroids but without the negative effects.
Beta carotene is the natural precursor to vitamin A, and it has some inherent antioxidant 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 who 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 who need optimal digestive efficiency during these stressful periods.
Q: The above-mentioned ingredients are included in all the feeds. What are the points of differentiation among the four feed categories?
The feeds contain varying levels of vitamins and supplements specific to each of the four equine lifestyles—in addition to the ingredients found in all of them. Matching our external supplement line (joint, electrolyte, weight and hoof) with the feeds complements each feed without duplicating ingredients.