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EQUIDAE® Horse Feed Nutrition Questions

Frequently Asked Questions About EQUIDAE and Extruded Horse Feed

Why feed extruded horse feed?

Steam extruded feeds are up to 300% more digestible than traditional raw grains. Feeding raw grains can actually upset the natural pH of the small intestine, thus passing the acids and raw undigested grains to the large intestine where they ferment to gas, ammonia, sugar and HEAT. Correcting this imbalance increases a horse’s comfort, concentration, and overall performance.

What is extruded horse feed?

Steam extrusion is a process that utilizes pressure-cooking and oven roasting. The ingredients are milled down, mixed and cooked with just the right amount of heat, moisture and pressure to achieve gelatinization of the starches. This makes them readily available to the horse in the most digestible form possible. Not only is this the most efficient way of mixing the ingredients thoroughly, but it also eliminates risks from weeds, bacteria and fungal elements that may be in unprocessed feeds. It also helps significantly increase shelf life. Read more about Steam Extrusion.

Why do we need to 'process' horse feed?

Oats and other plants growing in manure indicate that horses can't fully digest unprocessed feeds. For centuries, grains have been cooked, rolled, boiled, baked, steamed, flaked, cracked, crushed and pelleted to improve their digestibility and reduce the incidence of veterinary emergencies such as colic, diarrhea and laminitis.

How will my horse react when first fed EQUIDAE?

When introducing EQUIDAE to your horse for the first time, they may be a little standoffish due to the texture and style of the feed. In our extensive feeding trials we have seen a 50/50 split between those who go right for the new feed, to those who took up to three days to begin consuming it regularly. This is a completely new way to feed your horse, not what we have made them accustomed to with the molasses, sugars and excess fats that have been added to the feeds over the years. These items were added to encourage them to eat the grain fractions and fillers that are often added to textured and pelleted feeds.

What are the caloric properties of different hays / forage?

   Hay Variety
Digestible Energy (Kcals/lb.)
Total Digestible Nutrients (%)
 Crude Protein (%)
800 to 1,100
48 to 55
 15 to 20
Red Clover
800 to 1,100
46 to 52
13 to 16
700 to 1,000
42 to 50
7 to 11
700 to 1,000
42 to 50
7 to 11
700 to 1,000
42 to 50
6 to 11
Tall Fescue
600 to 900
40 to 48
5 to 9 
Source: National Research Council, 1989; UK Equine Nutritional Program, 1999

My feed salesman tells me that their pelleted feed is cooked. Isn't this the same as extruded?

No. There is considerable misinformation about pellets versus extruded horse feeds. Pellets start as a ground mixture of various ingredients much like an extruded feed, but there are marked differences in formulation and process. The pellet mill is a machine that consists of a variable speed feeder, a pre-conditioner and a rotating die with stationary rollers. Steam, water, and sometimes molasses are injected into the pre-conditioner, which mixes the feed for a short period of time before it is squeezed through the pellet die and rollers. There is almost no starch gelatinization, or cooking taking place in this operation. Extrusion processing is completely unique in that it is the sudden drop in pressure as the product exits the die that causes the starch molecules to explode, much like popcorn does. The starch molecules in this nugget have a honeycomb like texture. The surface area of the starch molecules is increased by as much as ten fold, which is evident by the low density of the product. Extruded horse feeds weigh between 22 and 26 pounds per cubic foot. This porous honeycomb structure allows digestive enzymes easy access to a greater surface area which allows for significantly improved small intestine digestion in a short amount of time. Another benefit to extrusion is reduced speed of passage through the horse's stomach and small intestine. As a horse eats extruded feed, the stomach becomes full quickly. Horses will typically eat, then walk away, then come back and eat a little more. It takes about double the time for a horse to consume the same weight of feed when compared to eating a pelleted diet. This gives the digestive enzymes more time to digest this already highly digestible food. The results are quite impressive.

I understand that extruded feeds are good for foals and senior horses, but under normal circumstances is there a good reason to spend the extra money for an extruded diet to maintain a pasture horse?

All horses will benefit from consuming a well-balanced extruded diet. Between 50 to 70 percent of starches from uncooked grains found in pelleted or textured horse feeds bypass the small intestine and enter the hindgut where they begin to ferment, which produces gas and heat. As much as 90 percent of the gelatinized starches found in extruded diets are digested by the horse's small intestine. This significantly reduces the amount of undigested grains making it to the hindgut for fermentation. When feeding performance horses requiring high levels of calories, the strong argument for feeding an extruded diet is obviously over concerns of the risk of digestive upset from feeding pelleted or textured rations. For maintenance feeding levels, any reduction in unnecessary gas produced in the hindgut will reduce discomfort and ultimately improve the quality of life of your horse.