It’s on the Horse Feed Tag – Part 1
Who is AAFCO and what do they have to do with my horse’s feed?
AAFCO is the Association of American Feed Control Officials. It is a voluntary association whose members are made up of local, state and federal agencies that are charged by law to regulate the sale and distribution of animal feeds.
While AAFCO has no regulatory authority on its own, it does provide federal and state regulatory offices with information they then use to develop their own policies. Each state is responsible for creating a set of regulatory laws that feed companies must comply with in order to sell feed in their state. Many states routinely spot-check and test feeds to be sure they are meeting the requirements found on the feed tag.
What does this mean to you and your horse? It means that each commercial feed tag or label is required to contain specific information that helps you as a horse owner make good purchasing decisions for your horse. Since each tag must contain certain information, it allows you to compare feeds/concentrates on an apples-to-apples basis. Remember, custom-formulated feeds, sometimes referred to as custom mixes, do not require the same labeling as commercial feeds.
You will find the following information on every commercial feed tag:
- The brand name and product name of the feed
- The purpose of the feed
- A guaranteed analysis of the nutrients provided by the feed
- A list of ingredients found in the feed
- Feeding directions
- The name and address of the manufacturer of the feed
- The weight of the bag
- A list of drugs in the feed, if the feed is medicated
- Any precautions or warnings
Once you understand how to read a feed tag, you will be able to select the proper concentrate for your horse. You will be able to make reasonable cost comparisons between similar feeds, and you will be able to determine the quality of the feed from the ingredient list. In the next section of the series we will check out how a concentrate gets its name and what the name tells you about the feed.
To learn more about AAFCO visit their website at http://www.aafco.org/.