What You Should Know About Storing Horse Supplements During the Hot Summer Months
It is time to restock your horse’s supplements. You need to order a couple online and pick up one locally during your lunch break. UPS is going to leave the online order on your sunny porch and you will have to keep the other one in your car all afternoon. It is the middle of summer and it is hot! You find yourself wondering, will my supplements be OK roasting in these hot temperatures until I can get them to the barn? What is the best way to store my horse supplements in hot weather? Sometimes I order large buckets to save money, so how can I be sure the supplement stays fresh when it is so hot and humid? These are common questions that you need to be concerned about when purchasing supplements. Proper handling and storage protect both the quality and freshness of a nutritional supplement. Read on to learn the answers to the most common supplement storage questions.
What happens if I leave my supplement in my car all day or UPS delivers it and leaves it outside on my porch?
Answer: How a supplement is affected by temperature depends on the formulation of the supplement. A high-quality supplement will include storage instructions on its label. Powders and pellets tend to be more stable and can withstand environmental extremes better than pastes and liquids.
Paste and liquid supplements can lose their potency when exposed to extreme hot or cold temperatures. Extremely hot temperatures can cause pastes to melt and leak. In winter, freezing cold can alter the molecular structure of a paste or liquid in such a way that it is no longer usable. Exposure to direct sunlight at any time of the year can result in oxidation that reduces potency and quality. Some liquid supplements degrade quickly when exposed to open air and should not be placed in the feed until just prior to eating. Typically, pastes and liquid supplements are best stored tightly sealed at room temperature, out of direct sunlight. Check the label for specific instructions, as some may require refrigeration.
Powdered or pelleted supplements are not as adversely affected by temperature extremes. Short periods (several hours) of high heat will not negatively affect these supplements. For the most part, freezing will not alter their molecular structure. However, humidity and moisture can cause problems such as molding or clumping. Some supplements (electrolytes, for example) are hydroscopic, which means they can pull water out of the air. Powders and pellets should be kept tightly sealed and stored in a cool, dry place, especially in the summer months. Each supplement is different so check the label for specific storage instructions.
Suggestions: If you are having a paste or liquid supplement shipped to you, leave a note for the delivery company to leave the package in a shaded, covered area or provide a cooler for them to place the package in. These steps will help protect the supplements until you get home. If leaving the supplement in your car, try to minimize the hours it is exposed to extreme temperatures. Leave a window cracked or use a sunshield. A small cooler would also be an option to store supplements in your car. Most paste and liquid supplements are small enough to be stored easily under your desk at work. Powdered or pelleted supplements should be fine if stored properly within 12 hours, but should be left in a shaded, covered area protected from the rain.
The label storage directions say to store in a cool, dry place and reseal lid tightly. What exactly does that mean?
Answer: Ideally, cool and dry describes a temperature between 50⁰F and 70⁰F with a humidity of 40% to 50%. It is most important to keep supplements out of direct sunlight and sealed tightly. If your supplement contains a plastic liner and tie, it is important to reseal the liner before resealing the lid. If the supplement contains a desiccant, it is important for it to stay in the bucket to prevent any moisture from affecting the supplement. Moisture causes mold, degrades pellet quality, causes clumping, and reduces nutrient value. A loose lid not only affects supplement quality, but can attract rodents and small mammals (including your dog or cat) that can contaminate and destroy supplements.
Suggestions: Store supplements in a shaded, cool area of your barn or feed room. Supplements with plastic liners often have zip lock tops or reusable zip ties provided to reseal the bag, so take the time to open the bag carefully and reseal the liner after every use. Make sure lids are closed completely to allow the gasket to prevent moisture from entering the container. For convenience you can replace the standard lid with a gamma seal lid. The gamma seal lid converts the bucket into a screw top container for ease of use.
Can I prepare my supplements ahead of time for the entire week?
Answer: It depends on the formulation of the supplement. Liquid supplements like Contribute and Elevate W.S. cannot be added to feed ahead of time or mixed with supplements in advance of feeding. These supplements can also not be drawn up in a syringe or divided up into individual containers more than an hour prior to administration. Exposing these supplements to light and air causes oxidation and degrades the potency. These supplements are packaged during manufacturing in special containers to protect them from air and sunlight. They should be stored in these containers until fed. Powdered and pelleted supplements like Neigh-Lox Advanced and Summer Games Electrolyte are fine to make up in individual bags or containers ahead of time. They can also be safely mixed with other dry supplements and added to dry feed in advance of feeding.
Suggestions: If you are looking for a handy way to administer Contribute right before feeding, pumps are available for the one-gallon container. One squirt equals one ounce. Elevate WS can be placed on the feed or given orally. Elevate WS can be measured out by syringe, or a level capful will hold a 6 ml (3000 IU) dose.
Buying a large bucket is much more cost-effective, but will it stay fresh?
Answer: Yes, if stored under the proper conditions the supplement will stay fresh until the expiration date. A supplement’s shelf life can range from 12 months to 2 years. The expiration date can be found on the product label. Never feed a supplement past its expiration date. If you are concerned that you will not be able to store the supplement under optimal conditions or that it will outlast its shelf life, then purchase a smaller size.
Suggestion: If you purchase a large bucket and are worried about storing it in the barn for an extended period of time, you can store the bucket in your house and keep a smaller bucket in the barn and refill it when needed. It is important the second container is well sealed.