read your horses feed label

How to translate your horse’s feed bag label.

If you ever spend the time to glace at your horse’s feed bag ingredients, you may notice that there are some fairly weird words. Here’s what they all mean.


  • Noxious – This is a word you often see preceding WEED. Noxious means poisonous, toxic, harmful, you get the idea. Technically speaking, a noxious weed is any plant that is deemed harmful by a federal, state, or local government. The noxious week could be harmful to people, agriculture, animals, or even property.


  • Fortified – This means that the feed has extra nutrients added to it, usually vitamins and minerals. This is often to replace nutrients lost during the feed manufacturing process.



bag of hay pellets

Noxious. It just sounds bad!


  • Extruded – Extruded feeds are created by the extrusion process – hence the name. This is how the horse feed is made – via steam, heat, and squashing in a die. This creates a dog or cat food-like appearance. Extruded feeds are typically very digestible and the nutrients are more available to your horse!


  • Pelleted – Pelleted feeds are ground, mixed with a binder (like molasses), steamed, and pressed through a die. Pelleted horse feeds are also easily digestible and, like extruded feeds, virtually dust-free.


  • Crude – This is where I asked our friend Dr. Clair from Summit Equine Nutrition to explain this one. She tells us that “Crude protein is not actually a measure of protein at all. They calculate the amount of nitrogen and then multiply that by 6.25 to get the amount of crude protein. They have calculated values rather than direct measures of the thing in questions if that makes sense. So there is the potential for a lot of error because you calculate things (in some cases several things) and then do an equation. So if there was an error in any of the experiments to get the values for those things then that error will be compounded in the final equation. Pretty crude huh!”


  • Meal – this is the by-product of many plants (like soybean or alfalfa) that remains when the oil from the plant is removed.


ingredients of feed


  • Roughage – Basically this is fiber! It’s also indigestible, but aids in the overall digestive process and is involved with water absorption (to make manure easily passable) and helping it all go smoothly.


  • Guaranteed analysis – this is the animal food version of a nutritional label on human food. Note that the ingredients are listed with MINIMUMS or MAXIMUMS. This is not super duper exact, but at least you have a good starting point on your feed product for your horse.


  • Middlings – when flour is made, it is classified into three grades: patents, middlings, and clears. Wheat middlings are a great source of protein and fiber for your horse.


horse feed bag ingredients


What else seems interesting (or just plain weird) on your horse’s feed bag?