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Collective Terms VS. Individual Terms on a Feed Tag

Grain products, plant protein products, roughage products…these are all terms that some horse owners flee from when reading a feed tag. But should this cause someone to immediately dismiss a certain feed? These terms listed above are examples of collective terms. They are broad categories that encompass a variety of possible ingredients. When looking at a tag that has individual terms, you’ll see things like oats, wheat middlings, beet pulp, corn, soybean meal, etc. It is essentially moving past broad groups and listing what exactly within those broad groups are being utilized. It’s like saying “I have eaten my five servings of vegetables for today” versus “I have eaten tomatoes, asparagus, spinach, corn, and squash today.” So why does this understanding matter to horse owners?


Collective terms are not bad…they are simply vague. Seeing grain products and plant protein products doesn’t necessarily mean the manufacturer is trying to hide something. It is simply an easier way to have ingredients listed on a tag. It also should be noted that every state has different requirements for what must be included on a feed tag. Many horse owners seem to think the absolute worst scenario…the manufacturer is putting horrible things in the feed and trying to hide it. This simply isn’t true…however, you should be able to know exactly which ingredients are being used. So if individual terms are not listed, simply contact the manufacturer and ask! You will likely find that it is not a list of cheap ingredients that are harmful to your horse. Excel Equine® uses individual terms on all of our tags and literature to help the owner clearly understand what is in their horse feed. Speaking of what is in horse feed…


Let’s talk about what would go under “grain products,” “plant protein products,” and “by-products.” For “grain products,” you would likely find ingredients such as: oats, corn, or barley. For “plant protein products,” you would probably find ingredients like: soybean meal.  For “forage products, “you would likely see: alfalfa meal or grass hay. And for “roughage products,” there will possibly be listed: beet pulp or soybean hulls.  I think it is helpful to know what goes within these categories because then they won’t seem so foreign, and you can have an understanding of the kinds of ingredients each one is referring to.


Let’s talk about by-products for a minute…this is another “feed tag myth” that I think deserves some attention. By-products are not bad or cheap. Beet pulp is a by-product…it is derived from the sugar beet. Rice barn is a by-product of rice milling. Soybean meal and soy hulls are by-products of processing soybeans. By-products are simply the parts of the grain or plant that are left after processing. The term by-product often leads people to think that it is what is cast aside, as in not as good as what it was originally. This usually isn’t the case since many by-products provide added nutritional benefit when compared to the original food product.


At Excel Equine® , we use only the highest quality of ingredients for our horse feeds. You can clearly see all of our ingredients listed out in individual terms on our literature, but if you ever need clarification on something…please ask us! Customer questions are always welcome. Hopefully this helps feed tags seem less mysterious. The more clarification the better for the horse owner in making educated decisions and forming opinions about different horse feeds.