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Cattle feed bad for horses?

From: Erica

Dear Jessica, the other day I was at the feed mill with my trainer. She has a hot temper and sometimes it can be embarrassing to be with her. Well, this was one of those days. She got totally furious with the mill owner and yelled at him just because he ran a cattle feed mix through right before her horse feed mix. She said she wouldn't touch the feed and he should give it to the cattle guy and he had to mix hers all over again. I think she was mad because the cattle owner's feed got mixed first and she thinks horses are more important? I think they are too, but I don't know about being rude and yelling at somebody for no reason.

Last night at supper I asked my Dad about it, he knows the guy who owns the mill. He said he thought my trainer acted like a b***h and she thinks she's better than the cattle owner but she isn't. He said she's just a typical horsey snob and it's the guy's feed mill and he can do his work in whatever order he wants.

Okay, so then I went to the barn for my lesson and somebody was talking about the feed thing and said it was a good thing my trainer was there to see it, because the cattle feed would have poisoned the horse feed if she let them mix her feed right after the cattle feed. Now I'm totally confused. Why would anybody put poison in cattle feed? I happen to know that these are BEEF cattle for people to EAT, so there's no way anybody would poison them. I don't get it. Please help me understand. I think adults are all crazy. Erica

Hi Erica - nope, sorry, not all adults are crazy. Some of us are, but not all. Your trainer was right to be angry, and the person at your barn who said that the feed would have poisoned the horses was right, too. Your trainer knew that, and that's why she was so angry. The feed mill owner SHOULD have known that, too.

Nobody is poisoning beef cattle, but cattle feed often has something called "Rumensin" added to it. Beef cattle feed has lots of ingredients added to it - the idea is to get as much weight on those cattle as possible before they are sold for beef.

Now, here's why there was a problem at the feed mill: Rumensin may be just fine for beef cattle, but it's TOXIC TO HORSES. It damages their heart muscles, and horses that eat feed containing Rumensin will die from heart failure - or will be permanently and badly damaged.

Feed producers KNOW this - it's why you will never find Rumensin in any feed designed for horses. Feed mill owners and operators know this too, because they NEED to know it. At a feed mill, custom mixes of grains, additives, molasses, etc. are prepared to order, and since the mixes are put through the same hoppers, it matters very much indeed which order is processed first. If the horse feed is processed first, then the cattle feed with Rumensin, the horses will be fine, and the cattle will be fine. If the cattle feed is processed first, then the horse feed, some of the Rumensin can end up in the horse feed - and then NOBODY will be fine, not the horses, not the horses' owners, not the trainer, and not the feed mill owner.

So although your trainer was rude, she had every reason to be upset and angry. Tell your Dad the reasons for not mixing cattle feed additives into horse feed - I bet he'll change his mind about your trainer's behaviour. And tell every horse-owner you know not to feed their horses cattle feed, not to give their horses handfuls of cattle feed as a treat, and not to turn their horses out with cattle for group feeding - unless they KNOW exactly what is in the cattle feed, and are absolutely sure that there is no Rumensin or any other ingredient that could hurt their horses.


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