Consider Flavoring Your Horse’s High-Fiber Feed With Fenugreek

A research team investigated which flavorings horses preferred to make high-fiber rations more palatable. Here’s what they found.
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Consider Flavoring Your Horse
Fenugreek, a commonly added palatant, was the most consumed flavor in the study. | Photo: iStock

We know that high-fiber feeds are good for equine gastrointestinal health because they mimic horses’ natural foraging diets better than traditional concentrate feeds. Some owners report that their horses don’t like how high-fiber feeds taste, however, prompting manufacturers to add flavoring to improve their palatability and consumption.

Because most palatability studies on horse feeds have been conducted using concentrate diets, a research team at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland, decided to look at horses’ flavor preferences when consuming high-fiber diets. Viola Farci, a PhD student at the University, presented their findings at the 2019 Equine Science Society Symposium, held June 3-6 in Asheville, North Carolina.

In the two-part study, Farci’s team first tested whether five commonly used feed flavorings (apple, carrot, fenugreek, garlic, and mint) and five less-common flavors (banana, cherry, cinnamon, citrus, and vanilla) would increase eight adult horses’ feed consumption. They offered each horse two buckets of high-fiber soaked feed at a time—one with a test flavor and one unflavored—and measured each horse’s feed consumption after three minutes. The researchers repeated this for each of the 10 flavors

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Alexandra Beckstett, a native of Houston, Texas, is a lifelong horse owner who has shown successfully on the national hunter/jumper circuit and dabbled in hunter breeding. After graduating from Duke University, she joined Blood-Horse Publications as assistant editor of its book division, Eclipse Press, before joining The Horse. She was the managing editor of The Horse for nearly 14 years and is now editorial director of EquiManagement and My New Horse, sister publications of The Horse.

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