Prepackaged Supplements Fill A Niche

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Supplements are a fact of life in many barns. At home it’s easy to set tubs of supplements next to the feed bin and dip out the appropriate amount of each and dump it on our horse’s feed. But what if you keep your horse in a boarding barn'

Most stables will accommodate your horse’s supplement needs, although it can become a hassle for them when many horses get different products. In addition, one person’s idea of a “scoop” might be level while another’s is heaping. It can be equally challenging on the road with your own horses.

For those who board or always run late feeding at their own barns, having supplements prepackaged into daily doses can make things simpler and ensure the horse gets his daily supplements in the correct amounts. It also might eliminate the problem of someone “borrowing” supplements from your bulk container or you getting caught short.

Many horse owners prepackage their supplements themselves, using small containers or plastic sandwich bags. They measure out the supplements, pour them in bags, sort them into morning or evening feedings, write the horse’s name on each bag, and then tote the week’s worth to the barn. It’s a lot of time and work.

In addition, you need to know which supplements can be mixed with which or place each in its own container or bag. While there is generally no harm in mixing supplements together at feeding time, there could be a problem with interaction if certain supplements are stored mixed together for even a short period of time.

Commercial Options
In business, there’s an adage: “Find a need and fill it.” Several companies have stepped up to the plate to serve up the precise supplement rations your horse needs at every meal. There should be no wrong doses, no accidentally skipping a supplement or giving one in the morning that should be fed in the evening. Besides the possibility of inaccurately measuring, prepackaging eliminates the problem of open tubs of supplements losing their potency when exposed to oxygen and moisture or passing expiration dates before you’ve used them up. But is it worth the cost'

We looked at the services provided by two such companies, SmartPak Equine and Equine Nutri-Sendtials. Both will prepackage name-brand supplements in the amount appropriate for your horse and deliver them to your door every four weeks. The daily packets are labeled with the horse’s name, the owner’s name and the contents. Both companies have tracking systems so they know which customers got products from what lot numbers, an important safety feature if there’s ever a recall.

The SmartPak system puts each supplement into a separate “well” in a molded plastic container so there is no intermingle until the lid is peeled back and the contents of the individual wells are dumped out into the feed. SmartPaks can be as small as one or two wells, or can be made to hold up to seven supplements. Besides the horse’s name and the owner’s name, the label on each container lists the supplement in each well of the container. There is also a packaging date on each container.

While different supplements can be packaged for the morning and evening feedings, the company only packages supplements that are fed on a daily basis, not ones fed only once or twice a week. Only supplements the company has on its list can be ordered, although the list is extensive. Once you select the supplements, you give them your credit card information and the prepackaged supplements come automatically every four weeks. SmartPak can also package daily doses of pharmaceuticals with a prescription.

The system from Equine Nutri-Sendtials works pretty much the same way, but they use plastic bags. All bags for a single feeding are packaged together in one, larger bag. One week’s supply is packed in a box you can take to the barn and set in the feed room. The box has the horse’s name in large letters and “AM” or “PM” printed on it. Product specification sheets for each supplement are included. The horse’s name, the owner’s name and a use-by date are printed on all of the bags, plus a lot number and contact information for Equine Nutri-Sendtials.

Equine Nutri-Sendtials addresses the problem of interaction by packaging any product that might cause a reaction in a separate bag. If you prefer each supplement in its own individual bag, the company can accommodate most special packaging requests. Equine Nutri-Sendtials has an extensive list of brand-name products, but you can also order a supplement that is not on the list if you agree to get it for six months.

Both companies recommend selecting supplements with the help of your veterinarian, however, Equine Nutri-Sendtials also offers a computer analysis of your horse’s nutritional needs for $40. It’s smart to analyze your horse’s diet for any nutritional gaps, deficiencies or imbalances before you choose a supplement, and this service is a plus.

Both companies can make changes in supplements or dosages if you call at least two weeks before the next shipment is due.

Bottom Line
We expected professional pre-measuring and packaging services to be prohibitively expensive and no competition for buying in bulk and filling plastic bags at home. But after doing some comparisons (see chart), we found that the cost of such convenience is quite palatable, particularly for people who must entrust the feeding of their horses to others or have multiple horses receiving differing supplements.

We found SmartPak’s system dazzling. On the other hand, we were also comfortable with Nutri-Sendtial’s bag system. In addition, we appreciate that Nutri-Sendtials will stock a product not on their base list. We also like their added service of a nutritional analysis, if you haven’t already done that yourself.

If you decide a prepackaged supplement service is for you, compare the prices of the supplements you want from both companies and add in those shipping costs to your own facility.

Also With This Article
Click here to view ”What’s Best For You'”
Click here to view ”Help For The Do-It-Yourselfer.”
Click here to view ”Services To Make Feeding Supplements Simpler.”
Click here to view ”Comparing Prices.”