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January 12, 2023

The use of flavorings in horse feed is a common practice in Mexico, however, the selection of the flavor is usually based on the preference of feed manufacturers or riders, or by market trends. The most commonly used flavors are apple, anise, or combinations between them or with other flavors.

Liquid flavorings can be applied in the same way, regardless of the type of feed manufacture (mixed grains, multiparticulate, pelleted and extruded).

The objective of the trial was to determine whether horses have other flavor preferences in addition to those mentioned. 

A group of 16 horses of different breeds, sexes and ages were used for the trial.

The flavors tested were as follows:

- Orange, anise and apple with cinnamon (manufactured by Norel).

- Alfalfa, molasses and caramel (other manufacturer).

The different flavors were included in identically formulated feeds in pelleted form. The formulation did not contain citrus pulp to avoid changes in the flavor or palatability of the feed. The feed used for each flavor was 2 kg per horse, and was presented for only 3 minutes. For the test, each horse was given a sniff of the 6 different flavors and fed them, one at a time. Each horse was fasting at the time of the first smell. Each horse started with a different flavor so that all were in the same condition. The sniffing time was recorded. Once the horse smelled the feed, the amount consumed was measured by weighing the feed left in the feeder, taking care that there was no waste by using a tarp to catch the fallen feed. Feeds were offered in the following order:

 Horse 1: 1st Feed: Orange, 2nd Feed: anise-herbs, 3rd Feed: cinnamon apple, 4th Feed: alfalfa, 5th Feed: molasses, 6th Feed: caramel

Horse 2: 1st Feed: Anise-herbs 2nd Feed: cinnamon apple, 3rd Feed: alfalfa, 4th Feed: molasses, 5th Feed: caramel, 6th Feed: orange

Horse 3: 1st Feed: cinnamon apple, 2nd Feed: alfalfa, 3rd Feed: molasses, 4th Feed: caramel, 5th Feed: orange, 6th Feed: Anise-herbs

And so on…

Three parameters were evaluated: Smelling time (seconds), Feed intake time (seconds) and Feed intake during 3 minutes of exposition (grams)

The results are shown in the following graphics:

Table 1. Smelling and intake time in seconds  

Table 2. Feed intake in grams

As conclusion we can state that: the more smelling time, the less intake (caramel flavor). The feeds with the highest ingestion were those with the lowest odor, the horses started eating immediately. The flavors with the longest ingestion time were anise-grass and orange (Norel). For some horses the flavor is not significant. In these cases, the use of sweeteners is recommended to increase attractiveness and palatability, so a new trial with sweeteners is needed.


Ana Isabel Casillas, Norel Mexico.
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