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Feeding The Nation

By Sarah Whitelaw December 20 2010


Equi-feeds is the most popular brand of equine feed used in South Africa. Last season 18 of the top 20 trainers in the country were Equi-feeds customers.

The Equi-feeds story began in 1993, when the now managing director, Scott Miller, moved to Cape Town and purchased Hassan Adams' feed company.
"Pocket Power" - SA Champion    

Miller was involved in the production of computer software for the equine industry at the time, and recognised a niche in the market for a new brand of feed.

After purchasing Adams' company, Miller renamed it Equi-feeds and set about producing customized feed for individual clients.

Miller went into partnership with long time friend, and racehorse owner, Graham Elliott, and the two built up the company into what it is today.

Equi-feeds director, Graham Elliott says of the product, " Equi-feeds was created with the aim of improving athletic performance in horses. The feed is guaranteed to optimise energy in the horse, thanks to raised levels of minerals, vitamins and protein."

The organisation started off just outside of Cape Town, but today there are branches in Port Elizabeth, Bloemfontein and Gauteng.  Equi-feeds has become a brand recognised internationally, and its mix is distributed to East and West Africa, parts of the Middle East and Mauritius. In 1998, Equi-feeds became the first horse feed company in the country to manufacture steam extruded maize (which is said to improve digestion in the horses' small intestine). Whilst the feed is marketing mainly towards the equestrian set, Equi-feeds also produces a range of other mixes aimed at other species.

The company maintains an extensive marketing group, which promotes the various brands of feed manufactured by Equi-feeds.

Equi-feeds have two full time nutritionists, both of whom have master degrees in animal nutrition. Each branch has sales people assisting customers in making decisions regarding the final mix of feed that they require.

Equi-feed's standard mix for racehorses, falls into three different categories. One race horse feed, which boasts a14% protein content, caters for older horses in training. Another mix, containing 16% protein, is designed for younger horses, just starting out in training. Their Cheetah mix targets older horses in training, who are on a rigorous training program. One of the primary concerns for the company is to maintain a horse-friendly product, and one which contains only the best quality. _

Equi-feeds also have a program catering for breeding stock, which ranges from looking after yearlings, to feeding stud stallions. The breeding stock feed ranges from a low protein (12 Stud feed) for mares already feeding in high protein pastures, to Robertson feed. This mixture is designed for breeding animals, as well as the growing youngsters. The Roberston feed is high in proteins and vitamins, as well as minerals and trace minerals.

They also supply a range of grasses and fibre feed, as well as hay, according to the customers' requirements.

The feed is manufactured in separately functioning branches. A racehorse, in full training, will consume 11/2 bags a week, whilst a broodmare will eat 3/4 of a bag weekly.  The average racehorse may consume from 6-12 kgs of feed daily. The feed, along with good quality hay, is used in accordance with the individual horse's body weight as well as the individual's working program.

The standard Equi-feeds mix, for thoroughbreds, is a muesli mix, containing no fewer than 10 different energy sources. The feed (for a horse in training) is composed of lucerne, roasted maize, cooked barley, oats, wheaten bran, soya bean oil, cake, full fat soya, vegetable oil, molasses meal, liquid sugar cane, molasses, salt and feed lime. 

One of Equi-feeds' first customers was leading Cape Town trainer, Vaughan Marshall. Marshall brought Equi-feeds tremendous publicity, when, in 1995, he saddled La Fabulous to win Cape Town's biggest race, the J&B Met.

Equi-feeds' current poster boy is Pocket Power. South Africa's legendary champion, now a 20 time winner of nearly R10 million, has been fed on Equi-feeds' mix throughout his career. Remarkably, at the age of eight, Pocket Power is as good as ever, having won a Gr2 race last month.  To date, Pocket Power, voted South African Horse of the Year on three occasions, has won 15 graded races, nine of which were Gr1 events. In 2008, Pocket Power and Dancer's Daughter dead-heated in the July - both are Equi-feeds graduates.

Other equine stars, who benefit from the use of Equi-feeds, include River Jetez, winner of the 2010 J&B Met, top eventer Travelling Lad, and A New Era - winner of the prestigious show jumping event, the SA Derby. No fewer than 10 horses, on Equi-feeds, have won the Met.

About the Author

Sarah Whitelaw
Sarah Whitelaw is a freelance writer in South Africa, who works full time for the Form Organisation. She writes for Sporting Post, the ARO website, Freeracer, and works for the TBA at various bloodstock sales. She is keen follower of pedigrees and international racing. Sarah is based in Cape Town.