Feed Review: Stabul 1
The following information is provided to horse owners making decisions for feeding their horses.
The horse feed industry is worth an estimated $9 billion in annual revenue and there are many companies attempting to tap into this market and the competition is fierce. Because horses are considered livestock there are very few regulatory protections against frivolous claims of efficacy in feeds and supplements.
There are some rules regarding disclosure of nutrients and ingredients which provide clues to a skilled eye. Most horse owners as consumers aren’t aware of the nuances and are easily misguided by flashy marketing and links to articles supporting their claims.
This review is not intended to comment on the quality or the performance result of the subject feed or supplement but to point out data or claims that may be misleading in order to enable a consumer to make a more educated decision.
The other objective of these reviews is to provide actual examples as teaching opportunities to help the reader learn what to look for and what questions to ask when choosing any feed or supplement for their horses.
Stabul 1 is a boutique feed company that was brought to my attention during a conversation in a Facebook group related to low carb diets. The feed was presented as something special and formulated exclusively with metabolic horses in mind.
Stabul 1 is part of the NuZu product line produced by Anderson Feed Company in Illinois. Anderson specializes in exotic feeds and would seem to have the resources for producing a perfectly acceptable, quality horse feed.
There are no references to how or where their feed is manufactured other than it is done in
The feed isn’t widely distributed but it does offer a perfect opportunity for pointing out what to look for when doing a comparison.
“Low NSC feed for metabolic horses”
Well, at 5% sugar and 5% starch this puts them in the low NSC category for sure. Each value is listed separately on their guaranteed analysis so that box is checked.
“No added iron”
Indeed, there is no iron source noted on the list of ingredients. Check.
The “no added iron” claim is totally irrelevant and is playing off of the promotion of iron toxicity in horses of which there is absolutely no evidence that iron poisoning is a problem for horses. This boogeyman is a product of a few people who have a vested interest in selling iron reducing supplements.
“High quality fermentable fiber from soybean hulls, beet pulp and alfalfa which provides calories in a safe form.”
The list of feeds that use these ingredients is long. I do object to the word “safe”. All feeds are equally “safe” or “dangerous” depending upon their application.
“Probiotics included to promote fermentation in the hindgut”
There is much clinical evidence that shows supplemental probiotics for healthy horses have no benefit. Next.
“Added fat from vegetable oil to increase energy density and maintain body, skin and hair condition”
At only 2.5% fat it’s really not going to make much of a difference.
“Flaxseed to provide Omega 3 fatty acids which boost the immune system and can help regulate thyroid functions, making it an ideal supplement for metabolic horses as well as aging horses”
This one made coffee shoot out of my nose.
The infusion rate of flaxseed in this product probably wouldn’t move the needle on VFAs produced in a horse. There are much better sources of Omega VFAs than flaxseed and there is no clinical evidence that flaxseed regulates thyroid functions, boost immune systems nor make anything an ideal supplement for metabolic or aging horses.
“With added Amino Acids we guarantee correct levels of Lysine and Methionine to ensure quality protein for healthy muscle tissue support.”
Well, kinda. The Lysine level isn’t that great for this feed and when consulting the list of ingredients I don’t see Lysine listed anywhere. Soy is a natural source of lysine and they have it on the GA but most quality feeds who guarantee Lysine levels will show L-Lysine in the ingredients since plain old Lysine is not bioavailable to horses and it must be L-lysine.
The website provides links to some articles that support their formulation. Not one is a link to a scholarly article or peer reviewed study that show trial results of this particular feed.
This doesn’t make it a bad feed but it does make it nothing special.
What to Look For
In general the website presents this feed as something special designed specifically for NSC sensitive horses. While it seems to be a perfectly lovely feed it is nothing special.
There are two feeds, Stabul 1 for “easy keepers” and Stabul 1 Plus for horses that may need more calories.
Stabul 1 Plus is basically the same feed with a bit more protein and fat. According to the website there is only a difference of 100 kcals per pound between the two. Stabul 1 is 1,100 while Plus offers 1,200.
The feed rates are clearly stated but the statement about Stabul 1 being a feed for “easy keepers” is not the best advice. True, it is low in NSC and calories but the problem lies in the feed rate required to deliver a full day’s supply of nutrition for a 1,000 pound horse versus a ration balancer like Purina Enrich.
If you refer to the comparison chart below you will note that in order to feed the essential nutrients offered by Enrich Stabul on must be fed at nearly three times the rate. One pound per day of Enrich versus three pounds per day of Stabul 1.
The other feed listed is Purina Wellsolve L/S which is their low starch feed clocking in at 11% total NSC. You can see that these feeds are fairly comparable and will do a similar job when fed in the appropriate conditions.
The Stabul 1 feed has nothing that jumps out at me as being a poor choice for a feed. The specifications on the feed shows a perfectly acceptable choice for a metabolic horse that requires more calories and feed volume than a balancer can deliver.
The issue is that the application is presented incorrectly in its application as a ration balancer which it is not.
The potential error resulting from this presentation is that an owner of an “easy keeper” who will feed less than the required amount because of weight gain will be cheating their horse out of some essential nutrition.
Stabul 1 is being presented as a low NSC feed designed for horses with metabolic conditions which is exactly what it is. However another error in assumption by consumers who aren’t fully educated is that Stabul 1 is a better choice at 10% NSC than Enrich at 15%. As you just learned the Enrich will deliver the required nutrients with half the NSC of the Stabul 1.
There really aren’t any points that concern me about this feed, it seems perfectly lovely. At the same time I can’t find a single compelling reason to use this feed as opposed to any number of available options.