- Best Trait = Ingredients
- Worst Trait = Limited distribution
Consider this product if…
- Your forage quality is poor
- You’d like to add a digestive aid as a preventative for digestive upset to a horse’s diet who is actively training, competing, and traveling regularly
- You are not feeding recommended levels of a fortified feed product already containing yeast cultures
- Your horse suffers from diarrhea and/or chronic bouts of colic
There are two major categories of digestive aids; prebiotics and probiotics. The FORCO Feed Supplement Digestive Fortifier falls into the prebiotic category as it contains non-living organisms and their extracts. I tend to recommend prebiotics over probiotics as we don’t have to worry about the whole living microorganism surviving the generally hostile environment of the horse’s foregut including low pH, enzymes, and other competitive microorganisms. What I like about FORCO Feed Supplement Digestive Fortifier is that they use ingredients that have actually been trialled in horses and show promising results (Valigura et al., 2019, Garber et al., 2020). Though many of these studies show positive numerical changes with yeast culture, they often fail to be statistically significant. Keep this in mind whenever purchasing digestive aids.
Here’s the thing about digestive aids; they don’t typically cause harm, they are not very expensive, and they might work. However, be warned that we (equine nutritionists, veterinarians, and researchers) still know very little about the “black hole” that is the horse’s hindgut, so read claims and marketing material critically. What we DO know is that each horse contains it’s own universe of flora and fauna in it’s 70 feet of digestive system, so the efficacy of individual products on individual horses can vary. I always recommend starting one supplement at a time and taking notes on behavior, manure consistency, and other health signs.
Let’s start with the not-so-obvious, shall we. I like to start from the bottom-up on a feed tag. This is where the “secrets” of the industry lie and where we can learn the most about a feed or supplement company.
Company Information & Communication
The descriptive claims for this product are reasonable and accurate which shows a high degree of company integrity. They do not make wild promises of curing or treating disease.
The company did not respond to my request for answers to 8 questions including the following;
- What is the number one advantage of your product over other prebiotic/digestive aid supplements on the market today?
- What regulatory bodies oversee the mixing, quality control, and labeling of your product (i.e. USDA/FDA, AAFCO, Oregon Tilth, Safe Feed-Safe Food, HACCP, Non-GMO Verified, National Animal Supplement Council)?
- If not GMP, HACCP or AAFCO certified, how do you ensure consistency and quality of every bag/bucket leaving your manufacturing plant?
- Could you please supply 1-3 peer reviewed studies that support the need and dosage of your ingredients- in particular the bacterial and fungal extracts?
- What are the credentials of the primary creator?
Unfortunately, we are not able to validate the safety and quality standards of this product without company response. This review will be updated if provided. Therefore they get 3 out of 5 stars for Company Information & Communication.
This product is recommending one to three 2 oz servings per horse per day. They do indeed distinguish between small, medium, and large horses which is a positive. However, I’d prefer that they added more description for horses with various stress levels and special needs. They are also inconsistent with their suggested use with 1-3 ounces on their label and 2-4 ounces in the FAQ.
Even a quick glance at a Google Scholar search result for the ingredients in Forco Digestive Fortifier reveals many peer-reviewed studies showing positive results in horses. Studies show improved fiber digestion, increased nitrogen retention, and improved immune response. I appreciate the simplicity of this supplement as well.
A guaranteed analysis is a mute point for supplements such as these for two reasons; first, its purpose is NOT to supply classes of nutrients like protein, fats, carbs, vitamins, or minerals, and secondly, they do not claim to contain living organisms. I’m going to ignore the guaranteed analysis on such products. Given that they at least tried to guarantee a couple nutrients gives them a 4 out of 5 star rating.
The FORCO company home website does not offer online purchase of their products. They actually suggest feed store dealerships, but given the spotty distribution of this product, I went to Amazon for a price. A 5 pound bag of granular FORCO Feed Supplement Digestive Fortifier (40 servings) costs $39.99 before shipping ($6.69 to ship to Montana, FYI). This makes a recommended 2 oz maintenance serving cost $1.00 per day. This is significantly more than the $0.56 per day advertised on their FAQ webpage. At the higher 4 oz/day dose, it’s going to cost you $2.00 per day or $60 per month.
Of course, buying bigger bags will decrease your daily cost significantly.
How does that compare to other products on the market? I consider any supplement under $1.00 a day to be reasonable. Considering that many fortified feeds including ration balancers have the recommended level of yeast cultures in their products, it could be more efficient to just buy a fortified product with yeast and other microorganism extracts already in it.
I like this supplement, and I recommend it. The ingredients list is simple and contains some research backing that at least points to real benefits. Though the company failed to respond to my request via email (they wanted me to call the owner), the literature on their website is fair and accurate without misleading claims. Bummer it’s a bit hard to get unless you order on Amazon in the 5 pound bucket at a higher price per serving. Let me know if you find a better place to purchase this online!
Valigura, H., Leatherwood, J., Martinez, R., Warzecha, C., and S. White. 2019. Dietary supplementation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae fermentation product attenuates exercise-induced stress markers in young horses. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science, 76:48.
Garber, A., Hastie, P., and J. Murray. 2020. Factors Influencing Equine Gut Microbiota: Current Knowledge. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science. Volume 88.