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Why is iron added to supplments and feed


celestinefarm
 

I have a friend with IR horses whom I'm trying to bring to the light. One disagreement I am having with her is although we have research basis in recommending no added iron, she wants to know why every single feed manufacturer and 95% of general vitamin and supplement manufacturers add iron to their mixes.  In other words, why would manufacturers ignore research that states horses do not need added iron and most are being exposed to too much iron , and go to the expense and effort to add it anyway?  
I had downloaded my old NRC course and questions on a external drive and don't have access to it at the moment, so can't review them for the possible answer.
--
Dawn Wagstaff and Tipperary   

Saline, MI  2003

Tipperary Case History

Juniper Case history: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Dawn%20and%20Juniper/Case%20history%20Juniper.pdf .


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

Has she seen the latest paper?

https://www.openveterinaryjournal.com/OVJ-2019-04-078%20E.M.%20Kellon%20and%20K.M.%20Gustafson.pdf

Forgetting about horses in general for the moment, that should explain why IR horses shouldn't get supplemental iron.

Why do they keep adding it. Because they always have before. It was never based on need to add it.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com  2 for 1 course sale
EC Owner 2001


celestinefarm
 

Dr. Kellon, thanks for the reply. No, she hasn't seen that paper. I've tried giving her studies like that and honestly, those of us in the medical and veterinary community need to recognize that many lay individuals have zero interest and little ability to read through them. Even the conclusion section is not understandable for them and only serves to intimidate people. 
While researching this topic so I could give her some kind of answer( she is trying to defend her feeding program which was recommended to her by a feed company representative) I came across this question and answer section on Triple Crown's website in which someone else has asked the same question. It appears to be answered by their nutritionist who formulates their products.

Question: Why do feeds labeled for IR horses have high iron?

Answer:

Insulin dysfunction in horses and people can lead to elevated blood iron levels, this is a symptom of insulin dysfunction and not a cause.  Even though elevated blood iron is a symptom of insulin resistance and not a cause high blood iron levels may exacerbate insulin dysfunction and this is the basis for the concern related to insulin resistance and iron intake in horses and diabetic people.  While insulin resistant horses and people need to be aware of iron intake levels they do not need to panic or try to avoid iron.  On the contrary, iron is an essential nutrient and needs to be included in the diet. The most important detail related to iron nutrition is that iron intake needs to be “in balance” with zinc, copper and manganese.  As long as the proportion of these four minerals (including iron) is within a desired range then the amount of dietary iron becomes less important.  That being said, one would still not want to feed large amounts of iron to an insulin resistant horse even if the mineral balance is correct.

Complicating matters is the fact that iron is one of the most abundant minerals on the planet.  Almost all feedstuffs and macro mineral sources contain iron.  However, much of this “innate” iron is in the form of iron oxide (otherwise known as rust) and is not biologically available to the horse, (here’s an important point – ), even though it will show up in total iron content of a feed or forage.  In other words, the guaranteed level of iron on a feed tag will include all forms of iron even though some of the iron inherently found in the ingredients will not be available to the horse.  This is why many feed companies do not even include an iron guarantee.  Feed companies that do guarantee iron levels do so to provide total disclosure to customers who are concerned about iron intake levels.  They are not trying to show how low the iron content is, but rather demonstrate that the iron level is in balance with zinc, manganese and copper.

I routinely add a small amount of available iron to a feed to ensure that the balance between iron and zinc, manganese and copper is within my desired range.  This ensures optimal iron metabolism and reduces the negative effects associated with high iron intake.

As long as iron levels are between 1 to 1 and 1.75 to 1 (iron to zinc)  in a feed or forage it will not be a problem for insulin resistant horses.  The average iron requirement for adult horses is approximately 500 mg per day, as long as total iron intake is “balanced” and between 500 and 1,200 mg per day it should not be a problem for insulin resistance horses.

Problems with iron intake and insulin dysfunction occur when iron intake levels exceed 1,200 mg per day and/or are greater than twice the zinc intake.  The two major causes for this are: 1) very high levels of iron in forage and 2) very high levels in a mineral supplement.  Note that high iron levels in feeds (while they do exist) is not a common problem.  Also note that feed companies that do not guarantee iron levels often have higher than average iron levels in their feeds.

I'm not supporting the above statements from this nutritionist as correct, but it does seem to answer the question as to why they add iron.
--
Dawn Wagstaff and Tipperary   

Saline, MI  2003

Tipperary Case History

Juniper Case history: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Dawn%20and%20Juniper/Case%20history%20Juniper.pdf .


Lorna Cane
 

Gosh.

Isn't there a lot of bafflegab in there? Or is this just me being cranky?

I don't want to pick at it (leaving that to EK and KG ), but for example, referring to feed labels, "They are not trying to show how low the iron content is, but rather demonstrate that the iron level is in balance with zinc, manganese and copper."
Reallly? Feed companies balance their minerals to the fe levels?
Most labels.....most.....I've seen have inadequate mineral amounts included, and  little respect for ratios. As far as IR horses are concerned, anyway.
Or am I misunderstanding? I'm always learning, so am happy to be corrected.


--

Lorna  in Eastern  Ontario
2002


 


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 
Edited

I've been explaining the science to lay people for close to 4 decades. If you're trying to convince someone, that's your job. The only thing she needs to know from that paper is that 100% of the tested IR horses were iron overloaded.

It might answer the question if it was true that "contaminatng" iron was not bioavailable and all the horse eats is that bagged feed but what about the bulk of the diet - hay.  Find me a hay where iron:zinc is 1:1, or even 1.75:1 - or anything close to it. Adding iron to the diet only compounds this.

I have no idea where that upper safe limit of 1200 mg/day came from - although it's remarkably close to what an average horse would take in from a diet of their complete feed and right on the nose for iron intake from their senior feed if fed as a complete feed.  Coincidence?

He also left out that iron deficiency in horses has NEVER been diagnosed under natural conditions; only in stall raised foals deprived of access to dirt, which is exactly why baby pigs in captivity get iron deficient too.  On the flip side he didn't mention iron overload in zoo animals and birds that is often traced to high iron pellets with the iron coming from processing, not supplementation.

Guarantees on feeds may  have nothing to do with actual content. They are basically what's added, not the total.

I will say that even a half-hearted recognition like that one would never have happened 5 or 10 years ago so I guess that's progress.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com  2 for 1 course sale
EC Owner 2001


Aurelio Henriques
 

Thank you Dr. Kellon for the ever so clear explanation on this matter. You explained this to me before but this certainly was a great refresher.

Many thanks, 
Aurelio Henriques
Ontario Dehy Inc.
tel. 519-524-1063
On 01/16/2020 5:15 PM, Eleanor Kellon, VMD wrote:

I've been explaining the science to lay people for close to 4 decades. If you're trying to convince someone, that's your job. The only thing she needs to know from that paper is that 100% of the tested IR horses were iron overloaded.

It might answer the question if it was true that "contaminatng" iron was not bioavailable and all the horse eats is that bagged feed but what about the bulk the diet - hay.  Find me a hay where iron:zinc is 1:1, or even 1.75:1 - or anything close to it. Adding iron to the diet only compounds this.

I have no idea where that upper safe limit of 1200 mg/day came from - although it's remarkably close to what an average horse would take in from a diet of their complete feed and right on the nose for iron intake from their senior feed if fed as a complete feed.  Coincidence?

He also left out that iron deficiency in horses has NEVER been diagnosed under natural conditions; only in stall raised foals deprived of access to dirt, which is exactly why baby pigs in captivity get iron deficient too.  On the flip side he didn't mention iron overload in zoo animals and birds that is often traced to high iron pellets with the iron coming from processing, not supplementation.

Guarantees on feeds may  have nothing to do with actual content. They are basically what's added, not the total.

I will say that even a half-hearted recognition like that one would never have happened 5 or 10 years ago so I guess that's progress.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com  2 for 1 course sale
EC Owner 2001



Nancy C
 

Hi Dawn

Who is the nutritionist for Triple Crown these days? Would you mind asking them?  I know you are good at this.
--
Nancy C in NH
ECIR Moderator 2003
ECIR Group Inc. President/Treasurer  2019-2020
Join us at the 2020 NO Laminitis! Conference, October 22 - 25, Harrisburg, PA


celestinefarm
 

Hi Nancy,
Dr.Bill Vandergrift is still the nutritionist for Triple Crown and designs their formulas. According to their website,many of their  sales representatives are members of Arpas, the American Assoication of Animal Scientists. 
https://www.triplecrownfeed.com/horse-health/horse-nutrition-equine-nutrition/
--
Dawn Wagstaff and Tipperary   

Saline, MI  2003

Tipperary Case History

Juniper Case history: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Dawn%20and%20Juniper/Case%20history%20Juniper.pdf .


Nancy C
 

Thanks Dawn. 


I was interested to know if, with the sale of the company some four or five years ago, that this may have changed. I know he is listed on the website. 



--
Nancy C in NH
ECIR Moderator 2003
ECIR Group Inc. President/Treasurer  2019-2020
Join us at the 2020 NO Laminitis! Conference, October 22 - 25, Harrisburg, PA


Maria Duran
 

Hi Dawn, 

My answer is not as complete and profesional as the one of other members and moderators but I have had this same discussion not long ago with a vet.
He wanted to give Red Cell to Plutón because he was a bit anemic and I had to demonstrate why ferropenic anemia was not a problem for horses.

I showed him a black iron overloaded liver, then an average hay analysis for iron, then said a 500 kg horse requirement at maintenance was only 400 mg per day,, then showed him the ideal ratio for Fe:Cu:Zn:Mn, then made the maths of iron intake only for hay consumptiom and then I asked why would he add more iron in red cell to the horse.

He had no answer. It is the same for concentrates, why add more?

I hope it helps a bit but my experience is that the more knowledge in the wrong direction a person has, the harder it is to teach him the right path.

Every person has its own rythm of learning and you can only point them to the goal and then wait for them at the finish line. Sometimes they meet you there, sometimes not, sometimes they only reach a middle point and sometimes you move your goal because you learn more.

--
María Durán Navarro 
Dec 2017
Madrid (Spain)

Plutón´s Case History
Plutón´s Photo Album
_._,_._,_


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

With anemia, iron deficiency results in microcytic (low MCV) and hypochromic (low MCHC) anemia. All CBCs have those results on them. If it's not microcytic and hypochromic, it's not iron deficiency. If it's not iron deficiency, giving iron won't help.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com  2 for 1 course sale until January 31, 2020
EC Owner 2001


Maria Duran
 

Thank you Dr. Kellon,

Only red blood cells were low. The case you describe of MCHC and MCV being low due to iron deficiency would be because of starvation or hemorrage, and both would resolve just eating normally or curing the cause of hemorrage, right? So no iron needed in that case either.
--
María Durán Navarro 
Dec 2017
Madrid (Spain)

Plutón´s Case History
Plutón´s Photo Album
_._,_._,_


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

You won't see the low MCV, MCHC until the body is iron depleted, ferritin below 20.  This has never been recorded in a horse over 1 year old.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com  2 for 1 course sale until January 31, 2020
EC Owner 2001


Maria Duran
 

Thanks Dr. Kellon!
--
María Durán Navarro 
Dec 2017
Madrid (Spain)

Plutón´s Case History
Plutón´s Photo Album
_._,_._,_


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

This shouldn't be about who said what or what initials are after their names. It should be about FACTS.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com  2 for 1 course sale until January 31, 2020
EC Owner 2001


celestinefarm
 

Maria, thank you for your kind and thoughtful answer and example.  This comment of yours is especially true and something I have to keep in mind.

"I hope it helps a bit but my experience is that the more knowledge in the wrong direction a person has, the harder it is to teach him the right path."

Not unlike Schopenhauers quote , " All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed, secondly it is violently opposed, third it is accepted as being self-evident."

I asked the question about why iron continues to be added to commercial feeds and general vitamin/mineral supplements if it is unnecessary and detrimental because it was asked of me.(that was the exact wording of the question) And I had no answer.  What brought this up with my friend is because her farm was visited last week by a representative of a local- to- her feed store, who brought along two representatives of feed producers, namely, Nutrena and Pro Elite( Progressive Feeds who were bought by Cargill about ten years ago is being reformulated and rebranded as Pro Elite). The reps talked with her about her feed program( she is a professional trainer and breeder, with four foals on the way this spring) and so cost  and convenience is also a factor for her, with a ten horse herd swelling to fourteen starting next month. They gave her recommendations, adding balancers, etc.( all without any mention of hay analysis, etc, and just a look at her horses saying they looked "good') . She regularly asks me questions about her feed, and most of it is difficult to answer as she doesn't test hay, has hay from four different sources, will go to an auction this winter and buy bales of alfalfa, etc.  She again pointed out during our discussion about the visit that these companies have PhD nutritionists and research labs and she is not buying that they are uninformed about iron overload in horses. So that is why she asked the question and it's valid.

Triple Crown is coming out with new balancers and senior feeds this month. All have added iron. Pro Elite's line of feed and balancers all have added iron ( if memory serves me correctly, the original Progressive Feeds balancer did not have added iron) .Sigh....

--
Dawn Wagstaff and Tipperary   

Saline, MI  2003

Tipperary Case History

Juniper Case history: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Dawn%20and%20Juniper/Case%20history%20Juniper.pdf .


Maria Duran
 

On Fri, Jan 17, 2020 at 05:34 PM, celestinefarm wrote:
"I hope it helps a bit but my experience is that the more knowledge in the wrong direction a person has, the harder it is to teach him the right path."
Haha, love it. I knew it but had forgotten it.

Yes I understood your original question, I was trying to make the connection about why commecial feeds keep adding iron, to the fact that maybe they just simply don´t connect the dots of 400 mg requirement and an average iron in hay of 200 mg/kg. That´s 2.000 mg of iron for a 500 kg horse eating 2% of BW. It is 5 times over requirement, so the only possibility in my mind for them to keep adding iron is that they just ignore this fact.

For example, the nutritionist representing St. Hippolyt in Spain, ignores this. She doesn´t believe me much when I say it is not needed after asking why did they added all that iron to the feeds.

--
María Durán Navarro 
Dec 2017
Madrid (Spain)

Plutón´s Case History
Plutón´s Photo Album
_._,_._,_


Maria Duran
 

Meant to quote Schopenhauers quote , " All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed, secondly it is violently opposed, third it is accepted as being self-evident." not mine lol.
--
María Durán Navarro 
Dec 2017
Madrid (Spain)

Plutón´s Case History
Plutón´s Photo Album
_._,_._,_


Lorna Cane
 

Wow,Dawn. Wouldn't the person you now have answers for be so grateful if she ever chose to at least even balance her hay??!! Rhetorical.
Maybe then her horses would great instead of "good". 

I imagine you are tearing your hair out, especially at times like this: "She again pointed out during our discussion about the visit that these companies have PhD nutritionists and research labs and she is not buying that they are uninformed about iron overload in horses."
And yet I remember a time when I couldn't fathom that a feed company,for dogs or horses,would produce anything that wouldn't provide optimal health for my beasts. And that I needed to rely on them because I knew nothing about animal nutrition. They told me ,so I knew it was true.

Going to my room .
--

Lorna  in Eastern  Ontario
2002


 


 

I wonder if it’s possible that feed companies add iron to ‘disguise’ the processing iron they can’t remove?  Easier to explain the ‘benefits’ of added iron than solve the processing issue.
--
Martha in Vermont
ECIR Group Primary Response
July 2012 
 
Logo (dec. 7/20/19), Tobit(EC) and Pumpkin, Handy and Silver (EC/IR)

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