What are your thoughts on extruded feeds?
Extruded nuggets are made from many of the same ingredients as pelleted feeds. The process, however, is different. Extrusion is a manufacturing technique used in making dry cat and dog foods.
First, the grains are ground and mixed with all other ingredients, and then they are cooked with moist heat at about 260° F (126oC). Even more complete gelatinization of starches occurs during extrusion than during pelleting. The extrusion occurs when the mash is exposed to cooler air, and it begins to expand and pop, much like a kernel of corn. The nuggets are dried to a moisture level of about 10% before being bagged.
Extruded feeds have advantages and disadvantages.
As for the advantages, extrusion prepares starches well for digestion in the small intestine. Extruded feeds often have a higher fat content. The heating process kills contaminants and extends shelf life, both of which are benefits.
Disadvantages include variable palatability, depending largely upon the individual horse. Because the feed is puffed and light, it is not as dense as other feed forms, so a horse typically requires greater volume to derive the same number of calories. For this reason, it is imperative that managers feed by weight as one "scoop" of pellets will likely weigh much more than an equivalent volume of an extruded product, and if proper attention is not paid, managers can inadvertently underfeed extruded products.
Additionally, the extruded form may slow intake and make it difficult for a horse to eat a large meal. If the horse needs large amounts of grain to maintain weight, extruded feed may not be the best form. Having mentioned that, many people are advocates of any product that slows consumption (e.g., the new haynets that have small holes), as these products spread out the amount of time the horse spends eating, thereby mimicking natural consumption behaviors. As long as the horse does not tire of eating, leaving meals unfinished, then this is probably not a problem.