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Horse Feed Manufacturers Attend KER ConferenceBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · May 2, 2016

Horse feed manufacturers from four continents gathered in Lexington, Kentucky, for the 2016 Kentucky Equine Research (KER) Conference. The two-day event, which was held April 26 and 27, featured a series of presentations by Joe Pagan, Ph.D., founder and president of KER.

The lead-off topic on the agenda centered on the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in horse-feeding programs. Titled “Understanding Nontraditional and Biotech Ingredients,” Pagan provided a general overview of genetically engineered crops, including a timeline that tracked the genesis of GMOs from the mid-1990s and a brief description of the various methods historically employed to modify plants. He then discussed the international body of research on the safety of using GMOs in animal feeds.

Following this presentation, Pagan spoke in-depth about an innovative conditioning app developed by KER called KER ClockIt™ Sport. Although the app has been available to horse owners for nearly a year, KER continues to enhance the app and add new features. Further, he explained how measurements taken by the app, namely heart rate, can help refine energy requirements. Most of the data collected from KER ClockIt Sport thus far has come from eventers and racehorses, and Pagan encouraged attendees to recruit horse owners in their regions to become part of a more widespread research effort involving the collection of data from horses taking part in various sports.

Pagan then gave a review of the products in the KERx Special Needs Nutrition lineup. Many of the products were extensively researched and developed with a specific health problem in mind. He highlighted the work done on Race Recovery™, an innovative electrolyte supplement designed especially for horses given furosemide, such as racehorses and barrel-racing horses.

To round out the first day of the conference, a panel discussion titled “Global Perspectives on Feeding High-Performance Horses” was held. Moderated by Pagan, the panelists included Norm Casse, assistant trainer to father Mark Casse, a top racehorse conditioner in North America; Buck Davidson and Liz Halliday-Sharp, three-day event riders that have competed on the international four-star scene; and Dom Schramm, an event rider and well-known social-media personality. Various topics were discussed during the roundtable, including training regimes, some of which involved KER ClockIt conditioning app; overseas travel and competition management; and feeding strategies.

On the second day of the conference, delegates chose an in-depth study of research, sales, or marketing. Members of the research track visited The Thoroughbred Center, a racehorse training facility in Lexington, to watch young and mature racehorses gallop and to witness firsthand how KER ClockIt Race works. Attendees were also given a run-through of typical Thoroughbred diets from Erin Hogan, the company’s Thoroughbred feed specialist. Following time at the training track, the group went back to the KER facility, where KER ClockIt Sport was demonstrated on a pair of horses schooling stadium fences. Pagan then explained the differences between the two programs and how they can be used to optimize training programs.

Delegates in the sales track learned more about KER’s MicroSteed™ ration-evaluation software. They then participated in mock feed sales calls to both a racehorse stable and a sport-horse training facility.

In the marketing track, attendees shared their experience and discussed best practices related to creating marketing plans, design of feed bags, and digital marketing tactics.

Conferences are one way KER keeps its partner feed manufacturers up-to-date with the latest in equine nutrition and exercise science. KER partner horse feeds incorporate custom blends of KER’s own micronutrient ingredients. Ask your local feed manufacturer if they work with KER, or find a KER partner near you.

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