FeedXL Blog #2: New “Find Supplements to Fix this Diet” Function
New “Find Supplements to Fix this Diet” Function
It has been a long time coming but we finally have a first cut at a solution to a challenge many of you have faced when balancing your horse’s diet. Historically, the only way to find supplements that fit a diet was to take a guess at a supplement that might fit, then take a guess at the dose rate and proceed to the diet results to see whether it filled the gaps in your horse’s vitamins and minerals. And you would typically need to do this over and over again until you found something suitable (yawn!). Starting right now, FeedXL is doing that for you in mere seconds! Hooray!!
So, when you get to the diet analysis results, if you have vitamin or mineral deficiencies in your horse’s diet, look for the little button that says “Find Supplements to Fix this Diet”. When you click on it, while you wait, the gerbils that power FeedXL will search though all the supplements in our database and provide you with a short-list of supplements to consider using, complete with dose amounts that will fill these vitamin and mineral gaps! The short-list you will be given is ranked in descending order of “best fit”; the supplement that ‘fits best’ first, then the second, etc..
When we say ‘fits best’, FeedXL is just doing pure math. (But very quickly!) It is looking at each supplement that can be added to meet all vitamin and mineral deficiencies, without exceeding requirements by too much. So far, Sam and I are impressed by how it is working for most diets.
The exciting thing is, it is doing a job that would take you (and has taken many of our members) HOURS to do manually in just seconds!
This is just a first cut at this feature but we think it is such a time saver that we want to share it with you to give it a try. And we need your feedback to help us improve it!
BUT, there are a few things you should know before using it. They are:
- The supplements given in the short-list ARE NOT RECOMMENDATIONS. If they make the short-list it simply means that based on the nutrient content of that supplement as provided by its manufacturer, the supplement fits into your horse’s diet on numbers alone. That is, it can be used, by itself, to bring all the minerals and vitamins up to at least 100% of your horse’s RDI (Recommended Daily Intake.)
- FeedXL is not taking into account the ingredients (and therefore the suitability for your horse) nor their bio-availability or quality in each supplement. Neither is it considering the reliability/quality standards of the manufacturer or the accuracy of data provided to FeedXL (i.e. whether the data on the label is a true reflection of what is in the product). For these reasons, FeedXL makes no guarantees for product quality or suitability of any of the products in the short-list for your horse.
Once FeedXL provides the short-list of supplements that could be used you must then conduct your own research into the quality and suitability of each of the supplement products in the list for your horse (which we are sure you are all doing anyway!).
- The supplements in the short-list are ordered by “fit” with the ‘best fit’ (based only on data from the manufacturer) at the top of the short-list. The supplements lower in the list will still do the job for you but their fit (from a purely mathematical perspective) might not be quite as good. BUT, this is not to say the supplements at the top will always be the best choice. They may be impractical to feed, far more expensive than ones further down or use inferior ingredients. So again, do your research, consider costs and practicalities and choose the one you will use based on all of these factors FeedXL doesn’t take into account.
Remember too, you can input costs into FeedXL and it will work out cost per day when you run the diet analysis using the ingredients chosen.
- The Supplement Finder is only available in the Beta version of FeedXL. To switch to Beta, click the link in the little blue box in the top right hand corner of your My FeedXL Homepage.
- The Supplement Finder is only looking at vitamins and minerals, so it won’t take into account any digestible energy, protein or lysine deficiencies in the diet … if these are low in your horse’s diet when you click that button, many of the options presented to you will not correct these deficiencies.
- The Supplement Finder is not taking sodium and chloride into account. Both of these minerals come from plain old table salt, so if the diet is still low in either of these, add some salt.
- At the moment, when you launch the Supplement Finder, you will be presented with a .CSV file. Open this file to see the short-list of supplements with daily amounts in grams or milli-litres (mls).
When you have chosen a supplement to try in your horse’s diet, you will need to click ‘Previous Step’ in FeedXL, find the supplement you wish to try from the FeedXL database (It will be in the Blue ‘Balancers & Supplements’ tab, but use the ‘Find feed by name’ box to search for the supplement, much easier!), add it to the diet and enter the amount specified in the CSV file. Then click ‘Next Step’ to see the diet analysis with this supplement included. Repeat to try multiple supplements from the list. (But don’t forget to delete one supplement before trying another one from the CSV file!)
- Sometimes you will get an empty CSV file with just the column headings. This means that at the moment our Supplement finder can’t find a solution for this particular diet without exceeding sensible limits for one or more nutrients. We would really appreciate if you would save and email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) the PDF for diets when this happens so we can teach the tool how to handle them.
- Be aware that if your diet includes any feed ingredients with missing data for any vitamins or minerals (look for the warning in the nutrient table), FeedXL will assume it contains none and will suggest amounts of each supplement to reach at least 100% of your horse’s RDI for that nutrient, despite the fact that data for at least one of your ingredients is unknown.
You may need to manually adjust (reduce) supplement amounts if you think a feed or other ingredient you are using will be providing significant amounts of certain nutrients for which FeedXL doesn’t have the data for. In our testing we have found this is a particular issue for those of you in the USA and the UK.
We still haven’t quite worked out the best way to present you with the list of supplements and make it easy to see them in diets, so if you have ideas on what would work best for you please send them to us!
Having now said all of that, we hope you will find this feature incredibly useful in assisting you with balancing your diets… as visually unappealing as it currently stands. It is, we hope, already useful enough to save you hours, give you better results with your diet analysis and leave you with more time to ride… happy days!!
We invite you to give us your impression and look forward to your input on how we can improve it! 🙂
This blog post by Dr. Nerida Richards was first posted to the FeedXL blog on February 22nd, 2017. If you would like be among the first to receive our newsletters then please consider subscribing to FeedXL.