Expert Exchange

This column will be a regular feature in Natural Horse. Your questions are invited.

Linsey McLean: Molasses and alfalfa:

Q: How can I avoid all that sugar from molasses in feed, and what is wrong with feeding alfalfa?

A: Many people do not know that there is really no sugar in agricultural molasses any more. It has all been extracted out to go for much bigger bucks per pound into the human market. Agricultural molasses is VERY bitter and used both as a "sticker" in grains to keep the light grains from settling out of the heavier ones and maintaining the consistency and uniformity of the mix, as well as a saliva stimulant to aid digestion. This kind of molasses even has to have sugar added back in to be sold as blackstrap molasses, the stuff WE consider bitter! So you don't have to worry about sugar. The term "sweet feed" was coined for feeds containing molasses over a century ago, when the refining techniques were not so good, and there actually WAS a sugar residue.

Regarding alfalfa, it contains at least five known compounds that interfere with the production of thyroid in the body. With environmental pollution already heavily targeting the thyroid, it doesn't need any more stress. It is one of those feedstuffs that we used to be able to use in past times better than we can now. It's a different world out there now.

Linsey McLean, biochemist, is the founder and CEO of Vita Royal Products, Inc. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan with specialties in Biology, Chemistry and Clinical Microbiology. Linsey has been granted seven U.S. Patents and has been honored with prestigious awards. In 1983 and 1984, Vita Royal was chosen as official supplier for the U.S. Equestrian team. Both custom and commercial supplements were formulated for the Olympic team which, incidentally, won a record number of gold and silver medals. She is also, of course, a horse owner.

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