Seeking quality, top-shelf nutrition for your horse?
Any nutritionist will tell you: do your research on the ingredients. Contact the manufacturer. Ask what they are putting in their feed and how it’s made. Ask where their ingredients come from.
And don’t be surprised if the answer to the last question is “Maine.”
That’s because the ingredients may be planted, harvested, and processed at Lucerne Farms in Easton Maine, on the Northern border of what we in Maine call “the County.” Since its beginning in the late eighties, Lucerne Farms has grown into a highly-respected brand with the added caché of selling a Maine-based, family-owned product. The brand, used by show horses, athletes, and backyard horses around the country, are easily found at feed dealers under the Lucerne Farms name, as is the Chris Cox Forage Blend. It is Equi-Safe®, however, a super-premium feed based on a low-starch formula that is produced by Seminole Feed that combines Lucerne Farm’s unique dehydrated chopped forage feed with Seminole-formulated vitamin and mineral pellets to create a complete, ultra-quality bagged forage.
The result is a first-rate product from two exceptional companies. But developing a decades-long partnership with a grower that creates ingredients that live up to the high quality of your products is no small matter.
The partnership between Lucerne Farms and Seminole Feed, which began in the nineties, represents an ideal union of quality ingredients and core business values. Together, they worked on the Seminole-formulated Lucerne-manufactured product to bring the most advanced bagged forage to the equine market. “They are extremely quality driven,” said Amanda Burleson, Marketing Director, Seminole Feed & Seminole Wellness®, of Lucerne Farms. “In terms of someone who could put together a quality product, both in terms of the ingredients and as a business partner, Lucerne Farms has definitely been that company for us.”
Seminole Feed is located in Ocala Florida, considered to be the horse capital of the world. It’s no coincidence that Rich James, President of Lucerne Farms, visits the partner company in person, particularly during Maine’s cold weather. Started in 1934, Seminole began with its founder mixing small batches and providing it to the thoroughbred industry. Today, that is part of the history of this family-owned company. They maintain three retail locations in Marion county in Central Florida, deliver directly to the thoroughbred farms, and maintain a dealer network in eight states in Southeast, including Maryland and Tennessee.
Equi-Safe® is part of the Seminole Wellness® line, a line of highly digestible feed that provides consistent nutrition without causing spikes in insulin levels, is formulated specifically for adult equines and ponies that are prone to or affected by health conditions such as laminitis, insulin resistance, obesity and other metabolic conditions. Fed as a sole ration or top dressed on feed, it provides the whole package for a horse with these conditions. Seminole’s six lines of feed, including their Wellness® line, are all free of all medications and ionophores, and the fixed formula means their formula never changes ingredients from day to day, providing crucial consistency for the horse. “It’s kind of like making grandma’s biscuit recipe,” said Burleson. We still make grandma’s biscuit recipe, and we make it the same way every time.” The company has updated that recipe throughout the years, to provide a formula that’s aligned with current research and their own evolving knowledge about what a horse needs. This includes a lower starch, high fiber diet, and more of the original forage-based feeds that a horse would have naturally grazed upon, consistent with today’s thinking of forage-first diet, a belief they share with Lucerne Farms.
It is often the professional riders, a loyal customer base, seeking results that drive the market and continue to push Seminole to produce leading-edge products. “Consumers are becoming a lot more aware of safety. They are more educated. They’re asking more in-depth questions about nutrition,” Burleson said. “We listen to them all the time, especially the high-performance consumer who really knows what they need in a feed. They’ll say, I really like this product, but I wish they could get this extra bump in performance – what can we do? And that gives us the building blocks to go back and say, here’s what the market is asking for, and this is what we need to give them. As they learn more, they ask better questions and they are keeping us on our toes – which is a good thing.”
Lucerne Farms shares a similar history of commitment to their product. James, who joined the business in 1989, is responsible for running every aspect of farming and production, from seed to final product. The company began with James’ late father who discovered the market for specialty blends of chopped, dehydrated bagged hay mixes grown in northern Maine. Today, all Lucerne Farms hay is delivered to the Easton plant from farms owned and operated by James’ mother in neighboring Fort Fairfield. From their unique high-temperature drying process that maximizes nutrients, to processing that eliminates mold spores without the use of chemicals, every bag of horse forage undergoes laboratory analysis, so customers know exactly what it contains and the ratios of proteins, fat, and fiber. Through the years, the company has grown, owing, James said, to superior quality and personal customer service uncommon in the industry.
When a company puts their label on a product, they must have complete confidence in the source of that product. In such a partnership, mutual trust is imperative. “We are honored that Seminole, a feed company of high integrity and producers of the utmost quality, entrusts us to produce such a unique product under their brand name,” said James. “Their company tag line is ‘The World’s Best Feed.’ Lucerne takes this seriously and produces each bag to fit this phrase.”