Have you ever wondered where your horse’s feed actually comes from? What’s in it and what goes on it? We are fortunate enough to be able to tell you exactly where Emerald Green Feeds comes from and what goes into every one of those lovely bags of forage feeds.
Emerald Green Feeds is fairly unique in the equine feed industry, we are one of the only companies to have full control of the production of the feed from growth through to bagging. This enables us to claim 100% traceability on our products.
The Growth Stages – The Farming Bit
Growing the grass and alfalfa starts with properly preparing the soil, it’s just like if you were preparing to reseed your garden only on a much larger scale, we cultivate first. Meaning that the land is worked to create a soil bed following the harvest of the previous crop in the rotation. After cultivation next comes flat lifting, a process that breaks up the subsoil (the layer of soil below the topsoil) this eases compaction from when the tractors and vehicles have been running on it previously and also ensures that the roots are able to descend into the soil once the seed is drilled. Following the flat lifting process, the field will be power harrowed to make a level seedbed, the seed will then be drilled into the soil. The final step in this process is to flat roll the field, this reduces the risk of any soil and stones potentially damaging the harvesting machinery. Working the land and drilling the seed usually takes place during the last weeks of summer and the first weeks of autumn, as with everything in farming this is very weather dependant, if the land is too wet or too dry, we will be unable to work it properly. In the spring the crop will start to grow and nitrogen (N) fertiliser will be spread on the grass fields to help the growth of the crop, this is not necessary for the alfalfa. Once established the grass crop will be in situ for up to 5 years.
The Harvesting Process:
In order to get the most consistent quality of feed, the grass and alfalfa should be harvested at the same growth stage each time, as we are the farmers and we do the work ourselves this is something we have total control of. If we need to work longer hours or even wait for a week or so for the crop to grow, we can do this.
Harvesting starts in the spring, around mid to late April, weather dependant, AGAIN. In an average year, we could harvest the grass up to 5 times and the alfalfa 3 times, as we keep mentioning, with all farming this is completely dependent on the right mix of sunshine and rain, this harvesting process continues until the grass stops growing, sometimes as late as October/November in a warm year.
The grass and alfalfa are ordinarily harvested in a cycle however different soil types can also affect the growth of the crop meaning occasionally the fields will have to be harvested out of the cycle in order to ensure it is at the correct growth stage. The harvesting process starts with mowing, the grass is mown and then rowed in preparation for the forage harvester. The forage harvester will collect the grass or alfalfa and chop it into short lengths, this is then taken by trailer to the drying plant to be made into horse feed. If needed, following each harvest the grass is given an application of nitrogen (N) fertiliser to encourage growth for the next harvest, the alfalfa does not have any (N) fertiliser applied as it is able to fix its own nitrogen being a deep-rooted legume.
The Drying Process:
To guarantee the forage is field fresh, once it enters the drying plant it is flash dried, this takes approximately 30-40 seconds. Removing the moisture at such speed ensures that the naturally occurring vitamins and minerals are still present in the finished product. This means the feed is as palatable as being turned out and can provide the benefits of fresh forage all year round.
Detailed records of the harvesting process are kept, how many trailer loads are harvested from each field, whether it is from the headlands or from the middle of the field and what the moisture content of each load is before drying. Even the weather conditions are recorded to ensure accurate records of each day are kept.
All of the feeds are bagged straight after drying which means the traceability is second to none, the bags are stamped with the field name, date, and time of production as they go through the machine.
There are few companies that can claim complete control over their products, it's not just that this happens as a company, to us this happens as a family. It is our name on the bags and our reputation under the microscope we work hard to ensure only the best quality feeds go into our bags.
We don’t just sell the feed, we grow it.