Lets start by talking about COCONUT MEALS/SOMETIMES CALLED COPRA & COCONUT OILS: and please feel free to contribute your own experiences both good and bad regarding feeds ....
Coconut meals have been used for centuries as a food source for it's high protein content, and digestible fibers for both people and animals, and when dried naturally and correctly can be a great food for all concerned. However not all sources are equal as with these associated risks below.....
AFLATOXINS: coconut meal/copra is highly susceptible to the naturally occurring growth of aflatoxins, if not dried properly. Aflatoxins are a mycotoxin that can be highly toxic, and are known to be among the most potent natural carcinogens, particularly affecting the liver. Aflatoxins in copra cake, fed to animals, can be passed on in milk or meat, leading to human illnesses.
HIT AND MISS QUALITY CONTROL: copra is mostly collected as dried "cups" (the meat from one-half of a coconut), which are shipped in large burlap bags. At the shipping point, the copra is sampled by driving a small metal tube into the bag at several points, thus perforating the cups and collecting small amounts of copra within the tubes. Those samples are measured for aflatoxin contamination, and if within standards the bag is shipped. Of course, there is a risk that many of the cups will be missed by the random insertion of the testing tube, and therefore there is a high possibility that some contaminated copra might be missed. Because so many small producers are involved, it is impractical to monitor all the farms and drying sites (which is where aflatoxin contamination occurs). So there are no guarantees that your copra has tested safely which may effect your decision on using this as a horse feed.-
EXTRACTION USING SOLVENTS/HEXANES:Coconut can be extracted using either mechanical expellers or solvents called hexanes. As with most chemicals, Hexanes carry their own risks and you may or may not choose to avoid cocounut meak due to that. Mechanically expelled copra meal is also of higher feeding value, because it contains typically 8-12% oil, whereas the solvent-extracted copra meal contains only 2-4% oil. Premium quality copra meal can also contain 20-22% crude protein, and <20ppb aflatoxins, so again there is a risk involved.-
FATS: Coconut oil is very high in saturated fatty acids, with as much fat content as that of the fat of a steak, or pork rind, so as this high fat content is not something a horse would eat in a natural diet, as plants do not contain large amounts of saturated fat (except for tropical oils) -- instead they contain mono and poly unsaturated fatty acids, so again this is something to think about.
COPRA ITCH:there is a condition called Copra itch, which is a skin condition that occurs on persons handling copra who are subject to Tyrophagus longior mite bites, which may or may not be still in the product when fed to horses.
So as you can see there are many contributing factors when it comes to what making decisions of what we are feeding to our horses, so we therefore advise you to do your own research on the version of this product that you have access to, before feeding it to your horse, and others, in order to make well informed decisions for your horses health through his diet
We will continue to offer information on other feeds and products in this series on horse feeds.
COPRA-VERDICT-WE RECOMMEND THAT COPRA IS UNSUITABLE FOR HORSES DUE TO TOO MANY RISKS ASSOCIATED WITH THIS PRODUCT.
For a look at our recommended feeding guide for Nz horses please check out this link....