The first bags of a special new “humanitarian horse feed” have rolled off a production line in Ukraine, and are winging their way to thousands of horses in need in the war-torn country.
Those horses do not need high-energy fast release food. Instead, the feed contains a custom-made mixture of core essential nutrients, vitamins and supplements needed for horses after starvation or a period of restriction of the diet, and with reduced immunity.
The mix was developed by the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation (UEF-CF) and Dutch premium horse feed manufacturer Horsefood. Horsefood’s formula provides 25% of the composition. The other 75% of the feed consists of the Ukrainian-sourced raw materials – barley, wheat, bran, corn and molasses.
The foundation’s goal to produce humanitarian horse feed in Ukraine aims to cut the costs of logistics from abroad, use local raw materials to help the farmers and give work to the Ukrainian feed production companies to help the local economy.
Donor funds have been used to produce the feed at the Letychiv feed mill, a part of Edinstvo Holding. So far, some 90 tonnes of the new feed in its distinctive blue and yellow packaging have been produced.
About 100,000 Ukrainian horses are currently in difficulty. In the first months of the war, the UEF-CF received humanitarian aid donations from abroad which partially solved the problem. But it also created some new ones as the donated food came from a wide variety of brands, producers and countries. The timing and quantities of in-kind donations were unpredictable. The frequent changes in food made the rehabilitation process of weak and starving horses difficult, and under certain conditions, dangerous for horses’ health.
Mykhaylo Parkhomchuk, founder of the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation Charity Foundation and the Secretary-General of the Ukrainian Equestrian Federation, said using a feed factory inside Ukraine solved several problems at once.
“Local production reduces the variety and constant change of feed, which exacerbates the risk of horse health problems. Secondly, the use of local raw materials and production enables the UEF-CF to use the financial donations we receive from around the world and use them in Ukraine to directly help not only the equestrian community but also to help the farmers and local companies in Ukraine, whilst maintaining jobs.”
Feed is packed in specially printed bags, which state: “humanitarian aid, not for sale”. The UEF-CF said this would help to avoid abuse and possible resale.
This feed, as well as other humanitarian aid from the Foundation, can be received by any stable or equestrian club in Ukraine, from a home with just one horse or pony to a large stable or racetrack.
Taisia Stadnichenko, head of Ukrainian Operations for the UEF-CF, watched as the first bags came off the production line.
“For us, the value or pedigree of a horse does not matter. We assume that each horse is the most favorite of its owner.
“Most owners suffer from a lack of funds to keep their horses. Our goal is to help them feed the horses during the most difficult time of adaptation to the new reality, so that they do not make rash decisions about their animals,” she said.
Currently, about 300 stables and clubs need assistance, of which about 170 stables with a total population of more than 3500 horses have received aid from the UEF-CF. As the need for humanitarian aid is projected to increase, it is hoped that the localization of feed production will help to feed horses in Ukraine.
At present, about 500 horses have been evacuated in Ukraine and abroad, and about 1000 tonnes of humanitarian aid for 3500 horses have been delivered to more than 170 stables in Ukraine. The work of the foundation is provided by about 30 volunteers in Ukraine and about 40 volunteers abroad.