Supplement Shelf-Life

Being in the south, I am concerned about keeping our tub and bag supplements out in the humidity and heat. How much will temperature and humidity affect my supplements and grain “shelf life” and effectiveness? What are the signs to look for in spoilage, if that is possible? LG, Virginia

Dear LG,
That’s a great question! Unfortunately no threshold has been established as to the specific levels of heat and humidity that will adversely affect supplements. There’s just too much variation in individual formulas and ingredients to be able to give you one answer that will work for all products. However, I can offer you some general guidelines:

Since you live in the South, if you buy your supplements in buckets, I suggest only buying the smaller buckets that last about one month at a time, at least during the summer months. Buying small amounts (and therefore only keeping the supplements sitting in the barn for a short period of time) will definitely help prevent them from being damaged by heat, moisture (humidity) and oxygen.

Reseal the buckets carefully after each use – that includes resealing the inner plastic bag if your bucket has one. Better yet, consider SmartPaks! This will ensure that each daily dose is sealed against oxygen and moisture (vs. the whole bucket of product being exposed each time you open it), and that you’ll receive a fresh batch of product every four weeks.

Keep your SmartPaks and buckets out of the sun too, as light can also cause products to break down. Independent studies have shown that storing SmartPaks in the plastic drawer we provide with the blue plastic insert in the front blocks almost 100% of damaging UV rays.

Regarding the signs of spoilage, this too is difficult to answer because of the wide variety of formulas and ingredients out there. A change in color, consistency or smell doesn’t necessarily mean a supplement has “gone bad.” However if you’re concerned about a particular supplement, contact the manufacturer, describe what you’ve noticed, and they should be able to tell you if that’s normal for the product or a potential problem.

Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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2 comments on “Supplement Shelf-Life
  1. stacy says:

    Is there any problem with nutrients interacting with each other if they are stored for a long time? Ie do any minerals ‘eat up’ others?

  2. Thanks for the idea about using Smartpaks.

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