THIS year started off with a huge cheer at Bluegrass Horse Feeds as the team watched Gavin Cromwell’s Raz De Maree win the Coral Welsh Grand National at Chepstow.
Trainer Gavin Cromwell is a long-standing Bluegrass customer and his Grade 1 winner Jer’s Girl is another to have benefited from the Bluegrass range.
The Grand National winning for Bluegrass-fed horses didn’t stop in January as Gordon Elliott’s General Principle landed the Irish version at Fairyhouse followed by the impressive Tiger Roll winning the big one at Aintree in April. And that’s not to mention the other 200-plus winners saddled by Gordon Elliott last season.
Bluegrass Horse Feeds-sponsored riders have also been in winning form for the sport horse industry this year. Brand ambassador Abbie Sweetnam won the pony Grand Prix in Verona and Kenneth Graham (also a brand ambassador) had a successful trip to Met Oliva Nova in March.
All of these champions have one thing in common – they are all powered by Bluegrass Horse Feeds – a brand which, this year, is celebrating 20 years in business.
The feed is manufactured in the family mill at Eglish in Co Tyrone.
Its founder and managing director, Kenneth Irwin, set up the brand in 1998 to produce feed for horses in all equine disciplines.
This is a story of heritage and history because the Irwin family has been involved in milling since 1847. In those times Irwins processed oats for people to eat following the potato famine.
After World War II the millers switched their attention to local grain to manufacture feed for animals.
But it was in the 1990s when Kenneth identified a need for a scientifically formulated horse feed which would empower owners, riders and trainers to achieve optimum performance, regardless of the equine discipline. And so Bluegrass Horse Feeds was formed and the company is going from strength to strength.
Over the last 20 years, Bluegrass Horse Feeds has built its reputation for producing nutritionally sound, innovative formulas while ensuring their valued customers get a personal customer service from the team of equine nutritionists and sales reps.
This has seen the Irish horse feed manufacturer join the world’s leading research centre in equine nutrition – Kentucky Equine Research (KER). Bluegrass is Ireland’s exclusive KER team member which means it is part of an international network of horse feed manufacturers devoted to the advancement of equine nutrition.
Based in the heartland of the American thoroughbred industry in Kentucky, KER conducts extensive research in equine nutrition and exercise physiology. Each research trial is designed to improve the health, performance and well-being of all horses. As such, all Bluegrass feeds, formulas and product development programmes are underpinned and complemented by the world-renowned research and expertise of KER.
Recently featured in the company’s 20th anniversary magazine, The Inside Scoop, the Bluegrass range now consists of over 25 specialist feeds, ranging from the non-heating Horse and Pony Mix / Pellet, to the higher energy performance mixes and racing rations. It distributes its feeds the length and breadth of Ireland through merchants or direct to customers from the mill in Eglish.
Speaking about the milestone, Kenneth Irwin said: “Our team is very proud to have reached this special anniversary and it’s an opportunity for us to reflect on what we have achieved as well as focusing on our growth and development plans for the future.
“When I look back at the history of the mill, back to where it all began in 1847, when the mill was water powered, it’s incredible to see the developments which have taken place right up to today. In 1939 the family increased the production of porridge oats to meet the rising demands of home produced food caused by World War I.
“In 1955 animal feed was manufactured to meet the demand of rising livestock numbers in Ireland. In 1975 pellet mills were installed to manufacture animal feeds using the latest technology. We expanded our premises in 1985 to meet the rising demands, and then, in 1998, we began the production of our horse feeds using scientific advice from Kentucky Equine Research.
“Since that time we have introduced new technologies to aid the cooking process of the cereals for high bioavailability for the horse. So, a lot of technological advances have happened over the years.
“We are using this milestone to reach out to our customers and thank them for their business over the years and also to invite new customers to reap the rewards of feeding their horses with Bluegrass Horse Feeds.
“We have a feed for every type of horse, whether you train racehorses, play polo, are a show jumper or have one pony for leisure.
“The results speak for themselves and we are very proud of this. This is something which all of the top trainers and riders have told us recently when we interviewed them for our magazine.
“We thank all of our customers for their continued business and we thank our merchants for everything they do for us.
“Last month we launched a new website. You’ll find our list of stockists around the country, people can fill out our diet request form, get nutritional advice, keep up to date with our latest news and learn more about our extensive range of products.
“It has been an amazing journey for us all and our growth and development plans for the future are extremely exciting.”
WIN A TONNE OF BLUEGRASS HORSE FEED - SEE THE IRISH FIELD PRINTED EDITION FOR DETAILS