Instead of retiring at 65, Colin Price wanted to draw on his experience and give back to the equestrian community a radically different concept of what horses really need to perform at their natural best.
“I thought, do I take out a Jim’s Mowing franchise or do I stick in the business that I know so well and in which I’ve developed so many brilliant relationships? I had some ideas that I wanted to pursue which I couldn’t do previously, so it was an opportunity, really. I didn’t jump into it,” says Colin. “I sounded out the people that I thought would be valuable partners in a new business and they were all very supportive, so that drove my decision.”
With wife Suzie and a small but enthusiastic staff, Benchmark Feeds is quietly making inroads into the market by word of mouth. Benchmark’s belief that feed should deliver fibre fermentation without the traditional starch and sugar loading is aimed at producing a healthier and happier horse. Colin tells us how it all began – and why their paper packaging is also proving a big hit!
EQ LIFE: Why did you create Benchmark Feeds and what gaps in the market does it cover?
COLIN: Our goal was to create a range of equestrian feeds primarily that got rid of the starch and sugar. The Australian horse feed industry, rightly or wrongly, is driven by grain starch. And the biggest ingredient in most feed mills that create equestrian feed is millrun, which is a byproduct of flour milling. It’s 20% starch which makes most feeds quite starchy and it’s a fairly inexpensive material to add.
Generally speaking, the lower cost products have more millrun. They are higher in starch – even though they may be labelled “cool” and put in a blue bag, they still are quite starchy. And to some horses that impacts temperament and behaviour and health because horses are not natural grain starch digesters, they are fibre digesters or fibre fermenters. We wanted to head down that path and worked out a strategy to create a range of feeds that allowed us to do that.
EQ LIFE: Do you feel that that’s what sets Benchmark Feeds apart from other products in the market?
COLIN: Absolutely. I’ve had quite a lot of experience with using highly fermentable fibres – or “super fibres” as they’re generally known – and there’s only a small bunch of those that are used in the horse feed industry. The most successful is probably beet pulp over the years with some great products. And there are others that are based on soy or lupin hulls. These are highly fermentable fibres that digest quickly and efficiently and create more energy per kilo than long-stem fibre.