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Martin Buser on Feeding Eagle

a few words on feeding that Martin Buser and Dr. Al Townshend DMV put together on feeding the new 2003 Eagle ULTRA Power


"We both recommend that mushers feed a quality food all year long. It takes the body time to adjust to major changes in the diet. Feeding a cheap food in the summer and switching to a super premium food during racing is not a good plan. It takes the digestive track at least two months to adjust to such a change. During that time training will suffer. In order to get maximum performance from a dog, it must be in a peak nutritional state.

"We both recommend that a musher feed his or her kennel two or even three times a day (twice a day in the off season and at least three times a day during heavy training and endurance racing). During Iditarod Martin feeds an average of eight times a day. If you feed once a day, you feed a large meal that distends the digestive track and can cause some discomfort. The intestine is distended and as a result, will move the contents along faster in an effort to get rid of it and this will cause a very significant decrease in digestibility and a significant increase in stool volume. By feeding more frequent smaller meals the gut will move normally and digestibility will be at it's maximum while stool volume will be at a normal level.

"The above are the very basic concepts he has developed in order to maintain a superior state of nutrition in his kennel so that he can expect maximum performance from all his dogs.

"I always stress that it is probably more important to the dogs what I feed them the fifty weeks that they are not on the Iditarod trail!!!!!  As I am writing this, I am feeding my dogs straight Eagle Power out of the bag, dry, twice per day (the same food sold  all over the world).  The dogs have fresh clean water in front of them and I am using zero supplements in the summer.  I keep the same routine up all winter and throughout the race, if you scrutinize the Iditarod race footage you can actually see that.  In the winter I might supplement with an occasional lamb snack as a treat as well as some additional energy

"I recently had to help some other mushers with their chores and had never really experienced the incredible amount of extra work that some people create for themselves by thawing out meat, soaking food and adding several unnecessary additives .....I think the proof is, our dogs usually run circles around all these teams.  It surprised me how disorganized some kennels are and how much time is spent on mundane, routine chores.  I strongly believe that when I feed the dogs, they are really only interested in one thing .... their food!  The quicker and easier I can feed them, the more time I have to interact with them when they are not pre occupied with their meal.  One of the single biggest time saver is to hang all the bowls on the dog houses.  Arrange the bowls so you can feed two rows at the time.  Hang one row of bowls on the left of the dog houses and the other half on the right, now you can feed two rows of dogs with one pass.  Same arrangements  for the water cans!

Just to let you know, it takes Martin approximately 7 minutes to feed his kennel of approximately 85 dogs."

Click here to download the ULTRA Power fact sheet

Click here to go to Martin Buser's website

....more thoughts on feeding ULTRA Power, by AL Townshend DMV

Ultra Power is a new and unique diet designed for the working dog that requires a maximum amount of calories. In order to gain the maximum benefit from this diet it is important to “think out of the box” The diet is not only high in calories, but also high in calories from the best sources, fat and protein. Calories from fat and protein are far better than those form carbohydrates. Remember that dogs derive 70 to 90% of the energy for muscle contraction from fat metabolism and only a small amount from carbohydrate metabolism.

Traditional concepts of feeding a working dog were to feed once a day and in many cases feed a cheaper food during those times when the animal is not training or working. We at Eagle have found that feeding large quantities of food once a day distends the gut and forces the food through the digestive tract much faster and you loose digestibility and increase stool volume. Feeding a cheaper food during the less active times reduces the conditioning established within the digestive tract and, depending on just how big a difference there is between the less expensive food and the premium food, there will be a 2-3 month period when you go back on the premium food for the gut to re-establish that peak conditioning. During that time maximum nutritional value will be diminished.

It has traditionally been thought that meat and fat were necessary additions to any diet in order to provide the needed nutrition to a working dog. Many hours are spent by handlers cutting up meat (meat from many sources) and freezing it, warming water, mixing the additions with dry food, soaking and feeding. It costs to store the frozen foods, as well as to buy it and prepare it. There are many companies out there that provide meat and fat supplements in frozen, dehydrated or powdered form and you can buy meat from rendering plants. All of which add cost to the diet formulation and can create a very inconsistent diet which will require time for the animal’s digestive tract to adjust to each time there is a change. It is my feeling that the addition of fat and protein was to re-distribute the calories so that fewer calories were coming from carbohydrates. The disadvantage is that the diet is never consistent. Different fats and proteins are used on a regular basis causing a decrease in digestibility or utilization of the nutrients. By providing a dry diet that is consistently the same, high in calories, and calories predominantly from fat and protein, we are able to keep the gut at peak performance at all times. This allows for maximum potential from the diet.


Guide to Feeding Ultra Power:

During training and before, dogs should be fed two to three times a day so as to get better assimilation of the food. We have found that feeding our original Power during the less active times and during the beginning of training keeps the gut conditioned and the transition to Ultra Power does not require a long time to re-condition the digestive tract. Begin feeding Ultra when you feel that the frequent feeding of Power is not providing the calories needed for the level of work performed. Remember that Ultra Power provides 5400kcals. / kg. or 2450 kcals. / lb. or 520 kcals. / cup. That’s a lot of calories from a dry food. There aren’t many foods that will have that many calories with the distribution as perfect as in Ultra Power. Feed the Ultra dry with a bowl of clean water next to the food, or add it to water just as you are giving it to the dog. Ultra doesn’t mix well with warm water. There is too much fat and it will loose its form and create a muddy paste.

Martin Buser, four time winner of the Iditarod Sled Dog Race, fed as frequently as eight times a day during the 2002 race when he set the record for the fastest time to Nome. He also fed our new Ultra Power. The only additional food fed were snacks of turkey skins and lamb fat. When he wanted to get more water down the dogs he baited the water with fish so as to enhance the flavor. Hans Gatt, two time winner of the other 1000 mile sled dog race, the Yukon Quest, fed Ultra Power during both of his recent wins (2002 and 2003). An added benefit of peak nutrition is that both Martin and Hans noted less injuries during races. The “Wellness for Life” supplements are already in the Power and Ultra Power. The savings derived from not having to buy additional supplements and the savings in labor will be of great benefit to you when feeding Power and Ultra Power and help to justify the increased cost of the Ultra Power. The savings in time and labor for a musher during a sled dog race will allow for longer rest times for the musher and the dogs . More rest means better performance. If you want your team to be the best it can be, you must provide them with the best nutrition available, Power and Ultra Power will do that like no other food. One must also remember that nutrition is only one of three factors that allows a dog, or dog team, to reach it’s maximum potential. Good genetics and proper training in conjunction with superior nutrition are all necessary in order for an animal to maintain peak performance.


Click here to download the ULTRA Power fact sheet


©2005 Dog Sled