Woody’s Feed and Grain Co., Summer Heat, and Kentucky Derby Champions
The first Saturday in May marks the date for the running of the Kentucky Derby at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. As the most celebrated horse race in America, the race brings thoroughbred horses from across the globe to compete for the “crown of roses.”
The derby might be "The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports," but it takes hours, days, years, and even decades of training and know-how to produce a champion. And part of that know-how is feed, which brings us to Alan Woodbury of Woody’s Feed and Grain in Dickinson, who’s been feeding champions for decades.
Woodbury “grew up in the agriculture industry” and attended North Dakota State University, where he received a degree in animal science and agricultural economics. After graduating he moved to Dickinson and took a job as salesman for a local feed mill. A little over a decade later, Woodbury purchased the mill, beginning Woody’s Feed and Grain.
Woodbury did not start out feeding horses, but rather cows. It wasn’t until prompted by his brother, who was a horse trainer on the West Coast, that Woody delved into horse feed. His special blends soon caught on in the racing community. Most notable among his winners is Nyquist, the champion of the 2016 Kentucky Derby. Nyquist’s trainer noted that Woodbury’s “Summer Heat” blend was an essential part of Nyquist’s regimen.
Instead of the usual oats, “Summer Heat” uses beet pulp, a bi-product of the sugar industry. Along with high-fat soy oil, the beet fiber allows for slower digestion, which improves nutrient absorption. This is particularly important for race horses, which need energy-dense foods and lots of nutrients. And it doesn’t hurt that beets are a prominent crop in North Dakota, which makes for a plentiful supply.
Alan Woodbury retired in 2015, and although the company was bought by Scranton Equity, it is still run by Alan’s son. Today, Woody’s Feed and Grain continues the tradition of creating great feed for champion horses.
As the saying goes “If you can’t beet them, join them.”
Dakota Datebook by Maria Witham