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The Value in (Supportive) Science Communications

We believe that research findings have the most value when they can be accessible to those who care for animals every day, so our goal at Honos Nutrition is to bridge animal science & animal caretakers - this concept of bridging that gap is even ingrained in our logo.

Scientific findings aren’t always well received by the public, due to:

  • Reluctance to shift their current practices

  • Reluctance to trust institutions/lack of understanding of research protocols

  • Resistance due to a percieved Us vs Them mentality: In the age of the internet, it is not uncommon to see well-meaning people trying to advocate for science-based practices, but unfortunately doing so in an aggressive way. Even if the message contains useful information, if it alienates people, at the end of the day, it’s not helping the animal.

Even more, it can be hard to identify quality, science-backed information. It is not uncommon to see scientific findings be communicated in a vacuum, when scientific literature is referenced without the critical lense and expertise required to interpret research data! For instance, well-meaning people may unintentionally misrepresent research findings, as they can be unaware of how to interpret statistical analyses, note limitations of the study, or assess the differences between groups.

And that is perfectly okay - interpreting research can be difficult! This is where expertise can step in to support your learning journey, and help you optimize your animal's life. A benefit of having a Master’s degree is extensive experience interpreting and critiquing research, as well as planning and running research trials. This experience helps to assess experiment design, methods, statistics and limitations, rather than just looking at the results.

For instance:

  • When investigating something that is known to have individual factors (such as energy expenditure), experiment design which allows each animal to be their own control is preferred.

  • An article that reported anti-inflammatory effects of a supplement may have limited applicability to horses with chronic inflammatory disease if the test group was healthy.

  • Overlaying statistical tests & study limitations also make a huge impact - a commonly cited canine nutrition article compared bones, other chews, and teeth cleanliness. While the “cleanliness score” for bones was slightly higher on the graph, there is no statistical difference between bones and other types of chews. Combined with the tooth fracture risk associated with bones (fun fact, some zoos are concerned about giving their big cats whole bones due to fracture complications), it can be determined that other chews are better options when considering whole animal health.

It is this level of detail and analysis that goes into incorporating the latest research into your horse’s diet, assessing the suitability of a product and into our evidence-based science communications. The results of one study should not be used alone, but instead, should be overlayed with other quality evidence, to produce a better understanding of what best practices should look like.

We believe it is never too late to learn something new, and strive to spark curiousity and foster supportive learning opportunities through our content and services. Connect today to learn more about our equine nutrition consulting & equine science communciations services, and be sure to follow along for educational content!


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