Palatibility Panel Training and Validation
All of the "taste testers" at Summit Ridge Farms have undergone extensive training and validation. We start by introducing two bowl feeding stations and then monitor the temperament of each animal, their acceptability of two bowl feedings, and the dogs or cats willingness to make a choice. Panels are periodically validated by presenting the same diets simultaneously in order to verify a null response. We then offer a highly palatable diet versus a standard diet in order to verify a positive response. Animals found not suitable for palatability testing are utilized for other types of protocols. At Summit Ridge Farms we feel it is imperative to the accuracy and validity of consumption data to have a large group of potential candidates to choose from and to put the time and effort into the selection and training process so that palatability dogs/cats are chosen using sound science and accurate validation procedures.
The variety of products available to the consumer adds a unique challenge to the evaluation of acceptability and preference. Through years of data collection and interaction with our animals, we have categorized our taste testing dogs and cats into those extremely suited towards specific types of evaluations. For example, at Summit Ridge Farms we have a large population of cats extremely adaptable towards eating canned, pouched, and semi-moist diets. Some cats and dogs have digestive difficulties with diets oilier than dry, and many are simply not suitable for use in evaluating the acceptability of different types of diets. Accurate testing is our main goal and constant interaction and data analysis is the only way to take the guess work out of preference testing.
Summit Ridge Farms has extensive expertise in the evaluation of treats for dogs and cats. Protocols have been developed for all types of feeding scenarios, including the evaluation of flavored medications, jerky treats, rawhides, and cat-nip toys, just to name a few. The technical staff at Summit Ridge Farms takes a hands-on, high-tech approach to all aspects of treat evaluation
Summit Ridge Farms has performed hundreds of comparisons between different types of methodology for determining Digestibility and Metabolizable Energy. Years of experience has taught us the most accurate collection methodology and sample analysis. Food consumption, body weight maintenance and stool quality, collection and handling, are critical to the calculation of accurate digestibility results. Accurate results can only be achieved through meticulous, hands-on monitoring of all parameters.
Summit Ridge Farms works together with many laboratories in order to provide accurate sample handling, data analysis, and reporting. Diet and fecal preparation are critical to the integrity of the data.
The analysis includes: moisture, protein, fat, fiber, ash, phosporus, calcium, calories.
The calculations include: total dry matter, fat, protein, calories, metabolizable energy.
Because stool volume and quality are critical components to pet owners, Summit Ridge Farms has developed stool quality protocols that give our clients a clear picture of stool output and consistency. Technicians are trained using a computer tutorial that includes test scoring and grading. Only technicians that have successfully completed this evaluation are qualified to score stool quality observations.
AAFCO Nutritional Adequacy Testing
"Testing the food through a series of feeding trials is the most thorough and reliable evaluation method." Case LP, Carey DP, Hirakawa DA. Canine and Feline Nutrition, A Resource for Companion Animal Professionals, p. 157, Mosby, St. Louis 1995.
Summit Ridge Farms has been involved with the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) Nutritional Adequacy feeding trials for over 20 years. Having performed thousands of tests, we have the experience to offer these complicated protocols in the most timely, accurate manner possible. As a long time member of the Pet Food Institute, Summit Ridge Farms has taken a proactive approach towards the work we perform on a daily basis.
Life Stages Protocols
Gestation/Lactation, Growth, and Maintenance feeding trials involve feeding a diet to a group of animals for a specified time period. Clinical analysis of blood parameters as well as food consumption and body weights are monitored throughout the feeding trials. Reproductive performance and puppy development are closely monitored. Veterinary assessment of all animals is a critical component of each study. An "All Life Stages" claim can be made by successfully completing a Gestation/Lactation feeding trial, followed by the successful completion of a Growth test using puppies weaned from the test diet.
Data Collection, Historical Colony Data, Study Monitoring
Summit Ridge Farms works closely with our clients to provide continuous interaction from protocol development to the completion of the feeding trial. Data tables for all parameters are provided in weekly updates. Any problems and/or concerns are communicated to our clients immediately. Up-to-date historical colony averages and statistics are essential to the performance and interpretation of AAFCO feeding trials. Summit Ridge Farms continuously collects data on all of our animals in order to verify health along with providing accurate historical colony data.
Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)
"VOHC exists to recognize products that meet, pre-set standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats. Products are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance following review of data from trials conducted according to VOHC protocols," (http://www.vohc.org/history.htm).
Summit Ridge Farms is a leader in the evaluation of dental products for acceptance and efficacy. The VOHC set stringent guidelines that must be met in order for a product to maintain the VOHC Seal of Approval. Periodontal disease is the most common disease occurring in dogs and cats. Pet owners have recognized the importance of dental health and that the use of a product with the VOHC Seal will help to keep their pet's teeth clean and the gum tissues and bone around the roots healthy.
General requirements for all dental protocols are extremely intensive and require multiple levels of training and expertise. Only with a large population of adult animals can you be assured that stringent criteria will be met and that plaque and/or tartar evaluations will be accurate. It also requires many levels of technical training, from veterinary procedures, anesthesia, feeding and monitoring, and scoring validation. Sound statistical methods are essential to study setup and interpretation. Summit Ridge Farms has years of experience in the development and implementation of complicated dental evaluations.
Summit Ridge Farms has been involved with research services for over 35 years. Our background in colony management and reproductive performance, along with our technical experience with data collection, analysis, and reporting, make our facility and people second to none. Our veterinary staff is accredited in Laboratory Animal Medicine and is extremely qualified and capable. From protocol development, USDA/APHIS issues, and animal welfare and enrichment, all protocols are developed and initiated in partnership with our sponsors. We take pride in working with our clients and we will work together to assure sound research in a quality environment.
Summit Ridge Farms offers a variety of nutritional feeding trials and research services for the pet food industry. Our highly trained staff works one on one with our clients to develop individualized protocols to meet all of their needs and specifications. Quality assurance and service can only be achieved through a hands-on, high tech approach that involved clients in all aspect of our policies and procedures. Summit Ridge continuously works to enrich the lives of our animals. Cats have access to cageless community housing suites with large windows overlooking an attractive outdoor area. All dogs have access to outdoor “Puppy Parks” with play structures for ample exercise. Our dedicated staff and designated Animal Enrichment Team ensure Summit Ridge Farms’ animals get the personal attention and constant socialization that enhances their quality of life. Providing the pet food industry with accurate reliable and precise research is the number one goal at Summit Ridge Farms. We are dedicated to the humane care and welfare of all our dogs and cats. It is our privilege to work with these animals everyday and give them the care and respect they deserve. Sound research provided in an enriched environment makes us your trusted partner.
Stool Quality Analysis
Blood Level Protocols
Dental Protocols (as per VOHC)
AAFCO All Life Stages
Weight loss/with DEXA scans
Long Term Urinary Tract Health
Urine / Relative Super Saturation
Customized Study Protocols