Staying up to date on horse nutrition is important for the health of your horses! Whether you are a first time horse owner or an experienced rancher, it’s always worthwhile to brush up on the basics of horse nutrition. iFEED is here to help keep your horses healthy! Let’s talk about the five main types of nutrients your horse needs for proper nutrition.
Carbohydrates make up the largest part of your horse’s diet. There are two main types of carbohydrates: structural and non-structural. Carbohydrates are a key part of your horse’s nutrition because they provide the main energy source for daily activities. Structural carbohydrates provide fiber and are found in your horse’s roughage. Nonstructural carbohydrates are sugars and starches found primarily in grains. Your horse’s main nutrition should come from fiber, but concentrates such as grain can be used as a supplement.
Protein is a big part of your horse’s nutrition. However, it is often the least understood key nutrient. A common misconception is that protein provides energy. In fact, protein is the most difficult energy source for your horse to digest. After a meal, the protein is broken down into amino acids sequences that build your horse’s hair, hooves and muscles. The most important amino acids for your horse is lysine. Lysine in your horse’s feed will increase the overall quality of the protein without increasing the amount of protein. You should adjust protein intake based on your horse’s age and workload to maintain proper nutrition.
Your horse’s diet should include fats! Although the nutritional levels of fats is disputed, recently trends are favoring a high-fat diet for horses. Fat is an excellent source of energy. Plus, it’s easy for your horse to digest as well! If you are supplementing your horse’s diet with fats, make sure you keep their overall nutrition balanced to include protein, vitamins, and minerals.
Vitamins are a critically important organic compound in your horse’s nutrition. While vitamin deficiencies are potentially dangerous, it is important to remember that excess of vitamins can be equally as problematic. For your horse’s nutrition, a good amount of forage and concentrate should provide adequate vitamins for your horse.
Minerals are equally critical compound in your horse’s nutrition. However, minerals are inorganic materials. Their levels will change depending on your horse’s age and health status. Luckily, most commercial feeds come balanced to meet your horse’s mineral needs.
Maintaining your horse’s nutrition is no small tasks- there are a lot of different areas to consider! But, the first step is understanding the basics of horse nutrition and then learning how to change needs based on preference or in case of enhancements.