A question that many new horse owners often ask is, ‘What nutrients does my horse need?’ This is a particularly good question because most horses eat a rather standard diet which can include oats, hay alfalfa or a specific veterinarian approved equine feed. Still, any good feeding programme should meet the individual nutrient needs for the animal while maintaining a healthy digestive system. You, of course, want the feed that you provide your horse to be the highest quality possible as well.
So, with that being said, what are the most important nutrients for your horse’s wellbeing? What nutrients does a horse need? With respect to weight management, a balanced diet for your horse should meet its digestible energy requirements, while ensuring that he is getting enough of the proper nutrients as recommended by your equine specialist. This includes water, protein, vitamins, and minerals. The specific amounts of each of these nutrients largely depends on your horse’s weight and activity level or physiologic status.
Nutrient Requirements Of Horses
Water – the most important nutrient, by far, is water. Your horse should have access to fresh, clean water at all times. Without water, colic, dehydration, and even death could result. In general, a 500 kg horse will drink approximately 30-45 liters per day. This is dependent on their activity level, type of feed and psychological state.
Protein – another important part of your horse’s diet is protein. Protein provides the building blocks for tissues, muscle, hormones, and enzymes. Most horse owners provide their horses with 500 grams of protein of protein a day. Horse owners should consider the total grams of protein intake per day, not the percentage. Also, they should ensure that they are focusing on providing quality protein, as this is much more important than quality.
Fats And Carbohydrates – another essential factor of a healthy diet for your horse is that they get enough fats and carbohydrates. These provide more than just a source of energy for your horse, certain carbohydrates and fats are extremely important for digestive tract health.
Minerals – horses require a wide range of minerals to meet a variety of functional needs, including skeletal integrity and cellular communication. These include calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, chloride, magnesium, and sulfur. Trace minerals that horses need include cobalt, copper, zinc, selenium, iron, and iodine.
Vitamins – vitamins are classified as water-soluble or fat-soluble, with fat-soluble vitamins being vitamins A, D, E, and K, and water-soluble vitamins including the B complex (niacin, thiamin, etc.) and vitamin C. horses require a specific blend of both water and fat-soluble vitamins to stay active and healthy.
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