In order to be a good horse owner, you must understand the needs of your horse and all the factors that affect such needs. One of the first things you must learn about is horse nutrition. The basic nutrient groups that a horse requires include minerals, proteins, vitamins and carbohydrates.
Horse nutrition depends on the amount of rest the horse gets and the amount of work the horse does, in addition to factors such as growth, pregnancy and lactation.
Fresh Clean Water
In order to ensure normal physiological function, you must provide your horse with a daily source of clean, fresh water. In addition, the water tanks and buckets should be cleaned frequently to remove any algae or foreign materials.
The freezing temperatures of the winter in some locations bring about a greater risk of water deprivation than during the summer months.
It is important that you make a conscious effort to make sure your horse’s water source does not freeze and that water sources are plentiful in hot weather, as death from water deprivation is much quicker than from starvation.
A Good Source of Energy
When horses work, they use energy. Energy requirements will vary depending on the age of your horse and the amount of work that he does on a regular basis.
Young horses are growing, so naturally they need more energy. Lactating mares and horses who work at higher intensity levels are also among those that will require the greatest amount of energy.
Horses get energy through the breakdown of starches and other soluble carbohydrates. Energy also comes from fatty acids that arise in the cecum due to microbial digestion of fibrous foods.
Cereal grains, such as barley, corn, oats, wheat, etc. are the main energy sources found in horse feed.
Horses need protein to synthesize body tissue, like muscle. Proteins are made up of amino acids that vary in composition. Although the exact requirements for amino acids in horses is not known, you need to provide your horse with an adequate protein source, such as hay, soybean meal, cottonseed meal, dried skim milk, or linseed meal to ensure he gets the amino acids that he needs.
Must-Have Minerals For Horse Nutrition
Horses need minerals for a number of functions, such as maintaining the skeletal system, muscle contraction, electrolyte balance and maintaining healthy nerve conductivity.
For good horse health, the most important minerals that you must provide to your horse include:
The most common vitamins to add to a horse’s diet are vitamins A, D and E. Although vitamin B complex is not a common requirement, you may want to include them if you have a performance horse.
Keep in mind that no two horses are identical and should be cared for as such. By learning about horse nutrition, you will find it much easier to provide your horse with everything he needs to stay healthy.