Understand protein for the healthy horse from Forageplus Intelligent Horse Nutrition to maintain and support the best health and well being.
The health of your horse is affected by many things. The healthy horse is created when the environment where a horse lives and eats provides adequate social interaction, correct movement and correct training – if ridden. Perhaps most importantly, as the structural building block of all that your horse is, the food and nutrition your horse is exposed to on a daily basis is crucial.
Without good quality nutrients, each day, your horse will not maintain the structural strength in cells, nerves, hooves, vital organs, tendons, ligaments, muscles and bones to have a long, sound and active life. Without nutrients at the right levels and in the right ratios with each other your horse will not be able to function efficiently on a whole system level.
The elements of nutrition which are important for life are calories (referred to as DE when discussing horses) minerals, vitamins and protein. Out of all these protein at the right level and quality is the most important, but least understood and usually least measured in the total diet of the horse. Yet protein is vital, essential, crucial for the healthy horse and just assuming there is sufficient on a daily basis not enough.
Here are five main reasons for making sure that you understand the role protein has for the healthy horse.
Young horses, breeding mares, horses in medium to heavy work and horses which are good doers or prone to laminitis are particularly at risk from protein deficiency. Young horses and breeding mares need large amounts of protein in the diet to support growth and development of the foetus or production of milk. Where protein is under supplied then growth and development of the foetus or foal will be affected. Horses in medium to heavy work needed enhanced levels of protein which may not be supplied even when fed a substantial bucket feed. This is because on average scientific analysis of forage shows protein levels to be commonly around 5-6% where horses in substantial exercise need 8% plus. Horses and ponies prone to laminitis are often fed restricted hay and grass and fed either no bucket feed or a token bucket feed just to carry vitamins and minerals. Where protein is low in forage then this can have a significant impact on the total amount of protein consumed and thus the ability to support recovery and healing.
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