What are Essential Amino Acids for Horses?
Essential amino acids for horses are crucial in maintaining horse muscles and health where a horse is in exercise or being fed a horse forage, such as hay, haylage or straw which is low in protein.
Amino acids are complex chemicals that are the building blocks of protein, which in turn are required for the creation of new tissue, and the repair of existing cells. An Essential Amino Acid cannot be synthesised or created by the body and must come from the diet.
Whilst an ad-lib forage diet is enough to supply most horses with all the amino acids that they require, sometimes forage is low in crude protein and certain essential amino acids. A complicated relationship exists between available nitrogen and sulphur levels meaning that sometimes although crude protein might look adequate some amino acids are not formed correctly and are therefore unavailable to the horse.
Essential Amino Acids for horses (EAA’s) are required in order to build new tissue and help with the cellular repair which takes place when muscles are recovering. Getting the right amount within a diet helps equine athletes to improve their physique and also recover quicker from exercise. The main essential amino acids required by the body are the following:
- L Leucine
- L Isoleucine
- L Valine
- L Lysine
- L Phenylalanine
- L Threonine
- L Histidine
- L Methionine
- L Tryptophan
Horses require all the different essential amino acids as part of their diet for a number of reasons including cellular repair, but they are also required in order to get the most out of protein-rich foods.
If a horse does not get enough essential amino acids in the diet, the body will not extract the maximum nutrients from protein sources, and the calories in the protein will be stored as fat. The requirement for a balanced number of amino acids in the diet is known as ‘limiting protein utilisation’.
When would you use Essential Amino Acids for Horses?
- When you do not want to supplement additional protein using Whey protein.
- Any horse involved in heavy training may require this supplement to ensure enough of the various essential amino acids are consumed to meet the body’s needs. You could however use targeted BCAA supplementation after work and Whey Protein Isolate.
- Horses that are on restricted feed to control weight may need extra supplementation with targeted amino acids.
- Horses continue to have poor frog health and or poor hoof wall health and connection even though minerals are adequately balanced.
- Horses that are having problems developing top line. You could however use Whey Protein to good effect in this situation.
- When forage shows poor nitrogen to sulphur ratio, in order to ascertain this you would need to have carried out both a nutritional analysis to determine levels of crude protein and mineral analysis to determine levels of sulphur in your forage. Where forage has been fertilised with nitrogen fertilisers it is common to find an incorrect ratio of Nitrogen to Sulphur impacting on amino acid availability.
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