The Importance and Benefits of Lysine for your horse.

Last Updated: | By Sarah Braithwaite, Author & Horse Health Expert

Lysine is an essential amino acid often short in horse grass and hay.  In this article Forageplus discusses the importance of lysine for horses which is an essential amino acid contained in the protein found in the horse’s daily diet. The article explains why good levels of lysine supplementation are necessary for all horses but especially breeding horses, horses in moderate to heavy work and young horses.

Lysine for Horses - Forageplus protein amino acid


Lysine is the essential amino acid most often deficient in the diets of horses.  Recent research has confirmed that diets containing at least 4.3% of their crude protein as lysine supports the same gains/growth at lower levels of crude protein because of more efficient utilisation of the other amino acids in the body. However lysine is rarely contained at these levels unless levels of lysine are supplemented daily, either through a horse feed balancer containing good levels or by feeding as a separate.

Lysine is contained within protein - find out why this limiting amino acid is so important in the equine dietClick To Tweet

This essential amino acid is often the key to improving protein availability, especially in grass hay-based diets. Making the proteins that are in the feed available to the horse is one of the most important keys to efficient growth, blood building, tissue repair, and muscle development. By concentrating on improving protein quality and availability, owners can avoid the problems and expense of high levels of crude protein. Supplemental lysine is the best approach to achieving this goal.

For more information about protein in the horse diet please read Five Reasons to Understand Protein for the Healthy Horse

Amino acids in protein are essential for life and horse health

The protein in horse feed cannot be absorbed in its complete form; it must be broken down into smaller units called amino acids and peptides (small complexes of amino acids). After the amino acids and peptides are absorbed, they are recombined in the horse’s body to make the thousands of proteins that make a horse. This is why amino acids are often called the “building blocks” of protein.

Although there are twenty-two basic amino acids, only eight of them are considered to be essential. By “essential”, we mean that the body cannot make them; they must be supplied in the diet. The body can make the fourteen non-essential amino acids if it has adequate supplies of the essential eight. Therefore, if even one of the essential amino acids is deficient in the diet, the production of new proteins is cut short as well.

Where is lysine found in the horse body?

Lysine is found in a wide variety of tissues, hormones, and cells throughout the body:

Inadequate intake of protein or required amino acids by horses may lead to reduced feed intake, body tissue loss, poor coat, and  poor hoof growth and decreased growth and development of young animals. Using L-Lysine at times of stress is key to calcium absorption, creating and maintaining a resilient immune system and supporting the body’s production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Supplementing the immune system with L lysine can be very beneficial to optimal health and performance.

Lysine supplementation for horses has the following benefits:

If you would like to learn more about the importance of quality protein containing a rich array of amino acids for horses please download our ebook on protein here

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