What You Need to Know About Horse Nutrition

What is the best horse nutrition? With so many supplements, hay choices, and feed available, many people are left wondering what their horses need for good nutrition and health. According to the law, manufacturers of commercial horse feed need to place information about their feed on tags. This information can either be printed on the bag or attached to it. However, most people do not take the time to read the tags. Here are the basic guidelines for your horse’s nutritional requirements:

Basic nutrients

There are six basic nutrient requirements that need to be met: water, fat, protein, carbohydrates, minerals, and vitamins. In most cases, the feed manufacturer balances the last five for us, but you should never forget water.  Healthy horses consume about five to fifteen gallons of water a day, depending on the humidity, temperature, and their level of activity. Horses that do not drink enough water are more susceptible to intestinal impactions and dehydration.

The rest of the diet should be based on the other nutrients.

  • Carbohydrates – this should form the largest part of the horse’s diet. Carbohydrates are divided into 2: structural and non-structural. The former is mostly found in roughage and can be digested, thanks to the design of a horse’s intestinal tract. Non-structural carbohydrates, on the other hand, are mostly found in grains.
  • Fats – fat is an excellent source of energy that is easily digestible. Adding fat to a feed increases its energy density, you need to give your horse less food.
  • Minerals – minerals must be present in large amounts for the body to function well. You should also understand that mineral needs change depending on the status and age of the horse. Be careful when feeding your horse minerals because high amounts lead to serious health conditions and toxicities.
  • Vitamins – these must be present in the body to allow reactions to take place. They are divided into two categories: fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. A horse usually synthesizes most of the vitamins it requires, therefore, horses do not need supplements for all vitamins. Excessive level of vitamins can cause toxicity. Be sure  to exercise good judgment during feeding.

Because nutritional requirements vary from one horse to the other, you need to examine the feed tags before feeding your horse. This is why the manufacturers put valuable information on the feed tags.