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Understanding The Dietary Requirements Of Your Horse

by Courtney Wheeler

A nutritious diet is essential for your horse's long-term health, so you should keep their dietary requirements in mind when choosing horse feed. Here's what you need to know to ensure your horse has a balanced diet:

Signs Of Nutritional Deficiency

If your horse experiences regular dental problems, parasite outbreaks or diarrhoea, they may be deficient in key nutrients and should be reviewed by a vet. A common sign of nutritional deficiency is weight loss. If you notice significant weight loss in your horse they may be finding their food difficult to digest or they may simply not like it. Consuming too few calories can compromise your horse's immune system and stunt the growth of foals.

Horses can easily become deficient in salt if you give them one of the many brands of feed that's too low in salt. Signs to look out for include a reduction in sweat and muscle spasms. You can boost your horse's salt intake with salt blocks, but this should only be done under the guidance of an equine vet.

6 Essential Dietary Requirements

The following dietary requirements are essential for the overall health of your horse:

  • Sufficient water - Insufficient water intake can not only lead to dehydration, it can also cause your horse's digestive system to slow down, which leads them to limit the food they consume. Ensure your horse has access to 30-50 litres of clean drinking water each day.
  • Carbohydrates from plant sources - Carbohydrates provide your horse with energy and are particularly important when your horse is still growing or pregnant. Opt for carbohydrates from plants sources such as hay rather than grain sources as your horse can break them down and absorb them more easily in the large intestine.
  • Fat - Vitamins A and D are absorbed with the help of dietary fat. It makes no difference if you choose animal fat or vegetable fat for your horse, but you should adhere to the fat intake guidelines set out by your vet to prevent them gaining too much weight.
  • Protein - The health of your horse's skin and their ability to heal after an illness or injury is dependent of sufficient intake of protein, which consists of amino acids. There are ten amino acids found in dietary protein that your horse can't synthesise on their own, yet they are essential for good health.
  • Minerals - Sufficient macro and micro mineral intake is required for healthy muscles and bones. Ensure your horse has a diet rich in calcium, potassium, magnesium, selenium, iron, and zinc.
  • Vitamins - Horses can synthesise many of the vitamins they need, but you should still provide them with a diet rich in water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins. This will ensure their nutrition doesn't suffer when extra stress is put on their body such as during periods of illness and pregnancy.

Choosing a high-quality feed is essential for your horse's health and wellbeing. If you'd like some advice on the best feed for your horse, speak to your vet or feed supplier. To learn more, contact a company like Produce Direct & Pet Centre with any questions or concerns you have.