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The Nutrition Requirements of Horses

April 02, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 156

Horses have a metabolic requirement for all the recognized vitamins and minerals. If adult horses receive a diet of cereal grain and high quality forage, adequate quantities of ascorbic acid are synthesized in the tissues and adequate amounts of the other water-soluble vitamins (apart from biotin and possibly thiamine), as well as vitamin K, are synthesized by the gut micro-flora and are absorbed. Thus, the dietary requirements are for vitamins A, D and E, biotin and possibly thiamine.

Cereals and forage for horses should be produced under conditions of good husbandry, harvested without microbial and other damage, stored soundly and be no more than 2-3 years old. If horses are to subsist on root vegetables and poor-quality forage, other vitamins will be needed in the diet for optimum performance.

Young foals need a dietary source of cyanocobalamin (B12), normally obtained from the milk of their dam, and early-weaned foals should be given a supplementary source of all the B vitamins. Vitamin A supplementation is necessary for all horses if the forage contains insufficient amounts of carotene. The horse converts the mixed carotenes of grass and clover to vitamin A relatively inefficiently (approximately 40 g carotene vitamin A produced). Vitamin D2 or D3 supplementation will be needed if the forage has been artificially dried, or if horses are housed for long periods.

Outside the temperate latitudes, or in high temperate latitudes, vitamin D supplementation is necessary. Horses given tropical forage that contains significant amounts of oxalates (more than 5 g total oxalates kg with a Ca:oxalate ratio of less than 0.5:1) will require further supplements of Ca in their diet. If mineral problems are suspected, the dietary amounts of digestible Ca and P are the minerals most likely to be in error. Horses that receive at least half the dry matter of their diet as good quality leafy forage grown in temperate latitudes, with cereal grain, may need no mineral supplementation.

An exception to this is where horses are heavily worked, especially in hot weather, when they will require additional sodium chloride. In some places soils, forages and other crops contain inadequate copper, selenium or iodine and supplements of these will be required. The soil in a few regions contains toxic amounts of selenium and crops grown on such soils should not be used for horses.

Some pasture species absorb certain heavy metals (e.g. cadmium) through their roots. Such grazing areas and herbage can become harmful.

The daily digestible energy requirement for maintenance can be estimated from equations 1 and 2. This requirement is directly proportional to body weight and for horses ranging in size from 125 kg to 600 kg the requirement is in accordance with the relationship.

For horses exceeding 600 kg body weight, physical activity is generally. The dietary requirement for protein assumes that the protein is derived from forage of adequate digestibility, cereal grain and protein concentrate meals of reasonably high biological value (BV). With this assumption the BV of the mix should be adequate. If root vegetables are used, with protein concentrates of poorer indispensable amino acid balance, the lysine and possibly the threonine content of the diet.

If you want to get your own horse, you need to know how to properly take care of it. That's especially true if you're looking for a baby horse, which is even more sensible to the things you feed him with. Before you start looking for horses available for sale, read this.

Source: EzineArticles
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