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Horse Industry Feeding Problems

Age of horses is increasing Diversity of horses increasing Economy increases demand/value? Willingness to experiment Increase use of supplements Minerals/Vitamins/Lubricants Fats

Factors affecting requirements

Size, body type and weight Age Work: production stage Breed: temperament Fat insulation Environment: climatic conditions External & internal parasites Vices Mouth

Comparisons of digestion
Human Stomach Sm. Intestine Cecum Lg. Intestine 30% 33% 7% 30% Ruminant 70% 19% 3% 7% Equine 9-10% 30% 16% 45%

Differences in rates of passage


rush through foregut time delay in cecum rush through rectum


Slow recycling flow of digesta


Essential for all body functions Temperature regulation Feed digestion Amount of water intake
Level of exercise Ambient temperature Quality of feeds in ration Proportion of diet that is forage

Minimum 1 gallon/100 lbs BW/day

GI Tract Health
Forage Concentrate

Grain Supplements

Digestion of Feed
Stomach Small Intestine Large Intestine Fermentable Fiber Fat Digestible Carbohydrate

Fatty Acids Glucose Fat Volatile Fatty Acids


Digestive Categories of Horses


- basic requirements of life Growth - youngest has highest requirements Gestation - last three months Lactation - first three months Work - depends on activity

light, moderate, intense



Size: body weight Environment Individual digestive & metabolic efficiency Dry matter intake: 1.5% of the BW Most - energy requirements are met with forage alone

Fiber digestion decreases Ability to manufacture or absorb certain vitamins decrease B vitamins Vitamin C Decreased kidney function Calcium stones may build up Decreased liver function Jaundice, weight loss, lethargy, loss of appetite, intolerance for fat and protein in diet


Confinement? No! Turnout with a friend. Weight loss reasons: Poor dentition Reduction in digestion - parasites, microbial constituents, B Vits Selection of Feed Highly palatable Easy to chew & swallow Clean & dust free Highly digestible pellets or extruded feeds Contain enough high quality fiber to aid digestion. High quality hay no alfalfa. Chopped hay, hay cubes or pellets Soaked feeds or mashes

Feeding The Athlete

Levels of Performance/Work

- western and English pleasure, trail riding, equitation, hacking Moderate - dressage, ranch work, roping, cutting, barrel racing, jumping Intense - race training, polo, cutting,

Required Energy
Activity Maintenance Light work Moderate work Intense work Pasture Pleasure riding Reining, jumping Racing, endurance Examples DE (Mcal/d) 16 20 24 32


Why Use It For Performance Horses?

Energy from fat is 90% utilizable q Fat heat of fermentation q Fat glycogen storage prior to race q Fat buildup of lactic acid during intense exercise q Fat fatigue