Know your horse's feed! - Macro-nutrients and their sources
Team Marketing | 02.12.20Horses just like humans require the intake of food to provide adequate amounts of nutrients for growth, maintenance and to sustain performance. As a matter of fact there are 40 different nutrients the horse requires to be healthy; these nutrients are grouped in six major categories: carbohydrates (incl. fibre), fats, proteins, vitamins, minerals and water. Some of these nutrients are required in much larger amounts such as fibre, carbohydrates, fat and protein and are therefore called macro-nutrients. The table below highlights key aspects of each nutrient and gives examples of dietary sources. It should be noted, however, that each of these ingredients/sources also contain other macro-nutrients to varying degrees (e.g. hay is primarily a source of fibre yet it contains some starch, sugar, protein and fat).
|Type of energy||Products of Digestion||Main functions||Risk of excess||Dietary source|
|Fibre Fermented in large intestine||Volatile Fatty Acids (VFA)||· Major source of energy · Contribute to stored energy · Support the fat reservoir||*||· Hay · Pasture · Chaff · Beet pulp · Soybean hulls|
|Carbohydrates (sugar + starch) Enzyme digestion in small intestine||Glucose||· Increased hindgut acidity · Ulcers · Laminitis · Colic||· Cereal grain (oats, barley, maize) · Molasses · Pollard/bran · Mill run · Honey|
|Fat Enzyme digestion in small intestine||Fatty acids||· Stored as an energy reserve · Carrier for fat-soluble vitamins||Obesity||· Rice bran · Vegetable oil|
|Protein Enzyme digestion in small intestine||Amino acids||· Tissue building and replacement · Protein is not an effective energy source||Build-up of ammonia which can cause respiratory disorders (in stables with poor ventilation)||· Lucerne · Soybean meal · Lupins/beans · Cottonseed meal · Canola meal|