Thehorse.com - Full Article
By Shannon Pratt-Phillips, MSc, PhD
Oct 5, 2015
In the second installment of our three-part commercial feed tag series, we take a look at working horses and their energy needs.
It probably goes without saying, but performance horse feeds are designed to meet the nutrient requirements of athletic horses. The greatest increase in nutrient requirements (other than water!) these animals experience when they work or perform is energy, which is quantified in the diet as calories. Heavily exercising horses burn more calories than they might be able to consume with hay or pasture alone. Thus, manufacturers have designed commercial performance feeds to boost horses’ calorie intake, as well as to meet additional nutrient needs that increase with work.
In the figure below, you can see energy and protein requirements rising with increasing levels of work and how the horses’ elevated calorie needs are far greater than their elevated protein needs. While other nutrient requirements, such as those for calcium and phosphorus, also increase with work, calories should always be your biggest concern...
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