It’s important to regularly assess a horse’s diet to make sure they are getting all the vitamins and nutrients they need to stay healthy. A horse’s normal feed should provide the basics of what they need if the horse has a high-quality feed. However, sometimes basic feed leaves gaps in a horse’s nutrition. Horse dietary supplements can help round out a horse’s diet.
What Do Horses Need in a Diet?
Horses need the right balance of fats, carbs, protein, vitamins, and minerals along with water. Horses will drink anywhere from 5 to 15 gallons of water in a day. Horse feed contains a set percentages of each of the key elements of the animal’s diet. Pay attention to these amounts since some mixes can have a higher percentage of fats, carbs, or protein. If the feed does not provide exactly what the horse needs, supplements exist to meet those needs.
Main Diet Supplements
- Protein- Protein is an important supplement for horses that need more energy, such as pregnant and lactating horses, weanlings, or highly active horses. Soybean meal is the most common source of supplemental protein. Soybean meal is 44% crude protein, but there are other options like alfalfa hay which have lower crude protein percentages.
- Fat- Most feeds provide an adequate fat percentage for horses. Fat is necessary for a horse’s digestive system to absorb fat-soluble vitamins. Horses that are underweight, pregnant and lactating, or performance horses may need a fat supplement. The most popular fat supplements are vegetable oil and rice bran. Owners should gradually introduce a fat supplement to a horse’s diet over time.
- Electrolytes- An electrolyte supplement is typically a formula of minerals like sodium chloride. This blend helps prevent exhaustion in horses which do strenuous work or are in hot environments. Adding the supplement to the horse’s feed is the best way to make sure the horse gets the benefits.