Is Hay Low In Protein
The protein level of hay will vary according to the type of grass it is made from, and when it has been cut. Hay made mainly from grasses normally contains between 8-14% protein. If legumes are used to make hay, such as alfalfa and clover, this increases to 15-22%.
The ideal hay blend for horses is one that contains both grass and legumes. It should consist of a mix of grasses, to give an even nutritional balance. For the optimum hay content, grass should be cut before it flowers and sets seeds.
Feedstuff Selection And Feeding Practices
Feeding practices direct the types of feedstuffs which can be fed safely. Alternatively, the types of feedstuffs direct feeding practices. Given the availability, horses will generally eat between 2.5 percent to 3.5 percent of their body weight per day in harvested feed . To encourage water intake, enhance motility of the digestive tract and help the horses natural desire to eat more or less continuously, most rations are designed to meet needs of horses at around 80 percent of maximal intake limits . These amounts are designed for significant levels of fibrous feedstuffs and for sufficient highly digestible energy sources, i.e. fat, starches and sugars, to be fed to meet nutrient demands not supplied in forages.
The horses digestive tract is very efficient in absorbing nutrients when feeding practices fit the feedstuff but can be very inefficient when the two factors are not considered in relation to each other. The first portions of the digestive tract that feed travels, the stomach and small intestine, will absorb energy containing compounds, amino acids from protein and minerals and vitamins needed for sound production and maintenance. This occurs from action of enzymes and other chemicals secreted by the horses digestive tract, and substances that transport compounds into the horses body. This process is very efficient as long as amounts of feedstuffs do not overwhelm this ability and the feed contains compounds that can be acted upon by enzymes.
Understanding Protein Quality In Horse Feed
After energy, protein is the most important nutrient in a horses diet. Protein is needed to build good quality hoof, hair, skin, organ tissue, muscles, eyes, blood and bones. Protein is also a crucial part of enzymes and hormones and is an absolutely essential nutrient in a horses diet. After water, its the most plentiful substance in a horses body.
But as with many nutrients, proteins aint proteins. Some protein is of very high quality, other proteins can be so low in quality that they will seriously limit a horses ability to grow, reproduce, perform or build muscle. So what determines protein quality? First, lets look at what proteins are.
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Once They Reach Two Years Old Protein Needs Generally Drop To The 10
Special 13 : with Stamm 30 for critical micronutrients RG 14 : with Stamm 30 and Edge Technology Staminoats : with Stamm 30 for critical micronutrients Stallion Max : optimizes reproductive health Quantify : with increased fat level for horses who need more calories Edge 14 : energy-dense formula
How Much Protein Does A Horse Need
How much protein a horse needs depends on the horse and the physiologic state. I rarely find a crude protein deficiencies in mature horses diets they typically only require about 10 or 11% crude protein in their diets, which most forage sources easily meet. However young, growing horses require 12 to 14%, and this might pose more of a challenge to meet.
Most good grass hays can meet mature horse protein requirements and provide 10% or higher crude protein alfalfa typically provides 18% or more. Grain hays such as oat hay can fall short, with an average crude protein of closer to 8%.
In reality, though, your horse doesnt have a crude protein requirement, but rather an amino acid requirement. Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins, and there are 21 amino acids of which nine are essential for mammals . An essential nutrient is one that must be provided by the diet because the animal cant make that nutrient itself. Each protein contains a range of these various amino acids with some providing a greater proportion of essential amino acids than others. The greater the proportion of essential amino acids in a protein the better quality that protein is said to be.
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Rations For Horses: Nutrients Feedstuffs And Safety
Ask a group of horse owners the question, Why do you feed your horse the feedstuffs you feed? You will receive a range of answers. Cost, availability and what has been fed traditionally will make up a significant portion of the answers. Although not stated as often, marketing also greatly influences our decisions on feed purchases. The primary purpose of feeding certain feedstuffs is to supply proper nutrition. The intent of this fact sheet is to identify the nutritional basis for decision making for feed selection, specifically safely meeting nutrient needs and following feeding practices that aid digestion.
What Horse Feed Is High In Protein
A: Horse feed is a very broad term. There are many different types of horse feeds, and they vary in what they contain. Some high protein horse feeds include oats, barley, corn, soybean meal, and wheat.
Alfalfa is a plant that has a high amount of protein. It also contains vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients. Reference: alfalfa sprouts.
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Protein Ingredients In Horse Feed
Protein is essential to a balanced diet. It is probably one of the most referenced nutrients in horse feed, and most horse owners will know the protein content of their feed. But how do we get the protein into the feed? Sources of protein for humans may come from a juicy steak, a nice salmon filet, or a tender pork chop. We derive most of our protein from meat sources which makes sense for us since we are carnivores. The horse, on the other hand, is an herbivore many of the types of protein that we consume as humans do not come into play in our horses diet. However, we do know that the horse has a nutritional requirement for protein and so when we formulate feeds we can use certain plants that are high in this particular nutrient. Some of the most popular ingredients used to add protein to horse feed are:
Soybean Meal This is the most common form of plant protein. Soybeans are readily available throughout the country and have the highest concentration of protein of any of our plant sources, with a typical level of 44-48%. Additionally, soybean meal contains a close match nutritionally to what horses require for amino acids. Especially important in this profile is the amino acid lysine, which is essential in young growing horses.
Canola Meal Canola meal is the closest to meeting the nutritional profile of soybean meal and has a protein content of 35-44%. Canola meal is a by-product of oil removal from
The Maths For Calorie And Protein Levels For Horses Prone To Laminitis
This particular hay nutritional analysis was carried out for a good doer horse, but the customer is managing the weight well. The horse weighs 450 kg and the following table is a guide to how much this horse, fed this hay, has to eat to provide enough calories for the different work levels. This is based on the hay tested having DE level of 8.58 MJ/kg, which is a good calorific value.
|Horse Work Level|
Maintaining body weight with this hay is relatively easy but the protein is a different matter.
If you look at the Forageplus Nutritional Report below , protein in the hay is reported at 5.1%. This amount is well below the ideal of 8% for forage-fed to all horses. This means that a 450kg horse will be short of protein when fed the amount needed to maintain weight.
This horse will need feeding an additional protein form other than forage to boost protein levels when calorie levels are correct.
The following information shows you how just much protein a 450 kg horse needs and how much it receives when fed the weight of this hay for each work level. Red text is the protein level provided by the hay. Green text is the NRC minimum daily protein levels for a horse weighing 450kg:
MaintenanceFeeding 8.1kg: 372 grams 486 gramsThe horse will be 113 grams short of minimum levels.
Feeding 9.7kg: 446.2 grams 567 gramsThe horse will be 120.8 grams short of minimum levels.
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What Is The Cause Of Poor Quality Protein For Horses
Unbalanced soil fertility is usually the reason for high levels of NPN. All land needs to be looked after, applying either the wrong applications/fertilisers or not applying anything can result in deficiencies and excesses which then upset the mineral balance of the soil. This harms the delicate underground balance and ecosystem and ultimately it damages our horses.
Many people in the horse world believe that if they apply no fertilisers to their land then it makes the land suitable for horses and organic. They are fearful of applying anything to the land and so do nothing but this is as bad as applying the wrong thing. The soil becomes sick with overgrazing and compaction which then means the grass-grown is sick.
Sick soil and sick grass result in sick horses, and NPN and poor quality protein is one result of this in forage. Equally, many hay producers are interested in cash crops. Applying NPK fertilisers without reference to the mineral balance of the soil might result in heavy crops which make money but the quality of that crop is highly compromised due to NPN and other imbalances.
Monday Myth #: Certain Types Of Feeds Make Horses Hot
For decades the idea has circulated in barns that certain types of feed are responsible for making horses hot. Sometimes corn gets the blame, or oats, or molasses, or alfalfa, or any feed that is high in protein. Owners and managers see a direct correlation between I fed my horse this, and my horse acted like that. So, they assume it was the specific type of feed that caused the behavior.
But its a myth that only certain feeds, like corn or sweet feed, are responsible for causing those excessive energy spikes in horses. While theres no denying the change in behavior that can happen after a feed dump, the issue isnt always the type of feed, its the amount. And any grain-based feed can be at fault.
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How Much Hay To Feed A Laminitic Horse
If you dont know the calorie/energy level of your forage then you can calculate the amount to be fed to maintain weight at 2% of body weight to maintain weight or 1.5% of the bodyweight, if the horse needs to lose weight.
Another approach to weight loss is to decide how much weight you want your horse to lose and calculate 2% of that number. You can then choose either 1.5% of present body weight or 2% of the future bodyweight you want the horse to be and feed whichever gives you the greatest feed amount. What you should never do is feed a horse or pony prone to laminitis less than 1.5% of body weight as this could lead to weight loss which fuels further laminitis.
We hope this helps horse owners understand the implications of understanding just how forage protein levels can affect all horses, especially horses prone to laminitis. A simple nutritional analysis of forage can help you manage your horses diet so that it is healthy, at the right weight and those prone to laminitis are managed correctly.
Protein In The Horse’s Diet
|http://www.horses-and-horse-information.com/articles/0698protein.shtml||Protein is one of the most misunderstood topics in the equine nutrition world does my horse need more protein? Is too much bad? Feed companies do not always help by listing feeds by total protein content by percentage , suggesting a certain percent is needed, or that more is always better. Better understanding this important nutrient requires a brief dip into biochemistry , but it will be worth your while!Firstly, we need to understand exactly what protein does in the body. While everyone knows that protein is important for building muscles, it actually has a role in regulating almost every process in the body. Proteins are found in all cells and are the most common, and varied, type of biological molecule.|
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The Amino Acid Puzzle
There are 21 amino acids which can be joined together in almost limitless combinations to form proteins. Up to 12 of these amino acids can be manufactured by the horse in its body, so they are known as non-essential amino acids. Under certain conditions like growth or illness, six of these non-essential amino acids must also be supplied in the diet. These ones are therefore known as conditionally essential amino acids. The remaining 9 amino acids are termed ESSENTIAL amino acids. These essential amino acids cannot be manufactured by the horse and must be supplied by the diet.
The 3 most limiting amino acids in the equine diet are lysine, threonine and methionine.
Tips For Managing Your Horses Energy Level And Digestive Health
Besides the fact that grain-based feeds are dense in calories, they are also hard on the equine digestive system. When overfed , undigested starch moves too quickly through the intestines to be properly digested and poses a risk to hindgut health. For both those reasons, one of the best ways to manage your horses energy level and overall health is to increase forage and decrease concentrated feeds.
Quality grass hays are a great way to get horses the nutrition they need and they are digested slowly over a matter of days in the hindgut. This provides a steady source of energy, without the sugar highs. And its a lot healthier for your horse, too.
If your horse truly does need more calories than whats available in grass or hay due to a high activity level, consider feeding beet pulp instead of more grain. Beet pulp is a high-calorie yet healthy feed because it is a forage that is easily digested in the hindgut. Also, feeds higher in fat rather than carbs are less likely to cause that after-meal sugar high.
And keep in mind that its always smart practice to feed by weight rather than scoop size a coffee can full of corn weighs a lot more than a coffee can full of oats.
Bottom line? Maintain a healthy balance of calories in, energy out. Offer free choice hay and only add in healthy, higher-calorie feeds like beet pulp as needed to keep that balance.
Forage Analysis And Determining The Quality Of Protein For Horses
Forage analyses that test for protein are really just tests for nitrogen. Crude protein is actually the amount of nitrogen found in plant tissue multiplied by a factor of 6.25. Thats because, on average, all protein contains 16% nitrogen.
This arbitrary calculation then has no bearing on quality because it is not measuring individual amino acids . However, if you also have a mineral analysis of your hay showing sulphur levels you can use this number to work out the nitrogen to sulphur ratio.
This really should be a maximum of 10 parts nitrogen to one part sulphur. If the ratio is higher then you have a proportion of the protein which is not correctly formed, will be unavailable to the horse and possibly be a nitrate threat.
The photo above shows the values on both a nutritional and full mineral analysis and we have ringed the figures used in red. Always choose the dry matter figures. The forage looks like it has good levels of protein, 10.3% , but sadly much of this protein is NPN.
You can see that the nitrogen sulphur ratio in the above forage is 15:1 which is unacceptable and means that what on first sight looks like excellent protein levels in the forage tested, actually is revealed to be poor in terms of quality. This is a very common problem in UK forages and is caused by the poor mineral balance in the soil and over-application of nitrogen to fertilise.
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What About The Quality Of Protein For Horses
Quality protein consists of a diverse suite of amino acids. Poor quality protein may contain non-protein nitrogen which may consist of free amino acids, nitrates, nitrites etc.
If you are feeding your horse a forage with high levels of NPN it can create a host of health problems including poor immune system/immuno-suppression, liver and kidney stress . This is because your horse is exposed to huge amounts of forage. If your horse is eating excessive poor-quality NPN you may smell excessive ammonia in the urine.
Find out more about nitrate levels in forage here.
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Alfalfa As A Source Of Protein For Horses
Alfalfa is a member of the legume family, so possesses the ability to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and incorporate it into the plant. Along with soya, which is also a legume, alfalfa is one of the most commonly used sources of protein in horse feeds.
The key features of the protein in alfalfa are:
- Most of the protein in alfalfa is found in the leaf. In fact, the leaf contains two to three times more protein than the stem.
- The level of quality protein in alfalfa is very good, with lysine at 0.83% compared with wheat at 0.4% on a dry matter basis.
- 3kg of Alfa-A Original provides a 500kg horse in light work with 65% of its crude protein and 62% of its lysine requirement. NB: Grass and hay/haylage will usually supply the rest, so a broad-spectrum supplement is all that is needed to provide a balanced diet for most horses and ponies.