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Nutritional Requirements of Horses - Part 2

In this multi-part series, we talk about the Nutritional Requirements of Horses including Energy, Proteins, Vitamins, Macro Minerals and Micro Minerals.

Energy Part 2 – Carbohydrates & Fats as Sources of Energy

The following are the main sources of energy in a horse’s diet:

Carbohydrates are one of the primary sources of energy for any horse because approximately 75% of the plant material that a horse eats is made up of carbohydrates.  Carbohydrates can be broken into two main groups:

Structural Carbohydrates come from plan fiber (forage), bacteria in the intestines digest only about 50% and the remainder is passed out in manure.  Horses require a minimum 1% of body weight in forage.

Non-structural Carbohydrates come primarily from the grains we feed.  They are in the form of starches, sugars and pectin.  The most important non-structural carbohydrate is starch and is a highly digestible energy source that is provided in grains like oats, corn & barley.  Remember horses are limited to the amount so non-structural carbohydrates they can handle.

Fats are an excellent source of energy for horses and highly digestible.  In fact, fat sources provide two to three times more digestible energy than similar quantities of grains.  Fat sources come in both liquid (vegetable oils) and solid (rice bran & dry fat).  Both work well, solids are a little easier to feed.