Dr. Gray’s Featured Presentation from the 2008 AAEP Healthy Horses Workshop- “Nutrition: The key to unlocking your horse’s health”

KEY #4—Nutrient Requirements of Horses

For many years, veterinarians, nutritionists, feed manufacturers, teachers, students and horse owners relied on the fifth edition of the National Research Council (NRC) Nutrient Requirements of Horses, published in 1989. Fortunately an updated version was published last year, making this valuable reference for the horse industry much more current.

The purpose of this NRC publication is to review and summarize the existing scientific literature regarding the nutrition and feeding of horses as it relates to nutrient requirements of the different physiological classes: foals, weanlings and yearlings; adult horses in various levels of work; and breeding animals. The committee that prepared the publication makes clear that their suggested values may not meet the needs of all horses in all situations and that adjustments may be needed for individual horses or to meet specific goals.

Contents of the NRC Nutrient Requirements of Horses:
1. Energy
2. Carbohydrates
3. Fats and Fatty Acids
4. Proteins and Amino Acids
5. Minerals
6. Vitamins
7. Water and Water Quality
8. Feeds and Feed Processing
9. Feed Additives
10. Feed Analysis
11. Feeding Behavior and General Considerations for Feeding management
12. Unique Aspects of Equine Nutrition
13. Donkeys and Other Equids
14. Ration Formulation and Evaluation
15. Computer Model to Estimate Requirements
16. Tables

Chapter 12 covers the role of nutrition in some common equine medical problems, including nursing and orphan foals, “old age,” feeding management of horses in cold or hot weather, and nutritional management of specific disease conditions. Covered in this last section are hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP), tying up, PSSM, developmental orthopedic disease (DOD), laminitis, nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism, ulcers, colic and recurrent airway obstruction.

Because reviewing and summarizing information about the digestive physiology of the horse was outside the charge of the Council, the next “key” will provide a brief description of the parts and purposes of the digestive tract so the information in the Nutrient Requirements of Horses is more helpful.

Lydia Gray, DVM MA, is the Staff Veterinarian for SmartPak. Prior to joining SmartPak, Dr. Gray served as the first-ever Director of Owner Education for the American Association of Equine Practitioners. She has authored numerous articles in publications such as The Horse, Horse Illustrated, Western Horseman and a variety of veterinary journals and magazines. Dr. Gray is also a frequent speaker at horse expos, veterinary conventions and other events. After graduating with honors from the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine and receiving her Master's Degree in Interpersonal and Organizational Communication, she practiced at the Tremont Veterinary Clinic for several years. Dr. Gray is active in the American Veterinary Medical Association and Illinois State Veterinary Medical Association. She enjoys training and showing her Trakehner, Newman, in both combined driving and dressage, and is a USDF “L” Program Graduate (with distinction). Find Dr. Gray on Google+

Posted in Ask the Vet

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