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Nutrient Requirements for Horses

I am a senior at Sweet Briar College, and am currently working on my senior thesis exercise for the Equine Certificate. My current study is “equine nutrition in the 21st century” and I think my thesis will be the different between American and European (specifically German) feeding systems, and whether one is better than the other. I was wondering if you could help me by pointing me in the right direction on where I can find more information on the subject. Thank you so much for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you. With Warm Wishes, AN, Virginia

Dear AN,

What an interesting thesis! I certainly hope it gets published somewhere because it sounds like it will contain some very practical information. I’m not very familiar with European horse feeding systems—except to know they have some different feedstuffs than us—so I’m going to stick to what’s recommended here in America.

The number one source for feeding horses in the U.S. is the sixth edition of Nutrient Requirements for Horses authored by the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies Press and published in 2007. Here’s what their website says about the book:

Proper formulation of diets for horses depends on adequate knowledge of their nutrient requirements. These requirements depend on the breed and age of the horse and whether it is exercising, pregnant, or lactating.

A great deal of new information has been accumulated since the publication 17 years ago of the last edition of Nutrient Requirements of Horses. This new edition features a detailed review of scientific literature, summarizing all the latest information, and provides a new set of requirements based on revised data. Also included is updated information on the composition of feeds, feed additives, and other compounds routinely fed to horses. The effects of physiological factors, such as exercise, and environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity, are covered, as well. Nutrient Requirements of Horses also contains information on several nutritional and metabolic diseases that horses often have.

Designed primarily as a reference, both practical and technical, Nutrient Requirements of Horses is intended to ensure that the diets of horses and other equids contain adequate amounts of nutrients and that the intakes of certain nutrients are not so excessive that they inhibit performance or impair health. This book is primarily intended for animal nutritionists, veterinarians, and other scientists; however, individual horse owners and managers will also find some of this material useful. Professors who teach graduate courses in animal nutrition will find Nutrient Requirements of Horses beneficial as a textbook.

You can also find the table of contents on the website, which lists these chapters:
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
  a. Nutrient Requirement Tables
  b. Feed Composition Tables
  c. Composition of Mare’s Milk Tables
  d. Table of Conversions

Finally, it contains appendixes and an index. I hope this answers your question and good luck on your thesis!

Lydia F. Gray, DVM, MA SmartPak Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director Dr. Lydia Gray has earned a Bachelor of Science in agriculture, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), and a Master of Arts focusing on interpersonal and organizational communication. After “retiring” from private practice, she put her experience and education to work as the American Association of Equine Practitioner’s first-ever Director of Owner Education. Dr. Gray continues to provide health and nutrition information to horse owners through her position at SmartPak, through publication in more than a dozen general and trade publications, and through presentations around the country. She is the very proud owner of a Trakehner named Newman that she actively competes with in dressage and combined driving. In addition to memberships in the USDF and USEF, Dr. Gray is also a member of the Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association (IDCTA). She is a USDF “L” Program Graduate and is currently working on her Bronze Medal. Find Dr. Gray on Google+

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