From AAEP’s Ask the Vet: Feeding Two Year Olds

I recently purchased an almost two year old Thoroughbred gelding that had 60 days training to race at 18 months before his owners decided he wasn’t fast enough. He is growing quickly and I am in no hurry to start riding him again as I feel he needs time to develop physically. Nutritionally, what should his diet consist of for optimum growth and health?
- Ashley

Dear Ashley,

Congratulations on your new horse! And cheers for giving him the time, space and nutrition to mature properly. According to my favorite book, the NRC Nutrient Requirements of Horses, horses 24 months of age and younger are considered “growing animals” and have additional daily nutrient requirements than adult horses in maintenance.

Specifically, they need more energy (calories), protein (especially the limiting amino acid lysine), and certain vitamins and minerals like Vitamin D and iron. Since the amount and ratio of all these nutrients is important—as well as knowing the body condition score and approximate weight of your growing horse—I recommend you speak with your veterinarian or a local equine nutritionist to develop the most appropriate feeding regimen for him during these formative years.

They’ll likely recommend a combination of high quality mixed grass and alfalfa hay along with a fortified grain that is designed to be fed to young horses because of the concentration of nutrients it supplies. Don’t forget to topdress with salt; provide clean, fresh water; and allow plenty of turnout. Access to fresh grass is a plus!

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+

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One comment on “From AAEP’s Ask the Vet: Feeding Two Year Olds
  1. Gretchen says:

    So, what foods contain Lysine? Is it found in Alfalfa or do you have to look to concentrates?

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