FEEDING YOUR YOUNG HORSE THE RIGHT NUTRITION
A lot of myths surround the issue of feeding growing horses and ponies, however growing involves building body tissues, the components of which are supplied by nutrients in the diet.
As such it is important to ensure correct growth by providing a supportive diet. Here’s a take on a well-muscled, well-grown equine on behalf of Stephane Jothy, Equine Nutritionist and Horse Corporate Marketing Manager, Royal Horse.
Young horse and Nutrition
The skeleton, in the horse, occupies a very important place in the body.
Since the skeleton is composed of 60% minerals (Ca, P, Mg …), the place of the minerals in the body at birth is therefore particularly important in the foal.
Once the foal is born, he grows up very quickly:
He doubles his weight the first month.
It reaches 90% of its size at 1 year.
At 6 months, approximately 70% of cartilage development is performed
These specificities, accompanied by the solicitation of the horse’s body during its future life, place a strong challenge on nutrition: The young horse nutrition began few months before its birth
Brood mare in pregnancy ==> foal quality at birth
From the brood mare in lactation ==> significant development of the foal from the first months
Young growth ==> long and high growth to ensure a long career.
It is therefore essential to respect the major balances of nutrition for these young horses so that they can express their full genetic potential. In order to cover the needs of each physiological stage, feed programs are proposed with the specific breed feed.
Note: Deficiencies during this critical period of growth are rarely time-compensating.
A ration is defined according to several criteria:
First of all the weight of the horse, which will define its needs.
Then of its activity or its physiological stage which according to the used feed will allow us to define a daily quantity.
This quantity will be modulated according to the quantity and quality of the forage available and finally the general body condition of the horse.
The rations that are given on the data sheets of the products are very good indicators and avoid errors, but the advice of nutritionists is a plus especially in the case of race horses or competitions that repeat the efforts and the intense training sessions.
Why adapt a horse’s diet to the type of effort required?
The advancement of research in equine nutrition over the past ten years has made us evolve in terms of customization of horse rations; even if the daily diet of a horse must remain simple today we have the choice of many products to respond specifically to certain disciplines and more specifically to types of effort.
Indeed one can privilege the origin of the sources of energies (cereals, fibers, vegetable fat) in the feed according to the type of effort (long effort or short effort), one can integrate preventive solutions to the developments of the ulcers in foods that are intended for race horses or competitions under stress (intense training, transport …) we can also improve the speed of recovery for horses that are subject to repeated efforts.
Choosing a suitable feed in terms of energy concentration will allow you to work with rations of low volume and therefore digest comfort for your horse and avoid it draws from its reserves. Making the choice of a adapted feed to the training conditions of your horse is the key to its well-being and performance.