Why Do Horses Need Protein?

Adult horses need protein only for repair and maintenance of body tissues, so their total requirement is fairly low. Many mature horses get all the protein they need (about 10% of the diet, on average) from grass or hay. Owners can confirm that this need is met by having pastures and hay analyzed.

What do proteins do for horses?

Some of the key functions of proteins in your horse’s body include providing structure, nutrient transport in the blood stream, nutrient transport across cell membranes, regulation of metabolic function, as a component of the immune system and to act as a buffer to minimize fluctuations in body pH.

Why is protein digestion important in horses?

The digestion of protein begins in the stomach, through to the small intestine which results in the end product the free amino acids. These are then available for absorption into the blood stream and used for various functions throughout your horse’s body.

How is protein digested in the horse?

Once feed is released from the stomach it enters the small intestine. In the small intestine a majority of non-structural carbohydrate (starch), protein and fat is digested by enzymes and absorbed. Starch is digested by amylase enzymes, oil is digested by lipase enzymes and protein is digested by protease enzymes.

How much protein does a horse have?

ClassificationProtein Level %
Lactating mare – first 3 months13
Lactating mare – from 3rd month on11

Do herbivores need protein?

However, animals that eat almost exclusively grass, such as cows and horses, have no problem getting enough protein in their diet. Unlike humans, herbivores are capable of digesting plant cells and getting to the nutrients locked inside, like protein.

Where do horses get their amino acids from?

All grasses, grains and hays have a certain amount of protein in them. When it arrives in your horse’s stomach and small intestine, enzymes break it down into its amino-acid components.

What horse feed is low in protein?

Low protein feedstuffs%g/kg
Bran13-15%130-150 g/k

Why do horses need amino acids?

They benefit all of a horse’s vital processes, as they are used to build all the protein in the body. Horses require a total of 20 amino acids to build their body’s proteins.

What is a crude protein?

A measure of the amount of protein in a feed determined as the amount of nitrogen multiplied by 6.25. The factor 6.25 is the average grams of protein that contains 1 gram of nitrogen. The word “crude” refers to the fact that not all nitrogen in most feed is exclusively in the form of protein.

What is the diet of a horse?

Horses are naturally grazers, they eat little and often. Their natural diet is mainly grass, which has high roughage content. Horses should be provided with a predominantly fibre-based diet, either grass, hay, haylage or a hay replacement in order to mimic their natural feeding pattern as closely as possible.

What is considered high protein in horse feed?

Good quality legume hay can have roughly 18 to 22 percent crude protein, while good quality grass hay can have 10 to 16 percent crude protein. Again, quality and growth stage at harvest determine how digestible the hay is and influence how much protein the horse receives from it.

Can you feed horses protein powder?

Amino acidWhey proteinSoybean meal
phenylalanine3455

Where do horses get their amino acids?

All grasses, grains and hays have a certain amount of protein in them. When it arrives in your horse’s stomach and small intestine, enzymes break it down into its amino-acid components.

What grass has the most protein?

Grass and Hay With the Highest Protein

Bermuda grass, which is also a favorite of homeowners trying to grow a beautiful lawn, is relatively high in grass protein. Its crude protein levels can be as high as 16 percent, and it has a total digestible nutrient content of 55 percent.

Does grass have protein?

Woodman, the dry matter of newly grown grass–leaf such as one gets in lawn–mowings, contains as much as 26.5 per cent of protein, 44.5 per cent of carbohydrate and 5.5 per cent of oil, making a total of 76.5 per cent of digestible matter.


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