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Horse Nutrition: The Power of Protein

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Of all the components that we consider in our horse's diets, protein may be the most misunderstood. While protein can serve as an energy source, most importantly protein provides amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of muscles and other soft tissues and need to be fed continually to support growth and repair.

Horses of all ages require adequate amounts of protein for maintenance, growth, reproduction and work. Proteins aid in maintaining the structural tissues of the body and are also involved in metabolic stability by contributing to balance in the body's many enzymatic and hormonal functions.

Importance of Protein in Growing Horses

Young growing horses have the highest protein requirement. Protein quality is also critical in young growing horses, which specifically require amounts of the amino acid Lysine. Lysine promotes weight gain as well as skeletal and muscular growth in horses.

Importance of Protein in Performance Horses

Protein is necessary for muscle building and repair. During exercise, horses experience breakdown of muscle tissue for energy production and a decrease in muscle synthesis. After exercise, protein synthesis in muscles increases to repair muscle mass damage. Increased protein in performance horses can support muscular activity, improve recovery, reduce muscle breakdown from training and events, and support the joints and connective tissue. However, too much of a protein increase can actually decrease performance by stressing the metabolism.

Sweat is an important mechanism of thermo regulation in performance horses. Sweat is mainly comprised of water, sodium, chloride, calcium, potassium, and small amounts of protein. Although researchers currently believe that protein lost via sweat is minimal, consuming high-quality proteins will ensure the performance horse will replenish any proteins lost via sweat.

Did you know? Contrary to popular belief, protein is not an efficient energy source for horses. The horse's body requires more energy to break down protein for energy than it does to break down carbs and fats.

Importance of Protein in Senior Horses

An increase in the amount of needed proteins may arise in senior horses because they may be less efficient at absorbing and utilizing this tissue-building nutrient. Providing senior horses with higher-quality protein that contains amino acids such as Lysine and Threonin may help improve muscle mass in aging horses. Horse supplements such as Calf-Manna that contain soybean meal, are ideal for older horses because of it's great amino acid profile.

Importance of Protein in Broodmares

Pregnant mares are in need of increased protein, especially during months 9-11, due to the enormous amount of fetal growth during that time. The period of lactation also significantly increases the protein requirement, specifically for the amino acids Lysine and Threonine.

Research indicates that broodmares fed supplemental proteins 30-40 days before breeding have improved conception rates and are more apt to maintain a healthy pregnancy (Source: thehorse.com).

Importance of Protein During Times of Stress

Accidents, injuries, surgeries and substantial psychological stress can also increase protein requirements for optimal recovery and adaptation. Supplementing your horse with Calf-Manna prior to and during times of stress will help ensure your horse has the quality proteins he needs, and will keep him coming back for that great taste!

As you can see, protein plays an essential role in every horse’s diet!

Calf-Manna Performance Supplement is an excellent source of high-quality proteins and amino acids to help your horse reach their peak condition and top performance.

  • High-Quality Proteins: Calf-Manna includes multiple sources of high-quality protein, providing a wide array of essential amino acids.
  • Digestible Carbohydrates: Calf-Manna’s digestible carbohydrates are an excellent source of energy. It’s often called “energy dense” which means it delivers more calories per mouthful. Our quality carbohydrates also make Calf-Manna an ideal solution for weight gain.
  • Anise: Ingredients like Anise provide Calf-Manna’s inviting, sweet smelling aroma and taste for animals of all ages. The great taste Calf-Manna encourages animals to stay on feed during times of stress like travel, illness, or environmental changes.
  • Brewer's Dried Yeast: Brewer’s Dried Yeast improves palatability, encourages earlier and more consistent intake of dry feed, and supports optimal digestion of other nutrients.
  • Linseed Meal: Linseed Meal provides protein and oil to help add sheen and luster to your animal’s coat.

CLICK HERE to get your Calf-Manna Coupon!


Article Sources:
Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler

Gabby Gufler graduated from Truman State University in 2013 with a BS in Animal Science & Nutrition and a minor in Equine Science. Gabby currently works on Manna Pro’s marketing team, and enjoys competing regularly with her six horses.

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