Optimal growth Ideally, you should feed young horses to grow at a moderate, steady rate. The National Resource Council (NRC) recommends rates of average daily gain for horses.
Recommended average daily gain values for horses of different mature body weights range from 0.28 to 0.39 percent and 0.15 to 0.21 percent of the horse's body weight for weaklings and yearlings, respectively. Maximum growth Feeding a young horse for a maximum growth rate is undesirable because bone hardening lags greatly behind bone lengthening.
Ideally, young horses should gain weight at a rate that their developing bones can easily support. Growing bones don’t have the strength to support rapid weight gain from overfeeding, especially energy.
Rapid weight gain can also make other skeletal anomalies worse. In these cases the risk of developmental orthopedic disorders (DOD) and unsoundness increases.
For example, switching an underfed, slow growing horse to a good diet that allows quick growth, increases the risk of DOD. Fat should cover the top to ½ of the ribs below the flat of the back.
Risk of defective bone and related tissue formation increases with one of more of the following: Always provide horses free access to fresh, clean water.
Common feed stuffs usually don’t provide enough trace minerals. Maximizing forage intake will mimic natural feeding behavior and bring about gut health.
Thus, don’t rely on pasture alone to provide your young horse with all the nutrients they need. Concentrates A horse’s ability to efficiently use forage develops over time.
Only feed enough concentrates to achieve the desired growth rate and maintain a moderate body condition score. Always consider the expected feed intake when calculating your horse’s daily ration.
Digestible Energy (Meal/lb of BY)Crude Protein % Crude Protein % Ca UP ICU ppm Zn limit A IU/bit E IU/expected feed consumption (% BY) Weaning 1.2514.0-16.00.70.41040910372.0-3.5 Yearling 1.1512.0-14.00.50.31040910372.0-3.0 Feed young horses to grow at a moderate and steady rate.
Foals between the age of 3 and 9 months are at greatest risk for developmental orthopedic disorders. Young, growing horses need a diet ratio of Ca to P between 1 and 1 and 3 to 1.
Maximizing forage intake will mimic natural feeding behavior and bring about gut health. Nutrition is important for growing horses between weaning and 2 years of age.
During this time, bone formation and size greatly increase as well as muscle mass. Thus, these horses need the proper amount and balance of energy and nutrients in their ration.
You want your youngsters to achieve their maximum height and full athletic potential–but you don’t want to overdo the nutritional support and create all sorts of growth-related problems. Horses achieve about 90% of their full height by 12 to 15 months of age as well as 95% of their mature bone length and 70% of their adult weight.
Because the growth rate has slowed there is less risk of developmental joint problems; if your yearling hasn’t developed them by now it’s likely that with continuing correct nutritional support he’s out of the woods. Studies have confirmed that a fast growth rate will not increase the mature size of a horse, and it puts undue strain on developing bones and joints.
Fortunately, there are many ways to design feeding programs that will provide the necessary nutrition in a variety of settings. In many areas of the world, growing horses are individually given a measured amount of feed on a daily basis.
A feed product destined for use in this type of situation would need to have either a low energy content or a low intake to prevent excessive growth, but still have a safe level of fortification to provide each horse with critical nutrients for growth. Each of these variables provides a series of challenges for delivering the proper amount of diet fortification.
The first feeding situation is an example for supplying critical nutrients using three different levels of grain intake (moderate, low, and minimal). However, the concentration of critical nutrients (calcium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc) is often inadequate in a pasture-only diet.
The alfalfa diet is supplying adequate energy, protein, and calcium to support the desired moderate growth rate, but is marginal in phosphorus, copper, and zinc. This type of mixing pellet is unique since it contains low protein (9%), an inverted ratio of calcium to phosphorus, and high trace mineral concentrations.
The veterinary surgeon involved has suggested an energy-restricted diet to avoid any further rapid weight gain. It is important to realize that an energy-restricted diet will decrease the rate of gain; however, the skeleton of the yearling will continue to grow.
Since the skeleton of the yearling continues to grow even on an energy-restricted diet, it is important that the horse receive adequate levels of essential nutrients required for growth. To feed this yearling at approximately 70% of energy requirements with adequate nutrients to support continued skeletal growth, the diet would consist of 11 lb (5 kg) of mixed hay (alfalfa /grass) plus 2.5 lb (1.1 kg) of a ration balancer.
The directions on the feed bag suggest that our example yearling should receive the grain concentrate at a minimum rate of 8 lb or 3.6 kg/horse/day. Understanding the essential nutrients and their requirements is the first step in properly feeding young horses.
Growing youngsters are not always easy to keep looking at their best but, with a little care and attention to their diet and management, we can ensure they look well, while still supporting steady, even growth. Their diet is generally, therefore, deficient in nutrients, including all-important protein, which supplies key essential amino acids for muscle and tissue development.
As a result, these youngsters often have a weak top line and poor muscle development yet many may be overweight and, depending on forage quality, may have a “hay belly” appearance. The diet must supply the essential quality protein and micronutrients, to support growth, while meeting calorie requirements to promote or maintain condition.
The key to achieving excellent physique is to provide the correct nutritional balance to support growth and development while meeting an individual’s calorie requirements. The quality of the forage available (grass, hay or haulage) will determine the amount of additional calories required in the diet.
For those holding weight and condition well on a forage-only diet, Stud Balancer is ideal for providing essential supporting nutrients without additional calories. Prep Mix, Prep-Ease or Yearling Cubes are ideal for those prone to excitability as they non-heating with a good oil content for slow release energy and a shiny coat.
Ensure that the diet is fully balanced and meeting nutritional requirements, aiming for muscle tone, top line and ribs that you may not see but can certainly feel. Weigh tape on a weekly or fortnightly basis and make a note of body weight to spot any upward or downward trends.
April 3, 2012March 20, 2018By Dr. Peter Huntington Young horses need the best -quality feeds to meet their requirements for growth and free exercise. Crushed maize (corn), rice, and barley are other grains that are good sources of energy for the growing horse.
Young green grass/clover pasture contains 15–20% crude protein, but this amount falls rapidly as the plants begin flowering and go to seed. Linseed meal is relatively low in lysine and is not a good source of protein for growing horses, although its high oil content will produce a bloom on the coat.
Urinalysis can be used to assess the calcium status of young horses, or the calcium/phosphorus balance of the ration can be HTTP://www.equinews.com/article/providing-dietary-calcium-and-phosphorus-horsesalyzed by an equine nutritionist. Trace minerals such as copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium are important components in the diet for most growing horses, and are supplied in the right quantities and ratios in commercial feeds formulated for young horses.
Therefore, you must use good-quality chaff or hay to maximize the utilization of the fibrous feed in meeting the energy requirements and so decrease the amount of starch the weaning has to be fed. Lucerne (alfalfa) or clover hay will also supply protein and calcium as well as fiber, so they are preferred for growing horses and should be fed on demand.
Young horses need good-quality feeds to meet their nutrient requirements for growth, as well as free-choice exercise in large paddocks. Oats are often the cheapest source of energy for young horses and are best fed crushed to weaklings because their teeth are not fully developed, and they will have trouble breaking open whole grains.
Young green grass or clover pasture contains 15–20% crude protein, but this amount falls rapidly as the plants begin flowering and start to seed. Linseed meal is relatively low in lysine and is not a good source of protein for growing horses, although its high oil content will produce a bloom on the coat.
However winter and spring pastures may unexpectedly contain ration inversions of calcium to phosphorus. Trace minerals such as copper, zinc, manganese, and selenium are important components in the diet for most growing horses.
To meet the commercial growth requirements of young horses, you may have to feed them less roughage than desired for optimal digestive function. Therefore, you must use good-quality chaff or hay to maximize the utilization of the fibrous feed in meeting the energy requirements, and also decrease the amount of starch the weaning has to be fed.
Lucerne or clover hay will also supply higher intakes of protein and calcium as well as fiber, so they are often preferred for growing horses. These feeds have higher protein, amino acid and mineral levels to supply the needs of the growing horse.
If you have great quality pasture or are feeding breeds with a good metabolism, such as warm bloods, quarter horses, draft breeds or ponies, a feed balancer pellet or a concentrate such as Bristol Legend is often the best approach.