Horse feed bag: Horse nutrition and feeding
Horses are part of the Equidae family and are within the order Perissodactyla. According to the scientific classification, the domestic equine is called Equus caballus. Now we discuss a proper horse feed bag.
It is a mammal belonging to the order of the unpara digitated ungulates (they only have one finger on each limb). And it is part of the group of herbivores feeding mainly on herbs.
Because horses’ feeding habits and digestive systems are different, feeding practices common to other farm species can cause severe digestive disorders and even death in some cases.
In effect, peculiarities of the digestive tract of horses, predispose them to digestive disorders such as colic and laminitis, even with proper management. Under a poor diet, this can almost be guaranteed.
Proper horse nutrition is necessary for its growth, maintenance, reproduction and proper development when riding or exercising.
In order to adequately manage the feeding of horses, two objectives are sought: to provide a balanced feed ratio and to minimize the occurrence of digestive disorders.
Minerals and vitamins are important for the development and maintenance of bones and tissues, the production of milk in mares, and the regulation of basic body functions. Although the needs of these nutrients should not be supplied in large quantities, it is necessary to supplement them daily to cover essential functions of the body.
Actually in our country little has been written about how to properly feed horses and many fans, breeders and horse handlers, are based on branded concepts transmitted by tradition from one generation to another. Among other bad habits is that of adding, to a balanced formula, other components already present in it, such as more corn, olive oil or salvadillo. Instead of favoring a better response causes an imbalance in the ratio.
These poor management and feeding habits are reflected when demanding the horse in a show, competition or hard work. Well, a diet with an excess of carbohydrates or fats can favor obesity and not a strong muscle mass to respond to the demand of a specific activity.
The feeding, physical condition and performance of the horse are conditioned by many factors such as genetics, health, management and nutrition. Feeding during the growth period is very important to obtain the maximum performance of the animal.
Hence, good nutrition and proper management of the foal will be the key to future development, which is not affected by the skeletal structure and resistance to effort. Here it is also appropriate to remember that overfeeding is not recommended either.
In the case of reproductive aspects, it is said that horses are generally infertile animals, there are those who say that two mares are needed to obtain a foal per year. In this and other cases of domestic animal reproduction, nutrition is associated with considerable improvement.
The primary purpose of this compendium is to mark the differences of the digestive system of horses, with respect to other animals and at the same time reinforce the importance of a balanced diet to meet all nutritional needs, this in order to obtain physically strong and healthy horses. , with apparent appearance through its fur, mane and hooves. And in the performance part with the behavior of high resistance, fertility and performance of champions.
General characteristics of horses
It is characterized by its strength, nobility, energy and value. Also noteworthy is the clear understanding of his master’s will and the pleasure of submitting to it, such are his main conditions. It is considered an animal of extreme lightness and this is part of its remarkable characteristics given its volume.
Its greatest development is acquired at the age of four years and the life expectancy of the horse varies between twenty-five and thirty years, being able to extend but not too much. There is another classification, according to the size of the equine. This covers heavy, light and miniature horses. Those that are called heavy, are above six hundred and fifty kilograms and generally have strong and somewhat rough lines. Draft horses are within this first group because they are large and strong.
They are generally used to pull carts and to carry out work in the field. In the second group, we place the light horses whose weight is less than six hundred and fifty kilograms, they have light and well-proportioned lines. They are used for riding, that is, for jumping, racing and riding. Finally, the horses commonly known as ponies correspond to the group of miniature horses, which have short lines. Among the smallest are the Shetland and Falabella breeds.
They can also be classified into cold-blooded, warm-blooded and warm-blooded horses. The former has a very calm temperament, generally, those breeds such as the Percheron and the Clydesdale, among others, are located within this group. Warm-blooded horses are alert and nervous in temperament; Two of the characteristic breeds corresponding to this type of equine are the Arabian and the English Thoroughbred. Those commonly known as “warmblood” (warmblood) are breeds obtained from the crossing of cold-blooded horses with warm blood. These equines, called warm-blooded, obtain their tranquility and docility from the first group and their agility and lightness from the second.
The best-known breeds are those of German origins such as the Hanoverian, the Westphalian and the Trakehner; but there are other countries, such as Holland and Mexico, that also have breeds with these characteristics.
Him The horse uses all his senses to carry out the understanding of the information that is provided to him, either by nature or by man.
The senses of hearing and smell are amazing. Odors can be perceived through the sensitive membranes of the lips or the nostrils. On the other hand, the vision has little bifocality, which contributes to the animal being frightened by violent movements and shadows.
They have some sensitivity to the atmosphere around them. They are able to assess the state of mind of their rider, becoming the mirror of the person who rides them. They also perceive those feelings coming from their master, such as shyness, hesitation or fear, as well as the trust and value that is placed in him.
The equine body is a complex mechanism. Your body structure is composed of a skeleton, muscles, apparatus, systems and integuments. Due to their morphology, they are considered natural athletes, and that is the condition that has allowed them to survive, at the time, as wild animals.
The skeleton of the horse is made up of approximately two hundred and ten individual bones, excluding those of the tail. The axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton are distinguished. The first comprises the bones of the head, the spine, the ribs and the sternum, and the second is the bones of the fore and hind limbs. They are also classified as long, short, flat and irregular.
The functions of the skeleton are varied, among those of the bones are the formation of blood cells and deposit of minerals; Together they provide support to the muscles, protection to the internal organs, support to the soft tissues and the necessary mobility to its parts so that the horse moves at various speeds, lies down or grazes. The bones that form the joints are covered by cartilage, which is softer than bone and can compensate for the effects of wear on the surface. The joint, or joint, is completed by a capsule that produces joint fluid, called synovium, which lubricates the joint surfaces and strengthens the ligaments. The latter are fibrous bands that join the bones on both sides of the joint.
The bones of the head are long. Those of the face is twice as long as those of the skull, and the lower jaw is a long bone with a broad, plumb surface at the bottom of the posterior area.
The vertebral column is composed of seven cervicals, eighteen dorsal, six lumbar, five sacral, and fifteen caudal vertebrae.
The most notable anatomical characteristic of the modern horse is the hoof with a single toe on each of its extremities since its bony formations that correspond to the lateral toes disappeared due to lack of use, and today they can be seen on the sides. of the center bone. For this reason, it is considered to be in the order of the rhinos and tapirs. The finger that the horse has corresponds to the third finger of the human species and has lengthened a lot over time since all the weight falls on it. This toe is surrounded by a substance similar to the human toenail, this horny lining surrounds only the front and side of the foot. The function of the helmet or vessel is to report the weight of the body. It has an extremely complex structure, is very sensitive to pressure and with excellent blood and nerve supply. It consists of an outer layer protected by the horny substance, which grows downwards at a rate of 0.5 cm. a month approximately, from the coronary band. The latter is a fleshy rim located in the upper part of the helmet, equivalent to the cuticle of the human nail. Within the hoof are contained the navicular and bolillo bones, part of the second phalanx, and the digital flexor tendon. It also contains the digital pad, lateral cartilages, coronopedal joint, blood and nerve vessels. Like other mammalian species, horses have four basic tissue classes. Each of them has its own special characteristics that contribute to the function of the whole body. Connective tissue performs functions like those of bone structures, which support and shape the body and its soft structures. Simple forms of this tissue are the tendons, ligaments, and sheaths of fibrous material that protect various organs and muscles. Finally, the epithelial tissue comprises the lining and lining of the exterior of the body and of the internal passages and hollow organs such as the intestine and the bile ducts, the urinary bladder and the uterus.
The muscular structure is the most abundant tissue in the equine anatomy. The muscles allow the horse to move and are attached to the bone at one end and its tendons at the other. There are two types of muscles: voluntary stretched or skeletal, and involuntary, which include smooth and cardiac. The properties of muscles are elasticity, contractility, muscle tone and excitability. The first is the muscle’s ability to return to its original shape after stretching. Contractibility is the ability to lie down to an appropriate stimulus. Muscle tone corresponds to the sustained state of low-intensity contraction, and lastly, excitability is the ability to respond to appropriate stimuli.
Due to their action, the muscles are classified as extensors, which respond to the opening of the joints; flexors, which close the joints; synergists, who collaborate with each other in carrying out an action; and antagonistic, which oppose the contraction of other muscles.
Muscle training fuels are preferably carbohydrates, but aerobic metabolism also consumes fatty acids. When intense and prolonged exercises are performed, total muscle glycogen decreases to very low levels. Proper exercises should include the muscle groups that are required in the event you are training for. The exercise is of short duration but with high intensity and frequency to achieve the best results; It is also important that the load applied in training is progressive.
The digestive system includes the organs that deal with digestion, that is, it transforms complex matter into simple substances that are then used by the body. The main organs consist of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus; and the accessory organs are the teeth, tongue, salivary glands, liver, and pancreas. The horse’s mouth has a small entrance and the highly sensitive lips are used to collect food. This works on the conjunction of the front teeth held when harvesting the grass, and the tongue carries the food to the back teeth.
The tongue is long, as it matches the shape of the cavity and is widened and rounded at its tip. The surface has an abundant number of filiform papillae that give it a velvety texture. The taste buds are less widely distributed.
The mouth is made up of the hard palate in front and the soft palate behind. The latter is part of the pharynx where the air passes. The food crosses the pharynx and enters the esophagus, where it is transformed into the stomach and therefore the intestines, the two large points, the two small points and the rectum. The abdominal cavity contains the feeding area from the stomach to the rectum and in the female, it will also contain the ovaries and uterus. The stomach is relatively small and simple.
The horse has large and strong teeth, with a total of forty-four teeth. Each jaw is made up of three incisor teeth, one canine, four premolars, and three molars. Both its natural and domestic food is hard, rough and amazingly abrasive, which is why it needs good chewing to break it up and facilitate the penetration of the digestive juices that must process the nutrients for their subsequent absorption. The incisors are used to cut grass and grow in a semicircle. Between the canines and premolars, there is a well-differentiated space called diastema. All teeth are characterized by very tall crowns and relatively small roots.
The chewing action is carried out obliquely since the upper jaw is wider than the lower one. The outer edges of the upper teeth and the lower edges can become very sharp and can puncture the gums or tongue. In addition, ridges can form on the front or back of the molars, which, if not filed, can cause the mouth to close poorly.
Equine teeth grow continuously throughout their lives, so the surface of the incisors, in particular, changes gradually, giving a pretty good idea of the age of the animal.
Knowing the digestive system
The horse is a herbivore with a digestive system that has special characteristics such as a small stomach and a highly developed intestine
The digestive system is composed of two well-defined sections: an anterior tract made up of the mouth, esophagus, stomach and small intestine (38.5%) and a posterior tract made up of the cecum, large colon, minor colon and rectum (61.5%).
The stomach is effectively small (15-18 liters capacity) and empties rapidly depending on food consumption. Gastric digestion mainly affects the fibrous and nitrogenous fraction (predigestion) and is very limited for the rest of the components of the diet (carbohydrates) or practically null (lipids and minerals).
The small intestine is very long (16-24 meters) and the speed of transit is also high (1-2 hours). It is composed of Duodenum, Jejunum and Ileum. Here sugars and starches, lipids and the nitrogenous fraction are digested. Enzymatic digestion in the small intestine is more important the higher the level of concentrated feed in the ration. It accounts for 30-60% of the energy and 30-80% of the absorbed proteins.
(INRA, 1990). Minerals are also absorbed in this section with the exception of phosphorus, which is mainly absorbed in the colon. The large intestine is very large (180-220 liters) and is normally full. The retention time is also high (24-48 hours).
The microbial population (mainly bacteria) present in this section ferments the undigested remains in the small intestine and the fibrous fraction, producing volatile fatty acids that, in the case of rations rich in forage, can account for up to 2/3 of the energy absorbed. . It is also estimated that there may be protein synthesis with some absorption of amino acids (INRA, 1990).
This high ingestion capacity and relatively variable allows to combine the contributions of forage and concentrate in the ration in order to satisfy the needs of the animals.
Growing foals and foals have a cecum and undeveloped colonic digestion (at the colon level), when compared to an adult horse. There is very little microbial digestion before three months of age. For this reason, the foal needs a diet that is low in fiber and easily digestible in the anterior tract of its digestive system.
Main nutrients in the diet of horses
Horses require at least 15 different minerals in their diet. Some of these are required in relatively larger amounts such as Calcium, Phosphorus, Sodium, Potassium, Magnesium and Chloride. These are called Macro-elements.
The other elements that are required in smaller amounts are called trace elements or microelements. These are Iron, Copper, Zinc, Manganese, Cobalt, Selenium and Iodine.
Although these minerals are essential in the horse’s diet, all of them can be toxic when provided in amounts that exceed the horse’s requirements or in an unbalanced form. These trace minerals are the key to increased performance or poor performance when improperly supplied.
The supplementation in the diet of horses with micro-minerals is a very complex area. There is much confusion within the scientific community itself, due to the complexity of mineral interactions.
Every breeder and horseman knows that periodically releasing his horse to graze naturally cures many diseases. In addition to this, your horse is getting the benefit of being able to digest the minerals present in pastures much more easily, compared to the minerals received in concentrates.
The minerals present in pastures are in the form of polysaccharides (the mineral is attacked by a sugar molecule), the minerals in this form are 100% available to horses.
Normally in horse concentrates the most critical nutrients are in the form of oxides or sulfates. Oxides are available in their best form at 10% and sulfates at around 30%. This availability is also interfered with by some hay components.
The Micro-minerals that are most at risk of not being absorbed are Iron, Manganese, Zinc and Copper.
. Calcium and Phosphorus
Calcium and Phosphorus make up 70% by volume of the mineral content of the body. Approximately 90% of the Calcium and 80% of the Phosphorus are present in the bones and teeth.
Calcium and Phosphorus are the most important minerals for the maintenance of bones. Under stress such as training for competition, the most important levels are Calcium and Phosphorus Bones such as limbs receive high levels of stress in training and competition. These bones will tend to demineralize and remineralize in very short periods of time. If Calcium and Phosphorus are in inadequate amounts or out of balance, small cracks in the bones will appear over time if the stress continues.
Phosphorus should never be in greater proportion than Calcium and a 1:2 ratio is considered adequate for supplementation. Deficiencies or imbalances can cause abnormal bone development and even fractures.
Functions of minerals in horses
Calcium: important in the formation and maintenance of bones, muscle contraction, regulation of the heartbeat, stabilization and normal blood coagulation.
Phosphorus: important in the formation and maintenance of bones, participation in the blood buffer, activation of complex B vitamins to form co-enzymes of carbohydrate metabolism, is part of ATP.
Silicon: Structural element of connective tissue. It is a constitutional part of elastin, collagen, proteoglycans and glycoproteins. Regulates, normalizes, stimulates metabolism and cell division. An antioxidant that opposes lipid peroxidation. Silicon is a structural element of the connective tissues, it enters into the constitution of the macromolecules that form the connective tissue; structures proteoglycans and glycoproteins and prevents their destruction. Silicon is a metabolic protector. It opposes lipid peroxidation (formation of free radicals) and therefore the formation of free radicals by reorganization of lipids in the cell membrane.
Magnesium: It constitutes approximately 0.05% of the body mass. Development of the skeleton, enzymes involved in the transfer of energy as well as in the transmission of muscular impulses.
Sodium: It is the cation with the greatest presence at the extracellular level, as well as the largest electrolyte involved in maintaining the acid-base balance and the osmotic regulation of body fluids, nerve transmission, amino acid transport and cellular uptake of glucose.
Potassium: It is the cation with the highest intracellular presence. It is important in the maintenance of acid-base balance and the balance of body fluids, contractility of smooth and cardiac muscles, as well as cellular uptake of glucose.
Chloride: In the company of sodium, it is a very important anion at the extracellular level, involved in maintaining the pH, as well as the balance of the body’s fluids. It is a component of gastric secretions, necessary for digestion.
Sulfur: Content in amino acids, biotin, heparin, thiamin, insulin, among others, makes up 0.15% of body weight. Their presence is reflected in the fur, hoof wall, and cartilage.
Iron: Formation of hemoglobin, as a constituent of oxygen carriers and other enzymes.
Zinc: Co-factor in many enzymes involved in energy metabolism, bone formation, hair, hoof, skin, and wound healing.
Copper: Part of the enzymes involved in the transport of energy and oxygen, hemoglobin and maturation of red blood cells, bone formation, formation and repair of tendons and ligaments, the strength of the walls of blood vessels.
Manganese: Co-factor in enzymes involved in the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, involved in the development of cartilage and bones. Cobalt: Co-factor with enzymes, interacts with vitamin B12 and folic acid in the creation of red blood cells.
Iodine: In the production of the hormone Thyroxine, it controls metabolic levels.
Selenium: An essential mineral for horses. Deficient horses have muscle disorders (White muscle disease). On the other hand Selenium in excess produces poisoning or alkaline disease.
Vitamins are nutrients that horses need in small amounts, the actual amount can vary from one vitamin to another and from one horse to another.
Horses need vitamins for normal body functions, these requirements are met in different ways, such as:
. Vitamins in concentrates
. Adding vitamins to supplemental sources
. By microbial synthesis in the digestive tract
. Vitamins can be separated into two large groups
- Fat-soluble vitamins: ADEK (Soluble in oil)
- Water-soluble vitamins: C and complex B (Soluble in water)
Water-soluble vitamins are relatively non-toxic, however, excess fat-soluble vitamins can have serious side effects.
Limited vitamin deficiencies can occur in horses without showing any obvious problems, however, when this occurs growth, maintenance, reproduction and performance can be affected.
Horses undergoing daily work or training have shown increased requirements for certain vitamins, compared to those required for simple maintenance.
Vitamins ADE and complex B are vitamins that need to be increased as they are subjected to increases in levels of work or demand. Vitamin A is naturally present in grasses and hay, in the form of Beta carotene, this form may be poorly absorbed by horses and can be adversely affected if grasses and hays are improperly managed.
Why horses need vitamins
Vitamin A: By itself, it is not found in plants, but in precursors, carotenes, which are found in many forms. Wrapped in vision, integrally in the mucous membranes. And as a component of connective tissue. Important in resistance to infections, bone development. Protein utilization.
Vitamin D: Development and strength of bones. Regulation of Calcium and Phosphorus. Therefore, it can be said that poor body development is associated with vitamin D deficiencies.
Vitamin E: Internal antioxidant. Comprehensive maintenance of the cell membrane (improving resistance). Strengthens the immune system. It is an important part of the integration and functioning of the reproductive, muscular, circulatory and nervous systems.
Vitamin K: Its main function is associated with blood coagulation time.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamine): Involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates. Deficiencies can increase normal blood lactate levels. Plays an important role in glucose metabolism.
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin): Required as part of many enzymes involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fat and protein.
Niacin: Required in the synthesis of fatty acids as well as in the metabolism of amino acids.
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine): Metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
Pantothenic Acid: Necessary for the proper cycle in females. As well as in the state of the skin and hair.
Vitamin B12: Works together with folic acid to form red blood cells, as well as in the maintenance of the nervous system. Also in energy metabolism.
Folic acid: Formation of red blood cells. Growth of tendons and bones. Maintenance and construction of the cellular structure. Bone strength.
Biotin: Synthesis of fatty acids. Keratin (Walls of the hooves of horses).
Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C): Necessary component for the repair of tissues and tendons. Antioxidant
Factors affecting vitamin supplementation in horses
Concentrate factories that design vitamin mixes for horses are normally formulated by nutritionists, who, due to the dynamics of the factory, are compounding concentrates for other animals such as cattle and other domestic animals. They probably didn’t specialize in horse nutrition at university, but they did specialize in other species such as cattle or pigs. When evaluating the needs of horses, they are governed by fixed guidelines for the maintenance of other farm animals and not for high physical performances such as those to which horses are subjected.
On the other hand, horse concentrate is considered by the manufacturer to be a good profit margin item, so the cost of vitamins or mineral inclusion will always be a limiting factor. In addition, manufacturers generally do not make their own vitamin premixes, which are manufactured by companies specializing in vitamin and mineral premixes.
These premixes should be ordered in bulk lots even though their inclusion in horse feed is not more than 1 kilogram per ton of horse concentrate. The problem with this is that vitamin premixes almost always include choline chloride (it should be listed on the label). Choline Chloride is very corrosive and will start the slow destruction of the other vitamins as soon as it comes in contact decreasing the effectiveness of the vitamin premix (about 90 days), this would put the manufacturer in the need to move a lot of horse concentrate to that this is not an adverse factor.
Pelletized concentrates have the drawback that due to the temperature to which they are subjected to pelletize, this temperature not only destroys the proteins but also the vitamin A gel cover, which protects it to preserve it.
The fresher the vitamin source, the better for your horse
Vitamins that have been less exposed to high temperatures will always be better for your horse than vitamins processed into concentrates.
Anti-oxidant vitamins like vitamin E and vitamin C are critical to the health of your horses.
. Vitamin E Needs
Not all horses need to be supplemented with vitamin E, according to E. Blythe under the following conditions it should be supplemented:
. Horses without access to green pastures
. Horses fed old hay or pelleted concentrates
. Horses in severe winter conditions that spend a lot of time in barns or stables
. Horses exposed to fences painted with traces of creosote
. Horses sprayed with excess insecticides
. Horses with EDM, EMND, EPM, and foals offspring of horses with EDM
. Foals older than 2 years
Sick horses, especially those affected by the immune system
Very old horses with gastrointestinal inability to absorb vitamin E from pasture.
Heavy exercise or racehorses.
According to Blythe “our research shows that the need for vitamin E is approximately 2,000 IU per day to prevent a neurological disorder.
. Proteins Protein
. Needs in Horses
During hard training or competition, equine athletes damage their muscle tissues as a result of high levels of lactic acid production and/or over-exertion. These muscle tissues must be repaired quickly to stay in shape for the next event.
While training hard before and after competitions or strong activities, a dietary program should be chosen very carefully, taking into account that the body must prepare itself not only adequately but also in a short time.
The diets chosen for this athlete should contain protein with an appropriate level of available amino acids, minerals, vitamins, fats, and carbohydrates. High-quality protein is essential for the maximum performance of any horse, it must be composed of the appropriate amino acids and with high availability.
The interaction of these amino acids with vitamins and minerals, as well as a better metabolism of carbohydrates, are necessary for the maintenance, growth and repair of muscles, this will result in stronger tissues, strong bones, resistant hooves, functional ligaments and a stronger global structure.
Protein can be defined as any substance composed of peptide bonded amino acids. The word protein comes from the Greek word Protos or First because protein is the basic constituent of all living cells. Protos may also be the root of the name proteas, a mythological figure who could change shape.
Ingested protein also changes form to become just another substance in the body after it is eaten. Protein makes up three-quarters of the dry weight of most living cells. Proteins are also involved in the biochemical structure of hormones, enzymes, nutrient carriers, antibodies, and many other substances with essential functions in living things.
Protein is a collection of amino acids linked together. Once the protein is consumed and digested, these amino acid bonds are broken, so that they are separated as well as the peptides that form their bonds. Some amino acids are considered essential and others non-essential.
We often have no idea how and how much horses need amino acids, as we are not aware of how their system demands them.
Every second the bone marrow makes millions of red blood cells, every four days most of the lining of the gastrointestinal tract and the blood platelets are replaced. Most white blood cells and muscle cells are replaced within ten days. Hence, a horse under hard training or subjected to exhausting days of work, its body balance is staggering.
Essential Amino Acids Essential
amino acids are those that the body cannot synthesize from other substances such as vitamins or carbohydrates, so they must be eaten every day.
If not, the horse will take them from other parts of its body to provide its daily maintenance. Therefore these amino acids are very important in the diet. Exclusion of even one essential amino acid from the diet or reduction of one essential amino acid from its requirement will reduce total protein synthesis in the system. In horses where daily maintenance is necessary and the creation of new cells is required as a training priority, a precise balance of amino acids is required.
In our country, the protein sources used in concentrates from wheat and rice by-products, soy flour, among others, have a good amino acid profile, so supplementation with extra amino acids is not so necessary.
Main Amino Acids
Alanine, arginine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, carnitine, cysteine, creatine, glycine, histidine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, proline, serine, tyrosine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.
Energy is the fuel for various body processes, it has to be provided and efficiently digested in the form of carbohydrates and fat. Energy is measured as Digestible Energy (DE) which is expressed in calories (Kcal. or Magical). Y represents the amount of energy currently available to the horse in digestible form. The energy consumed, over the amount necessary to supply the body for maintenance, production and growth, will be deposited as fat.
Horses in good body condition that receive insufficient energy daily in their diet will burn stored energy as fat. Horses in poor body condition, receiving insufficient daily energy in their diet, will develop serious health problems that could even result in the death of the animal.
An adult horse’s body is 60% to 70% water, and even if a horse loses all of its body fat and half of its body protein, it can survive. However, the loss of 20% of body water can be fatal.
As a general guide, it can be said that a horse consumes on average between 27 to 54 liters of water per day, but this consumption can be increased under hot and dry weather conditions or under heavy exercise.
In general terms, it is recommended that the horse has access to a source of fresh and clean water throughout the day and especially before being fed.
In recent years, there has been more talk about the importance of probiotics in the diet of domestic animals, and this includes horses.
According to the FDA of the United States, the term probiotic refers to those supplements that are added to the diets of animals, composed of live cells or their culture media, which must necessarily cause positive effects on the intestinal microbial.
For his part, Stokes (1998, cited by De León et al., 2001), points out that the original concept of the use of probiotics was to reduce the negative effects of stress by preventing the establishment of pathogenic microorganisms or the increase of microorganisms. Beneficial for the intestinal flora.
The microorganisms most used as probiotics for horses are Lactobacillus acidophilus, streptococcus faecium, Bacillus subtilis and yeasts such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Among the microorganisms present in the digestive tract of horses, responsible for fermentation in the cecum, are bacteria, yeasts and protozoa.
The company Vi-Cor (2005) Supports as a contribution to the health of the equine digestive system the joint supplementation of Lactobacillus acidophilus and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, to achieve not only a favorable environment for the native microbial flora of the digestive tract but also to sustain the “Theory of competitive exclusion” which is based on the experience in animals affected by pathogenic bacteria such as E. coli which, if they first occupy the epithelial tissues of the digestive tract, degrade it, generating hemorrhages and subsequently contaminating the bloodstream with toxins, the principle of the “competitive exclusion theory” is that if beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus are located first, they will occupy the spaces in the epithelial tissue, not allowing access to E.coli and thus by competitive exclusion protects the digestive tract.
According to the company Lesaffre (2000), the action produced by yeasts when supplemented in the equine diet can be summarized in the following points: They act as an additional nutrient, improve feed intake, promote the use of proteins and fats, decreases the cost of feed, improves the recovery of sick animals, corrects digestive disorders, all as a product of greater fiber digestibility and therefore greater availability of energy for the equine, there is an increase in the weight gain of supplemented animals when compared to non-supplemented animals.
Yeasts can provide an extra benefit to the horse’s diet by increasing feed digestibility as well as nitrogen retention. Increased fiber digestion and higher feed conversion efficiency are among the most commonly found benefits of yeast supplementation in horses increased fiber, calcium and phosphorus digestibility, and nitrogen retention were observed in three-year-old horses fed a diet containing yeast and 50-70% forage.
Reproduction and breeding
The horse manifests its sexual instinct when it reaches its first year of life and reaches puberty at the age of two, but it is not advisable to subject males or females to mating before they are three years old. The sexual life of horses is prolonged and can even exceed fifteen years in mares, and in males, it lasts a lifetime. The horse is able to reproduce throughout the year, although its sexual activity is greater in the months of February to July, with a maximum moment between April and June. This period is known as the “mounting season” and in it, the sexual stimulation is more accentuated and the state of the heat of the females is more evident. During this time the stallions can perform a maximum of two copulations per day.
The choice of breeders is based on the so-called artificial selection, which must take into account both morphological characters and functional characteristics.
In pregnant females, the first symptoms of the new physiological condition appear very soon: she is calmer, with more appetite, her breasts thicken and after the fifth month the abdomen clearly increases its volume, adopting a more spherical appearance. Pregnancy lasts an average of eleven months and ten days, during this period it is necessary to avoid subjecting mares to heavy work, although it is not advisable to leave it inactive either. Moderate exercise is recommended. However, when the last month of pregnancy arrives, only one daily walk should be practiced.
As the time of delivery approaches, you can see a series of signs that announce it. The mare becomes restless again, the look becomes anxious and suffering, the teats become turgid, the animal gets up and goes to bed frequently. At this point, labor begins, the lips of the vulva open and the bag of waters appears, the rupture of which allows the lubrication of the birth canal thanks to the viscous liquid it contains. From that moment on, the period of childbirth begins, in which the dilation of the cervix of the uterus takes place, beginning the contractions that appear more and more energetic and frequent. This phase is short-lived and under normal conditions the foal is born in a short time, fifteen minutes maximum. If the act is normal, the fetus is born at the mercy of the efforts made by the mother, presenting first the hands and then the head and other parts. In the case of appearing in another position, the delivery is considered abnormal and the veterinarian is in charge of solving the problem.
Mares are no strangers to abortion since this occurs for various reasons that depend, in some cases, on external agents such as sudden changes in temperature, poor nutrition and falls, among others. In other cases, it depends on congenital defects or conformation.
After a few days, the mare is in heat again and can therefore be fertilized again; and after a month, he is again able to resume moderate work.
The foal requires little care after it is born, since the mother nurses it for about six or seven months and is in charge of watching over it, responding to her maternal instinct.
During this period the female must feed abundantly and substantially.
After the lactation period, weaning occurs. In a natural way, it is done under the watchful eye of the mother, while in captivity the process is carried out gradually and not abruptly.
The males and females intended for reproduction are called parent horses (pimps or stallions), and belly mares or broodmares.
The digestive system can also suffer from diseases and the most common condition is colic. When we refer to this condition, we speak of acute pain in the abdominal cavity, caused by a disorder in the digestive tract, specifically in the colon. Said pain is also related, in some cases, to the urinary system and the uterus.
Due to the anatomical characteristics of the equine digestive system, it is a common condition. This predisposition is due to impediment to vomiting, low stomach volume of twelve to fifteen liters on average, very close stomach sphincters, very long and lax mesentery of the small intestine, very small valves of the cecum, pelvic flexure and very narrow right dorsal colon and narrow, lax and long minor colon.
In addition to the causes related to the predisposition of the species, there are others that have to do with the feeding of the stabled equine, such as handling errors and also with certain diseases. The most common management errors are a diet that is excessively rich in grains, sudden changes in it, both in quality and quantity, ingestion of foreign elements due to dirty stables, little amount of water consumed, combined excessive physical exercise with the previous or subsequent feeding of the equine in excess. Among the most frequent reasons are dilations of the stomach or intestine, produced for various reasons. Intestinal obstruction is one of them and can be the effect of the ingestion of foreign bodies, such as plastic bags or sand, or due to a compact mass of food in the stomach. This is known as impaction. Excessive accumulation of gas, or spasms, caused by strong contractions of the muscles of the digestive tract wall, are also factors that cause colic; as well as inflammation of the intestine and displacement of this organ within the abdominal cavity. The latter can give rise to twisting, knotting, invaginations and constrictions. The distention of the stomach, on the other hand, can lead to the bursting of the organ in very severe cases. Internal parasites, mainly roundworms or strongyles, are another of the main causes of colic. caused by the strong contractions of the muscles of the digestive tract wall, are also factors that cause colic; as well as inflammation of the intestine and displacement of this organ within the abdominal cavity. The latter can give rise to twisting, knotting, invaginations and constrictions. The distention of the stomach, on the other hand, can lead to the bursting of the organ in very severe cases. Internal parasites, mainly roundworms or strongyles, are another of the main causes of colic. caused by the strong contractions of the muscles of the digestive tract wall, are also factors that cause colic; as well as inflammation of the intestine and displacement of this organ within the abdominal cavity. The latter can give rise to twisting, knotting, invaginations and constrictions. The distention of the stomach, on the other hand, can lead to the bursting of the organ in very severe cases. Internal parasites, mainly roundworms or strongyles, are another of the main causes of colic. invaginations and constrictions. The distention of the stomach, on the other hand, can lead to the bursting of the organ in very severe cases. Internal parasites, mainly roundworms or strongyles, are another of the main causes of colic. invaginations and constrictions. The distention of the stomach, on the other hand, can lead to the bursting of the organ in very severe cases. Internal parasites, mainly roundworms or strongyles, are another of the main causes of colic.
Faced with any of the causes mentioned above, the body reacts by stopping intestinal motility. In this way the liquid begins to accumulate as well as food and gas, causing the dilation of the digestive organs. This painful and uncomfortable sensation triggers a domino effect because as a result of the same pain, the motility of the following portions of the intestine stops, which after a few hours, also dilate and cause abdominal pain.
The symptoms that a horse with colic presents range from mild discomfort to exasperating pain. Depending on the case, the animal is restless, scratches the ground with its hands, sweats profusely, adopts postures with its limbs stretched out, turns its head to look at its abdomen trying to bite or kick that area, it also tends to throw itself on the floor and stop several times or roll on its back, causing damage to the face and limbs. Excessive sweating is also a sign, as is grinding your teeth, lowering your head, and stretching to give your abdomen and lungs more capacity.
There are other symptoms that the veterinarian will evaluate during the inspection of the horse, such as an increase in temperature and cardiorespiratory rate, the presence of sounds in the abdominal cavity, a change in the state of the mucous membranes, the characteristics of the feces and urine among others.
It is important that the owner or caretaker is prepared to recognize the early signs that affected animals show and have an emergency plan to act accordingly.
How to feed horses
- Although horses are monogastric, their diets must contain high levels of digestible fiber, around 20% (Wolter, 1989), to avoid digestive disorders. On the other hand, supplementation with concentrates is essential at certain productive times. This forces a balance between both nutritional contributions.
- This feed source relationship is what most equine nutrition experts associate with the two most important and dangerous digestive disorders in horses.
- Feeding a horse efficiently requires a certain dexterity, common sense and experience. It must be remembered that horse feeding is not a science, but an art. (Dr. Evans, 1981)
- Never subject the horse to severe changes of feed source, there is a golden principle that says “a horse should be taken from one type of feed to another in a period of one to two weeks”. This is because variations in the digestibility and quality of the fiber cause severe disturbances in the gastrointestinal microflora, the origin, according to some experts, of equine colic and laminitis.
- It is a general opinion among experts that horses should be fed individually, respecting their stage of development or physiological condition, since feeding a 12-month-old foal is not the same as feeding a suckling mare or a stallion These physiological differences mark the specific needs of each state.
- Feed according to the work, temperament and condition of the horse.
- Due to its origin and digestive system, the horse cannot last more than eight hours without eating, so it is very important to feed it constantly.
- It is important to supply the concentrate in two or three periods a day. Create a routine and follow it, horses are creatures of habit, any change in mealtimes can cause a digestive disorder.
- Always have fresh and clean water available, we must give water before meals. Water is essential for horses since it accounts for 60% of their body weight and is also used for digestion.
- Supplement with minerals, vitamins and, if possible, probiotics, to increase the efficiency of the digestive system.
- Due to the fact that the horse is inefficient in the digestion of poor quality fiber (because they are not ruminants), the forage and/or hay must be of excellent quality to obtain better results.
- After eating, leave the horse at least 2 hours of rest before any work.
- Supplement with minerals, vitamins and probiotics to increase digestive efficiency and achieve better performance as well as a better physical appearance.
- To fully enjoy the company of these beautiful animals, it is necessary to be aware of basic needs, both physical and mental, and take measures to satisfy them. The human acquires, from the moment he decides to tame the horse, the responsibility of covering all his requirements. The needs we are talking about can be summed up as food, accommodation, suitable personnel, hygiene, exercise, company and health.
- The horse needs a minimum vital space in which he feels comfortable and a property with natural or planted pastures to which he has access. This allows him to improve his physical condition, to be able to exercise his muscles and joints, and reduce the stress conditions generated by overcrowding in stables.
- When the animal lives in a specialized establishment, it should be brushed to stimulate the skin, clean it and provide better blood circulation and muscle quality. Clean skin can properly excrete sweat and residue from exercise and a concentrated diet..
- When the mane is brushed, it should be placed on the opposite side of the fall and then brought back to its side little by little with the brush from the root. The tail should be brushed lock by lock from the tips to the insertion or root
- Dental care is vital and should be performed by the veterinarian through regular check-ups.
How to calculate the weight of the horse
Normally, there are no scales capable of weighing a horse, but there is a very simple way to calculate its weight: Just measure the thoracic perimeter (PT) and the height at the withers (AC) with a tape measure and apply the following IMRA formulas, always using measurements in centimeters.
PV kg = 4.3 * PT (cm) + 3 * AC (cm) – 785
Horses less than four years old:
W:V: kg = 4.5 * PT (cm) – 370