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Did You Know? Optimal Feeding in Warm Weather

June 11, 2014

 

OPTIMAL FEEDING IN WARM WEATHER

Why is ETA-Equine hay the best choice of horse hay:

A horse has a neutral temperature zone of 68° F, when a horse’s body temperature rises above 68° it begins to sweat and breathe more heavily to cool down.

It is easy to return to 68° F after training in cooler regions, but in places like Florida it presents more of a challenge.

During hot weather and muscular activity, a horse’s body temperature increases and he must increase his sweating rate and respiratory rate to decrease the heat load. These vital bodily activities cost energy which could be used for performance or training energy needs.

With this in mind we wanted to put together a few tips on feeding a horse in warmer climates ensuring a healthy horse performing at peak levels.

DON’T FEED TOO MUCH PROTEIN

Protein is used in energy production and its breakdown will allow a horse to absorb the essential amino acids used in repairing and replacing of muscle tissues. Much like how any human athlete knows the benefit in eating healthy proteins to help build muscles and recover after a hard training session, the issue with over feeding protein in training and in competitions is in the heat it generates to breakdown the proteins. Once a horse has enough energy absorbed from breaking down the necessary amount of proteins, the left over proteins are converted in needless energy that has to go somewhere.

This is what generates unnecessary heat as the body must process the extra proteins; this extra heat in turn means the horse must burn further energy to cool down, be it by drinking more water, sweating, or increased breathing. It all means that the extra energy burning is effectively being counterproductive to what the proteins were intended for.

This is something we see all too often with horse owners who are unsure what kind of hay and forage to feed their horse, or unsure if the hay they are feeding is the best. Many horse owners insist on wrongly feeding high protein Alfalfa legume to their horses which leads to the situation described above.

According to Dr. Martin Adams “A horse in intense work only needs slightly over 10% protein in the total diet and that is easily met with good quality hay and (limited) fortified commercial horse feed.”1  Comparing this to top quality Alfalfa hay which contains 17% to over 20% crude protein levels it becomes apparent how improper forage can make the situation worse for a horse and even more so if the forage is supplemented with an overabundance of high protein commercial horse feed.

Here at ETA-Equine our hay is always tested and our proprietary “Townships Blend”® (containing: Timothy, Brome, Orchard, Clover, and limited Alfalfa) is made to meet the proper nutrient levels with 9% to 10% crude protein levels, for which many professional riders located in Florida are now turning to for their horses’ needs.

1. DR. Martin Adams, PAS Equine Nutritionist

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