The often confusing topic of equine nutrition can be a hard grain to crack for horse owners – what does this horse really need, compared to another horse?
Written with the horse owner in mind, Essential Equine Nutrition avoids the baffling scientific-speak we all find hard to digest, instead breaking the topic down into sections that are easy to follow, and, most importantly, understand.
Readers will learn just what a horse needs and why, and how those needs can be delivered.
Information on the forms and use of fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and fibre and forage are outlined, and especially useful is the section on minerals. Supplementation, the author writes, “can be a dangerous game with difficult and conflicting outcomes that are hard to resolve”. One of the major minerals to be careful with is Selenium, and Waldron discusses in detail its use and mis-use – or lack thereof.
Throughout, Waldron refers to recent research in the field of nutrition, noting that many standard values quoted for horses date back to data generated at early as the 1940s.
A whole chapter is devoted to the equine digestive tract – what each part does, how and why, and the function of pre and pro-biotics.
Next, the various feedstuff are outlined – such as that most basic item: grass. Feeding horses for breeding and feeding young horses is explored in detail, including what a broodmare needs to give her foal the best start, and then the baby itself, from birth to weaning. And while discussion the needs of stallions, the author points to research trials which have investigated how feeding an antioxidant supplement and omega oils can improve sperm quality.
The final three chapters cover nutritional problems and diseases – including extra information on laminitis, ulcers, and mycotoxins, and how stable vices can be related to diet; paddocks and pasture – maintenance, access and quality; and, finally, formulating a diet for a horse.
The last word is feeding made easy – six bullet points that are must-haves for our equine friends.
- Free access to clean water
- Good quality, high fibre pasture for grazing
- Workload is taken into account in daily feeding regime
- Feed the individual horse what it needs for its current circumstances (eg, breeding)
- Include any specific issues the horse may have nutritionally, eg, laminitis
- Only use good quality forages and hard feeds.
And finally: “remember to keep it simple – overfeeding is as bad as underfeeding”
L. A. Waldron is an animal nutritionist and the coauthor of Redefining Mineral Nutrition and the author of Simplistic Statistics: A Basic Guide to the Statistical Analysis of Biological Data.