horse and nutrition

comparative study of the two feeds


For performance, feeding is of primordial importance and therefore cannot be neglected. It must meet the nutritional requirements that we previously specified:

- fibres, provided principally by forage (hay, grass, etc.);

- carbohydrates, in the form of a mixture of slow releasing starch (barley, maize) associated with a greater or smaller amount of more easily digested starch (oats, flaked maize, etc.), depending on nutritional requirements;

- fats and oils rich in Omega 3s;

- proteins rich in lysine;

- optimal coverage of vitamin and mineral requirements.


Composition :

Ingredients are listed by their decreasing level of incorporation (the most to the least). 
In consequence it is recommended to avoid a diet made up of raw ingredients and/or by-products which we have previously mentioned, above all if they are featured in the first lines.

Analytical constituent :

Only the display of certain constituents is obligatory: crude protein, crude oils and fats, crude cellulose (fibre) and crude ash. Mentioning other values is optional (except for particular cases) and engages the manufacturers’ responsibility as to the indicated values. 
Whilst the display of the analytical constituents is obligatory, it actually provides us with little information on the quality of the ingredients. Effectively, the same value for a given constituent can be obtained by using a by-product or a noble raw ingredient. For example, distillers’ spent grains, dehydrated co-products from the fabrication of ethanol contain the same quantity of crude protein as skimmed milk powder, that is to say 34% crude. However the quality of the proteins is far from being identical...


To be aware of the true nutritional value of a feed, we must use the levels of essential nutriments: starch, omega 3 and 6, lysine, etc. To demonstrate, we have created a feed (fictive and non-commercialised) based upon by-products and declassed raw ingredients (“BY-PRODUCT” FORMULA) of which the obligatory analytical values are identical to ADULT ENERGY .


Wheat, wheat bran, Buckewheat hulls, Molasses, Dehydrated sugar beet pulp, Distillers spent grains, Lithotamnion, Palm oil, Sepiolite, Maize gluten meal, Dicalcium phosphate, Trace elements, Vitamins and Probiotics
  Analysis constituants
  Humidity 12.5 %  
  Crude Protein 12.0 %  
  Crude fats and oils 4.0 %  
  Crude fibre 9.5 %  
  Crude Ash 8.5 %  
  Calcium 1.0 %  
  Phosphorus 0.5 %  
  Carbohydrates (/kg)
  Starch 290 g  
  Starch + sugars 350 g  
  Essential fatty acids (/kg)
  Linolenic Acid (Omega 3) 1 g  
  Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) 10 g  
  Amino Acids (/kg)
  Lysine 3,650 mg  
  Thronine 3,350 mg  
  Methionine 1,950 mg  


Barley, ALfalfa 17 (horse), Oats, Extruded Linseed, Non GMO* Maize, Non GMO* Soya Bean meal, Sepiolite, Lithotamnion, Diclacium phosphate, Trace elements and Vitamins.
  Analytic constituants
  Humidity 11.5 %  
  Crude Protein 12.0 %  
  Crude fats and oils 4.0 %  
  Crude fibre 9.5 %  
  Crude Ash 8.5 %  
  Calcium 1.0 %  
  Phosphorus 0.5 %  
  Carbohydrates (/kg)
  Starch 340 g  
  Starch + sugars 365 g  
  Essential fatty acids (/kg)
  Linolenic Acid (Omega 3) 10.5 g  
  Linoleic Acid (Omega 6) 10.5 g  
  Amino Acids (/kg)
  Lysine 5,150 mg  
  Threonine 4,500 mg  
  Methionine 2,000 mg  



Providing it does not exceed 14% crude, it is not obligatory to display the humidity level. However this value is important as it translates the foods’ aptitude for keeping.The more humid the feed, the less well it will keep.


The “BY-PRODUCT FORMULA” is composed of wheat starch (contained in the wheat grains and in the bran), very fermentative and digestible. Furthermore, because of the addition of molasses, it contains 2.5 times as many simple sugars as ADULT ENERGY. To sum up, this feed is rich in fast to moderately fast sugars which are:

  • very fermentative, which increases the risks of the appearance of gastric ulcers;
  • highly digestible, thus a high glycaemic index, from where there is a non-negligible risk of the following health problems appearing: tying-up, behavioural problems (excitability etc.), hormonal problems (equine metabolic syndrome, Cushing’s disease etc.), laminitis, osteo-articular problems (OCD etc.). Furthermore, the massive arrival of sugar in the bloodstream after the meal will lead to the storing of sugars. This storage will take the form of fat giving the horse corpulence

= A deception, because although the horse is well covered this interprets more the clogging up of his organism rather than his good health.

On the other hand, ADULT ENERGY is composed in the main from barley starch, slow releasing and not as prone to ferment. It is associated with maize and oat starches which are more digestible but present in smaller quantities. As for simple sugars, only those naturally occurring in the raw ingredients are present. To sum up, ADULT ENERGY principally provides slow releasing sugars, protecting carbohydrate metabolism, whilst at the same time favouring the storing of energy in the muscles. It is therefore more favourable to performance and limits a surcharge in fat, thus a more harmonious morphology.


The principal protein sources are, in decreasing order: wheat bran, maize gluten meal and distillers spent grains. Although the crude protein content is identical to ADULT ENERGY, this feed contains 30% less lysine and 25% less threonine. So, even with an identical crude protein content to ADULT ENERGY, 5.5kg of this feed + 8kg of ordinary hay does not cover the daily requirements in lysine and threonine for a 500kg adult horse in very hard work: It provides 46.5g of lysine for a daily requirement of 54g (INRA 2012). Furthermore, given that protein synthesis is carried out to the extent of lysine supply, as lysine is the most limiting amino acid (see the chapter “proteins”, the diagram of the bucket), use of the other amino acids cannot be fully optimised. They must be eliminated by the emunctory organs (liver, intestines, kidneys, skin, etc.) which, yet again, burdens the organism.

Regarding ADULT ENERGY, the principal protein sources are by decreasing order: alfalfa 17 (horse), soya bean meal 48 and extruded linseed. This association creates a feed containing good quality protein. Effectively:

  • Satisfactory lysine content compared to the crude protein level;
  • Feeding 5.5kg of ADULT ENERGY + 8kg of ordinary hay meets the lysine requirements of a 500kg adult horse in very hard work: supplies 54.5g of lysine for a daily requirement of 54g.


Only 24% of the total fat and oil content of the “BY-PRODUCT FORMULA” are omega 3s and omega 6s, the greater part of the rest is made up of saturated fatty acids found in the palm oil. Furthermore the omega3/omega 6 ratio is equal to 0.1. To sum up, the fats and oils contained within this feed are unfavourable to the good health of the body. In effect:

  • The part omega 3 + omega 6 is insufficient;
  • The omega 3/omega 6 ratio is too low, the objective is to be higher than 1;
  • The feed is high in saturated fatty acids, which are in priority stored by the body, facilitating corpulence 


= A deception, the horse is well covered, but this can be interpreted as more of a clogging up of the organism than his good health.

A hamburger, pizza or hotdog can contain the same amount of protein, fat and energy as a plate of fish, olive oil, brown rice and green beans.
Two different diets, two different effects on our organism and our health...

Concerning ADULT ENERGY, omega 3s and omega 6s represent 55% of the total fat and oil content, thus more than a half. Also the omega 3/omega 6 ratio equals 1.1. To sum up, the fats and oils contained within this feed favour the good health of the organism (immunity, fertility, regulation of inflammation, etc.). In effect:

  • omega 3s + omega 6s make up a big part of the crude oil and fat content;
  • the omega 3/omega 6 ratio is greater than 1 thanks to the extruded linseed; 
  • this feed is low in saturated fatty acids.


The “BY-PRODUCT FORMULA” is in the main composed from cereal envelopes, rich in phytate phosphorus. For example, wheat bran contains 3 times the phosphorus and 4.5 times the phytate phosphorus as barley or oats. Phytate phosphorus limits calcium and trace element absorption.

In consequence, horses that eat the “BY-PRODUCT FORMULA” can be susceptible to suffering from assimilation deficiencies of some minerals although the feed itself provides satisfactory quantities.

To sum up

A healthy and balanced diet provides all the nutriments indispensable to the correct functioning of the organism whilst limiting clogging-up (liver, kidneys, intestines etc.). Thus, it favours performance and allows your horse to maintain his good health in the long term.