Horses are expensive to both buy and maintain. The nutritional requirements of horses, especially those involved in racing activities are high. You need to be sure the grass, haylage and hay you buy for your horses will meet their nutritional needs. Before you buy and transport bales of hay home, it’s important to test them for the following.
Horses require protein in large quantities for various reasons. Testing helps you ensure the hay has the right protein content in terms of nitrate and amino acids. Giving your horse the right amount of protein supports good muscular development, improves skin health, maintains athletic performance and boosts hoof health. Although ordinary horses require about 8% protein content, racing horses, breeding mares and young horses require higher protein levels.
Discover dietary deficiencies
Although foliage and hay may seem to have all nutrients required, some could be missing. You need to test the foliage or hay to know whether all minerals are available or if some minerals are not available. The unbalanced mineral ratio in horse feed can cause various nutritional problems to such expensive and lovely animals. According to most tests, forages have reduced amounts of minerals such as zinc and copper.
Starch and sugar content
Testing for sugar and starch levels in hay and forages is critical especially for horses susceptible to laminitis. Sugar content should not go beyond 10 percent in hay or forage meant for horses with health conditions such as metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and even those that are overweight. You cannot just look at the hay or forage and determine their sugar and starch content.
Fiber is crucial in increasing palatability and digestibility of the forage and hay the horse is about to take. If the forage contains much lignin, the more succulent feed will be needed to aid digestion. If more indigestible fiber remains in the digestive system of the horse, more health problems will develop.
Anytime you are buying feed for your horses, it’s important to ensure the meals are properly balanced. If you don’t have testing equipment, you can hire one to avoid presumptions. The money you may pay to have the horse feed tested may save your horse severe nutritional problems.