There are some concepts needed here.
- All horses, regardless of age, need to consume enough protein, starch and cellulose to meet their needs.
- All horses of all ages conserve their amino acids to a degree and need only a limited amount of protein to replace the lost amino acids.
- Young growing horses require more protein to build the connective tissue that is multiplying up until there is no more growth. At this point, their protein requirements diminish to adult levels.
- Feeding protein will cause satiation because meeting the daily protein requirements causes carbohydrates and fat to be automatically limited.
- Overfeeding carbohydrates and fats while underfeeding protein will cause rapid growth without structural integrity. As a result, it will cause developmental orthopedic disease (epiphysitis, contracted tendons, osteochondritis dissecans). It will also later cause metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and obesity.
Feeding growing horses is simple. First, feed a high-quality protein source (a pasture filled with a variety of ground plants or a supplement such as soybean meal that offers ALL of the essential amino acids) and enough supplemental ground plants in the form of pasture or hay to meet the caloric needs of growth. Plenty of water and lots of sleep is important too. That is it.
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