Learn about the importance of amino acids for your horses with Nutrena and Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
In order to fuel, repair and recover muscle, equine diets must optimally contain a superior amino acid profile, including all 10 of the essential amino acids. Most horse owners can quickly name the crude protein level in the feed they provide their horses. But, what horse owners really need to know about is the amino acid content.
Two Types of Amino Acids
Protein is made up of amino acids, similar to how a chain is made up of links. There are two basic categories of amino acids: essential and nonessential. Essential amino acids must be provided in the diet, as the horse cannot create them on its own in the digestive tract, where the nonessential amino acids can be made. Nutrena products that include Topline Balance help to provide the right kind and ratio of amino acids in each formula.
“Limiting” Amino Acids
Another key point is that some amino acids are known as “limiting” amino acids. This means that if a horse runs out of this type of amino acid, it can’t utilize any of the remaining amino acids present in the feed. If the horse has enough of the first most-limiting amino acid, but then runs out of the second most-limiting amino acid, it can’t use the remaining amount of the third most-limiting, and so on.
In horses, the three most-limiting amino acids, in order, are lysine, methionine and threonine. Generally speaking, if these three amino acids are present in sufficient quantities, the ingredients used also provide the remaining amino acids in sufficient quantities. It is increasingly common to see these three amino acids listed on the guaranteed analysis of horse feed tags, as it indicates the quality of the protein sources and the balanced nature of the feed.
If you are looking for a feed that may impact topline, be sure to look at the guaranteed analysis on the feed tag. Guaranteed amino acids on the tag is a good starting point. You then need to let the horse tell you if the feed is working by regularly evaluating and noting changes in topline condition.
This article was originally posted by Nutrena expert Robyn A. on horsefeedblog.com.