Maycn McCulloughWe are leading up to the 2012 Idaho Horse Expo this weekend, and thanks to our friends at Nutrena, we are able to share some valuable information regarding the health of your horses. Today, we are focusing on the right amount of proteins in your horses diet and how the right amount of amino acids are just as important.

Balancing Protein in the Equine Diet:

It is important to balance protein in the TOTAL DIET, not just protein in your forage or concentrate. It is also very important to remember that while protein is important in the diet, it is amino acids that the horse requires. Amino acids are essential in nutrient absorption & utilization. Verifying guaranteed levels of Lysine, Methionine and Threonine (first 3 limiting amino acids) on your horse’s feed tag ensures the best utilization of protein for muscle maintenance, muscle repair, hair coat, hoof quality and overall topline strength.

To calculate the percentage of protein in your horse’s TOTAL DIET, follow this simple calculation:

( (Lbs Hay x % Protein in Hay) + (Lbs Grain x % Protein in Grain) ) / Total Lbs Fed (hay + grain) = Protein in TOTAL DIET

The average maintenance type horse’s protein requirement is typically met when the horse is consuming 1.5-2% of their body weight in good quality forage.

Equine Protein Recommendations (in the TOTAL DIET):

Foals: 16-18%
Weanlings: 14-16%
Yearlings: 12-14%
Mature Horse: 10-12%
Lactating Mares: 12-14%

Example Balancing Protein in the Weanling diet:

Weanling daily/protein recommendation: 14-16% Protein (total diet)
1-2% of Body Weight in Hay: 6-12 lbs/day
Feeding an Average Grass Hay: 10.8% Crude Protein
Grain: 2lbs/day of a 16% concentrate

((12 lbs X 10.8%) + (2 lbs X 16%)) / (12 + 2) =   11.54% Protein in the TOTAL DIET                                                                                      (11.54% is deficient in protein)

Increase the lbs of concentrate in the diet (7lbs), and decreasing forage (6 lbs):

((6 lbs X 10.8%) + (7 lbs X 16%)) / (12 + 6) = 14.73% Protein in the TOTAL DIET (14.73% meets Protein Requirement**) 

**NOTE: Just because we have met the horse’s protein requirement does not mean that we have ALSO met the vitamin & mineral requirements of the horse.

** Want to learn more about what’s in your hay and how to balance your horse’s diet? Come to the Idaho Horse Expo April 20-22nd at the Idaho Horse Park and visit the Nutrena booth! We’ll have hay testing with instant results and customized recommendations based on those results. For more info, including how to take a hay sample, go to

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