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Balancing the Diet of a Racehorse

When formulating a diet for a racehorse based on chaff, grain, protein sources, oil and hay (i.e. no added supplementation) it is easy to meet required levels of energy and protein, however there are a number of essential nutrients that will be lower than recommended.

The graph below outlines analysis of a diet based on oats, corn, protein sources, oil and hay, with the line at 100% representing the recommended level of each nutrient. Anything below the red line indicates a possible deficiency (graph intended as a guide only).

Depending on the type of forage used, essential nutrients that will likely be lacking include:

  • Calcium (and sometimes phosphorus to ensure optimal balance - critical for bone health);

  • Salts (electrolytes);

  • Trace minerals (involved in a wide range of functions including bone, cartilage and hoof formation, carbohydrate and fat metabolism);

  • Vitamin E (antioxidant) and B Groups (play a role in the release of energy);

  • Amino acids (essential for energy metabolism and protein synthesis).

While some nutrients supplied above current recommendations may offer some benefit (e.g. Vitamin E), rarely is there any benefit to fortifiying diets well in excess of needs.

Carefully formulated feeds and supplements should therefore be designed to adequately "fill the gaps" without adding unnecessary cost.

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