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The Facts About Protein

Perception Studio Feed Photo

Protein is important for more than just muscle building. Protein is a component of most tissues in the body, and is essential for cell structure, the immune system, transport of oxygen and minerals in the blood, enzyme activity and many other biological functions.

What is protein?

All protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are like the letters of an alphabet that make up the words that are proteins. Essential amino acids must be consumed in the diet because they cannot be made by the body. Examples of essential amino acids are lysine, methionine and threonine. These amino acids are contained in protein sources such as fresh forage, soybeans and alfalfa. 

Protein Myths Busted

Excess dietary protein does not cause horses to be hot tempered, have excess energy or contribute to growth abnormalities (developmental orthopedic disease, or DOD) in young animals. The main causes of DOD include genetics, high calorie intake and mineral imbalances. If DOD is suspected, a veterinarian and nutritionist should be consulted promptly. In addition, high protein diets do not cause damage to kidneys or the liver. 

Dietary protein

Healthy, mature horses require about 10% of the total diet as good quality protein. Horses in heavy exercise, such as race horses or high level eventers, may require a little more protein in the diet. Young, growing horses, pregnant and lactating mares have much higher protein requirements compared to the average adult. 

Protein in Feed

One pound of BUCKEYE® Nutrition’s ration balancer, GRO ‘N WIN™, contains 32% crude protein, and provides 145 grams of protein, about 23% of an 1,100 pound horse’s daily maintenance need.

Five pounds of a grain concentrate with 12% crude protein, such as EQ8™ Gut Health, provides 272 grams crude protein, or about 35% of a moderately exercising horse’s daily need. The balance of protein should be provided by good quality forage. 

Excess Protein

Excess dietary protein is broken down and excreted in the urine. Nitrogen is a component of all amino acids in protein, therefore consuming excess dietary protein will cause increased excretion of nitrogen. Excreted nitrogen can then be converted to ammonia by bacteria in the process of decomposition. If nitrogen from horse waste (or other sources, for that matter) runs off into surface water, the potential for eutrophication of waterways increases. Horses with kidney disease or liver dysfunction should be placed on a low-protein diet. It is still important to provide quality protein for these compromised horses without excess, which can strain already struggling organs. 

Insufficient Protein

Inadequate dietary protein will stunt growth, cause weight loss, fetal loss in pregnant mares, decreased milk production in lactating mares, and loss of muscle mass. These will occur despite adequate intake of calories. 

Summary

Good quality hay contains healthy protein to support the overall health of the horse. Protein is not harmful when consumed in excess and does not cause excitability. A balanced diet that provides protein with essential amino acids is the baseline for a healthy horse.

 

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New research confirms that diet can help manage gastric ulcer syndrome

Waltham Logo (BUCKEYE SPILLERS WINERGY)

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) can affect any horse. It can cause discomfort and may have a detrimental effect on behaviour and performance but new research has confirmed that a suitable diet can help to manage the condition, especially after veterinary treatment is stopped.

EGUS refers to the ulceration of the horse’s stomach lining. Several factors, including nutrition, have been shown to increase the risk of ulcers occurring, particularly in the non-glandular (squamous) part of the stomach.  In horses that are actively exercising and training, the incidence of gastric ulceration has been reported to be up to 90% in some sub-populations. Whilst dietary and management changes are often recommended to help reduce the risk of EGUS they are also suggested in conjunction with or following veterinary pharmaceutical treatment. However, until now there has been little published work to confirm their benefit under such circumstances. 

The new research study on the effect of changing diet on gastric ulceration in exercising horses and ponies following cessation of omeprazole treatment was conducted by Nanna Luthersson (Hestedoktoren, a private practice in Denmark) and Coby Bolger (Horse1 Spain), with colleagues from the University of Madrid and Glasgow, in collaboration with SPILLERS® and the WALTHAM® Equine Studies Group. The study was presented at the International Colic Symposium on 20th July 2017.

The study evaluated the effect of dietary change in combination with omeprazole treatment and after the cessation of treatment.  The 32 horses in this part of the trial had been diagnosed with significant equine squamous gastric disease (ESGD) and were in hard work. For the purpose of more accurate comparisons the horses were paired, according to the severity of their ulcers, their workload, management and original diet.  On a random basis one of each pair was assigned to a specified low starch, fibre-based diet consisting of their own forage alongside a restricted starch, high fibre, high energy cube (SPILLERS® HDF Power Cubes, which are commonly used in racing yards) and a high oil, low starch, chopped alfalfa based feed (WINERGY® Equilibrium® Growth) and the other stayed on their original diet.  All animals were scoped before, after the recommended course of omeprazole treatment and then six weeks after the omeprazole finished.

The horses in the no diet change group improved significantly with the omeprazole but when the treatment was stopped many regressed. Overall, by the end of the trial they were not significantly different to when they had started. However, the horses in the dietary change group overall showed significantly improved ESGD scores, not only following the omeprazole treatment but also after the treatment had stopped. This showed that a change in diet was able to help maintain the beneficial effect of omeprazole even after the omeprazole was removed.  The study achieved an award in 2016 for research in horse welfare from the Fundación para la Promoción del Deporte Ecuestre, Spain.

Clare Barfoot RNutr, the research and development manager at SPILLERS®, said: “This exciting work confirms what we suspected; that whilst appropriate dietary change can provide additional support to medical treatment for EGUS most importantly it can help maintain better gastric health post medical treatment.”

Last year the British Equestrian Trade Association, in consultation with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, introduced a new feed approval mark to help owners identify feeds suitable for horses and ponies prone to equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS). Currently six feeds in the UK carry the BETA Equine Gastric Ulceration Syndrome (EGUS) Certification Mark including WINERGY® Equilibrium® Growth and SPILLERS® Alfalfa Pro Fibre.

For more information from BUCKEYE® Nutrition on feeding horses with gastric ulcers, click here

BUCKEYE® Nutrition partners with the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center

BUCKEYE® Nutrition has partnered with the University of Kentucky Gluck Equine Research Center, an internationally recognized equine research facility, to continue support of research dedicated to advancing the science of horse nutrition, specifically in the areas of obesity, laminitis and the senior horse.  By collaborating with key research institutes and universities around the world, BUCKEYE® Nutrition continues to set the bar for nutritional innovation and science-based solutions. 

Gluck Bn Web Photo

 

The research partnership will be led by Amanda Adams, PhD, Assistant Research Professor at the Gluck Center along with Pat Harris, MA, VetMB, PhD, DipECVCN MRCVS, head of the WALTHAM® Equine Studies Group and Director of Science for MARS Horsecare.  Prof Harris comments that “this is a fantastic opportunity to work with Dr Adams and collaborate on innovative research which will address both fundamental as well as practical questions of key interest to all those interested in the health and welfare of horses.”

Dr Adams’ research focuses on improving the health and well-being of the aged horse and understanding the effects of obesity on various metabolic and inflammatory components, particularly in horses affected by equine metabolic syndrome (EMS).  Dr Adams is a past recipient of the BUCKEYE® Nutrition & WALTHAM Equine Research Grant, in which data indicated that age does play a role in regulating certain aspects of inflammatory and metabolic function in geriatric horses.  She states “Collaborations are critical to the success of any research program and I very much look forward to collaborating with Dr Pat Harris and the BUCKEYE® Nutrition & WALTHAM Equine Research team, who are truly passionate about the horse, and are a team that not only supports product development research but basic research in order to better understand the mechanisms of biology behind aging, obesity and laminitis, allowing us, as an industry, to provide better care for the horse.” 

 

Risk Factors For Fecal Water Syndrome

Fecal water syndrome (FWS) is characterized by normal feces with the addition of fecal water running out of the anus before, during or after defecation. Although the exact reason is unknown, horse owners continue to express concern for the health and well-being of animals affected by FWS.

Read more here to learn about what risk factors may be associated with the occurence of FWS in horses.

Fecal Water Syndrome

How Effective Are Grazing Muzzles in Reducing Pasture Intake?

Limiting pasture intake is recommended for obese horses and ponies, especially those at risk for laminitis.  This can be difficult to do if horses have access to pasture full-time or when, for example, stabling is not an option.  Using grazing muzzles has been recommended but how much of an effect do grazing muzzles really have on reducing pasture intake in horses? 

 Read more about this research and the results here:

 Grazing Muzzles Ponies March 2016