Feed For Thought: Protein, Part 1 “What are the signs, symptoms, and treatments of protein deficiency?”
By Suzie Middlebrook,
B.Sc., Cavalor Nutrition Specialist
It doesn’t matter if your horse is a top level competitor, a broodmare, or just a pasture ornament, protein is important to all horses. In contrast to popular thought, protein is rarely utilized as a form of energy except in cases of starvation when the horse has to resort to metabolizing its own muscle. Instead, protein is used to build and repair nearly all the structures in the body. Protein makes up everything from muscles and joints to vital organs such as the intestines, kidneys, and lungs. These structures and others may be damaged due to exertion or stress. For example, when a horse lands off a jump or takes a funny step on the trail, there may be small tears in the tendons or ligaments that need repair. The body will use the protein from its diet to heal these small injuries. If the diet does not contain a sufficient amount of protein, then the horse will be forced to prioritize what structures are repaired first. So if the heart also suffered some small amount of damage, then the body may begin to breakdown muscle, tendons, or ligaments to repair the injured vital organ.
» Read more