Why Do Horses Need Amino Acids in Their Diets?

Amino acids are one of the most significant pieces of the puzzle in a horse’s diet and are used to build protein.

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Kristine Urschel, PhD, associate professor of equine science in University of Kentucky’s (UK) animal and food sciences department, gave a talk about horses’ amino acid requirements at the 4th Annual UK Equine Showcase, held Jan. 23 in Lexington, Kentucky.

Amino acids are one of the most significant pieces of the puzzle in a horse’s diet, she explained. They benefit all of a horse’s vital processes, as they are used to build all the protein in the body.

Horses require a total of 20 amino acids to build their body’s proteins. The horse’s own body can make 11 of those amino acid but does not have the ability to create the remaining nine it needs. Some amino acids can only be made by plants and micro-organisms. These are called the essential amino acids, and a horse must obtain them from food.

“Most mature horses will meet all requirements for their amino acids by being fed a good-quality forage and concentrate and by following the specific feeding instructions for that particular feed,” Urschel said

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