A feed supplement is anything fed to a horse in addition to a natural diet of forage. Technically grain is a supplement. But the term has come to mean any additional nutrients (such as certain vitamins and minerals, extra protein, energy, etc.) that might be lacking in the diet and are added to a horse’s ration. In recent years, a growing number of horse owners have also been feeding herbal supplements and various compounds thought to enhance certain aspects of health and performance.
Horses involved in strenuous activities might benefit from some types of supplements, since high-stress performance depletes some of the body’s nutrients and mineral stores more rapidly than a natural diet of forages can replace them. A wise use of certain supplements could also benefit horses with various health problems. Also, many dietary deficiencies in horses are subclinical (not obvious), so horse owners tend to err on the side of trying to supply additional nutrients in case the horse might have a deficiency.
Some horses are hard keepers, slow healers, have poor stamina, poor reproductive performance, poor hoof growth, or weak hoof horn. These problems and other conditions have stimulated interest in supplements and creation of countless new products. There are many vitamin/mineral supplements–some containing several nutrients, while others contain only a few specific vitamins, such as biotin or thiamine. These supplements are often available in liquid, block, pellet, or powder form–and they’re easy to add to any feeding program.
Editor’s Note: The following is a discussion of some available supplement options. It is not intended as an endorsement of any brand or company.
There are laws that regulate foods and drugs sold in the United States to make sure they are safe for humans and animals. The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) enforces these laws. Nutrace