A Quick Guide to Micronutrients for Horses

Though they make up only a tiny part of horses’ diets, micronutrients play big roles in major physiological functions, ranging from bone and muscle performance to digestion to hormone signaling.
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A Quick Guide to Macronutrients for Horses
Classes of horses that might need supplemental minerals and vitamins include young, growing horses, lactating broodmares, and high-level athletes. | Photo: iStock

Learn how these vitamins and minerals affect nearly every physiological function in the horse’s body

Micro: a prefix originating from the Greek letter “µ,” meaning small. Though they make up only a tiny part of horses’ diets, micronutrients play big roles in major physiological functions, ranging from bone and muscle performance to digestion to hormone signaling. Let’s dive into the world of micronutrients to learn more.

Minerals

By definition, minerals constitute any naturally occurring, pure inorganic (meaning without carbon) substance. Remember that periodic table from chemistry class? On it you will find a collection of minerals that are present on earth. After countless hours of research, nutritionists determined the proportion of these minerals necessary to sustain equine life.

Minerals required in the equine diet fall into two categories: macrominerals and microminerals. What makes a mineral macro or micro? The amount a horse requires daily. If you glance at the National Research Council’s Nutrient Requirements of Horses (2007), you’ll find macromineral requirements listed as grams per day and microminerals as milligrams per day

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Kristen M. Janicki, a lifelong horsewoman, was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and later attended graduate school at the University of Kentucky, studying under Dr. Laurie Lawrence in the area of Equine Nutrition. Kristen has been a performance horse nutritionist for an industry feed manufacturer for more than a decade. Her job entails evaluating and improving the performance of the sport horse through proper nutrition.

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