7 Nutritional Requirements for Horses

two Horses running

Horses are powerful animals that have unique nutritional requirements. While all horses require six main classes of nutrients, the amounts of each nutrient will vary based on the horse’s age, activity level, and health status. David Woods Hay Service can help!

You should work with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to develop a diet that meets your horse’s individual needs.

Here Are the Main Equine Nutritional Requirements


The most vital nutrient for horses is water. The ideal water consumption is 2 quarts of water for every pound of hay they eat. A horse can consume up to 10-12 gallons of water daily, and more in hot, humid weather.

Horse owners should provide a clean, fresh, and accessible source of water at all times. A horse that is lactating or in a high-temperature environment will need at least three times their normal water amount.


Horses require a small amount of fat in their diet for energy and to maintain healthy skin and hair coats. The recommended amount of fat for an adult horse is 2-4% of their total diet.


Horses need protein to maintain muscle mass, support growth, and repair tissue. The recommended amount of crude protein in a horse’s diet is 8-10%.

You will know your horse is dealing with protein deficiency if it has a coarse hair coat or reduced performance. Weight loss, poor immune function, and difficulty gaining weight are also signs of protein deficiency.

4.Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. There are 10 essential amino acids that horses must get from their diet. The most important amino acids for horses are lysine and methionine.

5.Vitamins and Minerals

Horses require a variety of vitamins and minerals to maintain their health. The most important vitamins for horses are vitamin A, D and E.

The most important minerals for horses are calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chloride, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, selenium, and iodine.

Calcium and phosphorus should be in a specific ratio of 2:1. Horses can get proper minerals by consuming fresh green pasture.

You may need to use vitamin supplementation if the horse has had surgery, has stressful conditions like performing, or eats low-quality hay.


Forage should make up the majority of the equine diet. It includes grass, hay, and pasture. Quality forage is high in fiber and low in sugar. Always feed horses forage that is appropriate for their age and health status.

There are different types of hay to choose from, including alfalfa hay, grass hay, and legume hay. Alfalfa hay is high in protein and calcium, while grass hay is lower in calories and sugar. Legume hay has more calcium and protein than grass hay.

Green pasture is an excellent source of forage for horses. It is important to monitor the amount of pasture a horse consumes, as too much can lead to obesity and other health problems.


Concentrates are grains and other processed foods that provide calories and nutrients. The recommended number of concentrates in a horse’s diet is 0.5-2% of its body weight.

The most common type of grain fed to horses is oats. Other grains you can feed horses include barley, corn, and wheat. Never feed horses moldy or dusty grains, as this can cause respiratory problems.

Horses Have Various Nutritional Requirements

In conclusion, your horses should have access to fresh, clean water at all times. It is also important to provide a diet that meets their individual needs for proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals.

Make sure your horses have the nutritional requirements they need by getting the right hay to feed them. Contact us today for high-quality horse feed.