Different nutrients for your horse

Do you become baffled looking at the different nutrients on the back of your horse's feed bag, not knowing what each one is for? Here we break down some of the more common nutrients to give you a better understanding. 


● Protein is required for growth and repair of tissues and muscle development.
● Quality of protein is as important as quantity.
● Most straight cereals and hays are deficient in good quality protein.


● Fibre is essential for your horse. It can be derived from forages or the seed coats of cereals.
● Ground fibre (as in pellets) will pass through your horse’s gut quickly while a length of fibre requires more chewing.
● The fibre declared on bags is known as crude fibre and gives no indication of where in the gut it’s digested or how digestible it is.


● Oil is a useful energy source, described as slow-releasing energy.
● There are often high levels of oil in performance feeds.


● Ash is an inorganic material (i.e. anything which isn’t protein, oil or carbohydrate).
● It’s usually an indication of how high the mineral inclusion is.
● High levels of ash in hay analysis suggest soil contamination.

Vitamin A

● Vitamin A plays a role in eyesight and also the formation and protection of epithelial tissues and mucous membrane. 
● It also helps the immune system.

Vitamin D

● Vitamin D is required for the maintenance of calcium and phosphate homeostasis
● It affects bone formation.

Vitamin E

● Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which helps to maintain packed cell volume in blood.
● It’s also used in cell membranes.


● Copper is needed for bone growth, haemoglobin formation, and anaemia when there’s a deficiency.

Fibre providers

Oatfeed, wheatfeed, nutritionally improved straw, wholegrains, grass, alfalfa, sugar beet

Energy providers

Oats, wheat, barley, maize, oil, molasses

Protein providers

Soya, grass, alfalfa, peas, linseed

Read more about feeding