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[RC] Excess protein - Diane Trefethen

Question I have, ok so the protein maybe higher than the horse in
question (needs to put on weight) needs but even if you put a lower proten that isn't necessarily going to make him put on weight is it?

    ...back to the original question, why would protein be relevant to the
    original question

It's not, really. They pee out the extra protein.

If that is all that excess protein did, it wouldn't be much of a problem. But it isn't. Below is a link to an article by Dr. Susan Garlinghouse on the feeding of Alfalfa that contains some helpful information applicable to any forage that contains more protein than a working horse needs.

When protein is metabolized, there are two pertinent consequences. 1) It takes more calories to process protein into a specific number of calories for storage than it does to process carbohydrates therefore the net gain in weight from a high protein diet is less than from a high carbohydrate diet. 2) Digesting protein creates as a by product more heat than the digesting of carbohydrates. In the dead of winter, that is a useful thing. But out conditioning or riding endurance, internal heat is an enemy.

When we talk about keeping weight on our horses, we are rarely talking about the building of muscle mass... again an enemy of the endurance horse since it retards the dissipation of heat. We are usually talking about keeping sufficient calorie stores on our horses' bodies so there will be enough to fuel the strenuous exercise we ask of them. So if you want your horse to build up a store of calories, why feed large amounts of protein? Instead, feed more carbohydrates. Of course one of the goals of conditioning is to strengthen our horses and this means the horse will need proteins, more than if he were a pasture ornament. But as Dr Garlinghouse points out, if you keep the protein ration around 10-12%, the simple act of feeding more will mean more protein coming on board.



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