Developments in equine nutrition: comparing the beginning and end of this century

Developments in equine nutrition: comparing the beginning and end of this century

source: Patricia A. Harris
Journal of Nutrition vol 128 no12, December 1998
starts p2698S, 6 pages long

Major developments in the nutrition of performance horses are examined, using sources from 1908 and 1927, and comparing them with modern views on equine nutrition. There was little change in views on equine nutrition from the start of the 20th century until the 1960s, because horses had become less important in transport. The rise in their popularity for leisure activities led to a renewed interest in their nutrition from the 1960s.

There are continuities in feedstuffs used at the start of the 20th century and today, such as oats, lucerne, barley, maize and linseed, though today linseed has tended to be replaced by soy. Mung, urad and kulthi were also fed in 1908, and boiled fish stock was fed to Norwegian stock. Icelandic ponies today may eat herring, but generally the modern view is that horses and other herbivores should not eat feed derived from animals.

Modern developments include manufactured commercial feeds, and supplementary fat, which is fed to many modern performance horses. Salt supplements are also a new development.

There has been more effort to express the energy content of feedstuff as time has gone by, but there is still a debate today on the role of fibre in equine nutrition, and its energy value. More research is also called for on the needs of horses at different stages of their lives, and with different work loads, especially the needs of competition horses.