Nutrition Facts

Feature Facts

Did you know that trace minerals are only required in very small amounts?!

 

They are often involved as catalysts in normal physiological functions including reproduction, bone and cartilage development, growth, metabolism, immunocompetence (or the immune system), appetite, prevention of cellular and fat oxidation and many other things!


And these trace minerals interact with each other – too much of any of them may cause major absorbance issues with others, but being essential, they can make a huge difference in the performance, appearance and overall health of your horse!

 

Consequently, please ensure your supplements and lick blocks are balanced for AUSTRALIAN conditions!

FAQ / Nutrition Facts

Vitamins

What are vitamins??


Vitamins are, organic compounds required in small amounts that are mostly involved in what we call, biochemical pathways. Biochemical pathways are a series of chemical reactions which can occur both inside and outside the cells, resulting in a desired biological outcome. In other words, vitamins are needed by the body to function correctly. They are involved in wound healing, metabolism processes, maintaining optimal eyesight, helping the immune system performing at its best and of course endless other tasks! Consequently, providing the right vitamins in a balanced way, to match Australian conditions is super important!




Did you know that vitamins are categorised into two groups depending on whether they dissolve in fat or water?!


Fat soluble vitamins are:
• Vitamin A,
• Vitamin D,
• Vitamin E and
• Vitamin K Water soluble are:
• Vitamin B Group as well as
• Vitamin C Some of these vitamins need to be supplemented whereas others are easily produced by your horse e.g. Vitamin D: It is synthesised from sunlight! So, instead of oversupplying, why not give your horse a “Vitamin D day” from time to time, taking the rugs off!




Did you know that the active form of Vitamin A in the body is called Retinol?!


Looking at Vitamins, it is important to understand, that there is no natural Vitamin A present in the feed. However, what is available in plants, is the compound beta carotene, which are the pigments that give plants and certain grains colour, e.g. green grass, yellow corn, and orange carrots. The liver of the horse then converts the beta carotene into retinol, the active form of vitamin A in the body.

Vitamin A is necessary for proper vision, as well as for the formation of epithelial tissue and mucous membranes. Epithelial tissue is a layer of tissue on the surface of the muscles while the mucous membrane is a protective layer found on the surface of the stomach and intestines to protect the digestive tract from acids and enzymes. Both tissues are used in growth, reproduction, and the immune system. Moreover, Vitamin A is a great free radical scavenger or antioxidant!

Like all vitamins, they degrade over time and will be lost quickly from the feed. For example, with Vitamin A, once pastures have been cut to make hay, about 15mg per kg of carotenoid pigment is lost each month or nearly 10% of the vitamin A concentration in feed!

But, with an oversupply of Vitamin A, possibly through over supplementation, major health problems can occur. Therefore, please keep in mind: more is not always better!




Meet Vitamin E – Antioxidant Extraordinaire!


Vitamin E is a very strong antioxidant, like Vitamin A. In fact, it is one of the main antioxidants in the body. It works very closely with selenium, particularly as an antioxidant against fat metabolism. Vitamin E is also important for the repair of wounds as well as playing an important role in the effective functioning of the immune system.

Moreover, Vitamin E prevents the clotting of veins from platelets which are falsely coming together thinking that there may be a wound of some sort, something that free radicals can cause. It helps with gene expression and regulation and has a neurological function as well (that is, it’s involvement with the nervous system).

As horses are unable to produce Vitamin E themselves, it must be provided in the diet. Vitamin E is naturally found in fresh green forage, however, like Vitamin A, it degrades quickly, once the grass is cut and stored as hay. Consequently, the amount of Vitamin E found in the hay varies and is dependent on the type of forage and the harvesting procedures used.

Thus, ensuring your horse receives adequate amounts of Vitamin E is essential to your horse’s health.




B vitamins – let’s take a closer look!


When we talk about B vitamins, it is actually a group of vitamins that fall under the vitamins B umbrella, called the vitamin B complex.

The main vitamins in this complex are:

  • Vitamin B1 = Thiamin

  • Vitamin B2 = Riboflavin

  • Vitamin B3 = Niacin

  • Vitamin B5 = Pantothenic acid

  • Vitamin B6 = Pyridoxine

  • Vitamin B7 = Biotine

  • Vitamin B9 = Folate

  • Vitamin B12 = Cyanocobalamin

The Vitamin B complex is not usually stored in large amounts, as it is water soluble. Consequently, any B vitamins not used by the horse are excreted from the body in the urine each day.

The main source of B vitamins is the hindgut microbes, who ferment green leafy fibre to produce B vitamins.

B vitamins are involved in carbohydrate, protein and energy metabolism, they are important for nerve functioning, enzyme production and functioning and red blood cell formation, particularly folate and vitamin B12.

B vitamins have been shown to improve the appetite of the horse and play a role in repairing hoof structure.

Depending on your horse’s existing diet, the supplementation with a vitamin B complex may certainly improve your horse’s health to ensure optimum performance.





Feed Components

Let’s have a look into a horse’s mouth!


Did you know horses have a full set of teeth and both an upper and lower jaw, making them a little bit unique in comparison to many other species?! Talking about teeth, horses have incisors at the front, designed for biting and cutting grass and leaves, and they have a large set of molars at the back of their mouth, designed specifically for grinding. Horses chew in a three-way motion: up and down, side to side and backwards and forward in what is called an occlusal pattern!




Did you know that feed is broken up into 6 main components?!


When we talk about feed, we usually refer to an individual product like hay or grains or a grain-based feed, but feed is actually made up of a whole series of individual components and nutrients combined together.

  1. Carbohydrates (which consists of both structural and non-structural)
  2. Protein (which is the platform for building muscles)
  3. Fats (which are otherwise known as triglycerides and are an energy source)
  4. Minerals (which are broken up into macro and trace minerals)
  5. Vitamins (which can be either fat soluble or water soluble)
  6. Water




Carbohydrates … let’s take a closer look!


Carbohydrates are a large group of organic compounds consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and can typically be broken down by the animal body to release energy. The common carbohydrates that you will find in feeds are sugars, starch and cellulose.

In plants, Carbohydrates are the energy source in the germinating seed, as well as allowing the plant to grow up, straight and tall, producing leaves to capture the sunlight.

Carbohydrates are categorised into 2 groups:

  1. Structural
  2. Non-structural

Structural carbohydrates are the fibrous component of the plant: think of it like the scaffolding on a building or even the building itself. They consist mainly of the cell walls in the plant.

The concentration of these structural carbohydrates increases with the age of the plants.

When considering structural carbohydrates in nutrition, we usually focus on three components:

  • Cellulose (most abundant and reasonably digestible by horses)
  • Hemicellulose (more prevalent in grasses than in legumes and also reasonably digestible by horses)
  • Lignin which is NOT a carbohydrate, however intertwined with cellulose and hemicellulose and therefore added to the group of structural carbohydrates. Lignin is NOT digestible by horses.

Non-structural carbohydrates on the other hand consist of sugars and starch.

When considering the nutritional value of carbohydrates, we need to ensure the correct balance to meet the horse’s needs.




What connection have structural carbohydrates, volatile fatty acids with the horses’ insulin response?!


Structural carbohydrates (fibrous component of the plant) are digested primarily through microbial fermentation in the hind gut – a process where microbes digest and break down the much more resilient structural carbohydrates into products that the horse can use.

One of those products are volatile fatty acids or VFAs. VFAs are short chain fats with very high energy density. On a high fibre diet, these microbes are able to produce around 70% of the horse’s energy needs (under most circumstances), through the production of VFAs. The volatile fatty acids pass through the wall of the hind gut into the body, travel via the blood to the liver, where they are converted into a glucose source for use or fat for storage.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas which is secreted to help regulate blood glucose levels by moving the excess glucose from the blood into the muscle and storing it as glycogen which is used in the “fight or flight” response. Volatile fatty acids however, produce no insulin response, meaning the body doesn’t have to produce more insulin to safely control the blood sugar level, as the energy (as VFAs) travels through the blood as fat, not sugar.

Consequently, the horses’ overall health benefits by generating most of a horse’s energy requirements through the production of VFAs!




Non-structural carbohydrates: Let’s check out sugars and starch.


Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) consist of sugars and starch. First, let’s focus on the sugars: There are many different types of sugars, such as sucrose, glucose, maltose, galactose, fructose and many more. These are primarily digested in the small intestine, using digestive enzymes.

Structural carbohydrates, on the other hand, are primarily digested through microbial fermentation in the hind gut.

In the small intestine, these more complex sugars are broken down into simple sugars, which pass through the intestinal wall into the blood stream and travel as glucose to the liver to either be used as an energy source or stored as fat. Some can be stored temporarily in the muscle as glycogen as an immediate energy source.

The other main form of NSC is starch, which is also a type of sugar. However due to its chemical compound, it has two to three times more resistance to digestion than other sugars. This increases the risk that not all of it is digested in the small intestine and a larger proportion ending up in the hind gut, potentially causing problems.

When larger amounts of NSC, particularly starch, end up in the hind gut, lactic acid is produced, lowering the pH of the hindgut region (optimal pH 6 to 6.7). Being very sensitive to the pH, this more acidic environment causes the death of many of the structural carbohydrate fermenting microbes. These dying microbes release endotoxins which can damage the intestinal wall lining, resulting in a sick horse potentially suffering from, for example,

laminitis or colic.

Therefore, it is very important to understand, that high levels of starch can be problematic to your horse’s health. To help regulate the pH in the hindgut, it is important to include high levels of structural carbohydrates (fibre / roughage), to support these fibre digesting microbes, keeping your horse’s hind gut healthy and your horse happy.




Did you know Fats are primarily digested in the small intestine?!


Fats are not digested in any way in the stomach, unlike other components of the feed. What happens in the stomach is that fats congregate or clump together due to the burning effect of the acids, creating fat clumps or globules, and it’s not until these fat globules make it into the small intestine that digestion starts.

There are 4 distinctive phases of fat digestion. Firstly, emulsification by bile salts , then hydrolysis which simply is addition of water to help break down the fat globule into digestible molecules, the formation of micelle balls which is small amounts of fats completely surrounded by bile salts and then, finally, the fat is absorbed across the intestinal wall into the body.

Fat is an energy source, that does not create an insulin response as it travels through the blood as fat instead of glucose – so adding a cup or two of oil to your ration can cause a reasonable increase in energy in a small, concentrated amount. Fat can also improve digestion because fats take a while to digest. When the body detects the presence of fats in the diet, it releases hormones which slows down the digestive tract, allowing more digestion to occur.

To optimise your horses feed, it is important to be aware of the omega 3 and omega 6 ratios, which will be a topic for another nutrition fact! In summary though, the ideal ratio is a slightly higher level of omega 3 in the oil than omega 6.

One word of caution – too much oil in the diet can make your horse sick, therefore please supplement according to your horse’s needs – and check back for more EqNC Nutrition Facts!




Fact about Fats – part 2 - Omega 3's vs Omega 6's


To elaborate on the importance of specific oil types in the diet of horses, there are 3 groups of fats that need to be considered: They are Omega 3’s, most commonly known as alfa linolenic acids or ALA, Omega 6’s which is primarily known as linoleic acis (LA), and Omega 9’s, with the most common one being Oleic acid. Omega 9 is necessary in the diet, but not in huge amounts and can be created in the body of the horse, so there is not much focus put on omega 9. However, there is certainly much focus placed on omega 3 and omega 6 oils. Both are considered as essential fatty acids, as the body cannot produce them (similar to essential amino acids), consequently these need to be added to the diet daily. Both omega 3 and omega 6 oils are needed to produce a very important hormone called prostaglandin. The difference though is that omega 3s produce a type of prostaglandin that results in a reduced internal inflammatory response. Omega 6 on the other side produces a type of prostaglandin that causes in increased internal inflammatory response. In other words, omega 3 and omega 6 are producing the opposite effects of each other. It is important to have a good balance between omega 3 and omega 6 oils, as omega 6 oils produce certain hormones and steroids essential for normal, healthy body function in the horse. Knowing, a balance is needed, it can certainly be beneficial to have higher levels of omega 3 than omega 6. However, like anything connected to a physiological perspective, more is not necessarily better.
And continually including more omega 3 oils to the diet, without supplying a source of omega 6 has shown to suppress the immune system of the animal – which leads us back to the importance of supplying a balanced level of omega 3 and omega 6. Unfortunately, it is still unsure exactly what the base optimal level ratios are, however current research is suggesting that around 2 or 3 parts omega 3 to 1 part omega 6 is considered an optimal level.




Did you know that fats have about 2.5 to 3 times more energy than carbohydrates?!


Comparing the energy density of fats and oils in some common feeds (based on a dry matter), oils and fats have about 3 times the amount of energy of oats, approx. 2.5 times the energy of corn and about 4 times the amount of energy of hay.

Looking at all the benefits of feeding oils, as stated above, it has a much higher energy density than other feeds. There is no insulin response as it travels through the blood as fat instead of glucose. It is quite readily digested in the mall intestine and can improve digestion of other feeds because of the whole physiological response to slow down the digestive system. Some research has also shown that you can reduce sweating by feeding a good level of oil.

Looking at these benefits, it is important to mention, that you should only include fats / oils in appropriate amounts for your horse, as too much oil / fats can have significant negative effects to your horse’s health.

Oils as discussed in the previous nutrition fact, can cause an inflammatory response (check your balance between your omega 3’s and 6’s). Oils, when included in too large quantities can also impact on the hind gut fermentation. When fed too much oil, there is a risk of coating the feed and microbes in the hind gut with this oil, impacting on the ability of the microbes to break down the feed, which can lead to major digestive issues.

Looking at inclusion rates, there are rations formulated with up to 20% oil inclusions, however, please remember the high energy of oils, when considering the right amount of oil for your horses. In most circumstances, an inclusion rate of 5% to 10% of the total diets is beneficial.





EqNC Premium

EqNC Premium Horse Lick Block - So much more than a salt block!


The natural way to feed a horse is grazing grass and pasture in the paddock. Unfortunately, grass and pastures are often low in essential protein and minerals, meaning your horse may not be as healthy as you think! With most Australian regions deficient in key minerals like Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, Selenium and Iodine, the paddocked horse is often depleted in these essential nutrients. To keep your horses as healthy as it can be, choose the EqNC Premium Horse Lick Block. It is highly mineralied, built specifically for horses in Australian conditions. Providing the highest levels of vitamins and minerals to meet the paddocked horse's daily needs, and containing less than 7% sugars and starch, the EqNC Premium Lick block is possibly one of the healthiest mineralised lick blocks available.




Did you know, the base ingredient for the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites is a product called Dried Distillers Grain (DDG)?!


DDG is the by-product from the distilling process in the alcohol or ethanol production. The wheat and barley grains are heat treated and fermented, using microbes similar to those found in the hindgut of the horse for over 30 hours. It is then re-heat treated to produce a grain-based product, which is highly palatable, yet low in both sugars and starch. It is high in microbial protein and contains a good level of fat.
Consequently, the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites provide good energy, high quality protein, low sugars and starch, and more minerals and vitamins than nearly all other blocks on the market.




Are the EqNC Premium Lick and Bites suitable to be fed in ‘Big Head’ prone areas?


Big Head is caused due to an imbalance of the Calcium (Ca) to Phosphorus (P) ratio within the available feed. Looking at the ideal Ca to P ratio of
2 to 1 for horses, the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites are formulated with 8.3% of Calcium to 4.2% of Phosphorus, which is very close to this ideal ratio. (EqNC Premium Lick ratio: 1.98 Cal to 1 P). Consequently, the Lick and Bites provide a great starting point to correct existing imbalances for your horse or pony.




Why did we include Chromium in the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites formulation?


Chromium greatly enhances the effectiveness of insulin to clear glucose from the blood. This process is highly important for horses with some insulin resistance! Chromium has also been shown to enhance lean body mass and assists in tissue and muscle development which is important for the powerful performance horse!




Did you know, the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites are suitable for all breeds, sizes and colours of horses?!


Australian formulated for Australian conditions and manufactured here in Australia, you can rest assured, your horse stays healthy and happy!




Did you say Amino Acids?


The EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites contain the amino acid Lysine. Lysine is particularly important to ensure the efficient build-up of muscle protein! Lysine is also the reason for the distinct smell of the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites. If your horse is not used to it, please be patient, usually your horse will adjust and thoroughly enjoy the Premium Horse Lick and Bites after a few days!




Let’s talk about Iron


When considering supplementing trace elements (focusing on Iron, Copper, Zinc and Manganese) the correct balance of these are of utmost importance to avoid negative interactions with each other.

With most Australian Soils already high in Iron, Iron is NOT actually added to the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites as a separate trace mineral. The reported inclusion rate of 137mg/kg is obtained through the natural iron content from the Dried Distillers Grain (DDG), Canola Meal, Limestone and Phosphorus source of the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites!




Did you know that an oversupply of Cobalt is listed as a controlled medication under the FEI prohibited substance database?!


Make sure to check your Horse’s Lick Block and supplement mineral concentration!
Remember: “More is not always better!” Supplement your horse the balanced way, using the EqNC Premium Horse Lick or Bites!





Trace Minerals

Let’s talk about Iron


When considering supplementing trace elements (focusing on Iron, Copper, Zinc and Manganese) the correct balance of these are of utmost importance to avoid negative interactions with each other.

With most Australian Soils already high in Iron, Iron is NOT actually added to the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites as a separate trace mineral. The reported inclusion rate of 137mg/kg is obtained through the natural iron content from the Dried Distillers Grain (DDG), Canola Meal, Limestone and Phosphorus source of the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites!




Did you know that the balanced availability of trace minerals is essential for the equine immune system to function at its best?!


Focusing on the main trace elements, please check your supplements inclusions for: • Copper
• Zinc
• Manganese
• Selenium
• Iodine
• Chromium and • Iron

And please remember, more is not always better!
When considering trace elements, is all about the correct balance, taking Australian conditions into consideration!




Did you know that trace minerals are only required in very small amounts?!


They are often involved as catalysts in normal physiological functions including reproduction, bone and cartilage development, growth, metabolism, immunocompetence (or the immune system), appetite, prevention of cellular and fat oxidation and many other things! And these trace minerals interact with each other – too much of any of them may cause major absorbance issues with Consequently, please ensure your supplements and lick blocks are balanced for AUSTRALIAN conditions!




Did you know that an oversupply of Cobalt is listed as a controlled medication under the FEI prohibited substance database?!


Make sure to check your Horse’s Lick Block and supplement mineral concentration!
Remember: “More is not always better!” Supplement your horse the balanced way, using the EqNC Premium Horse Lick or Bites!




Why supplement Copper?!


Copper has a variety of roles; it is an enzyme activator or involved in enzyme reactions for • reproduction, • bone development, • growth,
• connective tissue development (limb movement), • coat and hoof conditioning, • protection from metabolic oxidisation, • heart and central nervous system development and • immunocompetence (the ability of the immune system to deal with threats and diseases). Copper is also very much involved in the haemoglobin synthesis or red cell formation, where it is needed to mobilise the iron stores from the liver to form new red blood cells.
A lot of people believe, that by increasing iron supplementations, the red blood cell formation is also increased, however nearly all horses have already more than sufficient iron in their body and additional iron supplementation can lead to serious problems! Therefore, horses displaying a low red blood cell count, may possibly suffer from some disease, heavy parasite burden, haemorrhaging or they may actually be deficient in copper.
If there isn’t enough Copper in the diet, the iron, that is stored in the liver cannot be released to form new red blood cells.
Now, looking at Australian soils, these are generally deficient in copper, which consequently leads to plants being deficient in copper. Therefore, please check your supplements to ensure a balanced and adequate Copper supplementation!




Zinc: let’s check it out!


Zinc is another very important trace mineral, often working in conjunction with copper. Being a metalloenzyme (enzyme that contain a mineral element), Zinc is necessary for the vitamin A metabolism, gene expression, fat and oil metabolism, fertility, appetite, coat and hoof conditions in conjunction with copper, and again the ability of the immune system to cope with diseases and infections! Zinc also appears to be a mineral whose absorption rate increases or decreases depending on how much the body needs. Therefore, if you already have a high level of zinc in the diet, adding more is not going to improve absorption.

Consequently, as with all minerals: The CORRECT balance of all minerals ensures the efficient uptake by your horse or pony!
Make sure to double check your supplement's mineral balances and check out the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites today!




Manganese - let’s take a closer look!


Manganese is another important trace mineral. It is essential for carbohydrate and fat metabolism, cartilage formation, and again, as all other trace minerals, it is essential for the immune system.

A deficiency in trace minerals usually leads to a compromised immune system, which may cause a reduction in performance ability or worst-case scenario, make your horse more prone to diseases and illnesses.

A specific deficiency in manganese, among many others, may lead to e.g. irregular oestrus cycles and difficulties getting a mare in foal (fertility issues), resorption of the foetus or a still-born foal or bone growth development issues (problems with the speed of the growth of the foal’s legs leading to developmental orthopaedic diseases).

Many Australian pastures and soils have adequate concentrations of manganese, however, as with all other trace minerals, a well-balanced supplementation is the key to keep your horse happy and healthy.




Did you say Iodine?!


Iodine is another trace mineral, very much involved with the immune system. It is also an important component of the thyroid hormones, which are involved in the immune system as well as the metabolism. Iodine is also involved in the development of the foetus, digestion, muscle function and reproductive seasonality!
Iodine concentrations are naturally very low to non-existent in feeds. Please make sure to check your supplement for adequate levels of Iodine inclusions!




Did you know that Selenium is deficient in most Australian soils?


Selenium acts with vitamin E as a very strong antioxidant (working to protect the cells against free radical damage), particularly relevant when we are talking about fat metabolism. Like iodine, it also plays an important role in the immune system and metabolism. It is important for correct sperm development! Consequently, a selenium deficiency in your stallion may result in poorly developed semen and low fertility. With most of Australian soils and pastures deficient in selenium, it is important that it is included in the diet daily, particularly if you live in an area that receives very high rainfall. However, Selenium is a trace mineral, needed only in very small amounts and is highly toxic if overdosed! Please check your supplements mineral balances and keep in mind – more is not always better!





ALL

EqNC Premium Horse Lick Block - So much more than a salt block!


The natural way to feed a horse is grazing grass and pasture in the paddock. Unfortunately, grass and pastures are often low in essential protein and minerals, meaning your horse may not be as healthy as you think! With most Australian regions deficient in key minerals like Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc, Selenium and Iodine, the paddocked horse is often depleted in these essential nutrients. To keep your horses as healthy as it can be, choose the EqNC Premium Horse Lick Block. It is highly mineralied, built specifically for horses in Australian conditions. Providing the highest levels of vitamins and minerals to meet the paddocked horse's daily needs, and containing less than 7% sugars and starch, the EqNC Premium Lick block is possibly one of the healthiest mineralised lick blocks available.




Did you know, the base ingredient for the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites is a product called Dried Distillers Grain (DDG)?!


DDG is the by-product from the distilling process in the alcohol or ethanol production. The wheat and barley grains are heat treated and fermented, using microbes similar to those found in the hindgut of the horse for over 30 hours. It is then re-heat treated to produce a grain-based product, which is highly palatable, yet low in both sugars and starch. It is high in microbial protein and contains a good level of fat.
Consequently, the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites provide good energy, high quality protein, low sugars and starch, and more minerals and vitamins than nearly all other blocks on the market.




Are the EqNC Premium Lick and Bites suitable to be fed in ‘Big Head’ prone areas?


Big Head is caused due to an imbalance of the Calcium (Ca) to Phosphorus (P) ratio within the available feed. Looking at the ideal Ca to P ratio of
2 to 1 for horses, the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites are formulated with 8.3% of Calcium to 4.2% of Phosphorus, which is very close to this ideal ratio. (EqNC Premium Lick ratio: 1.98 Cal to 1 P). Consequently, the Lick and Bites provide a great starting point to correct existing imbalances for your horse or pony.




Why did we include Chromium in the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites formulation?


Chromium greatly enhances the effectiveness of insulin to clear glucose from the blood. This process is highly important for horses with some insulin resistance! Chromium has also been shown to enhance lean body mass and assists in tissue and muscle development which is important for the powerful performance horse!




Did you know, the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites are suitable for all breeds, sizes and colours of horses?!


Australian formulated for Australian conditions and manufactured here in Australia, you can rest assured, your horse stays healthy and happy!




Did you say Amino Acids?


The EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites contain the amino acid Lysine. Lysine is particularly important to ensure the efficient build-up of muscle protein! Lysine is also the reason for the distinct smell of the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites. If your horse is not used to it, please be patient, usually your horse will adjust and thoroughly enjoy the Premium Horse Lick and Bites after a few days!




Let’s talk about Iron


When considering supplementing trace elements (focusing on Iron, Copper, Zinc and Manganese) the correct balance of these are of utmost importance to avoid negative interactions with each other.

With most Australian Soils already high in Iron, Iron is NOT actually added to the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites as a separate trace mineral. The reported inclusion rate of 137mg/kg is obtained through the natural iron content from the Dried Distillers Grain (DDG), Canola Meal, Limestone and Phosphorus source of the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites!




Did you know that the balanced availability of trace minerals is essential for the equine immune system to function at its best?!


Focusing on the main trace elements, please check your supplements inclusions for: • Copper
• Zinc
• Manganese
• Selenium
• Iodine
• Chromium and • Iron

And please remember, more is not always better!
When considering trace elements, is all about the correct balance, taking Australian conditions into consideration!




Did you know that trace minerals are only required in very small amounts?!


They are often involved as catalysts in normal physiological functions including reproduction, bone and cartilage development, growth, metabolism, immunocompetence (or the immune system), appetite, prevention of cellular and fat oxidation and many other things! And these trace minerals interact with each other – too much of any of them may cause major absorbance issues with Consequently, please ensure your supplements and lick blocks are balanced for AUSTRALIAN conditions!




Did you know that an oversupply of Cobalt is listed as a controlled medication under the FEI prohibited substance database?!


Make sure to check your Horse’s Lick Block and supplement mineral concentration!
Remember: “More is not always better!” Supplement your horse the balanced way, using the EqNC Premium Horse Lick or Bites!




Why supplement Copper?!


Copper has a variety of roles; it is an enzyme activator or involved in enzyme reactions for • reproduction, • bone development, • growth,
• connective tissue development (limb movement), • coat and hoof conditioning, • protection from metabolic oxidisation, • heart and central nervous system development and • immunocompetence (the ability of the immune system to deal with threats and diseases). Copper is also very much involved in the haemoglobin synthesis or red cell formation, where it is needed to mobilise the iron stores from the liver to form new red blood cells.
A lot of people believe, that by increasing iron supplementations, the red blood cell formation is also increased, however nearly all horses have already more than sufficient iron in their body and additional iron supplementation can lead to serious problems! Therefore, horses displaying a low red blood cell count, may possibly suffer from some disease, heavy parasite burden, haemorrhaging or they may actually be deficient in copper.
If there isn’t enough Copper in the diet, the iron, that is stored in the liver cannot be released to form new red blood cells.
Now, looking at Australian soils, these are generally deficient in copper, which consequently leads to plants being deficient in copper. Therefore, please check your supplements to ensure a balanced and adequate Copper supplementation!




Zinc: let’s check it out!


Zinc is another very important trace mineral, often working in conjunction with copper. Being a metalloenzyme (enzyme that contain a mineral element), Zinc is necessary for the vitamin A metabolism, gene expression, fat and oil metabolism, fertility, appetite, coat and hoof conditions in conjunction with copper, and again the ability of the immune system to cope with diseases and infections! Zinc also appears to be a mineral whose absorption rate increases or decreases depending on how much the body needs. Therefore, if you already have a high level of zinc in the diet, adding more is not going to improve absorption.

Consequently, as with all minerals: The CORRECT balance of all minerals ensures the efficient uptake by your horse or pony!
Make sure to double check your supplement's mineral balances and check out the EqNC Premium Horse Lick and Bites today!




Manganese - let’s take a closer look!


Manganese is another important trace mineral. It is essential for carbohydrate and fat metabolism, cartilage formation, and again, as all other trace minerals, it is essential for the immune system.

A deficiency in trace minerals usually leads to a compromised immune system, which may cause a reduction in performance ability or worst-case scenario, make your horse more prone to diseases and illnesses.

A specific deficiency in manganese, among many others, may lead to e.g. irregular oestrus cycles and difficulties getting a mare in foal (fertility issues), resorption of the foetus or a still-born foal or bone growth development issues (problems with the speed of the growth of the foal’s legs leading to developmental orthopaedic diseases).

Many Australian pastures and soils have adequate concentrations of manganese, however, as with all other trace minerals, a well-balanced supplementation is the key to keep your horse happy and healthy.




Did you say Iodine?!


Iodine is another trace mineral, very much involved with the immune system. It is also an important component of the thyroid hormones, which are involved in the immune system as well as the metabolism. Iodine is also involved in the development of the foetus, digestion, muscle function and reproductive seasonality!
Iodine concentrations are naturally very low to non-existent in feeds. Please make sure to check your supplement for adequate levels of Iodine inclusions!




Did you know that Selenium is deficient in most Australian soils?


Selenium acts with vitamin E as a very strong antioxidant (working to protect the cells against free radical damage), particularly relevant when we are talking about fat metabolism. Like iodine, it also plays an important role in the immune system and metabolism. It is important for correct sperm development! Consequently, a selenium deficiency in your stallion may result in poorly developed semen and low fertility. With most of Australian soils and pastures deficient in selenium, it is important that it is included in the diet daily, particularly if you live in an area that receives very high rainfall. However, Selenium is a trace mineral, needed only in very small amounts and is highly toxic if overdosed! Please check your supplements mineral balances and keep in mind – more is not always better!




Let’s have a look into a horse’s mouth!


Did you know horses have a full set of teeth and both an upper and lower jaw, making them a little bit unique in comparison to many other species?! Talking about teeth, horses have incisors at the front, designed for biting and cutting grass and leaves, and they have a large set of molars at the back of their mouth, designed specifically for grinding. Horses chew in a three-way motion: up and down, side to side and backwards and forward in what is called an occlusal pattern!




What are vitamins??


Vitamins are, organic compounds required in small amounts that are mostly involved in what we call, biochemical pathways. Biochemical pathways are a series of chemical reactions which can occur both inside and outside the cells, resulting in a desired biological outcome. In other words, vitamins are needed by the body to function correctly. They are involved in wound healing, metabolism processes, maintaining optimal eyesight, helping the immune system performing at its best and of course endless other tasks! Consequently, providing the right vitamins in a balanced way, to match Australian conditions is super important!




Did you know that vitamins are categorised into two groups depending on whether they dissolve in fat or water?!


Fat soluble vitamins are:
• Vitamin A,
• Vitamin D,
• Vitamin E and
• Vitamin K Water soluble are:
• Vitamin B Group as well as
• Vitamin C Some of these vitamins need to be supplemented whereas others are easily produced by your horse e.g. Vitamin D: It is synthesised from sunlight! So, instead of oversupplying, why not give your horse a “Vitamin D day” from time to time, taking the rugs off!




Did you know that the active form of Vitamin A in the body is called Retinol?!


Looking at Vitamins, it is important to understand, that there is no natural Vitamin A present in the feed. However, what is available in plants, is the compound beta carotene, which are the pigments that give plants and certain grains colour, e.g. green grass, yellow corn, and orange carrots. The liver of the horse then converts the beta carotene into retinol, the active form of vitamin A in the body.

Vitamin A is necessary for proper vision, as well as for the formation of epithelial tissue and mucous membranes. Epithelial tissue is a layer of tissue on the surface of the muscles while the mucous membrane is a protective layer found on the surface of the stomach and intestines to protect the digestive tract from acids and enzymes. Both tissues are used in growth, reproduction, and the immune system. Moreover, Vitamin A is a great free radical scavenger or antioxidant!

Like all vitamins, they degrade over time and will be lost quickly from the feed. For example, with Vitamin A, once pastures have been cut to make hay, about 15mg per kg of carotenoid pigment is lost each month or nearly 10% of the vitamin A concentration in feed!

But, with an oversupply of Vitamin A, possibly through over supplementation, major health problems can occur. Therefore, please keep in mind: more is not always better!




Meet Vitamin E – Antioxidant Extraordinaire!


Vitamin E is a very strong antioxidant, like Vitamin A. In fact, it is one of the main antioxidants in the body. It works very closely with selenium, particularly as an antioxidant against fat metabolism. Vitamin E is also important for the repair of wounds as well as playing an important role in the effective functioning of the immune system.

Moreover, Vitamin E prevents the clotting of veins from platelets which are falsely coming together thinking that there may be a wound of some sort, something that free radicals can cause. It helps with gene expression and regulation and has a neurological function as well (that is, it’s involvement with the nervous system).

As horses are unable to produce Vitamin E themselves, it must be provided in the diet. Vitamin E is naturally found in fresh green forage, however, like Vitamin A, it degrades quickly, once the grass is cut and stored as hay. Consequently, the amount of Vitamin E found in the hay varies and is dependent on the type of forage and the harvesting procedures used.

Thus, ensuring your horse receives adequate amounts of Vitamin E is essential to your horse’s health.




B vitamins – let’s take a closer look!


When we talk about B vitamins, it is actually a group of vitamins that fall under the vitamins B umbrella, called the vitamin B complex.

The main vitamins in this complex are:

  • Vitamin B1 = Thiamin

  • Vitamin B2 = Riboflavin

  • Vitamin B3 = Niacin

  • Vitamin B5 = Pantothenic acid

  • Vitamin B6 = Pyridoxine

  • Vitamin B7 = Biotine

  • Vitamin B9 = Folate

  • Vitamin B12 = Cyanocobalamin

The Vitamin B complex is not usually stored in large amounts, as it is water soluble. Consequently, any B vitamins not used by the horse are excreted from the body in the urine each day.

The main source of B vitamins is the hindgut microbes, who ferment green leafy fibre to produce B vitamins.

B vitamins are involved in carbohydrate, protein and energy metabolism, they are important for nerve functioning, enzyme production and functioning and red blood cell formation, particularly folate and vitamin B12.

B vitamins have been shown to improve the appetite of the horse and play a role in repairing hoof structure.

Depending on your horse’s existing diet, the supplementation with a vitamin B complex may certainly improve your horse’s health to ensure optimum performance.




Did you know that feed is broken up into 6 main components?!


When we talk about feed, we usually refer to an individual product like hay or grains or a grain-based feed, but feed is actually made up of a whole series of individual components and nutrients combined together.

  1. Carbohydrates (which consists of both structural and non-structural)
  2. Protein (which is the platform for building muscles)
  3. Fats (which are otherwise known as triglycerides and are an energy source)
  4. Minerals (which are broken up into macro and trace minerals)
  5. Vitamins (which can be either fat soluble or water soluble)
  6. Water




Carbohydrates … let’s take a closer look!


Carbohydrates are a large group of organic compounds consisting of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen and can typically be broken down by the animal body to release energy. The common carbohydrates that you will find in feeds are sugars, starch and cellulose.

In plants, Carbohydrates are the energy source in the germinating seed, as well as allowing the plant to grow up, straight and tall, producing leaves to capture the sunlight.

Carbohydrates are categorised into 2 groups:

  1. Structural
  2. Non-structural

Structural carbohydrates are the fibrous component of the plant: think of it like the scaffolding on a building or even the building itself. They consist mainly of the cell walls in the plant.

The concentration of these structural carbohydrates increases with the age of the plants.

When considering structural carbohydrates in nutrition, we usually focus on three components:

  • Cellulose (most abundant and reasonably digestible by horses)
  • Hemicellulose (more prevalent in grasses than in legumes and also reasonably digestible by horses)
  • Lignin which is NOT a carbohydrate, however intertwined with cellulose and hemicellulose and therefore added to the group of structural carbohydrates. Lignin is NOT digestible by horses.

Non-structural carbohydrates on the other hand consist of sugars and starch.

When considering the nutritional value of carbohydrates, we need to ensure the correct balance to meet the horse’s needs.




What connection have structural carbohydrates, volatile fatty acids with the horses’ insulin response?!


Structural carbohydrates (fibrous component of the plant) are digested primarily through microbial fermentation in the hind gut – a process where microbes digest and break down the much more resilient structural carbohydrates into products that the horse can use.

One of those products are volatile fatty acids or VFAs. VFAs are short chain fats with very high energy density. On a high fibre diet, these microbes are able to produce around 70% of the horse’s energy needs (under most circumstances), through the production of VFAs. The volatile fatty acids pass through the wall of the hind gut into the body, travel via the blood to the liver, where they are converted into a glucose source for use or fat for storage.

Insulin is a hormone produced in the pancreas which is secreted to help regulate blood glucose levels by moving the excess glucose from the blood into the muscle and storing it as glycogen which is used in the “fight or flight” response. Volatile fatty acids however, produce no insulin response, meaning the body doesn’t have to produce more insulin to safely control the blood sugar level, as the energy (as VFAs) travels through the blood as fat, not sugar.

Consequently, the horses’ overall health benefits by generating most of a horse’s energy requirements through the production of VFAs!




Non-structural carbohydrates: Let’s check out sugars and starch.


Non-structural carbohydrates (NSC) consist of sugars and starch. First, let’s focus on the sugars: There are many different types of sugars, such as sucrose, glucose, maltose, galactose, fructose and many more. These are primarily digested in the small intestine, using digestive enzymes.

Structural carbohydrates, on the other hand, are primarily digested through microbial fermentation in the hind gut.

In the small intestine, these more complex sugars are broken down into simple sugars, which pass through the intestinal wall into the blood stream and travel as glucose to the liver to either be used as an energy source or stored as fat. Some can be stored temporarily in the muscle as glycogen as an immediate energy source.

The other main form of NSC is starch, which is also a type of sugar. However due to its chemical compound, it has two to three times more resistance to digestion than other sugars. This increases the risk that not all of it is digested in the small intestine and a larger proportion ending up in the hind gut, potentially causing problems.

When larger amounts of NSC, particularly starch, end up in the hind gut, lactic acid is produced, lowering the pH of the hindgut region (optimal pH 6 to 6.7). Being very sensitive to the pH, this more acidic environment causes the death of many of the structural carbohydrate fermenting microbes. These dying microbes release endotoxins which can damage the intestinal wall lining, resulting in a sick horse potentially suffering from, for example,

laminitis or colic.

Therefore, it is very important to understand, that high levels of starch can be problematic to your horse’s health. To help regulate the pH in the hindgut, it is important to include high levels of structural carbohydrates (fibre / roughage), to support these fibre digesting microbes, keeping your horse’s hind gut healthy and your horse happy.




Macrominerals and Homeostasis?! Let’s take a closer look!


Macrominerals are minerals that are required in daily diets, in what is considered larger quantities, usually measured in grams per day. They are necessary for many different functions within the body relating to quite complex physiological functions, like muscle contraction and relaxation, blood formation and nutrient transport.

Macrominerals are often stored in large tissues in the body, for example, bones and muscles, or kept in a very tight concentration band, what is called homeostasis, in the blood.

Homeostasis is where the associated element, for example glucose or calcium in the blood, or active thyroid hormone, is at a controlled concentration that is optimal for the normal function of the animal. Homeostasis is where everything is nice and steady within the body, with everything working at it’s best levels.

When talking about nutrition, the focus is on 6 key macrominerals: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Sodium, Chlorine and Potassium.




Calcium: Functions and Homeostasis


Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. It is stored in bones and is a key component in the formation of bones. Calcium is essential for bone and teeth development, normal muscle and nerve function and is an important component in blood clotting, among many other functions.
Homeostasis (make sure to check out our last Nutrition Fact, talking about homeostasis) is extremely important when it comes to calcium in the body.

The calcium concentration in the blood is kept within a very tight physiological range of between 80 to 120mg per litre. Below that or above, a physiological response occurs within the body using hormones, particularly the parathyroid hormone, to increase or decrease the absorbance of calcium.

Unlike most other animals (including humans), horses readily absorb calcium into the body. Homeostasis however will regulate how much of the absorbed calcium is retained in the body. If there is already 120mg of calcium per litre of blood, then a lot of excess calcium will be excreted by urine. If it’s under 80mg per litre of blood, then all the absorbed calcium is going to be retained to keep this homeostasis.

When there isn’t enough calcium being absorbed to get the blood levels back into homeostasis, the body then starts drawing the calcium down from the bones (which usually have a very high store). However, if you don’t have enough calcium in the diet over a period of time, you can have some negative impacts on the bone density and structure of your horses, which can lead to problems.

Consequently, to maintain a balanced nutrition, please supplement to meet your horse’s needs. (… more about calcium, sources, ratios, etc … in the next nutrition facts…)




Calcium continued: Sources and Ratios


Remember Calcium being the most abundant mineral in body?! Make sure to check out our previous Nutrition Fact!

So, what are good calcium sources? It is well known that milk is quite high in calcium. Other sources include green leafy pastures, particularly legumes like lucerne or alfalfa. Beet pulp is another good source of calcium. Limestone is actually 40% calcium carbonate, so it too is a very good source of calcium.

On the other end of the of the spectrum, cereal grains (e.g. oats, corn, barley, wheat, etc), grain-by products, flaxseed meal, sunflower seed, bran and wheat bran are very low in calcium and include significantly more phosphorus than calcium.

To achieve a ‘balance’, healthy for your horse, the ratio between calcium and phosphorus needs to be considered and should not be less than 1.5 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, aiming more towards 2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus in some circumstances even 2.5 to 3 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus.

Important to remember is, when there is excessive phosphorus in the diet, calcium absorption is greatly reduced. For example, if you get to a ratio of 1 part calcium to 3 parts phosphorus, the calcium absorption will fall by as much as 50%, which can lead to major health issues, particularly relating to bones and muscles. This may occur in instances where your horse is on a high grain diet or grazing in an area where there is a very high level of oxalates within the pastures.

However including excessive amounts of calcium will not benefit your horse either, as a) it needs to excrete a lot of calcium via the urine, which is an energy expense and b) very high calcium intake levels will reduce the absorption of other minerals, particularly phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and zinc.

Consequently, please check the mineral balances and ratios, to ensure your horse’s intake levels are adequate and please, supplement to meet your horse’s needs.


The EqNC Premium Horse Licks & Bites are formulated with a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1.98 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, providing a great starting point to correct existing imbalances for your horse or pony!




Phosphorous


Now to one of our other very important macrominerals: Phosphorous. It is involved in a lot of physiological functions: it is important in bone development, necessary for the bone matrix formation which is like the skeletal structure of bones. Nucleic acids, which is the internal part of the cells, phospholipids and phosphoproteins which often protects the outer layer of the cells, require adequate phosphorous. It is also a very important component of all internal energy production. ATP stands for adenine triphosphate. Adenosine is a chemical, tri meaning three and, of course, phosphate. The result is this adenosine chemical with three phosphate molecules attached to it, which is the energy withing the cells. So, when horses eat anything and they produce energy, they are producing these ATP’s or adenosine triphosphates. If there is insufficient phosphorus in the diet, not enough ATP will be produced. Therefore, regardless of how much energy is in your feed, if there is not enough phosphorous, then the horse will not produce enough energy. When there is a deficiency in phosphorous similar bone disorders as a calcium deficiency may be seen, for example developmental orthopaedic diseases. Moreover, very low levels of phosphorus in the diet can result in poor fertility and growth. If horses can not produce sufficient energy in the form of ATP, they may lack in muscle and bone development, leading to poor growth. When considering supplementing phosphorous, please remember the importance of balance between calcium and phosphorous (check out our previous Nutrition Facts); as an example, green leafy pastures and legume hays provide a good source of calcium with smaller amount of cereal grains may provide the necessary phosphorus content in the diet. There are some native and tropical grasses that are very high in phosphorous – balancing these is the key to an overall healthy horse in these areas! Consequently, please check the mineral balances and ratios of your rations, to ensure your horse’s intake levels are adequate and please, supplement to meet your horse’s needs.




Did you know Fats are primarily digested in the small intestine?!


Fats are not digested in any way in the stomach, unlike other components of the feed. What happens in the stomach is that fats congregate or clump together due to the burning effect of the acids, creating fat clumps or globules, and it’s not until these fat globules make it into the small intestine that digestion starts.

There are 4 distinctive phases of fat digestion. Firstly, emulsification by bile salts , then hydrolysis which simply is addition of water to help break down the fat globule into digestible molecules, the formation of micelle balls which is small amounts of fats completely surrounded by bile salts and then, finally, the fat is absorbed across the intestinal wall into the body.

Fat is an energy source, that does not create an insulin response as it travels through the blood as fat instead of glucose – so adding a cup or two of oil to your ration can cause a reasonable increase in energy in a small, concentrated amount. Fat can also improve digestion because fats take a while to digest. When the body detects the presence of fats in the diet, it releases hormones which slows down the digestive tract, allowing more digestion to occur.

To optimise your horses feed, it is important to be aware of the omega 3 and omega 6 ratios, which will be a topic for another nutrition fact! In summary though, the ideal ratio is a slightly higher level of omega 3 in the oil than omega 6.

One word of caution – too much oil in the diet can make your horse sick, therefore please supplement according to your horse’s needs – and check back for more EqNC Nutrition Facts!




Fact about Fats – part 2 - Omega 3's vs Omega 6's


To elaborate on the importance of specific oil types in the diet of horses, there are 3 groups of fats that need to be considered: They are Omega 3’s, most commonly known as alfa linolenic acids or ALA, Omega 6’s which is primarily known as linoleic acis (LA), and Omega 9’s, with the most common one being Oleic acid. Omega 9 is necessary in the diet, but not in huge amounts and can be created in the body of the horse, so there is not much focus put on omega 9. However, there is certainly much focus placed on omega 3 and omega 6 oils. Both are considered as essential fatty acids, as the body cannot produce them (similar to essential amino acids), consequently these need to be added to the diet daily. Both omega 3 and omega 6 oils are needed to produce a very important hormone called prostaglandin. The difference though is that omega 3s produce a type of prostaglandin that results in a reduced internal inflammatory response. Omega 6 on the other side produces a type of prostaglandin that causes in increased internal inflammatory response. In other words, omega 3 and omega 6 are producing the opposite effects of each other. It is important to have a good balance between omega 3 and omega 6 oils, as omega 6 oils produce certain hormones and steroids essential for normal, healthy body function in the horse. Knowing, a balance is needed, it can certainly be beneficial to have higher levels of omega 3 than omega 6. However, like anything connected to a physiological perspective, more is not necessarily better.
And continually including more omega 3 oils to the diet, without supplying a source of omega 6 has shown to suppress the immune system of the animal – which leads us back to the importance of supplying a balanced level of omega 3 and omega 6. Unfortunately, it is still unsure exactly what the base optimal level ratios are, however current research is suggesting that around 2 or 3 parts omega 3 to 1 part omega 6 is considered an optimal level.




Did you know that fats have about 2.5 to 3 times more energy than carbohydrates?!


Comparing the energy density of fats and oils in some common feeds (based on a dry matter), oils and fats have about 3 times the amount of energy of oats, approx. 2.5 times the energy of corn and about 4 times the amount of energy of hay.

Looking at all the benefits of feeding oils, as stated above, it has a much higher energy density than other feeds. There is no insulin response as it travels through the blood as fat instead of glucose. It is quite readily digested in the mall intestine and can improve digestion of other feeds because of the whole physiological response to slow down the digestive system. Some research has also shown that you can reduce sweating by feeding a good level of oil.

Looking at these benefits, it is important to mention, that you should only include fats / oils in appropriate amounts for your horse, as too much oil / fats can have significant negative effects to your horse’s health.

Oils as discussed in the previous nutrition fact, can cause an inflammatory response (check your balance between your omega 3’s and 6’s). Oils, when included in too large quantities can also impact on the hind gut fermentation. When fed too much oil, there is a risk of coating the feed and microbes in the hind gut with this oil, impacting on the ability of the microbes to break down the feed, which can lead to major digestive issues.

Looking at inclusion rates, there are rations formulated with up to 20% oil inclusions, however, please remember the high energy of oils, when considering the right amount of oil for your horses. In most circumstances, an inclusion rate of 5% to 10% of the total diets is beneficial.





Macrominerals

Macrominerals and Homeostasis?! Let’s take a closer look!


Macrominerals are minerals that are required in daily diets, in what is considered larger quantities, usually measured in grams per day. They are necessary for many different functions within the body relating to quite complex physiological functions, like muscle contraction and relaxation, blood formation and nutrient transport.

Macrominerals are often stored in large tissues in the body, for example, bones and muscles, or kept in a very tight concentration band, what is called homeostasis, in the blood.

Homeostasis is where the associated element, for example glucose or calcium in the blood, or active thyroid hormone, is at a controlled concentration that is optimal for the normal function of the animal. Homeostasis is where everything is nice and steady within the body, with everything working at it’s best levels.

When talking about nutrition, the focus is on 6 key macrominerals: Calcium, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Sodium, Chlorine and Potassium.




Calcium: Functions and Homeostasis


Calcium is one of the most abundant minerals in the body. It is stored in bones and is a key component in the formation of bones. Calcium is essential for bone and teeth development, normal muscle and nerve function and is an important component in blood clotting, among many other functions.
Homeostasis (make sure to check out our last Nutrition Fact, talking about homeostasis) is extremely important when it comes to calcium in the body.

The calcium concentration in the blood is kept within a very tight physiological range of between 80 to 120mg per litre. Below that or above, a physiological response occurs within the body using hormones, particularly the parathyroid hormone, to increase or decrease the absorbance of calcium.

Unlike most other animals (including humans), horses readily absorb calcium into the body. Homeostasis however will regulate how much of the absorbed calcium is retained in the body. If there is already 120mg of calcium per litre of blood, then a lot of excess calcium will be excreted by urine. If it’s under 80mg per litre of blood, then all the absorbed calcium is going to be retained to keep this homeostasis.

When there isn’t enough calcium being absorbed to get the blood levels back into homeostasis, the body then starts drawing the calcium down from the bones (which usually have a very high store). However, if you don’t have enough calcium in the diet over a period of time, you can have some negative impacts on the bone density and structure of your horses, which can lead to problems.

Consequently, to maintain a balanced nutrition, please supplement to meet your horse’s needs. (… more about calcium, sources, ratios, etc … in the next nutrition facts…)




Calcium continued: Sources and Ratios


Remember Calcium being the most abundant mineral in body?! Make sure to check out our previous Nutrition Fact!

So, what are good calcium sources? It is well known that milk is quite high in calcium. Other sources include green leafy pastures, particularly legumes like lucerne or alfalfa. Beet pulp is another good source of calcium. Limestone is actually 40% calcium carbonate, so it too is a very good source of calcium.

On the other end of the of the spectrum, cereal grains (e.g. oats, corn, barley, wheat, etc), grain-by products, flaxseed meal, sunflower seed, bran and wheat bran are very low in calcium and include significantly more phosphorus than calcium.

To achieve a ‘balance’, healthy for your horse, the ratio between calcium and phosphorus needs to be considered and should not be less than 1.5 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, aiming more towards 2 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus in some circumstances even 2.5 to 3 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus.

Important to remember is, when there is excessive phosphorus in the diet, calcium absorption is greatly reduced. For example, if you get to a ratio of 1 part calcium to 3 parts phosphorus, the calcium absorption will fall by as much as 50%, which can lead to major health issues, particularly relating to bones and muscles. This may occur in instances where your horse is on a high grain diet or grazing in an area where there is a very high level of oxalates within the pastures.

However including excessive amounts of calcium will not benefit your horse either, as a) it needs to excrete a lot of calcium via the urine, which is an energy expense and b) very high calcium intake levels will reduce the absorption of other minerals, particularly phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and zinc.

Consequently, please check the mineral balances and ratios, to ensure your horse’s intake levels are adequate and please, supplement to meet your horse’s needs.


The EqNC Premium Horse Licks & Bites are formulated with a calcium to phosphorus ratio of 1.98 parts calcium to 1 part phosphorus, providing a great starting point to correct existing imbalances for your horse or pony!




Phosphorous


Now to one of our other very important macrominerals: Phosphorous. It is involved in a lot of physiological functions: it is important in bone development, necessary for the bone matrix formation which is like the skeletal structure of bones. Nucleic acids, which is the internal part of the cells, phospholipids and phosphoproteins which often protects the outer layer of the cells, require adequate phosphorous. It is also a very important component of all internal energy production. ATP stands for adenine triphosphate. Adenosine is a chemical, tri meaning three and, of course, phosphate. The result is this adenosine chemical with three phosphate molecules attached to it, which is the energy withing the cells. So, when horses eat anything and they produce energy, they are producing these ATP’s or adenosine triphosphates. If there is insufficient phosphorus in the diet, not enough ATP will be produced. Therefore, regardless of how much energy is in your feed, if there is not enough phosphorous, then the horse will not produce enough energy. When there is a deficiency in phosphorous similar bone disorders as a calcium deficiency may be seen, for example developmental orthopaedic diseases. Moreover, very low levels of phosphorus in the diet can result in poor fertility and growth. If horses can not produce sufficient energy in the form of ATP, they may lack in muscle and bone development, leading to poor growth. When considering supplementing phosphorous, please remember the importance of balance between calcium and phosphorous (check out our previous Nutrition Facts); as an example, green leafy pastures and legume hays provide a good source of calcium with smaller amount of cereal grains may provide the necessary phosphorus content in the diet. There are some native and tropical grasses that are very high in phosphorous – balancing these is the key to an overall healthy horse in these areas! Consequently, please check the mineral balances and ratios of your rations, to ensure your horse’s intake levels are adequate and please, supplement to meet your horse’s needs.





RECEIVE EqNC PRODUCT NEWS & UPDATES

FOLLOW US

  • YouTube
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

©2020 by Equine Nutrient Components

  • YouTube
  • Black Instagram Icon