Energy Vs Protein

Where does the “FIZZ” come from? Energy vs Protein

Energy and Protein are two very important nutrients for both basic body functions and for performance, be it sporting or breeding performance.  It is often protein that gets most or all of the attention and more than often much confusion arises in this regard. Energy is often neglected or misunderstood. So, what is energy and what is protein and why are they necessary nutrients for your equine athlete?


What is Energy?

Energy is a measure of the foods potential to fuel body functions and exercise (pagan). Feeds vary in the amount of energy they provide relative to their weight and volume. Although the feed may contain the required amount of energy to meet the horse’s requirements, it still needs to be broken down by the body and absorbed from the digestive tract. Here a highly digestible horse feed, like all of the Spurwing range, is needed to make this process as efficient as possible. Daily energy needs are determined by an individual horse’s temperament, type of exercise, weight of rider, terrain and metabolic efficiency of each individual horse. 


Too much Energy?

An excess of energy will result in an over-energetic horse as well as obesity. 

“My horse is hot, “fizzy”, there is too much protein in the diet” INCORRECT!! If this is the case, your horse is getting too much energy in its diet and one needs to look at the amount of food it is consuming and whether or not the workload matches the energy intake or to move to a ration with less energy.


Too Little Energy??

A lack of energy in the diet will result in lowered activity, loss of body weight and vitality. 


What is protein?  

Protein is the second most abundant substance (after water) in the horse’s body. One third is found in muscle and the rest is found in bones, skin, cartilage, blood and other body substances. Protein transports nutrients in and out of cells and is responsible for cell growth, maintenance and regeneration. It is also needed for hormone and enzyme formation. Protein is important to the immune system as it is used to make white blood cells and antibodies. All protein is made up of building blocks called amino acids. All proteins are not the same even though they are manufactured from the same 22 Amino Acids, they have different functions and work in different areas in the body. 12 of the 22 amino acids are considered “non-essential”, i.e.: they can be manufactured by the horse. The remaining 10 need to be provided by diet and by choosing a well-balanced diet like Spurwing, you are guaranteed that all amino acids and protein levels are correct.


Too much Protein?  

Excess protein not required by the horse is broken down into amino acids by the hindgut and excreted. As protein is expensive, the biggest downfall to excess unnecessary protein is that it is excreted and not utilised, thereby it is wasteful and costly.


Too little Protein? 

A deficiency in protein is far more dangerous than an excess in protein as this can result in slow growth rates in young horses as well as stunted growth, weight loss, compromised immune system, reduced performance, lack of muscle development and stamina and also low milk production in lactating mares.  Protein deficiencies are very unlikely though especially if energy requirements are being met.


Elaine Carter-Brown Msc Agric (Equine Nutrition)

Spurwing Horsefeeds Nutritionist