Understanding a Guaranteed Analysis
Abby Remillard, Lifestyle Feed Specialist, Equine Nutrition
      Have you ever looked into a new brand of feed and wonder if it is meeting all the nutrient requirements for your horse? Have you ever looked at a guaranteed analysis and wondered what it all means? Even though they can be confusing, they are the most important part of buying a new feed for your animal because it tells you the nutrient quantities your horse will be consuming. When you break down what it all means, it starts to make sense. You can then be assured that you are feeding your animal a balanced diet which in turn gives you a happy four-legged friend! Here is an example of a guaranteed analysis from an adult horse feed:

The Basics:
Your first column is your vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
The second column is saying if the that is the minimum or maximum amount of that nutrient per ration.
The final column is the amount of the nutrient in this ration.
                PPM stands for parts per million
                IU/LB stands for international unit and is based on the effectiveness of the vitamin.

The Nutrients:

Crude Protein: Measures the amount of nitrogen present in the feed to estimate the amount of protein. The protein is mainly in the cell content and this protein is digested by the horse’s enzymes. Horses can digest 80%+ of the cell content protein. Protein is used for muscle growth, muscle maintenance, and nitrogen loss in sweat for high performance horses.

Lysine: Lysine is an amino acid that is the most common deficient amino acid in a horse’s diet. It is important for improving protein availability so the horse can use the protein for efficient growth, blood building, tissue repair, and muscle development.

Crude Fat: A feed that has a high level of fat, contains a higher level of energy. Fat provides 2.5 times more energy as carbohydrates or protein. High fat diets are beneficial for horses with a high-performance lifestyle but not needed for an easy keeper. Fat is also needed to help with a shiny and healthy coat.

Crude Fiber: This shows the minimum fiber content of the feed. Fiber is used as fuel to give the horse energy for everyday maintenance, metabolism, day to day activity, and digestive system functions. It is the most important factor in a horse’s diet.

Calcium (MIN/MAX): Horses need a 2:1 ratio of calcium to phosphorus to support a healthy bone structure. This is because their bones have a 2:1 ratio of calcium and phosphorus that needs to stay balanced. If the horse starts to get deficient in calcium, it can be taken out of the bones to supplement the rest of the body. Calcium is also used for teeth, nerve and muscle function.

Phosphorus: Phosphorus provides structural support to the skeleton, plays an important role in cell membranes and in reactions requiring cellular energy. It also helps with the pH and electrolyte balance in body fluids while being the backbone of DNA.

Copper: This is used in the maintenance and creation of elastic structures like connective tissues. It also moves iron to areas where they are needed and creates melanin and assists in creating red blood cells.

Zinc: Zinc is part of the enzymes that are responsible for insulin production, blood clotting, wound healing, etc.

Vitamin A: Vitamin A is vital for the function of osteoclasts, which are responsible for resorption and remodeling of bone. It also aids in tendon and ligament strength.

Vitamin D3: This is a hormone that can be absorbed through the skin by the sun. If there is a lack of Vit D, calcium and phosphorus won’t be absorbed in sufficient levels which can lead to bone deformation and skeletal issues.

Vitamin E: Vitamin E keeps horse’s muscles, nerves and his internal system working properly.

Methionine: Methionine is an essential amino acid. It can be converted to cystine in the body which is important because it supports healthy collagens to give the horse strong hooves, skin, hair, ligaments, cartilage, and tendons.

Threonine: Threonine is an essential amino acid that aids in gastrointestinal health. It helps with a smoothly functioning GI tract, assists metabolism and nutrient absorption, heals wounds and treats stress.

Selenium: Its most vital role is an antioxidant. Oxidation is the process where carbohydrates and proteins are converted to carbon dioxide, water and energy.

Starch: Starches are found in the cell wall so they are considered nonstructural carbohydrates. During digestion, starch is broken own into sugar molecules that are then absorbed. Because of this, some horses need a low starch diet because a high level of glucose absorbed into the blood stream can make a horse excited or have heightened awareness.

Sugar: Sugar is a non-structural carbohydrate. Glucose enables the horse to function correctly and is the only fuel that is sent to the brain.

Neutral Detergent Fiber (NDF): NDF is a measure of plant cell wall or fiber that are considered structural carbohydrates and is a low-calorie filler.

Acid Detergent Fiber (ADF): ADF is the protein that is incorporated into the cell and is unavailable to the horse due to being undigestible.

If you have any questions, or would like a free on-farm consultation, please contact our Lifestyle Feed Specialist, Abby Remillard, at 920-905-0829 or aremillard@cvcoop.com