Calcium is the most abundant mineral present in the equine body with 99% found in bones and teeth, with bone composition being 35% calcium. A horse’s skeleton acts as both a structural support for the body and a readily available source of stored calcium for any times the intake of calcium does not meet requirements. Calcium also plays an important role in muscle contraction, so a balanced diet supplying calcium is essential for competition horses.
Calcium is regulated with another important mineral, phosphorus and the sunshine vitamin D to achieve a fine balance in the bones, where relatively large amounts of these minerals are required : 20g per day of calcium and 14g per day of phosphorus, with even higher intakes needed for growing horses and foals and during pregnancy, lactation, and heavy exercise.
Common feeds, such as alfalfa, grass and sugarbeet pulp provide high levels of calcium, though careful supplementation may be required when feeding high cereal diets as they contain relatively small amounts of calcium. A daily dose of Equinectar provides 10% of the daily requirement for phosphorus, balancing the high of calcium in feeds with a small contribution of daily calcium requirements.
by Victoria Philips, Animal Nutritionist, BSc MSc
About the author:
Victoria has worked in the animal feed industry for over 20 years. Her qualifications and experience in all aspects of feed production make her a leading advisor in nutrition, feed safety and mill production to feed businesses and farmers.
- BSc (Hons) Agricultural Biochemistry & Nutrition University of Newcastle Upon Tyne (1994)
- MSc Animal Production University of Aberdeen (1995)
- Advanced Certificate in Food Safety
- Advanced Certificate in Applied HACCP Principles
- Lead Auditor for ISO 9000:2000 (2003) and ISO 22000:2005 (2007)
- Report Writing (Intermediate) - The Expert Witness Institute