Forages: Mostly dry with low levels of protein (2%);
Concentrates: High levels of protein (15%) and starch but low digestibility. Absence of technological processing.
Forages: Mostly hay and haylage with higher levels of protein (6 to 11%)
Concentrates: Lower levels of Protein (11%) and (a wider range of starch content in concentrate feed), with high digestibility. High technological processing.
How to feed a Lusitano differs from other breeds
Another important aspect relates to the natural tendency of the ancient Iberian breed for peripheral insulin resistance which can be responsible for serious pathologies like Laminitis. If we keep in mind their past natural selection, Lusitanos had to adapt to low energy feed regimes and long walking distances in search for food. With the concentrates now available for horses, with high digestibility of their starch content, we must be very cautious while (extrapolating) adapting feeding regimes from other autochthonous breeds to the Lusitano Horse.
But new research has brought us lots of solutions for this and nowadays the high level of knowledge on the Lusitano’s nutrition together with the rise of new feeding options, has made the task of giving our Lusitanos a healthy feeding regime much easier!
The increased use of vegetable oils as an alternative to starch as an energy source; beet pulp which is an excellent source of digestible fibre with an energy content somewhere between that of hay and grain, are just a few examples of this.
Modern feeding regimes include high levels of fibre with a balanced protein/ energy ratio intake based on higher levels of vegetable oils and lower starch content.
As a take home message, if you have a Lusitano horse please remember to talk to your Vet or Nutritionist about these issues while establishing the most appropriate feed regime for your horse.
Examples of feeding tables
The tables below are kindly provided by João’s colleague Maria João Baldaia, DVM, equine veterinarian and nutritionist, you find her website here, and are purely meant to function as an example of a feeding program for a Lusitano of 500 kilos that are in moderate work (one hour per day). The data is based on recommendations from the National Research Centre in Kentucky (NRC).
Based on the table A Maria has created this feeding guide for Lusitano of 500 kilos with moderate work. Please note this is purely a guide, a feeding program for your horse is best advised by your veterinarian or nutritionist.
The new technological processing of grain brought a huge increase in the bio availability of nutritional components and because these changes are recent to us, they demand a good knowledge in order for us to take the most advantage for our horses in a safe feeding scenario.
PART TWO – HOW TO FEED YOUR LUSITANO