Amino acid requirements in horses

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By Rachel

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Horses need a specific balance of amino acids to stay healthy, according to The Horse. These animals require ten essential amino acids that they can’t produce on their own, so they must get them from their diet. Additionally, horses need non-essential amino acids. When choosing protein sources for your horse, consider the quality and quantity of the protein. Don’t skimp on the good stuff!

Amino Acid Requirements in Horses

When it comes to horse health and nutrition, amino acids are a crucial component. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, which is essential for muscle growth and repair, as well as overall body function. Horses require a specific balance of amino acids in their diet to maintain optimal health.

Essential Amino Acids

Horses require 10 essential amino acids, which means they cannot produce them on their own and must obtain them through their diet. These essential amino acids include:

  • Lysine
  • Methionine
  • Threonine
  • Leucine
  • Isoleucine
  • Valine
  • Phenylalanine
  • Tryptophan
  • Histidine
  • Arginine

It’s important to note that arginine is not always considered an essential amino acid in horses, as they are able to produce it in small amounts. However, it is still an important component of their diet.

Non-Essential Amino Acids

In addition to the essential amino acids, horses also require non-essential amino acids. These are amino acids that the horse can produce on their own, so they do not need to be obtained through their diet. However, it’s still important to ensure that the horse’s diet contains a balance of both essential and non-essential amino acids to support overall health.

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Protein Quality

Not all proteins are created equal. The quality of a protein source is determined by its amino acid composition and digestibility. High-quality proteins contain all of the essential amino acids in the proper ratios and are easily digested by the horse.

When selecting protein sources for your horse’s diet, it’s important to consider both the quality and quantity of the protein. Horses in heavy work or growth stages may require higher levels of protein to support their needs.

Feeding Amino Acids

There are several ways to ensure that your horse is getting the proper balance of amino acids in their diet. One option is to feed a high-quality protein source, such as alfalfa hay or soybean meal. You can also supplement your horse’s diet with specific amino acids, such as lysine or methionine.

It’s important to work with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to determine the appropriate amino acid balance for your horse’s individual needs. Over-supplementing with amino acids can be harmful and may lead to imbalances or toxicity.


Amino acids are a crucial component of horse health and nutrition. Ensuring that your horse’s diet contains the proper balance of essential and non-essential amino acids is essential for maintaining optimal health and performance. By selecting high-quality protein sources and working with a professional to determine the appropriate amino acid balance, you can help support your horse’s overall well-being.

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