Power Down The Protein: What A Horse Eats Impacts His Air Quality

Though changing what a horse eats may seem an odd thing to adjust for air quality, research has shown that reducing the amount of protein in a horse’s diet can protect his respiratory health. Protein is broken down into nitrogen in the horse’s small intestine and then excreted as urea, which becomes ammonia in a horse’s stall.

Ammonia can irritate nose and lung tissue, causing excess mucus production and respiratory issues like heaves. Drs. Jessie Weir-Chouinard, Hong Li, Lori Warren and Erica Macon created a study to decide how much protein impacted ammonia levels. Researchers fed nine horses forage-based diets with three different levels of protein, the highest being 12 percent.

The study horses wore harnesses that collected their urine, which was then combined with wood shavings or straw and tested for ammonia levels. Study results showed that the higher protein diets led to significant increases in nitrogen levels in urine. Straw bedding had higher levels of ammonia emissions than shavings no matter the diet. Shavings absorbed more of the urine and ammonia than the straw did.

The scientists concluded that lowering the protein in a horse’s diet can decrease  the amount of ammonia in his stall. This, coupled with cleaning stalls regularly and thoroughly, can combat ammonia and help keep horses’ airways safe. Proper ventilation, a much-discussed topic for horses in racing barns, is another key to improving air quality when ammonia is in the environment.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

The post Power Down The Protein: What A Horse Eats Impacts His Air Quality appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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