Lysine is an essential amino acid often short in forage. Why do you need to know about this?
Lysine is the essential amino acid most often deficient in the diets of horses. Recent research has confirmed that diets containing at least 4.3% of their crude protein as lysine support the same gains/growth at lower levels of crude protein because of more efficient utilisation of the other amino acids in the body.
This essential amino acid is often the key to improving protein availability, especially in grass hay-based diets. Making the proteins that are in the feed available to the horse is one of the most important keys to efficient growth, blood building, tissue repair, and muscle development. By concentrating on improving protein quality and availability, owners can avoid the problems and expense of high levels of crude protein. Supplemental lysine is the best approach to achieving this goal.
The protein in the feed cannot be absorbed in its complete form; it must be broken down into smaller units called amino acids and peptides (small complexes of amino acids). After the amino acids and peptides are absorbed, they are recombined in the horse’s body to make the thousands of proteins that make a horse. This is why amino acids are often called the “building blocks” of protein. Although there are twenty-two basic amino acids, only eight of them are considered to be essential. By “essential”, we mean that the body cannot make them; they must be supplied in the diet. The body can make the fourteen non-essential amino acids if it has adequate supplies of the essential eight. Therefore, if even one of the essential amino acids is deficient in the diet, the production of new proteins is cut short as well.
Lysine is found in a wide variety of tissues, hormones, and cells throughout the body. Myosin and other muscle proteins contain large amounts of lysine. Proteins that require lysine include the collagens and elastins that make up bone matrix, tendons, skin, and articular cartilage. Keratin protein in hoof and hair also requires lysine. Inadequate intake of protein or required amino acids by horses may lead to reduced feed intake, body tissue loss, poor coat, and hoof growth and decreased growth and development of young animals. Using L-Lysine at times of stress is key to calcium absorption, boosting the immune system and supporting the body’s production of hormones, enzymes and antibodies. Supplementing the immune system with L lysine can be very beneficial to optimal health and performance.
- Improve protein availability
- Balance a lysine deficiency in forage/diet
- To build topline/muscle mass, aid collagen formation and tissue repair
- For horses lacking stamina
- Improve hoof growth and hair quality
- Boost the immune system, support a healthy nervous system and promote overall health
Our top tip is to make sure that the concentrate feed or equine balancer you feed you horse contains optimum levels of lysine as matched to the common deficiencies which we have identified through our nutritional analysis of many samples of forage, this is usually a minimum of 10 grams of lysine per day in addition to that obtained from the forage eaten.
If your horse is presenting with cracked hooves and or white line issues and perhaps skin problems then including extra methionine in the diet at around 5 -9 grams per day can also be helpful as methionine is often short in forage and is vital in the formation of healthy keratin.
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