A-Z of Nutrition Terms

Ad Lib

Supplying a constant access to feed, e.g. hay made available at all times

Amino Acids

Amino acids are critical to life, and have a variety of roles in metabolism. One particularly important function is that they are the building blocks of proteins, required for growth, repair and maintenance of body tissue.


Anti-oxidants fight free radicals in the body and play a vital part in protecting all cell membranes. They are found naturally in grass and fresh foods, as well as in concentrate feeds and supplements.

As fed

Fresh weight of the feed including water


A balance of forage and concentrates supplying the correct proportions of all required nutrients to make up the horses diet.


Simple carbohydrates (sugars) are derived from ingredients such as molasses and grass. Complex carbohydrates (cellulose and starch) are derived from fibre sources and cereals


The edible grains of varieties of plants, such as barley, oats, maize and wheat.


A feed designed to be fed alongside forage to provide your horse with a balanced diet.

Compound feed

Manufactured rations, usually available in either cube or mix form containing all the daily required nutrients including energy sources, fibre, proteins, vitamins and minerals to meet with the specific requirements of the horse or pony. Also referred to as concentrates or hard feed.


To improve and maintain body condition for horses prone to weight loss.

Concentrate feed

See compound feed.


The extent to which feed is converted into useful substances for absorption and use within the body.

Digestible Energy (DE)

The quantity of energy in the diet measured in mega joules (MJ) that is utilized by the horse.

Dry matter

(Also known as dry weight) is the measurement of feed after the removal of water.

Energy Dense

A concentrated source of energy in a small amount of feed.

Essential fatty acids (EFA’s)

Fatty acids needed for bodily functions, including tissue repair that must be obtained from the diet.


Essential dietary component that are broken down by micro-organisms in the hindgut.


Bulk food such as hay, haylage and hay replacers – provides energy and promotes efficient digestion. Forages, also known as “roughage”, are plant materials classified as legumes or grasses, found in pastures or in hay

Fully Balanced

Supplies the correct level of nutrients to meet with a specific requirement of a horse or pony.

Hard Feed

See compound feeds.


Usually applied to the effect of a feed on the horse – refers to the horse being hot-headed

High Energy feeds

Applies to feeds that have a DE value greater than 13 MJ/Kg

High fibre

Refers to concentrate feeds that have a fibre level greater than 15%

Low Energy feeds

Applies to feeds that have a low DE value less than 10 MJ/Kg

Low fibre

Refers to concentrate feeds that contain a low amount of fibre, usually high energy feeds with reduced bulk


Chemical reactions that occur in living organisms to maintain life allowing maintenance, growth and reproduction. Usually associated with food and nutrients.


A method of cooking cereals and proteins to increase the digestibility of starch.


Nutrients required in very small quantities.


Macro minerals or major minerals are included in feed in relatively large amounts, while minor minerals or trace minerals are added in small amounts.


Toxic compounds produced sporadically from moulds on feed


Usually applied to the effect of a feed on the horse – refers to the horse not being hot-headed

Nutrient Dense

A concentrated source of nutrients in a small amount of feed


Essential compounds such as protein, oil, fibre, starch, vitamins and minerals.


Non-digestible feed ingredients that stimulate the growth or activity or digestive system bacteria that are beneficial to the health of the body. Most but not all prebiotics are carbohydrates.


Live micro organisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit to the horse

Prohibited substance

A substance (drugs, certain feed sources and some herbs) which can enhance a horse’s performance. Governed by The Jockey Club and the FEI, which have a pre-defined list.

Quality protein

Quality protein provides the vital components of all body tissues, including muscle, so is important for the promotion of muscle tone and top line usually with well balanced, digestible amino acids.


The term used when a horse drops partially chewed food from its mouth.


Complex carbohydrate which is digested to become glucose. Found in cereals.


The term given to cereals, cereal by-products, proteins, vitamins and minerals when they are fed individually


Nutrients and additives given as regular additions to the horse’s diet. Broad-spectrum supplements include a wide range of micronutrients, while specific supplements are designed for a particular purpose or function.

Trace elements

Minerals essential to the horse’s diet – the following trace elements need to be included in the diet in small amounts: copper, zinc, iodine, iron, manganese and selenium.


The body’s ability to use nutrients efficiently and to good effect.


Organic substances essential for healthy bodily function