Equine Gut Health

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Emerging research gives growing support to the importance of a healthy gut.  It’s implicated in everything from effective digestion to good mental health and a strong immune system.  Stressful equine lifestyles, processed feeds often high in grains or sugars and antibiotics all mess with the balance of bacteria in the body.  Supplying feeds sources high in good microbes help to right the gut balance.

Gastro-Intestinal (GI) dysfunction is known to cause many diseases common in horses.  High risk situations for GI disturbance come with the administration of certain antibiotics, various drugs and wormers.

Loose droppings represent a sign of disturbance to the environment within the large intestine and the balance between the many microbial species present. This is likely to cause a decrease in the efficiency with which feeds are digested and may lead to a loss of condition and interfere with the metabolism and absorption of vitamins and minerals.

Read the full article: Gut Health The Nude Horse

Colic Prevention Tips

Colic is the most prevalent cause of death in horses, followed by old age, accidents and laminitis. (Adeyefa , 1990).

Horses are unique in their digestive processes to other species and understanding their needs may help owners adjust feeding practices to help prevent colic.

Research study results have found several associations between concentrate (grain, processed grain based feeds and premixed/pelleted feeds) and colic risk.  Another study discovered the risk of colic increased 6-fold for horses at the highest concentrate intake levels over the horses on pasture who received no concentrate.

A trial of 140 horses demonstrated that sharp enamel points and dental caries significantly predisposed horses to colic.

Parasites such as strongylus vulgaris have been reported to cause a large proportion of colic cases. Other studies have implicated small strongyles, tapeworms and ascarids.

Feed a good quality forage with long fibers (Beetpulp, lupins & copra) to increase the bulk of ingesta in the colon.

Read the full article: Colic The Nude Horse

Aloe Very verse Marshmallow Root 

Aloe Vera and Marshmallow Root are both demulcent, as they contain saccharide polymers.  The major effect of saccharide polyments is mucilant. Mucilage can soothe and protect irritated or inflamed internal tissue.  When they are used on the skin they are called emollients.  Demulcents are used whenever a membrane is raw, hot, irritated, inflamed or over excited. They are cooling, soothing, healing and relaxing.  In this way both Aloe and Marshmallow serve as a biochemical “bandage” and are protectively helpful in restraining aggravating irritants from reaching the sensitive stomach ulcer. ...Excessive consumption of aloe vera can lower potassium levels leading to irregular heartbeats and weakness [4]. ....Aloe contains a laxative anthraquinone, when taken in large amounts can result in diarrhea...Read the full articlle: Aloe Vera vers Marshmallow Root

Pectin Lecithin for Gut Ulcers?

Trending in gut health for horses is Pectin Lecithin.  Is there evidence that feeding lecithin to horses cures, heals or assists in gastric ulcers? .....

failed to prevent lesions in the gastric squamous mucosa induced by intermittent feed deprivation.

There were no significant differences in the ulcer scores between mares that received the treatment and mares that didn’t. Based on these findings, we conclude that, under the conditions of the study reported here, administration of the feed supplement was ineffective at preventing squamous gastric ulceration. This is consistent with the findings reported by others (Murray and Grady 2002).

Read the full article: Lecithin and use for gastric ulcers in horses

Base Feeds

The truth about carbohydrates

Most grains are high in the polysaccharide carbohydrates of sugar and starch (NSC).  This type is connected with metabolic disorders.

Feeds such as beet-pulp, lupin and copra by com-parison are high in the fibre type polysaccharide carbohydrates.

Issues with feeding grains

During the digestive process, both sugars and starches are turned into the sugars.  Horses have a limited capacity to digest substantial amounts of sugar and starch in the stomach and small intestine.  The excess supply of sugar and starch travels through the small intestines and on into the hindgut where the trouble begins.  An increase of sugar fermentation creates lactic acid.  Lactic acid lowers the pH causing an acidic environment, this in turn kills off the good microbes.  The dead microbes give off endotoxins that now enter the blood stream, this chain reaction often culminates in poor gut health, ill thrift (or obesity) and potentially laminitis.

Read the full article: Base Feeds

Keep It Simple Diet

Toxin Binders: Horses exposed to mycotoxins in their feeds (mouldy hay) can benefit from varied forms of toxin binders.  A variety of options include: diatamaceous earth,  zeolite, cellulose, polysaccharides, mannon oglisaccharides, bentonite clay and alumina-silicates.

Toxin Binders are useful as a preventative feed supplement, not a treatment once toxins have been ingested.  Avoiding premixes/pellets may reduce the exposure to potential moulds hidden after processing.

Pro and prebiotics: Dr David Marlin a Scientific and Equine Consultant recommends “It is worth considering feeding a gut balancer type of product to horses under stress, horses prone to colic or laminitis, horses that develop GI upset on medications such as antibiotics, to horses around the time of worming, when changes to diet are made, for poor doers, older horses that lose condition and horses that develop loose droppings”.

Read the full article: Keep It Simple Equine Diet