A Guide to Equine Feeding and Maintenance


The functioning of a horse’s stomach and bowels impact the whole horse

Healthy bowels enable nutrients to be absorbed efficiently and a horse to retain its stamina. The digestion of the feed occurs in the small intestine and the large intestine. Each horse is an individual and there are differences in each digestive system and small and large intestine.

The central part in the digestive process is the small intestine, where most of the nutrients are absorbed. The remaining nutrients are then absorbed in the large intestine. Stress can slow down the digestion process, which in turn can cause constipation. The feed should contain a sufficient amount of fiber so that is passes smoothly through the intestine.

The digestion of the feed in the large intestine is carried out by bacteria that also receive their nutrition from the feed. The bacteria break down fibres, starches and proteins that provide fatty acids as a by-product. These acids provide a horse 30 percent of their entire energy needs.

stomachThe bacteria of a horse provide a majority of vitamin B, as well as vitamin C and vitamin K in the large intestine, when the intestine is healthy and the feed is appropriate.

Read more about how the bowels function

The amount of bacteria in the large intestine depends on the mix of the feed and how nutritious it is. Any dietary changes should always be done gradually in steps so that the functioning of the intestine does not suffer. The bacteria in the intestine are hampered by acidity that can be caused by excessive starch. For instance, Barley and corn contain more starch than oats. This can cause symptoms such as bloatedness, diarrhea and lower levels of activeness.

Besides bacterial and dietary issues, a horse can suffer from poorly performing bowels due to the actions of humans. A horse must not have trained with a stomach that is too full or empty.

Find Hoof’s complimentary feed for the stomach and digestive system here

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