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Tread Lightly Around Wheat Bran

Wheat bran is the kind of supplement that is well known to horse owners who seek to help their horses move their bowels during periods of inactivity.

Often added to a dietary regimen, it does need to be applied with care, since overfeeding wheat bran may result in metabolic problems, such as digestive irritation brought on by an imbalance of phosphorus and calcium, and also orthopedic problems. As a matter of fact, the daily feeding of wheat bran is highly discouraged, since wheat bran is known to contain significant amounts of phosphorus, yet your horse will need a higher concentration of calcium and the influx of phosphorus will provide a serious upset to its system.

There is actually a name for the condition associated with this imbalance: nutritional secondary hyperparathyroidism (NSHPT), colloquially known as Big Head Disease. While this may be an odd name, it does root in the truth that horses suffering from this imbalance are characterized by enlarged bones of the facial region as well as an overall lack of strength in the skeletal system. Researchers believe that bone fractures experienced due to exercise half of the time point at a serious lack of calcium and an overage of phosphorus.

A somewhat more insidious aspect of wheat bran is the fact that it contains a chemical known as phytic acid, which has the ability to bind itself to the vital minerals your horse ingests in the course of its day. These bound chemicals are not properly metabolized by the horse, and thus in addition to a calcium and phosphorus imbalance, your horse may also be exposed to a mineral deficiency, especially when it comes to zing, manganese and also copper. This, in turn, causes the animalís metabolism to partially fail in the digestion of proteins and also energy, furthering problems with muscle tissues and also the hooves. Additionally, the animal will be seriously lacking in energy. For those horse owners who do wish to continue feeding a daily amount of wheat bran, the answer will lie in proper supplementation of minerals and also calcium.

Wheat bran is often also touted to be a healthy mash. Unfortunately, proponents of this practice do not consider fully the implications on the microorganisms that inhabit a horseís gut and further fermentation. The wheat bran can actually upset these organisms and cause serious problems to the animalís digestion. While the wheat bran works as a laxative, it also serves to seriously upset the animalís gut, wreaking more havoc than doing good. Some horse owners use the mash weekly, thus consistently inhibiting the establishment of a healthy bacteria count in the animalís gut, which in turn disables the horse to such an extent that full digestion of the feed is not possible. While it is true that a mash will add vitamin B, zinc, selenium and also additional water to your horseís diet, the adverse effects are hardly worth the risk, and alternate supplementation is highly suggested. For those still not convinced, consider that a laxative based on psyllium is not only safer, but has also been shown to remove sand from your horseís gut Ė something that wheat bran cannot do.

Read the next horse nutrition article on Yeast Culture Added for Increase Performance.
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