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Add A Little Yeast

Horses are the kinds of animals that have a digestive system which enables them to steadily forage and ingest vast amounts of food.
The animals are equipped with a foregut – which denotes the stomach as well as the small intestine – where protein, vitamins, minerals and also fats are digested from the feed and then absorbed into the body. The hindgut – consisting of the cecum and large intestine – is responsible for the digestion of fiber. Horse owners have been trained to think of the cecum as the actual portion of the body where the fermentation of plant fiber takes place. Microorganisms make it possible for the animal to extract fatty acids from the fiber which are then turned into energy. This is also the location in the animal’s body where protein,
phosphorus and starch are digested. Interestingly, an interference with the hindgut will also lead to an inability to properly synthesize vitamin B. 

Horse sitting in chair readingIn nature, horses will graze and the digestive system will do its job uninterruptedly. Yet as the horse is becoming accustomed to exercise, work, and other highly demanding activities, the feed it receives is also altered to include high amounts of grain to provide for the increased energy need. Unfortunately, the increase in grain feedings has also led to an increase in digestive problems. Consider for example that a meal that consists mostly of grain will make its way through the foregut rather quickly and then move into the hindgut. The high starch content will cause fermentation to produce large amounts of lactic acid which may eradicate the very microorganisms charged with fermentation. The result is laminitis or possibly colic. Many horse owners seek to counteract this from happening by including yeast cultures into the supplementation they provide to the dietary regimen.

These yeast cultures supercharge the microorganisms in the hindgut which are charged with breaking down the fiber, thus reducing the buildup of acid and balancing the chemical compounds found within the animal’s gut. This, in turn, will permit the hindgut to adequately digest the feed and absorb the nutrients into the body. For a foal this is a most important occurrence since the formation of strong bones and muscle tissues rests on the metabolism’s ability to properly use all of the nutrients present in the feed. In addition to the foregoing, it provides the much needed chemical balance between phosphorus and calcium within the animal’s system. As you can see, yeast cultures are a most valuable tool for keeping the hindgut functioning at optimum capacity, even when the dietary intake is not as close to the natural state of the horse’s nutritional need.

Of course, yeast cultures are also of tremendous importance to mares and their foals, since the milk from a lactating mare that ingested yeast cultures is more packed with potent nutrients than that of a mare that received no such supplementation. The results are healthier foals that grow quicker and even taller! It is truly surprising how many positive results there are reported simply because yeast cultures are added to a balanced dietary regimen.



Read the next horse nutrition article on Active, but Obese Horses with Excess Fat.
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