Equinews.com - Full Article
By Dr. Clarissa Brown-Douglas · May 10, 2012
There has been recent hype in the feed industry about the possibility of improvements in gastric ulceration when feeding ensiled (fermented) chopped lucerne (also known as alfalfa) to horses, and many horse owners have increased the amount of ensiled fiber fed to their horses.
What might surprise you is that this capacity of fiber to protect and support a healthy digestive tract, from the stomach to the large intestine, is the basis behind almost every aspect of sound equine nutrition. This is not new knowledge!
It is commonly known, accepted, and promoted in the equine nutrition and veterinary world that the capacity of feeds and forages to counteract changes in gastric pH (stomach acid) plays an important role in the prevention of gastric ulcers in horses. This ability to resist changes in pH is called buffering capacity. Lucerne hay has been shown in multiple studies to be effective in reducing the severity of ulcers in horses by providing superior buffering capacity compared to other forages.
Gastric ulcers are very common in performance horses, affecting more than 90% of racehorses and 50 to 70% of other performance horses. The occurrence of ulcers is related to work, reduced forage intake, meal feeding (no grazing), and high starch (from grain) intake. The high incidence of ulcers seen in performance horses is a man-made problem resulting from the way we feed and manage these horses, since ulcers, are much less prevalent in unexercised horses maintained solely on pasture...
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