KER.equinews.com - Full Article
By Dr. Kathleen Crandell · January 3, 2012
The importance of maintaining a balanced microbial population in the equine digestive tract is often underscored in popular-press articles and primers on horse nutrition, but what does “balanced” mean? What types of microbes are living in the digestive tract? How many are there, and what is their purpose? What can be done to keep them balanced?
A delicate balance exists among the different types of microbes that reside in the gastrointestinal tract. Humans cannot live on forage because we lack these microbes that break down forage into usable bits. The products of forage digestion are volatile fatty acids, which horses use for energy. Humans have some microbes that should stay in balance as well, although they pale in number and function compared to those of herbivores. We are being inundated with products that address that function in humans, and nutritionists emphasize the importance of that balance in the human digestive tract in overall health and well-being. Like humans, horses cannot perform their best if digestive microbes are out of balance...
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