Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Natural and Supplemental Buffers May Aid Equine Digestion - Full Article

For many horses, the body’s natural buffers, including saliva, and a supply of forage will keep the digestive tract operating smoothly.

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · February 23, 2016

Horses evolved as grazers, and in order to consume sufficient forage to meet caloric demands, they must graze for many hours each day. Thus, their digestive system is designed to function through continual ingestion and processing of small amounts of forage.

As soon as a horse rips a blade of grass or grasps a piece of hay, digestion begins. Throughout the digestive process, ingested feedstuffs encounter numerous digestive fluids. One, in particular, causes problems. In the stomach, horses constantly secrete hydrochloric acid, which is naturally neutralized, or buffered, by saliva.

“When a horse isn’t eating, there is no saliva to neutralize gastric acid in the stomach. Horses kept in stalls for extended periods of time, fed only once or twice per day, or fed a high-concentrate diet are prone to gastric ulcers,” explained Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a nutritionist with Kentucky Equine Research (KER). “Without a near-constant source of forage or a buffering supplement, gastric acid can cause painful ulcerations in the lining of the stomach, and this leads to any number of health concerns...”

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