Thursday, March 31, 2022

Hindgut Happiness: Forages and Their Alternatives - Full Article

Good-quality forages can provide a horse with all the energy he needs, most of his protein requirements, plus many minerals and vitamins.

By: Shannon Pratt-Phillips, Ph.D. | March 23, 2022

Forages are long-stem plants and include pasture, hay (cut and dried plants) and haylage (cut and fermented plants). They typically provide the bulk of the equine diet and for good reason. The horse’s digestive system, with its well-developed cecum and large colon full of microbial organisms – or hindgut – is designed to digest and ferment these high-fibre plants to provide useful nutrients.

The fragile ecosystem of the horse’s hindgut needs a constant influx of fibre and it is well recognized that diets low in fibrous plant material can increase a horse’s risk of digestive upset such as colic. In feral horse populations, and even many domesticated populations, animals will spend up to 70 per cent of their day “foraging” and eating plant material as they meander around their location...

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