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Probiotics May Help Support Digestive System of Horses

Horse Eating From Bucket

Reproduction, performance, schedule changes, travel ­— all can affect a horse’s delicate digestive system. If gut health is an issue for your horse, or if your horse experiences regular stress, adding a probiotic may help support digestion.

What do probiotics do for your horse?

Increasingly, research shows the importance of the microbiome (population of microbes in the gut) to overall health. Life stressors can disrupt the microbiome, which is where probiotics may have benefits for both humans and horses.

“Colic, lack of appetite and a decline in performance are potential problems resulting from digestive issues,” says Dr. Nettie Liburt, PAS Senior Equine Nutrition Manager, Mars Horsecare US. “A consistent diet with the support of probiotics may be useful in reducing the effects of stress on the digestive system.”

What are probiotics?

The World Health Organization defines probiotics as live microorganisms that when administered at adequate concentrations confer a health benefit on the host. You may have heard them referred to as “good bacteria” or “good bugs.” 

Another name for probiotics is direct fed microbials (DFMs). DFMs are intended to provide live colonies of lactic acid-producing bacteria (LAB), typically found in the intestines of healthy animals1. LAB produce vitamins, enzymes and volatile fatty acids (used in energy production), all of which may aid digestion, provide nutritional value and promote gastrointestinal (GI) health1

“Common species of LAB include Lactobacilli and Enterococcus, which are added to BUCKEYE™ Nutrition EQ8™ products,” says Dr. Liburt. These species of bacteria are found in healthy equine microbiomes and are believed to help reduce or exclude the growth of potential pathogens.

Application is important

Probiotics are only useful if they’re still active once the horse consumes the feed. They’re heat sensitive, so they need to be added to a feed after processing.

BUCKEYE Nutrition uses trademarked technology to apply probiotics. This process ensures even distribution of live probiotics in the feed, so they remain protected to be beneficially active in the horse’s digestive system.

“Our probiotic application technology separates us from other companies,” says Amber Krotky, MS, PAS, Quality and Product Development Manager, Mars Horsecare US Inc. “It’s our proprietary method of guaranteeing proper application and delivery of live probiotics."

At BUCKEYE Nutrition, we formulate all our feeds based on current scientific research and knowledge of equine nutrition. If you’re looking for a horse feed to support optimal digestion, EQ8™ Gut Health Multi-Textured Feed or EQ8™ Senior Gut Health Multi-Textured Feed might be your answer.  

 


References

1. National Research Council. 2007. Nutrient Requirements of Horses, 6th Ed. National Academies Press, Washington, DC.

 

The best ways to feed a senior horse with dental issues

Senior horse grazing in a meadow

As your horse ages, he can experience dental issues. This can affect what and how they eat and could contribute to a loss of body condition. We’ll discuss signs of dental trouble and give you some suggestions for various feeding choices to help your senior horse’s health and performance.

Dental issues in senior horses

Periodontal disease often accompanies advancing age. A horse may experience tooth loss, or existing molars may become so worn that the horse can no longer chew properly. This makes it difficult to chew long-stemmed hay.

Have you noticed your horse’s body condition score decreasing, or are you finding semi-chewed hay (called “quids”) around the feeding area? Your horse is most likely struggling with dental issues and may not be consuming as much feed as you think he is. According to the American Association of Equine Practitioners, other signs of dental trouble include dropping feed, eating with the head tilted to the side, abnormal swellings around the cheek teeth, nasal discharge from one side, foul-smelling breath, or fussiness in response to the bridle or when asked to work.

A horse of any age may experience dental problems, but seniors are especially prone. No matter how old your horse is, a “senior” diet program that facilitates proper food intake can be implemented. This may involve a complete change in feed or simply making a few adjustments in the existing feed program, depending on the individual situation.

Feeding options for senior horses

If your horse is maintaining weight and body condition regardless of dental concerns, it is possible that no changes need to be made just because he reaches a certain age. However, if the horse consumes little or no grain concentrate or is on a forage-only diet and is maintaining condition, consider feeding them a low-calorie ration balancer. Ration balancers provide vitamins, minerals and protein at low feeding rates to ensure a horse receives all the necessary nutrients they need – even the ones potentially missing from forage or fiber alternatives.

Forage Alternatives and Complete Feeds

The most important part of feeding a horse with dental issues is ensuring proper intake of the fiber they need, even if they can’t consume hay. Fiber is essential for digestive health, and providing forage for the horse with dental problems can be accomplished with alternative forage sources if necessary. Chopped hay, soaked hay cubes or pellets, and soaked beet pulp are all excellent options. In addition, a complete feed – such as SAFE ‘N EASY Complete, which comes in pellet form – is designed to provide all of the fiber and nutrients a horse needs as their sole diet. SAFE ‘N EASY Complete may be soaked to ease consumption and increase water intake.

A daily ration of complete feed should be spread out into multiple small meals throughout the day. For example, a 1,000-pound horse may need 20 to 25 pounds of a complete feed every day. Feeding 4 to 5 pounds of SAFE ‘N EASY Complete every 3 to 4 hours will help extend the time it takes the horse to consume his daily ration, while making every effort to mimic natural grazing behavior by spreading meals out over time.

Feed Form

If necessary, feed a commercial grain concentrate that is extruded like SAFE 'N EASY Senior. Extruded feeds quickly soak and soften, and they are easy to chew and digest, especially if a horse is missing teeth.

Adding warm water to feed concentrates and alternative fiber sources also make it easier for horses to chew. The addition of water can help reduce the risk of choking and decrease the amount of feed dropped.

If possible, continue to encourage normal grazing behavior by giving your horse access to pasture and hay, which will help promote hindgut health.

Slowly transition the horse’s feed

If you decide to change your horse’s feed, make sure you slowly introduce new feed. Gradually decrease the amount of the old feed, while increasing the amount of new feed. It should take at least 10 to 14 days to transition to 100% of the new feed.

If your horse has a sensitive digestive system, this process could take a few weeks to a month. The more time you can take to transition to the new feed, the better the transition will be for your horse. The practice of slow transition also includes hay – when a new batch of hay arrives, slowly mix it in with existing hay so the horse’s gut has time to adjust to the new forage source.

Feed suggestions for senior horses

Good management and supportive nutrition will help your horse thrive and feel his best. Feed him the highest quality, safest feed available. Make dental care part of your horse’s routine wellness program in partnership with your veterinarian, and work with BUCKEYE Nutritionists to ensure a diet best suited to your horse’s individual needs. Buckeye Nutrition offers a variety of feed and supplements for senior horses and ponies that are made in a 100% medication-free mill from ingredients that meet the highest quality standards.

Got nutrients? Why you should add a ration balancer to your horse’s diet

Horse Chewing on Hay

 

Adding a ration balancer to your horse’s diet helps them get essential nutrients that may be missing from their forage. It’s also great for easy keepers that require limited calories. Ration balancers help ensure a well-rounded diet, important for growth, performance, reproduction and more.

You might assume your horse is getting all the nutrients they need on a forage-only diet. But are they really? Forages vary in nutrient quality, and stored hay loses vitamin E within a few weeks. A ration balancer can help fill in the nutritional gaps.

What is a ration balancer?

Ration balancers are a nutrient-dense horse feed that often come in a pelleted form and have a low feeding rate. They provide protein, essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins that the horse might not be getting enough of in their usual diet. Think of a ration balancer as a multivitamin.

If you’re concerned that this highly nutritious feed will add a lot of calories to your horse’s diet – and therefore cause weight gain – don’t fret. Ration balancers aren’t high in starch, sugar or fat, so they won’t add significant calories.

Some people also question the “high” amount of protein in ration balancers. Coming in at about 25-35% crude protein, that’s a lot more than the 10-16% in standard feed. However, the nutrient-dense ration balancers have a lower feeding rate. Since you’re feeding less to your horse, it adds up to about the same (or sometimes even a little less) amount of protein they would get from feeding the recommended amount of a standard 12% crude protein feed.

GRO ‘N WIN™, the original ration balancer, has 32% crude protein. It can complement a diet consisting of grass or grass-legume mixed forage for horses of all life stages. To complement a diet that is 75% or more alfalfa, BUCKEYE™ Nutrition offers GRO ‘N WIN™ Alfa. Senior Balancer has the same high-quality nutrition as GRO ‘N WIN™, with added MSM (to support joint health) and yeast culture (to support healthy digestion).

What’s missing from your horse’s forage-only diet?

As we said before, forages can vary in nutrient quality and quantity. In a perfect scenario, pasture would provide all the daily nutrients a horse requires. But factors such as Poor growing conditions like drought or flooding, and seasonal changes can affect what the horse is consuming.

When you start supplementing pasture with hay, you may not be supplying adequate nutrients. As soon as hay is harvested, it begins to lose vitamins and continues to do so the older it gets. Adding a ration balancer to a horse’s forage-only diet can help provide the vitamins, minerals and amino acids they need.

How to add a ration balancer to your horse’s diet

There are a few ways you can incorporate ration balancers into your horse’s diet any time of the year. Since the balancer needs to be fed with forage, hay or pasture, you can combine it with a feed that has good quality forage or supplement a commercial concentrate feed plus forage. It’s best to divide the recommended daily amount of a ration balancer in at least two daily feedings. This practice will help your horse maximize nutrient absorption throughout the day.

A ration balancer can be good for horses who need limited starches and sugars in their diet, like horses who suffer from polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM) or other forms not related to sugar/starch; horses who suffer from PPID or Equine Cushing’s Syndrome; and insulin-dysregulating horses. A ration balancer can also help limit potassium for horses with hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP) when fed with a forage low in potassium concentration.

When looking for the best ration balancer for horses, make sure you get one that is made with pure, safe ingredients. At BUCKEYE Nutrition™, we use 100% traceable ingredients and produce our feeds in a single, medication-free facility.

 

Nutrition Nuggets-Gastric Ulcers

Let's start 2019 off on the right foot with Nutrition Nuggets! Our own Dr. Nettie Liburt explains all about gastric ulcers, and how nutrition plays a role in managing the risks for ulcers.

Nutrition Nuggets-Bran Mashes

Do you feed your horse or pony a warm bran mash on cold winter days? Our Senior Nutrition Manager, Dr. Nettie Liburt, explains why feeding bran mashes in the cold, winter months might not be beneficial to your horse's digestive system and overall diet.

Nutrition Nuggets-100% Med-Free Mill

Dr. Nettie Liburt brings us great information with her Nutrition Nuggets. In this episode, Dr. Nettie talks about our single mill in Dalton, Ohio and why being 100% medication-free (including ionophores) and is so important to us, as well as the health and well-being of your horse or pony.

The Facts About Protein

Perception Studio Feed Photo

Protein is important for more than just muscle building. Protein is a component of most tissues in the body, and is essential for cell structure, the immune system, transport of oxygen and minerals in the blood, enzyme activity and many other biological functions.

What is protein?

All protein is made up of amino acids. Amino acids are like the letters of an alphabet that make up the words that are proteins. Essential amino acids must be consumed in the diet because they cannot be made by the body. Examples of essential amino acids are lysine, methionine and threonine. These amino acids are contained in protein sources such as fresh forage, soybeans and alfalfa. 

Protein Myths Busted

Excess dietary protein does not cause horses to be hot tempered, have excess energy or contribute to growth abnormalities (developmental orthopedic disease, or DOD) in young animals. The main causes of DOD include genetics, high calorie intake and mineral imbalances. If DOD is suspected, a veterinarian and nutritionist should be consulted promptly. In addition, high protein diets do not cause damage to kidneys or the liver. 

Dietary protein

Healthy, mature horses require about 10% of the total diet as good quality protein. Horses in heavy exercise, such as race horses or high level eventers, may require a little more protein in the diet. Young, growing horses, pregnant and lactating mares have much higher protein requirements compared to the average adult. 

Protein in Feed

One pound of BUCKEYE® Nutrition’s ration balancer, GRO ‘N WIN™, contains 32% crude protein, and provides 145 grams of protein, about 23% of an 1,100 pound horse’s daily maintenance need.

Five pounds of a grain concentrate with 12% crude protein, such as EQ8™ Gut Health, provides 272 grams crude protein, or about 35% of a moderately exercising horse’s daily need. The balance of protein should be provided by good quality forage. 

Excess Protein

Excess dietary protein is broken down and excreted in the urine. Nitrogen is a component of all amino acids in protein, therefore consuming excess dietary protein will cause increased excretion of nitrogen. Excreted nitrogen can then be converted to ammonia by bacteria in the process of decomposition. If nitrogen from horse waste (or other sources, for that matter) runs off into surface water, the potential for eutrophication of waterways increases. Horses with kidney disease or liver dysfunction should be placed on a low-protein diet. It is still important to provide quality protein for these compromised horses without excess, which can strain already struggling organs. 

Insufficient Protein

Inadequate dietary protein will stunt growth, cause weight loss, fetal loss in pregnant mares, decreased milk production in lactating mares, and loss of muscle mass. These will occur despite adequate intake of calories. 

Summary

Good quality hay contains healthy protein to support the overall health of the horse. Protein is not harmful when consumed in excess and does not cause excitability. A balanced diet that provides protein with essential amino acids is the baseline for a healthy horse.

 

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New research confirms that diet can help manage gastric ulcer syndrome

Waltham Logo (BUCKEYE SPILLERS WINERGY)

Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS) can affect any horse. It can cause discomfort and may have a detrimental effect on behaviour and performance but new research has confirmed that a suitable diet can help to manage the condition, especially after veterinary treatment is stopped.

EGUS refers to the ulceration of the horse’s stomach lining. Several factors, including nutrition, have been shown to increase the risk of ulcers occurring, particularly in the non-glandular (squamous) part of the stomach.  In horses that are actively exercising and training, the incidence of gastric ulceration has been reported to be up to 90% in some sub-populations. Whilst dietary and management changes are often recommended to help reduce the risk of EGUS they are also suggested in conjunction with or following veterinary pharmaceutical treatment. However, until now there has been little published work to confirm their benefit under such circumstances. 

The new research study on the effect of changing diet on gastric ulceration in exercising horses and ponies following cessation of omeprazole treatment was conducted by Nanna Luthersson (Hestedoktoren, a private practice in Denmark) and Coby Bolger (Horse1 Spain), with colleagues from the University of Madrid and Glasgow, in collaboration with SPILLERS® and the WALTHAM® Equine Studies Group. The study was presented at the International Colic Symposium on 20th July 2017.

The study evaluated the effect of dietary change in combination with omeprazole treatment and after the cessation of treatment.  The 32 horses in this part of the trial had been diagnosed with significant equine squamous gastric disease (ESGD) and were in hard work. For the purpose of more accurate comparisons the horses were paired, according to the severity of their ulcers, their workload, management and original diet.  On a random basis one of each pair was assigned to a specified low starch, fibre-based diet consisting of their own forage alongside a restricted starch, high fibre, high energy cube (SPILLERS® HDF Power Cubes, which are commonly used in racing yards) and a high oil, low starch, chopped alfalfa based feed (WINERGY® Equilibrium® Growth) and the other stayed on their original diet.  All animals were scoped before, after the recommended course of omeprazole treatment and then six weeks after the omeprazole finished.

The horses in the no diet change group improved significantly with the omeprazole but when the treatment was stopped many regressed. Overall, by the end of the trial they were not significantly different to when they had started. However, the horses in the dietary change group overall showed significantly improved ESGD scores, not only following the omeprazole treatment but also after the treatment had stopped. This showed that a change in diet was able to help maintain the beneficial effect of omeprazole even after the omeprazole was removed.  The study achieved an award in 2016 for research in horse welfare from the Fundación para la Promoción del Deporte Ecuestre, Spain.

Clare Barfoot RNutr, the research and development manager at SPILLERS®, said: “This exciting work confirms what we suspected; that whilst appropriate dietary change can provide additional support to medical treatment for EGUS most importantly it can help maintain better gastric health post medical treatment.”

Last year the British Equestrian Trade Association, in consultation with the Veterinary Medicines Directorate, introduced a new feed approval mark to help owners identify feeds suitable for horses and ponies prone to equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS). Currently six feeds in the UK carry the BETA Equine Gastric Ulceration Syndrome (EGUS) Certification Mark including WINERGY® Equilibrium® Growth and SPILLERS® Alfalfa Pro Fibre.

For more information from BUCKEYE® Nutrition on feeding horses with gastric ulcers, click here

How Does Breed, Diet & Obesity Affect Insulin Sensitivity?

Insulin dysregulation and obesity can increase the risk of horses and ponies developing pasture-associated laminitis, but this can also occur in non-obese animals. Therefore, researchers in Australia in collaboration with WALTHAM® examined if diet, obesity and breed may play a role in a horse or pony’s insulin sensitivity.

Read more on this exciting research that was recently awarded as the 2017 “Most Commendable Paper in an International Journal” by the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists (ANZCVS)!

  

Insulin Sensitivity Between Breeds

Nettie Liburt Named Senior Equine Nutrition Manager

NLibert Photo

 

BUCKEYE® Nutrition and Mars Horsecare US, Inc. have named Nettie Liburt, MS, PhD, PAS, Senior Equine Nutrition Manager. Liburt will oversee the development of training materials and contribute to new product development and research.


“Dr. Liburt, with her training and experience in equine physiology and nutrition, represents a fantastic addition to this group of professionals,” said Steve Sewell, Market Director. “I am delighted to add her to our team and look forward to the significant impact she will have on our business.”


Dr. Liburt holds master’s and doctorate degrees in Animal Science, with a concentration in equine exercise physiology and nutrition, from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. She has contributed to more than 20 research and referred journal publications as primary or co-author and writes for The Horse magazine and TheHorse.com. Dr. Liburt is a strong advocate of horsemanship, proper horse care and animal welfare, in alignment with the company’s mission to make the world a better place for horses.


“As someone who has been dedicated to horses my entire life, I couldn’t be more excited to join a team that shares that passion and commitment,” Liburt said. “The fact that BUCKEYE® Nutrition believes that horses make the world a better place inspires me to ensure they are properly nourished and receive the highest standard of care.”