Horses evolved as grazers that depend heavily on bacteria living in their digestive tract to digest the plant fiber that makes up the largest part of their diet in the wild. These bacteria live in the horse’s large intestine (hindgut) and are extremely important to the horse’s overall health and well being. A number of the important vitamins and co-enzymes needed for proper hoof and skin growth and repair are produced by these beneficial bacteria. The first step in developing a sound nutrition program for every horse is to insure that these bacteria are healthy and functioning properly. If an older horse has trouble maintaining or gaining weight regardless of what you feed, or if a horse has a dull hair coat and brittle hooves, the problem may very well be in the gut. The wrong number or type of bacteria will result in the production of potentially toxic substances such as strong acids (primarily lactic acid) and ammonia.
There are several steps that can be taken to make the hindgut more healthy:
1. Provide plenty of good quality forage. These bacteria need a high quality source of fiber to digest. Feed at least 1% of the horse’s body weight per day as dry forage matter.
2. Feed supplemental beneficial bacteria to the horse. These supplemental bacteria are often called probiotics and include lactobacillus acidophilus and streptococcus faecium. Once they arrive in the hindgut, they can compete with the pathogenic bacteria such as Salmonella and E. coli that may have inhibited the hindgut of your horse.
FOCUS SR, and FOCUS WT contain generous levels of these live beneficial bacteria (probiotics). Please see SOURCE Products: for Horses, for more information.
3. Feed supplemental yeast culture to the horse. Yeast does not normally live in high numbers in the horse’s digestive tract, but research has shown that if a particular strain of live yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) is fed to horses, these yeast will survive in the hindgut and stabilize fermentation occurring there. These yeast will moderate the pH so that the hindgut doesn’t get too acidic and will improve the beneficial bacteria’s ability to digest plant fiber. These bacteria will also stimulate the production of microbial phytase, an enzyme that is necessary to digest and absorb much of the phosphorus that is contained in forage and cereal grains.
FOCUS HF contains the leading live yeast culture available for horses. Please see SOURCE Products: for Horses, for more information.
4. Feed fermentation metabolites to the horse’s feed. When the yeast are actively fermenting and growing, they produce a number of metabolic end-products such as B-complex vitamins and growth factors. These metabolites will improve the health and viability of the bacteria living in the horse’s hindgut.
FOCUS HF, FOCUS SR and FOCUS WT contain a wide spectrum of these fermentation metabolites. Please see SOURCE Products: for Horses, for more information.