Horses are naturally true herbivores. The digestion of horses is fully adapted to plants. Horses have smaller stomaches and a better developed blind and large intestine. To keep your horse healthy and fit, you should know that the digestion is very important. Read all about the digestion of horses in this blog!
The digestion of horses starts in the mouth. The saliva in the mouth helps to move the food from the esophagus to the stomach. A horse has a small stomach which means that it is eating all day in small amounts. This means there is a constant flow from the stomach to the intestines. First, the food comes into the small intestine, then into the cecum, colon, and lastly the rectum, where the manure is formed. A horse produces manure 15 times a day. We take a look step by step at the digestion process of horses.
The mouth: This is where the digestion starts. The saliva and teeth are very important in this process. To break down the food, it is very important to have healthy teeth. This is why it is important to let a vet or dentist take a look at the teeth of your horse at least once a year.
The stomach: The stomach of a horse has a content of about 8 to 15 liters, which is rather small. This is why horses eat small amounts every time. The stomach wall can’t stretch, just like our stomachs. Horses chew every day on food for about 16 hours a day on roughage such as grass and hay. When a horse hasn’t enough roughage for two hours, then the acidity can get out of balance. The stomach produces nonstop acids that have to be neutralized with saliva and food. If this gets out of balance then this could lead to a stomach ulcer. Different herbs and minerals can support the stomach to get back into balance. HorseFlex Stomach Balance is developed to support horses with sensitive stomachs.
Small intestine: This is where carbohydrates, proteins, and fats are broken down by enzymes. When the small intestine doesn’t break down everything it comes undigested in the cecum and large intestine. This could disrupt digestion in these areas and make the absorption of nutrients harder.
Bile: Bile is a fluid that breaks down fat that enters the body through food and is helped this way to be absorbed in the intestines. Humans have bile stored in the gallbladder and gets squeezed into the small intestine when one eats. A horse doesn’t have a gallbladder! The bile gets directly into the small intestine as horses eat 16 hours a day. This is why it isn’t necessary to store bile throughout the day and makes a gallbladder unnecessary.
The cecum and large intestine: This is where the roughage is digested by the bacteria. The food moves very slowly through this system. This way the body is able to extract all the nutrients from the food. Because of the different bacteria strains in the intestines, you can’t suddenly change rations (also not the roughage). Every strain has a function and need time to adapt to the food coming in. HorseFlex Intestinal Herbs consist of different ingredients such as fenugreek, oregano, cloves, rosemary, and wormwood to contribute to a healthy balance of bacteria, yeast, and fungi in the intestines. It also contains prebiotic fibers, which are a good breeding ground for good intestinal bacteria.
The best food for horses is the food that it naturally eats. These are the products that horses should eat when they live in the wild. A wild horse eats up to 80 different plants. This variation consists of different fruits, leaves, bark, and herbs that are full of nutrients and minerals and are thus good for digestion. Horses eat more different things than we can provide them. Try to vary with different herbs, vegetables, and fruits. Herbs like Nettle, thistles, dandelions, cleavers, and plantain can be picked fresh or given when dried. A great example is our Veggie Treat Mix. This is dried in a controlled process so all nutrients don’t get lost. 1 gram of dried vegetables is the same as 10 grams of fresh vegetables.
Would you like to support your horse’s digestion extra? Then the HorseFlex products are a perfect choice! Because the supplements are all made with only 100% natural ingredients, digestion is supported in the best possible way. Do you have questions? Please feel free to contact us, we will be happy to help you.
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