07 Feb Probiotics – Digestive Enhancers & Much More
It’s been said by some that the use of probiotics are unnecessary and all hype. Is that true? I beg to differ and say they are becoming essential for your horses well being. A few reasons and an actual test that I saw with my own eyes proved that probiotics are needed.
First what does probiotic mean? It originates from the Greek word Probiosis, ‘pro” meaning for and “biosis” meaning life, thus probiotic means “for good life”. Probiotics are simply the “good” bacterial that exists in the digestive tract and promote health. Since horses have become domesticated and their life style changed their need for additional support has become necessary. Feeding live beneficial bacteria and digestive enzymes help to create and maintain microbial balances in the digestive tract for optimal digestion and maximizing health of your horse.
Today’s horse lifestyle includes limited grazing access if any, processed feeds, intense training and showing stresses, all which mess with the ability of the horse to maintain a healthy body. Your horse’s stomach requires digestive enzymes to continue with the process of feed breakdown. The gastric juices start this breakdown, and then the bacteria make the feed into useable, absorbable compounds. Without the proper digestive enzymes and beneficial intestinal bacterial being in place, the food passes through the system without being “fermented” the way it should, thus the nutrients that are in the feed stays in the feed and lost through the feces. This undigested food can lead to situations such as colic or colic-like symptoms, bloat, founder, and set up ideal parasite conditions. Antibiotics, of course not only destroy the bad bacterial, but also the good bacteria. That is why most times a horse will go “off feed” after antibiotic treatment. The bacteria have been eliminated from the digestive tract, and the only way to “start” the engine is to reintroduce the bacteria thru supplementation.
When feeding a supplement with probiotic there are some criteria that should be met: first the product must contain LIVE microorganisms – if not then it is not a probiotic and it will not to anything for your horse’s digestive system. Some supplements have yeast added which increases the digestible energy content of the feed; however it needs to be live also. There are yeasts on the market that are “dead” and don’t do anything without the addition of live organisms. Also, not all strains of probiotic are created the same thus your probiotic should have Lactobacillus sp to be effective and there needs to be 10-100 billion CFU/day of an organism to colonize the digestive tract.
I have seen a horse in full blown colic (still in the digestive tract, no twisted gut) reversed within minutes by the oral administration of a probiotic and digestive enzyme concoction. Seeing is believing when I saw the horse walking and eating within 20 minutes of the attack and I have been a believer since.
There are many other benefits of adding probiotics to your horse’s diet. Of course it enhances the digestive tract, it reduces or eliminates colic, reduces foal scours, enhances mare milking ability and milk nutritional content. Probiotics enhance the immune system to maintain health and resistance to diseases, including worms. Probiotics improve the health of all ages of horses and give you a healthy, happy horse.