Probiotics are added to a horse or pony's feed to encourage normal digestive function and an efficient digestive system.
Probiotics for horses that are available include live bacterial cultures
and live yeast cultures.
Equine probiotics will typically include the Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species of bacteria and the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii.
Yeast probiotics indirectly stimulate the beneficial fibre in a horse's feed - degrading micro-organisms, including bacteria, in the horse's hindgut.
Yeast cells do not colonise the horse's gut, therefore probiotics must be fed continuously for an on-going effect, and it may take a week before the probiotics take effect.
Feeding equine probiotics can be beneficial if your horse is convalescing after illness, or if its digestive system is exposed to the stress of competing at shows or there are changes to his normal routine.
Stress can alter the level of acidity in both the upper gut (small intestine) and hind gut (caecum and colon) of a horse of pony which then allows bad or non-beneficial bacteria to multiply and overwhelm the good bacteria in the horse's gut.
If left unchecked in the horse?s small intestine, bad bacteria, such as Salmonella and E. Coli, can cause health problems.
The aim when feeding a probiotic supplement to a horse is to enhance the hindgut's microbial population and, as a result of feeding probiotics, reduce the growth of potentially harmful bacteria.
Equine probiotics are useful as a feed additive in any circumstances that may affect the normal micro-organisms within the horses gut. These include:
To understand the need to feed probiotics to a horse consider that a horse has evolved to primarily live on grass. The grass ferments in the horse's gut and so provides the him with nutrients.
Fermentation in the horse's gut is depends on the micro organisms that live in the large intestine. Probiotics keep these micro organisms flourishing and healthy, so that the horse or pony's digestive system functions at optimal levels.
A foal first receives micro organisms from its dam as it is being licked clean after being born.
Probiotics in a horse’s or pony's diet will encourage the micro organisms to flourish.