Article provided by British Horse Feeds
Also known as Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome (EGUS), a gastric ulcer is a sore in the stomach lining that occurs when the lining has been damaged by stomach acid and digestive enzymes. Ulcers can also be seen in the lower oesophagus and in the first portion of the small intestine (also known as the entrance to the duodenum).
The risk factors for horses to develop this syndrome include involvement in performance disciplines; high-concentrate (grain) diets, intermittent feeding, exercising without being fed first, environmental stress, stress due to travel or social interaction and illness.
How do you know if your horse has EGUS?
The signs of EGUS can be variable between horses depending on the type of ulcer, but may include;
- Changes in appetite;
- Slowed eating;
- Poor performance;
- Behavioural changes (for example resistance to girthing).
- You may also see mild weight loss and poor body condition, which is why it is important to be familiar with your own horse’s weight and body condition.
Although many of these symptoms may be present, the most reliable way to find out if your horse has ulcers or lesions is to scope them.
British Horse Feeds (BHF) have carried out scoping trials with New Beginnings, a charity in Malton, Yorkshire. In their own words, “The mission of New Beginnings is to provide a safe and secure environment where former racehorses can adjust and be re-trained for their second career following racing.”
Over a period of 14 months, British Horse Feeds commissioned the scoping of Thoroughbreds. Six horses were investigated within weeks of being brought into New Beginnings and subsequently at 2-3 monthly intervals. Despite their varied backgrounds, the feeding regimes were all based on grazing/hay and fibre feeds. As such the horses were introduced to Fibre-Beet either immediately before, or after being scoped. The results of this trial were very positive, and the conclusion was that although Fibre-Beet does not medicate ulcers, it does provide physiological and physical characteristics that help support normal gastric conditions and so helps support the dietary approach to gastric ulceration. Gastric ulcers are not obvious from the outside, and scoping is not an option for a lot of people; so, introducing Fibre-Beet, alongside a fibre-based diet, can give you peace of mind.
There are some key reasons why Fibre-Beet was found to be able to support a dietary approach to gastric ulcers. Management of the horse’s diet is key to reducing the gastric acidity in the stomach and maintaining a pH level of 4 or above. Ulcers occur due to the erosive effects of extremely low pH fluid.
Forage is high in protein and calcium and acts as a dietary buffer, increasing pH in the stomach and preventing ulcer formation. It is important that your horse has access to high quality forage consistently through the day and that they always have access to fresh water.
When it comes to hard feeds, it is important to notice how much starch is present. Due to its low starch content (3%) as well as its high level of easily digested soluble fibre for slow energy release, Fibre-Beet is a great option for horses with ulcers. Fibre-Beet is a conditioning feed in the form of a soaked mash, with a carefully formulated combination of Speedi-Beet and alfalfa supplemented with biotin, sodium and calcium.
Fibre-Beet can be fed in larger quantities than Speedi-Beet and so is a superb conditioning feed and is ideal for those needing to control starch intake. A 20kg bag of Fibre-Beet costs £19.09 – £20.09 and can be fed at up to 1kg/100kg body weight of your horse.
You can find out more about Fibre-Beet for horses including feeding guidelines, ingredients, FAQ’s and more reviews on the British Horse Feeds website or speak to one of our dedicated experts on 01423 503319.
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