Equine Gastric Ulcer Syndrome
Drs. Foster & Smith Educational Staff
How the horse’s stomach works
To understand why horses are prone to ulcers, it is helpful to know some horse anatomy.
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“The horse’s digestive tract is designed for a continual flow of forage; without it, the horse will be in physical pain, mental discomfort, and prone toward a hormonal response that destroys health and promotes obesity. If he runs out of forage, even for a few minutes, your horse’s system will register this as an impending famine and his body will hoard fat.”
“The best way to avoid an ulcer is to allow your horse to be a horse. Give him pasture turnout – the more time the better. I realize that it is not always feasible to give a horse unlimited turnout, but keeping hay in front of him at all times while confined will go a long way toward protecting his digestive system.”
Swedish University of Agriculture.
Invest 1 minute and save hours.
Many are those horses that still are being fed three times per day but a small study at the Swedish University of Agricultural shows that it is completely unnecessary.
One of the new members of the SlowFeeding 3.0 product line is a new and unique Small Mesh Hay Net design that transforms The Hay Bar (a well-known British hay manger) to a practical, efficient and hygienic SlowFeeding solution that offers natural eating angles and very easy filling.
The study involved 8 horses and compared the use of The SlowFeeding HayBar with traditional feeding on the floor. The amount of hay served was 1.5% (dry substance) of the horse’s body weight divided in two fillings of the SlowFeeding HayBar or in three servings on the floor. Filling the SlowFeeding HayBar twice per day only took 1 minute more than feeding on the floor three times per day and still it reduced the starvation period the reference group suffered during the night from 6 to 2 hours and still eliminated the need for working unsocial hours for the horse keeper. The last daily filling of the SlowFeeding HayBar was done at 4.30pm compared to the last serving on the floor for the control group that was done at 8pm, the morning hay was served at 6am. 3 out of 4 horses in the control group did not have anything to eat between midnight and 6am but when enjoying SlowFeeding HayBar none of them had a starvation period longer than 2 hours. 3.5 hours of starvation is usually considered the absolute limit to how long a horse can endure without the risk of ulcers changes from a risk to a probability.
The horses in this study was filmed during the 20 hours/day they were inside the box and the film was checked every 10 minutes. This showed that when the horses were enjoying SlowFeeding HayBar they were spreading the eating much more evenly during the day and night because they were then found eating 67% more often without having the possibility to eat more.
There was an issue with horses breaking the nets in this study but if that was because of the limited volume of hay served, because they were in their boxes for 20 consecutive hours/day, because the hay made available per hour was equal during day and night even though horses prefer to eat more per hour during the night or just individual circumstances is an open question because at a comparable installation this was not the problem.