About Max Gut-Health
Problem horses that are fine one day and then not so much the next with no outward signs of any issues, for me were still trying to tell us something.
After much research I soon discovered that problems in the gut, in particular the hind gut could cause so many issues. Once there is an acidosis issue in the hind gut the knock on effect can be quite huge, from showing hot behaviour, spooky behaviour, not looking quite right on the right hind, colic, tying up, (as the acidosis ends up in the blood, muscles and joints), loss of condition, loss of quality muscle. The list is endless and I would encourage you to research acidosis in horses.
I came across this product quite by accident, after trialling it with my own horses and clients horses I was so impressed with the feed back that I knew I had to find away of getting it to the horse owner.
That is how Max Gut-Health came to be. We are still continuing to see amazing results.
This product does NOT replace veterinary treatments, but will support their use.
This product can help with the above issues if they are gut related and NOT another issue.
The company that researched and manufactured this product is a world leading supplement company.
Want to know more about MGH? Scroll down to read more..
Signs Your Horse Has Acidosis
Signs that your horse could potentially have acidosis of the hind gut, (there
could also be other physical reasons, always seek a vets advice).
1. Is your horse hot, you can’t put your leg on and you feel as though you are a
passenger rather than a rider?
2. Does your horse cramp behind when jumping?
3. Are they funny about having a hind leg picked up?
4. They aren’t muscling up quite as you would expect?
5. General tightness through the body?
6. Loose droppings?
7. Suffer from tying up (Azoturia)?
8. Poor dooer ( horses though can still look really well and still have a low
level of acidosis of the hind gut.) Horses that have are systemically
challenged will take longer to come right.
9. Are they generally grumpy or grumpy when you doing their girth or
grooming in that general area?
10. You have treated for ulcers with the vet and they return.
Max Gut -Health has the potential to help many of these issues (providing
they are gut related and not another physical reason).
The Importance Of Good Gut Health
Horses have evolved to ingest small quantities of fibrous feeds on an almost continual basis, spending approximately 80% of their time foraging or feeding in the wild. As a result, they can efficiently digest large quantities of fibre but are less able to digest starchy concentrates. Understanding the digestive physiology of the horse helps to comprehend the myriad of health issues it is susceptible to in modern management practices.
It has been widely documented that maintaining the horse’s digestive health is an essential contributor to sustaining overall horse health, with good digestive health being linked to increased performance, behaviour and immunity. It is therefore essential to understand the fundamentals of the equine digestive tract to make more appropriate feeding and management choices.
Digestive Physiology Of The Horse
The digestive physiology of the horse differs from many other species in such a way that its gastrointestinal tract can be split into two sections.
- The foregut (pre-cecal) being remarkably similar to the monogastric species’ simple stomach, like a pig or a dog.
- The hind gut being comparable to that of a cows rumen relying on the symbiotic relationship with microorganisms to digest the fibre portion of the ration.
Figure 1: The difference in digestion type, size, capacity and % of gastrointestinal tract between the foregut and the hindgut in the horse. (Atlas of Topographical anatomy of the domestic animals, P. Popesko, 2008)
The stomach and the hindgut have a large role in maintaining horse health:
The importance of the equine stomach is often overlooked due to its small size (figure 1) and low fermentation capacity in comparison to the hindgut. However, the stomach’s upper and lower regions have an important role in equine digestion. The upper region of the stomach also known as the ‘non-glandular region’ contains a small quantity of microorganisms, initiating the fibre fermentation process when the pH is at the desired level of 5.0 – 7.0 (towards neutral).
The lower region known as the ‘glandular region’ secretes both hydrochloric acid for feed material breakdown and pepsin enzymes to start protein digestion. As the glandular region secretes acid in varying quantities throughout the day, the pH remains acidic at 2.0 – 3.0. It also has a protective mucosal layer to prevent the acidic environment from causing damage to the stomach lining.
The pH of the two stomach regions can be maintained when the horse is able to display its natural feeding behaviour. This is due to the almost continual forage consumption both stimulating saliva production which has low levels of acid buffering activity and aiding the maintenance of a stable feed passage rate.
Stomach Issues In Modern Feeding Practices
Issues arise in the stomach when the acidity in the upper non-glandular region drops below pH 5.0, as it is susceptible to damage due to the absence of the acid protecting mucosal lining found in the lower glandular region.
The non-glandular region can become more acidic for numerous reasons:
- Low fibre diet
- Large concentrate meals
- Insufficient fibre:concentrate ratio
- Long periods of time without consuming feed
- Transportation/exercise/stabling stress
- Poor appetite/changed eating behaviour
- Weight loss and difficulties in maintaining normal body condition
- Poor coat condition
- Reduced performance
- Behaviour changes
- Abdominal discomfort
- Crib biting
Figure 2: Possible clinical signs in horses with EGUS. A horse can have EGUS and display none of the above so should be assessed on an individual basis. (Luthersson and Nadeau, 2013).
Maintaining a healthy stomach environment is therefore essential to help maintain horse health and reduce the occurrence of other common issues (figure 2).
As highlighted in Figure 1, digestion in the hindgut is largely microbial rather than enzymatic. This means that digestion in the hindgut is performed by billions of symbiotic
bacteria which efficiently breakdown plant fibres into simpler compounds called ‘volatile fatty acids’ (VFAs) and undigested starches into lactic acid, which can then be absorbed through the gut wall as a source of energy for the horse.
The pH of 6.5-7 in the hindgut is at the optimal level for the microorganisms to work effectively. In addition, to allow the microorganisms time to act on the fibre the passage rate of feedstuffs is much slower in the hindgut when compared to the foregut (5hrs verses 35hrs on average).
3 Top Tips To Maintain Gastrointestinal Health
- Minimum of 1.0 – 1.5 kg of forage/100kg body weight and provide forage ad-libitum.
- Provision of a gut health supplement to help maintain optimal pH.
- Split concentrate meals into small meals across the day.
Ms. Kayley Barnes BSc, Equine and Ruminant Technical Manager
Figure 3: The process of hindgut acidosis in the horse and the knock on health effects.
Hindgut Issues In Modern Feeding Practices
The provision of starch via concentrate feed is common, yet the horse’s gastrointestinal tract regularly can’t cope with the quantity provided.
Starch is digested via the enzymatic action in the foregut, however, fast passage rate and limited digestive action means that the digestive capacity of the foregut is easily exceeded.
As a result, some undigested starch can pass into the hindgut where its subsequent fermentation increases the amount of lactic acid produced (figure 3), which in turn decreases the pH and changes the type of microbes present in the hindgut.
The reduction in pH from 6.5-7 to 4.0-6.0 (more acidic) in the hindgut causes some of the desirable fibre-fermenting bacteria to die and stimulates the reproduction of lactate-producing bacteria in the hindgut. This extenuates the issue as lactic acid producing bacteria proliferate in an acidic environment making it more difficult for the horse to overcome the challenge.
Hindgut acidosis is linked to a variety of equine health and behaviour issues (figure 3) further highlighting the need to maintain gastrointestinal health.
Atlas of Topographical anatomy of the domestic animals, P. Popesko., 2008.
Luthersson N., Hou Nielson K., Harris P., et al., 2009. Equine gastric ulceration syndrome (EGUS) in 201 horses in Denmark and the influence of age, sex, temperament, breed and workload. Equine Vet J 41, 619-624.
Luthersson N. and Nadeau J.A., 2013. Gastric ulceration: Equine Applied and Clinical Nutrition, health, welfare and performance.
Rabuffo, T.S., Orsini, J.A., Sullivan E., et al., 2002. Associations between age, sex and prevalence of gastric ulceration in standardbred racehorses in training. J Am Vet Med Assoc 221, 1156-1159.