Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Greetings Everyone!  I see that there are over 100 comments, so I am working on figuring out how to post another fresh message, without it being embedded in the long list!

My goal with this forum is to encourage all of you to help each other by offering suggestions that have worked for you.  And I, too, will chime in.  The way of accomplishing a free-choice forage feeding program can vary depending on the horse's living arrangements.  But ultimately, the goal is that the horse always has easy access to forage.

There are four very basic reasons for this (which I'll simply list here, but I encourage you to take a look at my newest book in the Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series called "Equine Digestion - It's Decidedly Different.")  You can take a look at this title and others by going to this link:

Reasons horses must have forage flowing through their digestive tract at all times:

  1. Need to chew to produce saliva, a natural antacid. The stomach continually produces acid, even when empty. Chewing neutralizes this acid, thereby preventing ulcers. 
  2. The entire gastrointestinal tract is made of muscles that require exercise. This is accomplished by pushing forage through. Without forage, the muscles can torque or intussuscept, two common causes of colic. 
  3. An empty stomach promotes the back flow of small intestine contents back into the stomach. This leads to pyloric and duodenal ulcers.
  4. The cecum (fermentation vat) has its entrance and exit at the top. Therefore, in order for material to leave the cecum it has to be full enough for it to push out the top. Colic is a real threat if the cecum is not full enough.
I hope you find this list helpful in making decisions for yourself and in explaining the reasons for free-choice forage feeding.

My very best wishes,
Juliet Getty