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  • Q:

    My 23-year-old Friesian broodmare was purchased in Holland 14 years ago. Since her arrival, she has lived out at night in the summer and out at day in the winter, as I like to offer hay as well as grass at all times to avoid colic and other problems. She has always been a poor eater and girthy. She began having diarrhea nine months ago. The vet prescribed a gut balancer and probiotic treatment, and he told us to feed her only hay. She hardly touched the hay and didn’t seem to be getting any better throughout the winter. She lost so much weight that I thought we would lose her. Spring came and I decided to put her in the field with the other horses to see what happened. Well, she improved somewhat and gained a little weight. I came across an article that talked about the pH of the colon and acidosis. I know she is not typical in that she has not been stabled and grain-fed, but do you think it would be worth trying her on EquiShure? Or, do you have any other suggestions?

  • A:

    I am happy to provide recommendations for your horse, though it appears you are off to a good start by seeking targeted digestive support. EquiShure is a time-released hindgut buffer that withstands digestion in the stomach and small intestine in order to reach the cecum and colon to improve those environments. EquiShure would be my first recommendation for your Friesian mare.

    Although she is not on a high-grain diet, your mare still exhibits several signs of subclinical acidosis, which can be defined simply as a decrease in the pH of the hindgut. This shift in pH can be caused by several things, including the fructan (sugar) content in the grass she is consuming or even slight changes in hay. Once the pH drops, the microbial population cannot work at its most efficient. Poor water absorption resulting in diarrhea and physical discomfort can be seen as a result. EquiShure helps to balance and increase the pH to create a healthy environment for microbes.

    I suggest trying to find a forage source that your mare will consume more willingly. High-quality sources of fiber include beet pulp, hay cubes, hay pellets, and chaff, and these would be appropriate choices to feed alongside long-stem hay. She may eat another type of long-stem hay better than the current one. Offering palatable, high-quality forage sources at 1.5-2% of her body weight will successfully meet forage requirements but will not provide the necessary level of nutrients for optimal health.

    I suggest adding a ration balancer pellet or micronutrient pellet to deliver additional protein, vitamins, and minerals. This feed is designed to be fed at a low intake because it is highly concentrated (0.5-1.0 kg/day).

    If feeding two small meals of ration balancer a day, EquiShure could be top-dressed onto both meals. The maintenance dose that we suggest is 30 g (1 scoop) twice daily. Feed that amount for at least two weeks to assess results. You may want to try discontinuing the probiotic temporarily to see how EquiShure works on its own. If you want to reintroduce the probiotics with EquiShure in the future, that is not a problem.

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