It's getting cold and you want to offer your horse a nice warm bran mash. But what may seem comforting, could lead to a dangerous colic attack.
It all has to do with your horse's microbiome - the microbial population residing in the horse's digestive tract. These microorganisms are responsible for digesting fibers from forages and other feedstuffs, to provide energy for your horse. They are sensitive to changes that can alter their pH but are able to adjust to small, incremental changes to their environment.
Abrupt alterations to the diet, however, can trigger a sudden episode of gas colic. Make sure to give your horse’s microbial population time to make the transition. Consistency is key. A bran mash, or any new feed for that matter, must be fed every day, not once a week. Introduce it gradually, taking two to three weeks to build up to the desired amount. Finally, be aware that bran is very high in phosphorus; therefore, it is best to choose a commercially fortified version that has added calcium.
Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D. is an independent equine nutritionist with a wide U.S. and international following. Her research-based approach optimizes equine health by aligning physiology and instincts with correct feeding and nutrition practices. Dr. Getty’s goal is to empower the horseperson with the confidence and knowledge to provide the best nutrition for his or her horse’s needs.
Dr. Getty’s fundamental resource book, Feed Your Horse Like a Horse, is available in paperback as well as in hardcover and Kindle versions. All except the Kindle version are available at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com – buy the book there and have it inscribed by the author. Print and Kindle versions are also available at Amazon (www.Amazon.com); find print versions at other online retail bookstores. The seven individual volumes in Dr. Getty’s topic-centered “Spotlight on Equine Nutrition” series are available with special package pricing at her website, and also at Amazon in print and Kindle versions. Dr. Getty’s books make ideal holiday gifts for equestrians!
Find a world of useful information for the horseperson at www.GettyEquineNutrition.com: Sign up for Dr. Getty’s informative, free e-newsletter, Forage for Thought; browse her library of articles and tips; listen to recorded interviews; and purchase recordings of her educational teleseminars and webinars.
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