Straight grains, like corn, barley, sweet feed or oats, can contribute to the onset of colic in horses. Bagged feeds, which have higher-fiber ingredients, are processed so they are gentler on equine digestive tracts.
The equine small intestine cannot absorb loads of starch at one time; what can't be absorbed goes into the large intestine, which can lead to too much bacterial growth and the death of microorganisms. As they die, these microorganisms produce toxins that enter the bloodstream, where they reduce intestinal motility, possibly causing colic.
Additionally, horses that are fed large grain meals are less hydrated than their counterparts fed a high-fiber diet. This lack of hydration can possibly lead to impaction colic. Additionally, grains generate more gas in the large intestine because they are highly fermentable. This further slows intestinal motility and can cause cramping or colic, as well as the potential for intestinal displacements or twists.
High-grain diets can also cause gastric ulcers, which can make horses lose weight, act unhappy and exhibit colic-like symptoms.
A high-fat and high-fiber diet us much safe then feeding straight grains to horses.
Read more at Horse Illustrated.
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