The overall health of the intestinal system, and especially the large bowel or hind gut, is vitally important to the equine athlete. Hind gut absorption is the body’s major source of fluids, electrolytes and self produced water soluble B group vitamins and energy in the form of fatty acids. The importance of the hind gut’s health and stability increases with increasing duration of exercise performed and is vital to the performance of the endurance horse.
Most dietary aberrations stem from misguided extrapolations by humans from thoroughbreds to long distance horses. Thoroughbred racing is short both in distance and duration and consequently race horses can still perform with suboptimal diets.
Endurance training and competition is probably the most demanding situation with respect to intestinal function & health. In general, the principles of endurance diets are low starch, high digestible fibre with adequate electrolyte levels. Horses absorb starch in the small intestine at the approximate rate of 1.5kg per day.
It is an important, rapidly available source of energy. However, when this level is exceeded the non-absorbed starch overflows into the hind gut where it ferments, producing acid and upsetting the Ph, which in turn upsets microbial stability. This results in lowered production of water soluble vitamins and volatile fatty acids and reduces the absorbable water and electrolyte levels. It also tends to reduce the ‘total passage time’ of the gut.
Our aim in producing these diets is to simplify sound feeding practices in a practical, affordable way. It is simple – feed pellets and hay or chaff, with or without access to grazing.
In South Australia, Harbison Performance is available from an increasing number of fodder stores. We are able to ship to most areas interstate but for economic reasons, orders need to be in pallet quantities i.e. a tonne give or take a bit. We also ship to a number of overseas destinations quite economically.
Interestingly, it costs more to send to Queensland than to the Middle East or Europe!
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