Sponsored by Kent Nutrition Group

Before you select a feed and/or supplement for your horse’s diet, it’s important to understand how your horse’s digestive system actually works. Horses have a unique digestive system designed for the continuous intake of small amounts of feed consisting primarily of forage or fiber ingredients.

A horse’s digestive system can be broken down into two areas for digestion — the foregut (stomach and small intestine) and the hindgut (caecum and large intestine). The foregut digests proteins, starches, fats, minerals and vitamins. The larger capacity hindgut uses bacterial fermentation to digest fiber such as hay or pasture and other fiber sources. (see Figure 1).

equine digestive system diagram

What can cause your horse’s digestive challenges and ultimately affect your horse’s health?

Your horse’s eating habits and feed management can affect foregut digestion of starch and protein. These factors can lead to decreased foregut digestion of starch and protein, if undigested starch passes to the hindgut and goes through rapid fermentation, this can lead to potential digestive upsets such as colic and laminitis (founder). Any undigested protein passing to the hindgut may have significantly lower nutrient absorption and microbial attack can affect amino acid quality. It is important to maintain excellent feed management, monitor intake and eating behaviors and spread feed amounts to multiple feeds when possible and appropriate.  This will help maintain optimum digestion and nutrient availability.

What is extruded horse feed?

Horse feed is available in many forms — including textured feed, pellets, and extruded feeds. Often when you think of horse feeds you think of textured feeds or pellets, but pressure -cooked or extruded horse feeds offer nutritional and digestive benefits to the horse.

Extrusion is an advanced method of feed processing resulting in a food that works safely and naturally within the equine digestive system. The process of pressure-cooking or extrusion involves combining moisture, heat and pressure to rapidly cook the ingredients. In the cooking process, starch and protein bonds are broken down and then forced through a die to create a low-density food nugget or an extruded nugget. The product is then rapidly cooled to retain its high nutritional quality.

Why feed an extruded horse feed?

While extrusion or pressure-cooking is not new, extruded horse feeds are relatively new to the equine market.  All-natural ingredients including soybean hulls, beet pulp, rice bran and flaxseed plus vitamins and minerals are formed into highly digestible nuggets designed to release the full nutritional power of these wholesome ingredients. Often horses eat extruded feed at a slower rate, which may support the prevention of some digestive disturbances. Senior horses or prematurely aging horses with dental problems may do well on an extruded feed since these feeds are light and airy in nature and breakdown easily. This advanced cooking and cooling process results in a feed that works naturally with the equine digestive system.

Brought to you by: Kent Nutrition Group, makers of Kent® and Blue Seal® feeds, offer a complete line of extruded horse feeds under the Sentinel® brand. To learn more, visit kentfeeds.com in the Midwest or blueseal.com in the East.


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