Will a Hindgut Buffer Nutritionally Support Horses that Eat a High-Grain Diet?

Hindgut acidosis is a common problem in horses consuming large quantities of either grain or fructan-rich forages. This dietary regimen may lead to shifts in hindgut acidity when a portion of the grain starch is not digested in the small intestine. Passing into the cecum and colon, the starch is rapidly fermented, changing the environment of the hindgut. Horses suffering from this condition may develop anorexia, colic, or laminitis, and may develop behaviors like wood chewing, weaving, and stall walking.

This study was designed to test the efficacy and safety of feeding a protected sodium bicarbonate product to treat hindgut acidosis in horses fed a high-grain ration.

Six horses in good physical condition were split into two treatment groups. All horses were fed hay and a high-grain ration for a period of four weeks. In addition, horses in one group were given protected sodium bicarbonate product, while horses in the other group served as a control. The horses were exercised daily on a high-speed treadmill. Analysis of fecal samples showed that control horses developed hindgut acidosis by six hours after feeding, while horses given the protected sodium bicarbonate did not show decreasing fecal pH during the same period.

Horses in training frequently require large grain meals to provide energy for performance. Results of this study indicate that feeding a protected sodium bicarbonate produce (EquiShure, KERx) to horses on high-grain diets can attenuate the pH shifts that lead to hindgut acidosis. Coating the sodium bicarbonate product allows it to reach the hindgut in an active state instead of being neutralized in the stomach and small intestine. Horses receiving a protected sodium bicarbonate product are protected from the discomfort, health threats, and undesirable habits associated with hindgut acidosis.

This report of KER’s 2007 research was published in Proceedings of the American Association of Equine Practitioners Conference.

Read the entire research paper, titled Feeding Protected Sodium Bicarbonate Attenuates Hindgut Acidosis in Horses Fed a High-Grain Ration.