What You Need to Know About Equine Stomach Acid

Common feeding practices could be causing your horse’s stomach acid levels to rise.
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What You Need to Know About Equine Stomach Acid
A slow-feed haynet can extend horses' foraging time. | Photo: iStock

Did you know the average horse’s stomach only has a 2- to 4-gallon capacity? That’s because it was designed to digest a small but steady forage stream throughout the day. Horses evolved as grazers, spending two-thirds of the day grazing. As they continuously graze, they produce large amounts of saliva and maintain a mixture of roughage and saliva in their stomach most, if not all, of the time that buffers it from the acid.

However, common performance horse feeding practices don’t typically follow that routine.

When horses are fed meals, especially concentrates containing cereal grains that pass through the stomach more quickly than roughage, there are often times during the day or overnight when the stomach is empty of feed. It is, however, still producing strong gastric acid. In fact, horses produce up to 16 gallons of acidic gastric juice each day

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