Feeding to Prevent Colic
When you go to the barn for evening chores you hear banging in the far stall–your horse is down and rolling. He gets to his feet when you run to the stall, but immediately starts pawing and circling and quickly drops down again to roll. He’s sweaty and in pain–clearly, he’s colicking. As you call the veterinarian you run through your mental checklist, beginning with the important question, “What did I feed him today?”
Anthony Blikslager, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACVS, professor of equine surgery and gastroenterology at North Carolina State University, sees colic cases regularly. “When I finish with a colic surgery, the owner often asks what he/she can do to avoid colic in the future,” he says. “It all goes back to basic management, and nutrition is an important part of that management.”
Equine Digestion is Unique
Horses are more prone to digestive upset than other domestic animals because of how their gastrointestinal (GI) tracts function and how we feed them. The horse evolved as a grazing animal, and his digestive tract is designed to utilize forage. It functions best and remains healthiest when he’s allowed to roam at pasture, eating more or less continuously and consuming small amounts often. In domesticating horses we’ve confined them and typically feed hay and grain in scheduled meals. This unnatural environment often leads to digestive problems and colic
Create a free account with TheHorse.com to view this content.
Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with