Feeding Horses Forage Post-Colic Surgery Improves Outcomes

Researchers found providing handfuls of forage to horses within hours after colic surgery improved gut healing.
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Feeding Horses Forage Post=Colic Surgery Improves Outcomes
Researchers found providing handfuls of forage to horses within hours after colic surgery improved gut healing. | Photo: Rebecca McConnico

He’s colicked and gone through surgery. Now, it’s up to his veterinary team to give him the best chances for a positive outcome. While supportive care is important, the way caregivers manage a colic patient’s post-surgical nutrition is critical, said a group of Italian scientists. Their latest research has revealed that providing handfuls of forage within hours of recovering from anesthesia can improve gut healing.

“We recommend feeding the horses a small amount of grass or hay as soon as possible after the surgery, then assess that clinical parameters are normal (especially that reflux or ileus are not present),” said Livio Penazzi, DVM, in association with the Department of Veterinary Science at the University of Turin, Italy.

“The use of fibrous-based feedstuff (hay and grass) is a good starting point in order to restore the gastrointestinal microbiome and motility,” Penazzi continued. “Avoid mash or concentrate-based rations, given that these feedstuffs usually irritate the gastrointestinal mucosa and can alter the normal fermentation processes

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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