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How does the horse's digestive system work?
esophagus > stomach > small intestine > cecum > large intestine
What makes up the large intestine?
Where does fermentation occur?
How big is the stomach's holding capacity?
How much can the cecum hold?
How much does the large intestine hold?
How fast is gastric digestion?
How long does food stuff sit in the small intestine?
45 minutes-3 hours
Is digestion in the hind gut fast or slow?
How long does the cecum take to digest?
How does the lower jaw move?
rotates in a circular motion
How much saliva do horses produce?
- up to 3 gallons a day (15mL/minute during feeding)
- only when they chew
- helps lubricate food
What is the purpose of gastric digestion?
opens up nutrients for small intestine
What does amylase do?
breaks down starch and is found in the saliva
What does bicarbonate do?
helps buffer the system and is found in the saliva
Why aren't horses able to vomit?
have a sphincter valve that doesn't allow food back up the esophagus
What occurs in the stomach?
- gastric digestion (particle breakdown)
- start of protein digestion
- minor microbial fermentation (small microbes break down cellulose)
What is pepsin?
responsible for breaking down proteins and is secreted in the stomach
What occurs in the small intestine?
- enzymatic digestion (pancreas)
- primary site of nutrient absorption
What is lipase?
breaks down lipids and fats
Why are lipids important?
responsible for moving fat-soluble vitamins
How do lipids move?
- carried on bile salts
- not water soluble
- only absorbed in upper part of the small intestine
What makes up the hindgut?
- large intestine (large and small colon)
What makes up the foregut?
What do microbes in the cecum do?
- break down fiber from forages
- produce volatile fatty acids, methane, and b-vitamins and k-vitamins
What can kill microbes if not broken down?
- starch and protein
- they release toxins if microbes are killed
What happens in the large colon?
- Volatile Fatty Acid synthesis and absorption
- B-vitamin synthesis (need water to be absorbed)
What happens in the small colon?
- Water re-absorption
- development of "horse apples"
Does the large intestine have microbes?
Some in small amounts
What are the 6 classifications of nutrients?
What are carbohydrates?
- Primary energy source
- starches/simple sugars and fiber
What are structural CHO?
- Starch/simple sugars
- found in the grain of hay
- easy to break down
What are structural CHOs?
- important for microbes in hind gut
What affects the quality of fiber?
- Hemicellulose (harder to break down)
- lignin (non-degradable)
- pectin (plant sugar)
Describe lipids (crude fat).
- 2-3 times as much as glucose
- needed to make fat-soluble vitamins
- usually supplemented (more than 4%)
- 10%-20% can be fed
- ex: soy bean oil, fish oil, rice bran
What happens if there is a crude fat imbalance?
- not enough fat for energy=lose weight
- too much fat=gain weight
What is the importance of protein (crude protein)?
- essential in growth and performance
- helps with amino acids (building blocks of tissue)
- needed in tissues, muscles, metabolism and body functions
What happens if there is a protein imbalance?
- young horse> affects growth
- performance horse> muscle atrophy and poor performance
What are the most important macrominerals?
What is the ideal calcium to phosphorus ratio? why?
- absorbed in two different areas and you don't want one to be wasted
What happens if there is a mineral imbalance?
issues with deficiencies and toxicities
What are the fat-soluble vitamins and why are they important?
- Vitamins K,A,D,E
- needed for body functions
- produced by plants themselves (most available directly after plant is cut)
- can be toxic if overfed
What is important about water-soluble vitamins?
- needed for body metabolism
- manufactured in the hind gut
- can be flushed out if overfed
- similar to an energy drink
How much water does a horse drink per day?
- 6-8 gallons for 500kg horse at rest
- 12-18 gallons for 500kg horse exercising
What do you need to know to figure out nutrient requirements?
- body weight
- physiological status
What nutrient requirements do idle horses have?
- need enough energy to maintain healthy body weight
- 5-6 BCS
What nutrient requirements do broodmares have?
- be able to provide for fetal development
- 6 BCS
- maintenance diet up to 5 months of gestation
- after 5 months, need more energy, crude protein and calcium
What are the nutrient requirements for broodmares in late gestation?
- need more trace minerals
- high quality hay and pasture
- up to 5lbs of grain per meal 2-3 times a day
- more concentrates than forage
What are the nutrient requirements of lactating mares?
- be able to maintain milk production and rebreed
- need high quality forage
- need more energy and crude protein
What are the nutrient requirements of growing horses?
- need to reach genetic potential and have sound skeletal development
- need high quality forage and feed formulated for growth
- need energy for growth
- need protein for skeletal/muscle development
What happens to growing horses if there isn't enough protein, calcium, phosphorus and energy?
- stunted growth
What are the limiting amino acids for growth?
can essential amino acids be made in the body?
What is the peak weight gain for growth?
How is low CP fortified?
with lysine and threonin
What are the nutrient requirements for working horses?
- have enough energy to complete exercise and have optimal performance
- need high quality forages and grains formulated for work
- need extra starches, carbs, etc., to meet energy needs
What are the major nutrient concerns for working horses?
- meeting energy requirements for the work
- replacement of water and electrolytes lost in sweat
What are the protein requirements for working horses?
- more than idle horses (10-12% CP)
- need nitrogen back in the system
- too much CP causes more urea, more excretion, more heat and more acid produced
What does feeding fat do?
- safe, dense energy source
- provides essential fatty acids
- increases absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
- provides calming effect
- feed plant based fats (soy bean oil, vegetable oil)
- 8-10% but not over 20%
What are electrolytes?
- found in plasma and easily lost through sweat
- can be lost in metabolism
- can be provided by food but the body can't store them
- sodium, chloride, potassium
What are the nutrient requirements for senior horses?
- needs less energy than younger horses because body is breaking down
- needs less protein for metabolism because GI tract is breaking down
- mineral requirements are not known
- need an easily digestible feed
- maintain good BCS
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