Hay Before Grain? It’s feeding time and the horses know it. Feed buckets are rattling; there are nickers and the banging of hooves against gates. In most stables the concentrate or
fiber moving through the digestive system. The chewing of forage produces saliva which helps buffer the production of acid in the stomach. A horse with access
“grain” is given first - to satisfy the immediate need and calm the stable. Even if hay is given simultaneously the concentrate will be eaten first. But is that wise?
First we need to understand some basic facts regarding the equine digestive system. Horses are designed to utilize forage; they are animals that graze – requiring a constant trickle of long-stem
to adequate amounts of forage will produce five to ten gallons of saliva a day. The more he chews the more buffering agent he introduces into the stomach. The bulky mixture of forage and saliva helps protect the delicate lining of the upper stomach region from the acid. Without this protection gastric ulcers can form. Studies have shown lesions can occur in less than 12 hours if
stomach acid is not kept at bay. In order to get the protection longstem fiber and saliva provides against ulcers, an adequate amount of forage must be fed at least an hour before the grain or concentrate portion of the meal. Tossing in a flake of hay and then feeding grain 10 minutes later is not going to be of any benefit. Plus the horse will probably not eat the hay as he knows the grain is coming in a few minutes. After the feed leaves the stomach it enters the small intestine. This is where starch, complex sugars, protein from the grain portion of the diet, fat, fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, and E), and most minerals are utilized…and then it is on to the large intestine where the remaining material enters the cecum. The cecum is a fermentation vat. Within the cecum are microbes and bacteria that aid in the digestion of cellulose and fiber. If excessive amounts of starch and complex sugars reach the cecum (instead
20 • HORSES MAGAZINE • July 2018 • Download and View FREE on-line at www.horsesmagazine.com
July 2018 Horses Magazine