There has been discussion about hindgut ulcers in recent years; do they exist, what impact are they likely to have on a horse, how should we treat them, how do we even know if they are there… lots of questions, not a lot of answers.
At a workshop on the topic of sub-acute rumen acidosis (SARA), part of that discussion was around the health of the rumen wall and the impact that SARA has on it. The rumen has the same function in ruminants as the hindgut in horses, namely to digest fiber by microbes.
Essentially if you make the rumen acidic (in the same way we can make a horse’s hind gut acidic when we feed raw grains like corn/maize), you start to damage the gut wall. Initially this will reduce the gut lining’s ability to absorb nutrients (which is a huge problem in itself). BUT, make it bad enough and ulcers will appear!
The photos here (from https://vet.uga.edu/…/digest…/week02/forestomach/rumen06.htm) show rumens that have been affected by acidosis. The first (black) shows ulcers in the lining. The second shows a healed ulcer and the long term damage done.
So, when you feed, think about how what you are feeding is going to affect your horse’s hindgut health. It is possibly the single most important thing to consider when feeding!
For more on feeding for hind gut health have a read of our article Keeping the Hindgut Healthy.
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