Last Updated on March 18, 2022 by Allison Price
Some people advocate against feeding horses Bermuda grass hay. This has been linked to ileal-cecal impotence. Mild to severe colic and obstruction of the intestinal lumen at junction of the cecum and ileum are symptoms of ileal-cecal impotency. See diagram below. Colic management is a key component of the treatment for ileal-cecal. However, it might require surgery. Although dry forages and hays have been suggested as possible causes, it is possible that impaction can also be caused by hay. Spasmodic contractions in the ileal muscles against the ingesta in intestines could be the cause of impaction. There are many factors that can cause a gut response.
Although no empirical data is available on horse ileal-cecal impotency, hospital caseloads suggest that horses are more likely to experience this condition than other forage-related diseases like enterolith formation or fescue toxicities. There have been reports of rapid changes in the type and quantity of hay that horses are fed. This includes replacing alfalfa with Bermuda grass hay. Leafy, high in protein and lower in fiber than Bermuda grass hay, alfalfa hay can be digested more quickly than Bermuda grass hay. The horse’s protein intake can be reduced (which will also reduce the horse’s nitrogen intake). This is why horse owners should make gradual changes to their diet. In addition, sudden changes in the microflora can cause digestive problems and lead to colic.
Alfalfa Hay contains more protein than horses need. You can reduce your intake of alfalfa by feeding less hay and changing the hay types and amounts. This will decrease the protein intake and reduce the intake of nitrogen. Because mammals are designed to excrete nitrogen through the urine, less nitrogen is absorbed from diet. This means that less ammonia waste product must be removed. Horses therefore consume less water. This physiological adjustment is fine. However, water is important for lubricating the gut and promoting the passage digesta through the intestinal tract.
Nutritional management of forages in relation to impaction is a crucial issue. This should highlight the importance of the Feed Consumption Guidelines For Horses, REB Fact Sheet #112. Colic remains the top concern for horse owners. Proper nutritional management can help reduce the risk factors associated with colic-type syndromes such as ileal and cecal impaction. Horse owners must feed their horses Bermuda grass hay. Nutritional management is crucial in managing any potential issues.
I’m Allison, born and raised in San Diego California, the earliest memory I have with horses was at my grandfather’s farm. I used to sit at the stable as a kid and hang out with my Papa while he was training the horses. When I was invited to watch a horse riding competition, I got so fascinated with riding!