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Prebiotics & Probiotics for Horses

Pre- and probiotics are considered “functional ingredients” that are added to horse feed to provide benefits to your horse. The environment of the intestine (a.k.a. gut) contains naturally occurring beneficial microorganisms commonly called  ‘bugs’. Gut bugs are found in all species, including humans, and are essential to the digestion process. For the horse, gut bugs work to break down components of forage and feed as they pass through the digestive tract.  The bugs deconstruct complex molecules within feedstuffs, which releases nutrients and allows the synthesis of energy substrates and important vitamins. Those nutrients are then absorbed through the intestines into the bloodstream, where they become available to cells in the body to support basic maintenance, growth and activity.

Prebiotics: Products that promote the natural growth of beneficial bacteria populations.

Probiotics: Beneficial bacteria similar to naturally occurring organisms in the hindgut that help support digestive health (also known as direct-fed microbials).

Potential Benefits of Adding Prebiotics and Probiotics to Equine Feeds:

  • Improved gut health
  • Improved feed efficiency
  • Improved digestion
  • Improved nutrient absorption
  • Reduced risk of digestive upsets
  • Reduced stress impact during competition or diet changes

Details About Prebiotics:

Prebiotics, previously referred to as yeast culture, provide support and energy to the ‘good’ bacteria in the gastro intestinal tract. Together, prebiotics and probiotics support the digestion process and allow the body to more readily absorb the nutrients in feed.

How Prebiotics work in the intestine

The unique prebiotic found in all Nutrena premium feeds aid in increasing the level of nutrients absorbed from feed by nurturing the micro-flora population in the gut. Flourishing micro-flora more fully convert feedstuffs to nutrients. With the resulting higher nutrient level, more nutrients are available for absorption allowing the horse to absorb the optimum amount of nutrients which translates into improved performance and reduced waste.

Details About Probiotics:

Previously referred to as direct-fed microbials, probiotics are microorganisms that contribute to the intestinal micro-flora balance and aid in digestion and nutrient absorption. Probiotics are also considered ‘good’ bacteria and help the body fight off ‘bad’ bacteria.

The probiotics found in Nutrena premium feeds include Lactobacillus acidophilus, L. casei, Enterococcus faecium, and Bifidobacterium thermophilum. All of these organisms are ‘good’ bacteria like those found in yogurt. Add the good bacteria to fight the bad bacteria. Establishing the proper micro-flora populations in the gastro intestinal tract aids in the breakdown and fermentation of feed, and absorption of nutrients.

How Probiotics work in the intestine

Probiotics provided in the diet inhibit pathogen growth in the gastro-intestinal tract by attaching to the gut wall and crowding out the bad bacteria (also referred to as competitive exclusion). 

Probiotics increase mucosal villus heights, increase digestive enzyme activity, and they increase antibody formation.  The villi form a brush border of the gut lining where particles of digested feed and water are absorbed into the body.

Good and bad bacteria compete for space to live on the brush border villi.  Good bacteria prevent the attachment of pathogenic (bad) bacteria to the the brush border membrane and destruction of the villi.  Again, fight the bad bacteria with the good bacteria.  By reducing the chance for bad pathogens, such as E. coli, salmonella, and clostridia to take hold, gut health is improved.  Improved gut health promotes improvement in nutritional absorption and decreased nutrient excretion.

Do the prebiotics and probiotics in Nutrena feed survive the pelleting process?

Yes! The unique strains of probiotics and prebiotics used in Nutrena feeds are heat stabilized to withstand the heat and friction of pelleting.

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Horse Feed for Digestion

From calcite to pre + pro + postbiotics — get feed recommendations for the entire digestive tract and learn why we provide the best support for your horse’s gut and immune health.