Be gut ready for the spring
Written by Kate Hore RNutr(Animal) R.Anim.Technol (Cert). Head Nutritionist at NAF
Spring is so close that we can almost smell it – but we, and our horses, have to get through the end of winter first. As horse owners we know this time of year can be the trickiest. Our horses, and particularly their digestive system, thrive on consistency and gradual changes.
However, February is a time of change. UK weather records show in February we may enjoy days of over 20oC, but equally minus twenty is known on the coldest days! Whether a mild, wet period leaves fields waterlogged and prone to poaching, or an unexpected cold snap brings ice and snow, horses’ regimes can easily be disrupted by suddenly having to spend longer stabled. Suddenly increasing the time stabled is a particularly known risk for acute digestive upset, so do try to avoid that if at all possible to keep the vet away.
Any change of regime or diet will negatively impact the delicate balance of the hindgut microbiota, responsible not only for digestive health, but for your horse’s overall immunity. Did you know that over 70% of total immunity comes from the gut based immune system? Gut based immunity can directly impact – either positively or negatively – every system in the body.
The ‘gut-brain axis’ is, perhaps, the best known of these pathways, whereby we understand that microbiota disruption can upset behaviour, concentration and learning. However, equally, we are now recognising the importance of the ‘gut-lung axis’ in respiratory health, ‘gut-joint axis’ in osteo-skeletal health, ‘gut-skin axis’ and so forth around the system. Therefore maintaining digestive health is imperative to all horses and ponies, as it influences all areas of their health.
Paramount to digestive health is feeding a high forage and fibre diet, and minimizing starchy concentrates as much as possible. Ensure the same forage is offered in both field and stable, which means if the time spent in either does need to change then, at least, the fibre source is consistent. It is advised to include targeted gut support daily, with proven action to support the microbiome and fibre digestion. NAF Five Star GastriAid targets gut health from the point of ingestion, to promote correct function and gut integrity from foregut to hindgut. NAF GastriAid contains prebiotics, live probiotic yeast, postbiotics and nutrients to maintain a healthy stomach pH, all working in synergy with herbal mucosal support to maintain total gut health right along their gastro-intestinal tract.
Tips to stay gut healthy this Spring