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  • Writer's pictureHolly Heartz

The Equine Microbiome: Diet, Disease, and Behaviour

Summary: Gut bacteria play an important role in digestion and overall health in horses, including their behavioral health. This article introduces the equine gut microbiome and explores how changing a horses’ diet could influence their welfare through encouraging a change in microbiota composition.


Over the past 25 years as a registered dietitian, I have witnessed an increase in knowledge regarding intestinal health and management of disease with nutrition. This is possible in all mammalian species. Recently, there is a focus on fixing gut function for those with digestive issues and improving gut-brain communication for those dealing with anxiety and depression. Food can influence gut and mental health. Using nutrition strategies often works better than medication to improve mental health. Extensive research is being conducted on the gut microbiome, which is key to improving gut and brain health.

In the equine, digestion in the foregut is like most other mammals. However, the hindgut (the cecum and colon) differs in terms of where the complex environment of microbiota resides. Here, both beneficial and harmful organisms reside, and their composition fluctuates, even in healthy horses.1

Please go to the link provided to read the the rest of this peer-reviewed article. https://iaabcjournal.org/the-equine-microbiome-diet-disease-and-behaviour/





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