Prebiotic or Probiotic – when to use and how

horse winter

This is a nice follow up to the flu season “nanosill” post as digestive issues typically correspond with sickness or “stress”.

While many owners typically use either a prebiotic, or probiotic during the show season (or sometimes both), it’s important to understand how each one works and when it is needed.

Also keeping in mind that foaling season being just around the corner, and the importance of keeping everyone digestively happy pre and post parturition.

The digestive microbial population is made up of several hundred different types and strains of organisms. The numbers and ratios are constantly shifting as the horse eats and drinks, but a healthy balance is usually maintained. Illness, modifications to feed or exercise schedule, or any other kind of stress can cause a large enough change in the intestinal environment to allow one type of microbe to multiply quickly or another type to decline in numbers.

The result of these changes may be mild problems such as diarrhea, or more serious conditions such as colic or laminitis.


Probiotics are live microbial cultures. They may include bacteria such as Lactobacillus acidophilus, Streptococcus faecium, and Bacillus subtilis; fungi such as Aspergillus oryzae; and yeast strains such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Included in a feed mix in powdered or granulated form, probiotics continually introduce beneficial organisms that may be depleted by daily management.

Research with horses indicates that live yeast culture supplementation helps to limit undesirable changes in the intestinal ecosystem, reducing variations in lactic acid concentrations and pH levels after large grain meals. In growing horses, yeast increased the digestibility of ADF, NDF, calcium, phosphorus, and zinc.


Prebiotics are substances that support intestinal microorganisms. By providing easily utilized nutrients or creating a favorable environment, prebiotics encourage the growth of a microbial strain that may have been depleted or overwhelmed by a digestive upset. Yeast, a common prebiotic, furnishes amino acids and oligosaccharides that nourish desirable bacteria. There is also evidence that some prebiotics enhance the equine immune system.

There are several supplements on the market that combine both Prebiotic and Probiotic components, and can help keep your horses digestive system running efficiently, and keep them working happy.

To find the supplement that is right for you contact us via email, or phone.   |    519-699-0303

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