When you look at the ingredient list of many feeds and digestive supplements, you will see some sort of yeast inclusion. Why is this? How beneficial is it, and when do you need it?
The digestive tract is full of components and organisms that help the horse break down, digest, and uptake nutrients. Yeast is a microscopic fungus that grows on plant sugars and certain cultures can enhance the activity of good (beneficial) hind-gut activity in your horse. Not to be mistaken for curing hind gut issues, just enhancing proper activity.
Yeasts are high in B-Complex vitamins, and food yeasts are 40-55% protein and contain all the essential amino acids for complete protein utilization. Brewer’s yeast and distiller’s grains can be incorporated into equine diets as a means of increasing protein values.
Yeast improves utilization of feed and inhibition of pathogenic organisms. The yeast saccharomyces has similar benefits to probiotic bacteria and has been shown to reduce lactate and acidity in grain-fed horses.
Research indicates horses who consume large amounts of grain can enjoy improved fiber digestion when also fed yeast probiotics.
Another yeast, aspergillus oryza (also well known as the source for many extremely beneficial digestive enzymes), is often given as a prebiotic and a probiotic. It actually produces lactic acid (the exact opposite of saccharomyces), and provides a source of food for many beneficial bacteria.
So, where does the farting come in?
When fungi die off, flatulence increases. Many of us pay close attention to changes in flatulence as it can indicate a gas build up and need for concern in certain situations such as colic. When we see scenarios where the fungi may have been compromised, we need to prioritize replacing the fungi and building up a new level of support.
What causes the fungi to die off? There are many things that can disrupt the natural flora in the digestive tract. Things like stress, shipping, feed changes, high sugar feeds, hormone imbalances, antibiotic treatments, and worming to name a few.
So how important is it to purchase a digestive supplement with a yeast component in it? If you have a horse that stresses, had changes in bowel movement frequency/consistency, travels a lot, or has had incidences of colic, it can be extremely beneficial.
Be careful. There are many feeds out there that use added yeast as a selling feature, but very rarely do you see any of them list actual levels of inclusion for the yeast. Paying extra for this potential gimmick leaves many disappointed with the advertised results. Using a supplement with a listed level of yeast additive is always the best way to ensure your horse has the help it may need to keep a happy digestive tract.
If you have questions on finding the right digestive supplement for your horse, contact us at www.thefigureseven.ca