“I think if you look at some of the literature in both the popular press and definitely in the scientific community, we have a lot of people that will tell you that probiotics are going to be the antibiotics in the 21st Century,” explains Dr. Richard G. Godbee, Farnam Director of Technical Services – Equine. “And I think they’re correct.”
Horse Digestion Supplements
So, let’s learn a little bit about equine probiotics, prebiotics, and the newest concept of synbiotics. The 9-minute video above explains the world of equine probiotics in more depth.
- Probiotics: good microbes that help digest food in the gut
- Prebiotics: food for the good bacteria that currently or normally inhabit the gut
- Synbiotics: when a pro- and prebiotic are combined (synergy of the two)
“If we go back years ago, all the products had essentially the same five lactic acid bacteria. They had them in there at somewhere around 100 to 150 million total colony forming units per dose. Well, if we fast-forward through to today, we’re starting to see products that are more targeted, much higher numbers as far as the bacteria and the yeast go – the live yeast – and how they can impact [digestion],” Dr. Godbee said. Those lactic acid products are still on the market and good products, he added, but the science is moving forward.
Equine Probiotics and Prebiotics
In the synbiotic Farnam makes called Digestaid, you’ll find equine probiotics and prebiotics:
- Mannan Oligosaccharide: Prebiotic
- Beta-Glucan: Stimulates mucosa immunity
- Pediococcus Acidilactici : Probiotic with known genetics that can be fed to horses when an antibiotic is in use; used as a supplement in treating constipation and diarrhea; relieving stress; and enhancing immune response. It also helps prevent growth of known pathogens.
- Saccharomyces Boulardii 1079: Probiotic yeast with known genetics; protects against pathogenic microorganisms in the horse
- Saccharomyces Cerevisiae 1077: Probiotic with know genetics introduces beneficial active cultures into the large and small intestine as well as conferring protection against pathogenic microorganisms.
“We know that what we have in [Digestaid] is effective. We know the numbers in here: there’s 30 billion total cfu’s per dose of Pediococcus, Boulardii and Cerevisiae,” Dr. Godbee confirmed.
Under normal circumstances, Dr. Godbee says he uses Digestaid 2-4 times per week with his cutting horses. He recommends increasing to daily doses in times of stress, including weather, travel, or illness. This is because stress can suppress the immune system, he said.
When deciding between paste and powder forms, he advised using the highly palatable powder for normal circumstances as it is more economically priced. The paste is helpful when a horse stops eating and a more immediate need is present. In some cases, multiple doses per day may be recommended; consult your veterinarian for advice with your individual horses.