Pre & Pro Biotics
Pre and Probiotics. Exactly what is the difference?
PREBIOTICS – are a source of food for probiotics to grow, multiply and survive in the gut. They are A NON-LIVING feed ingredient that have a beneficial effect on gastro-intestinal function and or health.
PROBIOTICS – are LIVE bacteria and yeasts that promotes the growth of micro-organisms (good bacteria) that have a beneficial effect on gastro-intestinal function and health. Bacteria probiotics cannot be sold for horses under EU/UK food law so high dose yeast probiotics such as Yea Sacc are the popular choice.
The benefits of Prebiotics and Probiotics in horses can include: improved efficiency of digestion, improvement in loose droppings, improved behaviour and decreased risk of illness such as colic. They are beneficial for the hindgut rather than helping directly with ulcers in the stomach.
So are there natural every day foods that contain Probiotics?
There are certain foods that absolutely contain natural pre and probiotics. These are more suited to human gut health and so for horses and dogs the options are somewhat limited.
One of the best forms of natural probiotics is contained in a fermented milk culture called Kefir. This is becoming increasingly more popular but can be quite expensive if you don't make it yourself. Dogs are more likely to be complicit in having this but some horses may refuse as it does have an extremely sour/tangy taste.
Live Yoghurt also contains beneficial bacteria but you would need to feed a fair amount of it to a horse to get the concentration of probiotics.
The best way of getting a high daily source of pre & probiotics to your horse would be through supplementation with something like brewers yeast (pre biotic) & Yea Sacc (probiotic).
Both of these can be fed long term or at periods of high stress. For example spring grass coming through, and change of forage & turnout, often places stress on the horses gut. This would show with symptoms such as loose droppings, behaviour change and/or colicky symptoms. You may find that you only need to feed through the transitional winter/spring period. Other horses find the stress of competition will affect digestive health and these horses may need to be maintained with supplements such as Yea Sacc, through the whole year.
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