Gastric ulcer syndrome in exercising horses fed different types of hay
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Equine gastric ulcer syndrome (EGUS) is highly prevalent in horses and most commonly found in racing and performance horses. This condition may negatively impact the health and athletic performance of affected horses (Vatistas et al. 1999). Proton pump inhibitors are commonly used to treat EGUS, however, a less expensive method, such as a change of diet, may give similar results. Alfalfa hay may offer some buffering capabilities within the stomach (Nadeau et al. 2000). The objective of this study was to further investigate any possible antiulcerogenic properties of alfalfa hay. Twenty-four Quarter Horse yearlings, 12-16 months of age, were utilized in this study. The 77-d experiment consisted of two 28-d periods separated by a 21-d wash-out period. Horses were endoscopically examined at the beginning and end of each period and blocked into two treatment groups. Treatment 1 included coastal bermuda grass (CB) hay and Treatment 2 included alfalfa hay as the only forage source. Horses were fed in stalls, housed in small dry lots, and subjected to an exercise regimen using a mechanical horse-exerciser. A significant effect of diet, was observed on ulcer score (P< 0.05). CB hay–fed yearlings experienced an increase in ulcer score severity compared to that of alfalfa hay– fed yearlings. Significant healing did not occur during the wash-out period, but horses experienced a significant increase in ulcer score severity (P< 0.05). The outcome of this study suggests that alfalfa hay does have antiulcerogenic capability.
Lybbert, Travis Craig (2007). Gastric ulcer syndrome in exercising horses fed different types of hay. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from