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Information from Our Horse Experts

Animal experts at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center share their knowledge about horses.

How can eating spring pasture cause laminitis and/or colic in horses?
Spring pasture is particularly high in sugars, which are stored in the plant as starch and fructan. When horses consume grass, this starch is digested to glucose by enzymes in the small intestine and absorbed, along with the simple sugars contained in the plant. If too much starch is ingested, it may overwhelm the capacity of the small intestine to digest and absorb it, resulting in overflow into the hindgut (cecum and colon). This can lead to fermentation and increased production of gas, which can result in colic. If large amounts of fructan and starch reach the hindgut, excess lactic acid may be produced, which can result in increased permeability of the intestinal wall. This allows various toxins and other substances into the bloodstream, where they may be carried to the hoof and incite laminitis.

Video Lessons from the Farm

Learn more horse feeding and caring tips from our Purina Nutrition Experts.

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