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Do these situations sound familiar? • Your horse has been prescribed stall rest and you know you need to cut back on feed, however you notice your horse is losing muscle tone. • You...
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Recently I have received a lot of emails asking about what probiotics to use for horses with diarrhea, or for overall GI tract support. Unfortunately, the answer is not simple, because the microbiome of...
Before exploring the benefits of yeast for horses, some appreciation is in order. Yeasts are fascinating microorganisms with over 1500 species currently identified. Yeast microbes may be one of the earliest domesticated organisms. Archeologists working in Egypt have found baking chambers for yeast-raised bread that date back thousands of years.
These organisms use organic compounds as a source of energy and do not require sunlight to grow, nor do they need oxygen in order to produce energy. Yeasts are naturally occurring on the skins of fruits and berries and on exudates like cacti, as well as in soils, on insects and on our skin. Even deep ocean environments host a variety of yeasts.
Under anaerobic conditions (without oxygen), yeast converts sugar and starches into alcohol and carbon dioxide. This process is known as fermentation. Without yeast fermentation there would be no bread, wine, beer, root beer, Kombucha, or kefir. Without yeast fermentation there would be no industrial ethanol production. A wide variety of chemicals are now produced with genetically engineered yeast, including phenolics, alkaloids, and specific amino acids like Lysine. Some biopharmaceuticals are produced from yeast, including insulin, vaccines for hepatitis, and human serum albumin.
Yeast for horses:
The two most common strains of yeast used in equine feeds and supplements are S. cerevisiae and S. boulardii. These yeasts function in the hindgut of horses helping to digest dry matter and organic matter. The yeasts are commonly fed in forms known as yeast culture or live/active yeast.
Prebiotics and probiotics for horses have been used as common additives to feed and supplements. Until recently, the amount of live cultures needed for colonization of the intestines was not known. Studies at the University of Toronto at Guelph highlight that the minimum amount of live cultures (measured as CFUs – colony forming units) must be at least 100 billion viable cells. For very sick horses, that requirement may go as high as 400 billion CFUs.
All mammals live in a symbiotic association with a complex population of microorganisms that inhabit their gastrointestinal tract. One of the benefits the host animal derives from this relationship is an enhanced resistance to infection and disease. Under domesticated conditions, stress factors can cause deficiencies to occur which can make the horse vulnerable to infection.