Hay vs Chaff; Why (stem) size matters when your horse is healing from ulcers
Roughage, roughage & more roughage is undoubtedly the primary nutrition objective when it comes to treating equine ulcers. However, it's now been discovered that the stem length (or particle size) has a significant impact on ulcers.
A research team from the University of Leipzig, in Germany set out to investigate by conducting a study on 70 foals.
The foals were split into three groups and fed one of the the below options as the roughage component of their diet (in conjuction with a balanced 'hard feed' diet).
- Alfalfa Chaff (stem length more than 2mm)
- Alfalfa Pellets (particle size less than 1/4mm)
Alarmingly, neither of the groups fed chaff or pellets showed any improvement with the gastric ulceration after 14 days. Furthermore, the group fed alfalfa chaff returned statistically significantly worse pyloric lesions (ulcers) than the other two groups.
The research team had not expected this result & theorised that the 2mm stem length of the chaff may have mechanically irritated the pyloric region to increase ulceration.
The final findings of the study revealed that the team did not recommend chaff as the primary source of roughage for ulcer prevention and treatment. They recommended hay or hay with alfalfa pellets.
Hay - The first choice for equine ulcer recovery
Chew time is critical for horses. The more chewing, the more saliva is produced and saliva is the magic bullet when it comes to ulcer prevention.
Saliva is an integral part of ulcer prevention due to it’s buffering abilities. Saliva is high in enzymes, potassium, chloride, and bicarbonate which help protect the stomach lining and reduce acid.
Horses fed 1kg of hay will produce between 3 & 6 litres of saliva and it is recommended as the best form of roughage for equine ulcer recovery & prevention.
Still not convinced?
Here’s a few more reasons to swap your chaff bags for hay bales.
- Colic prevention
- Encourages water consumption
- Anti boredom
- Less expensive
- Lower environmental footprint
Medication for Equine Ulcers
Omeprazole and sucralfate (or a combination of the two) are considered the gold standard medication to treat equine ulcers. Here at Abler we sell both products as AbPrazole, AbSucralfate or AbPrazole Plus (which is a combination of omeprazole and probiotics).
Our products are affordable and easy to purchase through this website. They're also available without a prescription. To order yours, head over the Shop Page to find out more.