The Guide to Raising Horses: Digestion
 By Cruisin Past Curfew   •   12th Jan 2014   •   1,628 views   •   0 comments
Horse Digestion

A horse's digestion system is different than the cow's digestion system. Unlike cows, horses only have one stomach while cows have four. A horse's stomach does not stretch like a human's. When a horse eats fast, the food fills the stomach very quickly. The stomach then forces undigested food into the stomach before it is ready to be digested. This can lead to colic.

The horse's stomach is relatively small. It can only hold two to five gallons (8-20 L.). A horse will eat smaller amounts, but more frequently due to the limited amount of space in the stomach.

When a horse digests food, it travels through a multi-stage process. First it goes through the esophagus, then enters the stomach, small intestine, cecum, large colon, small colon, and finally the rectum. Digestion starts in the stomach. The stomach first breaks down small amounts of protein. The food then enters the small intestine where it breaks down more proteins but also breaks down starches, sugars, and some fats. The pancreas and the liver release enzymes into the intestines so that the feed can be broken down and absorbed. The horse has no gall bladder to release bile into the intestines so fats can be broken down. Instead, bile is released into the small intestine, but the fat is not completely digested yet. The completion of fat digestion happens in the large intestine.

In the large intestine, fibers are broken down to transform cellulose into fatty-acids. They manufacture amino-acids where the horse gets proteins and vitamin B. Digestion is then completed in the large colon, where extra water is absorbed.

Fun Fact #1: Horses produce thirty to fifty pounds (fourteen to twenty-three kg.) of manure a day.

If you have any questions related to this article, feel free to message me.
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