There is a dizzying array of gastric supplements on the market. If you’re like me starting my research, I felt overwhelmed and confused! However, it’s not as complicated as it first looks; most of them contain relatively few ingredients and these ingredients generally fit into one or two of the following categories:
Probiotics – these are the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, yeast such as saccharomyces cerevisiae.
Prebiotics – these are the foods of the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut, FOS and MOS for instance.
Substances that are slimy – these protect the lining of the stomach and gut, protecting it from being scratched by food passing through and some stomach acid. Linseed oil, pectin and beta glucans are good examples.
Substances that have a neutralising effect on the stomach acid – calcium and magnesium, for example.
Substances that remove/destroy or help the body to protect itself from harmful toxins and ‘bad bacteria’.
For a list of the most common ingredients in gastric supplements and which categories they fit into, click here.
I settled on Lucie Organic Stalks for the chaff – it’s an alfalfa chop (or lucerne as it is called in the UK). Alfalfa has a good balance of magnesium and calcium, which makes it a natural antacid. While it is quite course and could scratch the stomach/hindgut I can soften it with warm water. Abbey also eats like a lady, chewing her food thoroughly so I am going to try it and see.
For the balancer, I have opted for Spillers light and lean. This contains “a broad spectrum of vitamins and minerals, amino acids (lysine, methionine and threonine), cinnamon, FOS, magnesium and biotin”. It should give Abbey the amino acids she needs to build muscle, as well as vitamins and minerals which are likely to be missing from her forage.
It ready contains the prebiotic FOS and magnesium, so I am looking for a gastric supplement which doesn’t contain any more magensium but does have some slimy ingredients (beta glucans, pectin, for example) and probiotics (yea-sacc). I don’t mind if it includes some of the other prebiotic, MOS. Linseed could be beneficial too (though I am happy to supplement that separately).
I will keep you updated on our progress and how Abbey responds to her new feeding regime!
Because feed is such a complicated issue, I’ve written a number of blog posts sharing my research and my decision making process:
- A short guide to ulcers in horses
- Revision – what the words on the back of feed bags mean
- Choosing a chaff
- Choosing a balancer
- Common ingredients in gastric supplements and what they do