Colic in the horse: Part 2

By Lauren Lamb

Last month we talked about the clinical signs of colic and what to do when you notice signs of colic. This month we will discuss how to prevent colic. Some common causes of colic include inappropriate feed or hay, meal feeding, insufficient exercise and turnout, and poor gastrointestinal parasite management.

The most common cause of colic in horses is the domesticated meal feeding husbandry that has been adopted for them. Human gastrointestinal tracts are similar to a carnivore’s and are designed to eat two to three meals a day. A horse, on the other hand, has a gastrointestinal system that is nothing like a human’s and is designed to eat and digest small mouth fulls of poor quality grass and roughage for 12 to 16 hours a day. They are also designed to be walking and moving while they are eating. Either due to convenience or lack of understanding of the horse’s digestive physiology, we have developed a meal feeding management program for horses in a small confined area. A horse’s stomach is only five gallons in capacity. Feeding a horse more than five gallons of feed (especially grain or concentrate) at one time will result in feed being inadequately digested, which leads to large colon gas distention and displacement.

Read “Colic in the Horse: Part 2” in the November issue of OKFR!