The Equine Digestive System

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I know, I know, there are many places that already have really great descriptions and information on the equine Digestive system. But the ABCs of Equine Nutrition will be a book when we are done and a book on equine nutrition would not be complete without a review of the Digestive system and how it works. Plus it begins with the letter “D”. So if you are well versed in equine Digestion and how it works then you can wait for our next topic for the letter “D” and that’s Dengie. If not, let’s go!

To keep it simple (and I’m all about that) Digestion is basically the process of making food absorbable by the body to use as energy. It does this by dissolving it and breaking it down into simpler chemical compounds. In the horse this is done through the action of enzymes in the foregut (stomach and small intestine) and fermentation in the hind gut (cecum and large intestine).

When Digestion works properly the nutrients from the broken down feed can be absorbed and provide the fats, carbohydrates, amino acids (protein), vitamin and minerals for the horse to use to live, grow, work, etc. These nutrients can be used right away or stored for future demands.

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