Horse nutrition: Prebiotics do more harm than good

October 01, 2019

Prebiotics are only able to help stabilise the intestinal flora of horses to a limited degree. Before they can reach the intestines, commercially available supplements partially break down in the animals' stomachs, which can lead to inflammation of the stomach lining. This was discovered by researchers at Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg (MLU) and the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover (TiHo). The team therefore suggests preparing prebiotic food supplements so that they don't take effect until they reach the large intestine. The study appeared recently in the journal PLOS ONE.

Prebiotics are often added to horse feed in order to stabilise the horse's health. They are indigestible fibres that can stimulate the growth and activity of certain beneficial bacteria in the large intestine. "Horses have a relatively small, non-diverse core microbiome and are therefore very susceptible to digestive disorders," explains Professor Annette Zeyner, head of the animal nutrition group at MLU. However, according to the scientist, insufficient research has been conducted on whether the use of prebiotics actually does produce the desired effects. Her research group explored this question in partnership with Professor Gerhard Breves' lab from TiHo.

For the study, the team investigated the effect of feeding Jerusalem artichoke meal (JAM) on horses. This is a typical prebiotic for horses. In addition to their normal feed, six animals received JAM containing high amounts of certain carbohydrates, so-called fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS) and also inulin. Another group of six horses received a placebo with their normal feed. The researchers then analysed the balance of bacteria in the digestive tract of the animals of both groups. It was discovered that the prebiotics were already being fermented in the stomach by the microorganisms naturally living there - i.e. they were taking effect much too early. "The fermentation process leads to the formation of organic acids that - unlike in the large intestine - can damage the mucous membrane of the horse's stomach," says Maren Glatter, a member of Zeyner's group and lead author of the study.

However, the bacterial diversity of the entire digestive tract did increase, which probably also produces the desired protective effect. "Still, the prebiotics are probably more harmful than beneficial when used in their present form," Zeyner surmises. Instead, the substances must be treated so that they arrive in the large intestine in one dose in order to have a positive effect on the intestinal bacteria living there without stimulating overactivity.
-end-


Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

Related Bacteria Articles from Brightsurf:

Siblings can also differ from one another in bacteria
A research team from the University of Tübingen and the German Center for Infection Research (DZIF) is investigating how pathogens influence the immune response of their host with genetic variation.

How bacteria fertilize soya
Soya and clover have their very own fertiliser factories in their roots, where bacteria manufacture ammonium, which is crucial for plant growth.

Bacteria might help other bacteria to tolerate antibiotics better
A new paper by the Dynamical Systems Biology lab at UPF shows that the response by bacteria to antibiotics may depend on other species of bacteria they live with, in such a way that some bacteria may make others more tolerant to antibiotics.

Two-faced bacteria
The gut microbiome, which is a collection of numerous beneficial bacteria species, is key to our overall well-being and good health.

Microcensus in bacteria
Bacillus subtilis can determine proportions of different groups within a mixed population.

Right beneath the skin we all have the same bacteria
In the dermis skin layer, the same bacteria are found across age and gender.

Bacteria must be 'stressed out' to divide
Bacterial cell division is controlled by both enzymatic activity and mechanical forces, which work together to control its timing and location, a new study from EPFL finds.

How bees live with bacteria
More than 90 percent of all bee species are not organized in colonies, but fight their way through life alone.

The bacteria building your baby
Australian researchers have laid to rest a longstanding controversy: is the womb sterile?

Hopping bacteria
Scientists have long known that key models of bacterial movement in real-world conditions are flawed.

Read More: Bacteria News and Bacteria Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.