Nutritional Considerations for EGGD

Equine Glandular Gastric Disease (EGGD) affects the glandular portion of a horse’s stomach. As horse owners and caretakers, understanding the unique nutritional requirements of horses with EGGD is crucial for their well-being.

Nutritional Considerations for EGGD

Understanding EGGD

Equine Glandular Gastric Disease (EGGD) is a complex condition marked by inflammation and ulceration in the glandular region of a horse's stomach. This ailment often manifests through symptoms like decreased appetite, weight loss and poor performance, underscoring the significant impact on the horse's overall well-being. Addressing the challenges posed by EGGD necessitates a multifaceted approach, and diet is thought to play less of a role in its development than Equine Squamous Gastric Disease (ESGD). Factors such as stress and exercise may be more closely linked to EGGD, but nutrition is still an important consideration in the management of the condition.

A part of managing EGGD lies in cultivating a balanced diet that actively supports gastrointestinal health. A diet rich in fibre proves instrumental, as it not only aids in promoting regular digestion but also stimulates saliva production. Saliva, acting as a natural buffer against gastric acid, becomes a crucial element in mitigating the harsh effects on the stomach.

Additionally, the incorporation of forage into the equine diet emerges as a fundamental strategy to maintain a healthy digestive system. Among the various forage options, high-quality fibre feeds, such as alfalfa, shine as a particularly beneficial choice. Alfalfa is high in quality protein and calcium, which can help to buffer acid in the stomach, so it is a good choice for horses prone to EGGD.

The Top 4 Benefits of Alfalfa-Based Horse Feed for EGGD

1.       Rich in Nutrients - Alfalfa stands out as an excellent option for horses with EGGD due to its richness in nutrients. It is a high-protein fibre feed, providing essential amino acids necessary for muscle development and overall health. The calcium content in alfalfa also contributes to reducing acidity in the stomach.

2.       Improved Digestibility - Alfalfa is highly digestible, which means it is easier for the horse to break down the fibre and extract the energy from it. This means that alfalfa provides a similar energy level to a basic coarse mix but with significantly lower levels of starch, so is a preferable choice for horses with EGGD.

3.       Enhanced Saliva Production - Saliva acts as a natural buffer against gastric acid, helping to protect the stomach lining. Adding chopped alfalfa to the bucket feed can help to increase chew time, leading to increased saliva production.

4.       Natural Buffering Effect - Beyond its role in enhanced saliva production, alfalfa-based horse feed provides a natural buffering effect in the stomach. The high levels of calcium and protein it provides can help to counterbalance the acidity in the stomach. This natural buffering effect is beneficial for horses with EGGD, as it can help to reduce the risk of gastric ulcers and provide further support in managing the condition effectively. A recent study found that clinical success for horses with EGGD was 47.7 times more likely in horses fed alfalfa compared to a control group (Julliand et al., 2023).

How to Manage EGGD Through a Balanced Diet

1.       Balancing the Diet - Achieving a balanced diet is crucial for horses with EGGD. In addition to alfalfa-based feed, the addition of a suitable balancer or broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplement can create a well-rounded nutritional plan alongside plenty of forage. Consult with an equine nutritionist to tailor the diet to your horse's specific needs, considering factors such as age, weight, and activity level.

2.       Frequent, Small Meals - Instead of feeding large meals, opt for smaller, more frequent feedings throughout the day. This approach helps prevent prolonged periods of an empty stomach and helps to promote continued saliva production. Feeding plenty of forage can also encourage natural chewing and saliva production, promoting gastric health.

3.       Hydration is Key - Adequate water intake is vital for horses with EGGD. An inadequate supply of water has been shown to increase the likelihood of gastric ulcers, so ensure that clean, fresh water is readily available at all times. For horses who may not be drinking enough, dampening the feed can further increase water consumption and contribute to overall hydration.

Managing EGGD requires an approach that includes proper nutrition tailored to the specific needs of affected horses. Alfalfa-based horse feeds are a valuable part of this strategy, offering a range of benefits. By understanding the nutritional considerations for EGGD and implementing a well-balanced diet, horse owners can contribute to the overall well-being and performance of their equine companions.


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