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Protection against stress!

Image credit: Sue Thompson on Flickr (CC by 2.0)

The horse’s digestive tract is very sensitive and prone to disturbances. It can be very easily thrown out of balance by management errors such as husbandry or feeding mistakes. Brewers’ yeast is a well-known feedstuff with a long tradition in horse feeding.

Its use is often recommended in scientific literature, e.g. for:

• digestive disorders, damage to the intestinal flora, loss of appetite or general poor performance (COENEN & VERVUERT, 2020)

• tendency to colic or diarrhea (ZENTEK et al. 2008, COENEN & VERVUERT, 2020)

• rations rich in concentrated feed and poor in structure (COENEN & VERVUERT, 2020)

• rations with low hay quality (MORGAN et al., 2007)


In a practical test with Leiber YeaFi® BT – brewers’ yeast, 20 young warmblood horses were exposed to different stress factors within a very short period of time. Simultaneously with the change of husbandry (pasture a stable husbandry) a change of feed (grass a concentrate and hay) took place. In addition, the training started.

Changes in husbandry – or even feeding management can result in digestive disorders. Assessment of faecal consistency is a means of evaluating the health of the horse, in addition to the external appearance and willingness of the animal to perform. Changes in faecal consistency indicate, among other things, changes in the digestive process and thus provide early indications of any digestive disorders.

Stabilisation of faecal consistency during feed changes

The use of Leiber YeaFi® BT showed positive effects with regard to faecal consistency already within a short period of time (1–4 weeks) (see Figure 1).

Fig. 1: Changes in stool consistency

When switching from a low-structure diet (pasture) to a highstructure diet (hay), there is a risk of very dry faeces and even constipation. In the field trial, control and experimental groups differed significantly in faecal consistency. Leiber YeaFi® BT fed horses showed an optimal to softer faeces, while the control group showed significantly drier faeces and thus a tendency to constipation.

The examination of the faeces for short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) also showed a higher SCFA production (+32 percent) in the Leiber YeaFi® BT group compared to the control group (+11.6 percent). In the large intestine, cellolytic bacteria degrade cellulose and hemicellulose to short-chain fatty acids (SCFA). These serve the horse, among other things, for energy supply (propionate) and promote intestinal health (butyrate). The horse can cover up to 70 percent of the daily energy supply in the maintenance metabolism by SCFA production.

Better digestibility!

In a study by MORGAN et al. (2007), the effect of brewers’ yeast on the digestion of different roughage qualities was investigated in horses. The experiment showed that the use of brewers’ yeast increased the digestibility of low roughage qualities. Feeding low crude fibre qualities with the addition of brewers’ yeast, showed a significant increase in protein digestibility and significantly higher digestibility of cell wall components such as NDF (Neutral Detergent Fibre) and hemicelluloses. According to MORGAN et al. (2007), brewers’ yeast can thus positively influence the digestion of low-quality hay.

Stabilization of body mass with increasing work performance

Indications of better nutrient conversion by Leiber YeaFi® BT – brewers’ yeast were also shown in the practical trial with the young horses. In the assessment of body mass, subcutaneous fat thickness was measured by ultrasound in addition to the BCS (Body Condition Scores) (NORDHOFF, 2014). This measurement is used to objectively assess body constitution. The subcutaneous fat thickness of the horses in the experimental group was significantly increased at all three measurement points during the entire experimental period (see Figure 2). The result clearly shows: despite increasing workload, the horses of the test group built up body fat. Horses in stressful situations thus benefit from daily Leiber YeaFi® BT feeding.

Fig. 2: Measurement of subcutaneous fat thickness

Impressive young horses!

The good physical condition of the Leiber YeaFi® BT fed horses was also confirmed by the riders. After each training session, they filled out a questionnaire without knowing, which horse was or was not in the experimental group. The riders rated the young horses in the experimental group as having better looseness and rideability (see Figure 3). In addition, the horses showed a very good nutritional condition and excellent overall impression during the entire trial period.

Fig. 3: Assessment of work behaviour and handling

Better coat quality and better overall impression

An improved overall impression due to Leiber YeaFi® BT was also shown in a 9-month practical trial with old horses. Here, almost all participants described a poor overall impression and especially a poor coat quality of their horses in the preliminary report. After the end of the trial, the horses in the experimental group (Leiber YeaFi® BT – brewers’ yeast) not only showed a faster coat change. 75% also showed a significantly better coat quality, shinier or smoother coat and a significantly better overall impression (see Figure 4–6) than horses without brewers’ yeast addition.

Leiber YeaFi® BT:

• stabilization of faeces consistency during feed conversion

• stabilization of body mass with increasing performance

• better looseness and rideability

• better coat quality and better overall impression

Article contributed by Maike RAKEBRANDT, Senior Product Management Equine & Pet, Leiber GmbH, Germany

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