Scouring is a natural flushing process which occurs when the normal digestive processes in the lower gut of an animal are disturbed. The equine digestive system, in common with that of other mammals, carries an enormous microbial population. In healthy, correctly-fed animals, potentially harmful bacteria such as Escherichia Coli, Salmonella, Streptococcus, etc are largely naturally suppressed. Insults to the digestive tract for example by lush spring grass, or poor quality haylage can allow such pathogens to proliferate and colonise the gut, leading initially to loose droppings and scours, with potentially lethal consequences.
Research has shown that substances known as OLIGOSACCHARIDES (derived from the cell walls of some strains of yeast) can prevent the colonisation of the gut wall by these harmful organisms, thereby minimising scour and loose droppings.
Hind-gut wall irritation and inflammation can be caused by parasite infestation by large and small redworm, tapeworm etc etc. This often exhibits as chronically soft, poorly formed droppings, passed with fluid which stains the hind-quarters and can cause skin sores. Colonic ulceration caused by drugs such as phenylbutazone can give similar symptoms.
To prevent loose droppings and scour you should therefore:
- avoid / reduce rich grass or haylage
- increase long fibre in diet
- reduce/eliminate starch from feed (in flaked maize, barley, oats etc)
- not give laxatives e. g. Epsom Salts
- avoid/reduce use of drugs such as ‘Bute
- Check your worming programme with particular regard to redworm and tapeworm – if necessary consult your vet or qualified retailer.
Horseheath Nutition can provide free advice on management & diets for horses experiencing the problems outlined above. You can telephone 0344 8844 850 or 07721 384508 or use the form here.