To determine the effects of two diets and water supplies on intestinal pH and mineral concentrations in the colon of horses, and to identify whether differences in these parameters exist in horses with and without enterolithiasis, surgical fistulation of the right dorsal colon was performed in six adult horses, three with and three without enterolithiasis. Each horse underwent four feeding trials: grass hay and untreated water, alfalfa hay and untreated water, grass hay with filtered/softened water, and alfalfa hay with filtered/softened water. Samples of colonic contents were analyzed for pH, dry matter, and mineral concentrations. Horses with enterolithiasis had higher calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and sulfur concentrations and higher pH in colonic contents than controls. Horses fed alfalfa had lower colonic sodium and potassium, higher calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and sulfur concentrations, and a more alkaline pH than those fed grass. Grass hay consumption leads to reduced concentrations of select minerals and a more acidic colonic environment compared with alfalfa, probably beneficial in the prevention of enterolithiasis. Under controlled dietary and management conditions, horses with enterolithiasis have differences in colonic mineral and pH parameters that may be consistent with physiological differences between horses with and without the disease.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Animal Science and Zoology