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The equine industry, encompassing everything from thrilling sporting events to everyday equestrian activities, highlights the deep link between the well-being of horses and the outcomes of their performances. 

In the world of caring for horses ensuring strong immunity and a healthy gut is not just a preference but an absolute necessity. This is especially true for the vulnerable demographic of young foals. Stress, changes in diet, illness, and antibiotics can disrupt the delicate balance of the equine gut, impacting the overall health, performance, and longevity of these majestic creatures. 

How does Progut®Extra, a proven player in various livestock sectors (poultry, pig, cattle, aqua), measure up in the unique landscape of equine physiology and well-being? Let’s embark on a journey through the science behind it all.

Progut®  Extra – Supporting Immunity and Performance

The early development of the adaptive immune system is critical for young animals, and Progut® Extra operates as a meticulous self-defense coach to the immune system. It expedites the development of the adaptive immune system, allowing natural defenses to be primed for action when required. Nutrients are allocated for growth, and Progut® Extra enhances the deposition of immunoglobulins in colostrum, fortifying the passive immunity of offspring.

Study 1: The Immune Boosting Power

The trial, conducted at the Agrifood Research Centre in Finland, involved 14 Finnhorses mares divided into control and Progut™ groups, with assessments spanning from mare plasma and colostrum samples to foal weight measurements. The mares were fed 3 times per day with silage, hay, oats, soya bean meal, and minerals. The Progut™ supplementation period started 3 weeks before expected foaling and continued for 8 weeks after foaling, averaging 30 grams per head per day.

Key findings:

  • Enhanced mare´s immunity:  Progut™ addition in the mare’s diet tended (p < 0.14) to increase their plasma IgA content during the trial period (Figure 1).
  • Improved colostrum quality: Numerically increased the IgA content of the colostrum immediately after foaling.

Higher IgA level is typically an indication of better immunity and may affect the health status of the mares and the foals

  • Boosted foals grow: The foals of the Progut™ fed mares grew remarkably better during the first four weeks after birth being in average 4.4 kilos heavier at four weeks of age (Figure 2).
  • Better blood parameters: The content of red and white blood cells and haemoglobin content were slightly higher in the Progut™ group foals during the first week of age (Figure 3 and 4).

Based on the weight development and the blood parameters the Progut™ group foals seemed to be more robust at the critical age of one month

Progut® Extra – Nurturing Balanced Gut Microflora

Well-balanced and stable intestinal microbiota has shown to have a big impact on the health and wellbeing of horses.

Different factors like stress, change of feeding, illnesses and the use of antibiotics can cause intestinal disturbances which will impair the condition and performance of horses and may be very detrimental, especially with young foals. Changes in the composition of caecal and faecal microbiota have been connected for example with colitis (Reeves et al. 1996), hoof fever (Rowe et al. 1994) and lowered performance (Roneus 1993).

Progut® Extra’s impact extends beyond immunity; it actively nurtures the development of beneficial microbiota in young animals or animals under the stress. During stressful situations such as weaning or transfer, Progut® Extra plays a crucial role in maintaining intestinal balance, thus reducing the risk of diarrhea.

Study 2: The Microbial Balance

Another study from MMT Agrifood Research Finland in 2007 explored the effect of Progut® on the intestinal microbiota of horses. The trial involved 10 Finnhorse mares aged 6 to 12 years. Prior to microbial analysis, the horses were fed a basal diet comprising hay, oats, mineral feed, and salt for three weeks. Progut® supplementation (15 g/head/day) commenced after the initial fecal samples, with the second set collected after an additional three weeks. Microbial analysis included aerobic and anaerobic total bacteria, enterobacteria, lactobacilli, lactate-producing bacteria, bifidobacteria, and Bacteroides-Prevotella group.

Key findings:

  • Progut® Extra may reduce the risk of colitis type problems with horses: causing favourable changes in gut microbiota, it significantly decreased (p < 0.01) the number of aerobic bacteria (Control 5.1*107 cfu/g  vs. Progut® 2.1*108 cfu/g; Figure 5).

According to Greiss et al. 1996 the number of aerobic bacteria is increased in connection with diseases like colitis and typhlocolitis. For this reason Progut®Extra may reduce the risk of colitis type problems with horses

  • Progut® Extra supports intestinal health and function of horses: significantly increased (p < 0.05) the number of enterobacteria in faeces (Control 1.26*105 vs. Progut® 4.1*105 cfu/g; Figure 6).

A high number of enterobacteria have been related to good intestinal health and function of horses.

Wierup 1973
  • Progut® Extra supports increase DM and balances VFA content in faeces: Progut® numerically increased the dry matter content of the faeces and the content of lactic acid in faeces decreased (p < 0.05). Progut® had a balancing effect on the VFA content of faeces (Särkijärvi et al. 2008).

Progut®Extra – sustainable solution for horse well-being and performance

As the equine industry prioritizes solutions that not only elevate the well-being and performance of horses but also uphold low environmental impact standards, Progut®Extra emerges as a scientifically-endorsed choice in the pursuit of optimal equine and environmental care. At Hankkija FFI, we’re committed to sustainable and innovative agriculture. Progut® Extra, produced after circular economy from brewery yeast,  has a low carbon footprint of 1.17 kg CO2eq/kg.

Crafted sustainably, Progut® Extra aims to minimize environmental impact while enhancing the performance and welfare of livestock species.

References:

Greiss, C., Verspohl, J., Kropp, S., Rohde, J., Pohlenz, J., Scheidemann, W., Deegan, E. & Amtsberg, G. 1996. Die Zusammensetzung der zakalflora des pferdes und ihre mogliche bedeutung fur die entstehung der typhlocolitis. Pferdeheilkunde 12, 725-736.

Reeves, M.J., Salman, M.D., Smith, G. 1996. Risk factors for equine acute abdominal disease (colic): Results from a multi-center case-control study. Prev. Vet. Med. 26, 285-301.

Róneus, B., Róneus, N., Franklin, A., Johnsson, P. 1993. Behandling med standardiserad kolikultur vid tarmflorerubbning hos hästar. Svensk Veterinärtidning 45, 201-204.

Rowe, J.B., Lees, M.J., Pethnic, D.W. 1994. Prevention of acidosis and laminitis associated with grain feeding in horses. Journal of nutrition 124, 2742S-2744S

Särkijärvi, S., Kivinen, N.,  Saastamoinen, M.,  Vuorenmaa, J. 2008. Effect of yeast product (Progut®) on the microbial flora of horses. Poster at 4th European Workshop on Equine Nutrition, Finland 2008.

Wierup, M. 1973. Bakteriologisk undersökning av tarmfloran hos hästar med s.k. Baron Gruff-sjuka. Svensk Veterinärtidning 677-682