Worried about Hay Belly?

“Hay belly” refers to distention of the abdomen. When viewed from the front, the horse looks pregnant. However, it is not caused by hay per se. A horse can eat very large amounts of hay and still look trim.

canstockphoto11128086It’s caused by poor fermentation. The distention is from excessive fluid and gas. The usual cause of this is poor quality hay with excessive amounts of cellulose and lignin. These hays are overly mature and border on straw. Stems are thick and woody and/or large amount of stem compared to leaf. Hays should be pliable, with high ratio of leaf to stem.

Another cause is disruption of the microorganisms in the bowel. This often accompanies poor quality hay because there is not enough fermentable material to support good populations of organisms. A change to a better hay usually solves the problem. If not, direct fed microbials (probiotics) can help.

-By Dr. Eleanor Kellon, VMD and Staff Veterinary Specialist for Uckele Health & Nutrition

About Dr. Kellon

Graduate of University of Pennsylvania Veterinary School. Owner of Equine Nutritional Solutions, www.drkellon.com, industry and private nutritional consultations, online nutritional courses. Staff Veterinary Expert at Uckele Health and Nutrition.
This entry was posted in Equine Nutrition and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.