Horses space non-ruminant herbivores, an interpretation they eat largely plant material. The horse’s gastrointestinal tract consists of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, little intestine and also the highly developed huge intestine written of the caecum, large colon, little colon and rectum (figure 1).

You are watching: How many stomachs does a horse have

The Mouth

Anatomical attributes of the mouth include the teeth, tongue and salivary glands. Cradle of feeds starts when food beginning the mouth. The horse chews to reduce feed fragment size and also mixing it with saliva to begin the cradle process. Saliva acts together a lubricant to provide easier passage through the esophagus and buffers mountain in the stomach. As soon as swallowed the bolus of feeding moves native the esophagus to the stomach.

The Stomach

The stomach the the horse is the the smallest unit the the digestive tract v a volume of about 2-4 gallons, comprising around 10% that the total volume that the horse’s cradle tract. The horse has the smallest stomach in relation to body size of all domestic animals. As result of the tiny capacity, smaller, frequent meals are recommended. The stomach’s key functions incorporate mixing, storage and controlled relax of feed right into the little intestine; and secretion of pepsin to begin protein digestion. Very tiny absorption of nutrient occurs in the stomach. As soon as feed is exit from the stomach the enters the tiny intestine.

Small Intestine

The horse’s small intestine is around 70 feet long, comprising 30% the the full digestive system. The passage of feed through the horse’s little intestine is rapid, moving at around 1 foot/min and delivering the digesta to the cecum in as little as 45 minute after a meal. Volume of feed consumed and rate the passage impact digestion and absorption of nutrients – larger volume and increased price of passage will certainly decrease digestion and also absorption

In the little intestine a bulk of non-structural carbohydrate (starch), protein and also fat is digested by enzymes and also absorbed. Strength is spend by amylase enzymes, oil is spend by lipase enzymes and also protein is digested by protease enzymes. These enzymes, which are developed either in the pancreas or the little intestine, alleviate starch right into glucose, fats (oil) into glycerol and fatty acids, and also protein into amino acids.

The cradle of oils and protein is comprehensive in the tiny intestine. The cradle of strength can frequently be incomplete because of the starch current in grain grains being defended by the seed seed coat. If starch is no digested in the tiny intestine it will certainly be delivered to the hindgut where it will be promptly fermented by bacteria, bring about lactic acid production and accumulation, hindgut acidosis and also diseases such as colic, metabolic acidosis and laminitis/founder.


The hindgut that the horse comprises the cecum, huge colon, small colon and rectum. The cecum consists of 12-15% of tract capacity and the colon 40-50% of tract capacity. The major functions that the hindgut space the microbial cradle (fermentation) of dietary fiber (structural carbohydrates primarily from forages in the horse’s diet). Crucial end-products that the fermentation are volatile fatty acids (acetic, propionic and butyric) which can serve together an energy resource for steeds fed mostly forages such together pasture or hay. Fermentation additionally produces methane, carbon dioxide and water, and also most of the B-vitamins and also some amino acids. Another role of the hindgut is water reabsorption.

See more: If I Am Crying In A Dream, Then What Does Crying In A Dream Mean S

The diet composition affects the makeup of the microbial population. As soon as starch is ceded to the hindgut the starch fermenters (amylolytic bacteria) begin to swiftly ferment the starch, producing large quantities of lactic acid and volatile fat acids (VFA). Due to the fact that of the acidic nature of these assets of fermentation, the pH in the hindgut starts to fall. A short pH favors pathogenic bacterial which deserve to then add to serious illness such as, laminitis or founder, colic, endotoxemia and metabolic acidosis.

Figure 1. Horse Digestive System

Management Suggestions

maintain continual feeding schedulebase a feeding regimen on high quality forage – only feed concentrate to fulfill nutrient demands not met by the foragefeed small meals, specifically concentrates, in little amounts (minimize the NSC level in the concentration while assuring sufficient supply of energy and also other non-calorie nutrientsUtilize extremely digestible fiber and also fat for enhanced calorie needs in performance horses, lactating mares and also growing equines wherever possiblemake feed alters slowlywhen changing to a richer forage such as pasture or legume hay enable 7 to 10 days because that adjustment the microbes in hindgutfollow a continuous schedule because that dental care and also deworm