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Flashcards in Feeding Behaviour and VFI Deck (11)
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How does diet influence the horse's mental health?

- evidence to suggest that it does affect it
- type of feed affects excitability
- increased chewing reduces boredom
- several different buckets could be used to reduce boredom


How does starch affect the brain?

The level of blood glucose corresponds to the level of serotonin production. A higher serotonin level equals an increase in behaviours.

Also, a high glycaemic peak following a meal results in a high insulin response. This results in diversion of tyrosine - there is higher levels of tryptophan (amino acid) and therefore higher levels of serotonin.



Serotonin is a compound present in blood platelets which constricts blood vessels and acts as a neurotransmitter. It is the 'happy' hormone.


Why is fibre such a good diet for horses?

For the mind - takes longer to eat and reduces boredom levels. Increases chewing rates and saliva production. Low glycaemic response. Instead it has slow release energy, which decreases immediate excitability. Also prevents the overproduction of serotonin, which again results in less excitability.

For the body - grinds down hypsodont teeth. Horses were designed to live on a tough, fibrous diet consisting of grasses stuffed full of silica, cellulose and lignins.


What is heat increment?

Heat increment is the heat produced during digestion and fermentation.
67% of energy from fibre is lost as HI
23% of energy from cereals is lost as HI
16% of energy from fats is lost as HI (good for horses in hot climate)


What happens when a horse's diet is changed?

Changing the diet too fast, increased concentrates and change in forage all result in increased risk of colic.
A change in diet leads to an alteration in the microbiota in the hindgut and also the pH in the hindgut.


What should be fed for gut health?

- fibre based diet
- avoid complex sugars
- changes should be made gradually, even with forage


How do horses select feed?

- they can select based on preference
- selected based on energy level
- they do not have nutritional wisdom
- feeds are selected based on the need for salt and water


What factors affect VFI?

- volume of different parts of VFI
- rate of passage of digesta
- concentration of products of digesta in blood and small/large intestine
- energy demands
- energy density and its chemical form in feed



Palatability is the pleasure provided by foods or fluids that are agreeable to the palate. This often varies depending on the homeostatic satisfaction of nutritional. water or energy needs.


What is VFI?

The amount of food that a horse chooses to eat