Ask Equine Expert - I keep reading

"I keep reading that yeast supplements may be good for fibre digestion. Is there any truth behind this?"

There is a lot of literature on this topic for a few species of animal. The use of yeast in diets for horses has been popular for a number of decades but, while there are general benefits to the use of yeast, it is important to consider that not all yeasts are the same – absolute effects and efficacy will vary with product. The majority of yeasts will be Saccharomyces cerevisae, however, there are many different strains within this species. Differences between strains can result in differences in how effective products are. The majority of yeast supplements aim help fibre-degrading bacteria breakdown forage resulting in more energy for the horse from the same amount of forage. They also help to keep the hindgut environment free from oxygen by mopping some of it up. The thing to remember is that not all yeasts are the same – some strains have been cultured specifically for their effect on fibre degradation. Therefore, it is best to choose a yeast supplement that has a proven mode of action and sound, supporting scientific data behind it.

Expert Answer by: Helen Warren