How to have a healthy happy horse.
Volume 24, Number 10
In This Issue:
- Supporting your Horse’s Micro biome
- Is Your Algae Safe?
1. Supporting your Horse’s Micro biome
The intestinal micro biome includes the trillions of microbes and their genes that live and interact in the horse’s digestive tract. Microbes live in all parts of the body but the intestinal microbes are especially important. A horse with a more diverse gut micro biome can better tolerate illness, stresses, and is less likely to have digestive issues, such as colic.
How can we support the horse’s gut micro biome? Diet is the first place to start supporting a healthy micro biome. Horses are designed to eat a high fiber, low carbohydrate, low fat diet spread out over many small meals. When we bring horses into stalls or pens and feed them high concentrate meals twice a day with limited forage, we are shifting their natural micro biome to an out of balance state. Sugar and starch molecules overflow out of the small intestine into the large intestine which causes more starch digesting bacteria to multiply in an area of the gut which should be populated with fiber digesting bacteria. Instead of fatty acids from fiber digestion, you now have lactic acid production which lowers the pH in the large intestine further depressing healthy fiber digesting bacteria.
The diet of the horse should be as simple as possible. Feeds or supplements containing large numbers of ingredients can interfere with proper digestion if the different ingredients don’t combine well or need to be digested in different parts of the digestive system. I tend to avoid long term feeding of products with more than 10 ingredients.
High amounts of low quality fat, such as vegetable oil, will also suppress fiber digestion. High quality fat, such as flax, chia, purified fish oil, and blue green algae is valuable for horses not receiving fatty acids from grass pasture. Rice bran, copra meal, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds can be used for horses that need additional fat to maintain weight. Quality, low sugar and starch pasture or hay is the main food for a healthy micro biome in a horse.
The other way to support the healthy micro biome is to avoid things that negatively impact it. Drugs, including steroids and anti inflammatories, vaccinations, antibiotics, hormones, such as progesterone, all negatively impact the micro biome. Stress, from weather extremes, confinement, training, hauling, competition, change of ownership, or pain can all create imbalance in the horse’s micro biome.
A state where the gut bacteria are out of balance is called dysbiosis. Signs that a horse is suffering from dysbiosis include poor hooves, poor hair coat, skin or respiratory allergies, food sensitivities, runny eyes, congestion of lymphatic fluid, abdominal bloating, poor performance, and weight gain or loss. No horse will have all these symptoms but even a few can indicate a need to rebalance the micro biome.
With mild imbalances in the micro biome you can set things right with proper diet and a good pre and probiotic supplement. I like Probiotic Wise and this algae, enzyme and probiotic combination. Horses that are under ongoing stress may need pre and probiotics on an ongoing basis. Following an insult, such as deworming or vaccination, I suggest at least a 10 day course of a good pre/probiotic. Feeding pre/probiotics during stressful conditions, such as showing or a stretch of extreme weather, is a good practice.
With more severe imbalances in the micro biome you may have to create the right terrain for healthy bacteria to re-establish. Homeopathic prescribing may be needed to create the right vibrational terrain for the good bacteria to thrive. Mushrooms may need to be fed for a month or so to remove toxins and negative bacterial metabolites from the intestines. I feed 6 capsules a day of a premium mushroom blend for 2 to 4 weeks to clean up the gut when toxins have been generated from dysbiosis. Mushrooms can be given in combination with pre and probiotics.
Supporting your horse’s micro biome is maybe the most important thing you can do for your horse. Some things, like diet, you can control. Some things, like weather, you can’t control. Stress is perceived differently by different horse temperament types. A happy horse is better able to maintain a healthy micro biome in the face of insults. Whenever you make decisions about managing your horse, ask yourself how your choice will affect his micro biome.
2. Is Your Algae Safe?
I included a shorter version of this article in last month’s newsletter, but because I feel it is so important to address these concerns, I am including below the longer version that I posted on my blog earlier this month. – Madalyn
We have received many inquiries over the last month as to the safety of our bluegreen algae products since there had been numerous news stories warning of bluegreen algae toxicity causing death in animals, particularly a number of dogs swimming in ponds. We did a short version of this article in our last newsletter to address those concerns. There is much more to the story however, as you will see in this longer version, than what we quickly put together to assure people that the algae we represent continues to be a safe product for people and animals. The concerns expressed to us are certainly valid as sources such as the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services warn that in warmer weather months, stagnant sources of freshwater are more susceptible to toxic algae blooms including some types of bluegreen algae. Sometimes you see these blooms as a film on the water’s surface and sometimes it is not quite as obvious. There also is no cure for this poisoning and the UK animal charity, Blue Cross for Pets, warns that dogs drinking from this water or even just licking the water off their fur after being in this type of water can die within 15 minutes. There are however multiple strains of blue green algae and while many are toxic, the New Earth strain is not toxic. It is AFA bluegreen algae and totally safe to be consumed.
So how do you know for sure that the AFA bluegreen algae supplement you and/or your pets are taking is safe? In the case of the New Earth algae I take and offer to customers, I have absolute faith in the safety of these products that is backed up with a list of accreditations such as being registered by NSF International and the FDA’s GMPs (Good Manufacturing Practices). New Earth goes the extra mile in safety by attaining certifications for their products of Certified Kosher, Certified Halal, USDA-certified organic, NSF GMP-registered, and GMP for SportsTM-registered. GMP registration is the gold standard of the food industry and assures that every New Earth product contains exactly what it says it does on the label.
Having these accreditations is an ongoing process as the company must submit their manufacturing facility to unannounced NSF inspections where every stage of a product’s development is thoroughly evaluated. Every year New Earth undergoes an unbiased audit to ensure the compliance continues to be met for each of its certifications. These audits include examining ingredients, examining the watershed in order to determine that there has not been any change to the environment that could impact the watershed, and ultimately the lake from which the microalgae is harvested, examining certifications the company holds along with supplier and third-parties, tracing the product and ingredients document-flow back to the supplier to ensure everything has been correctly monitored and documented, and a thorough examination of the processing facilities. Let’s take a more in-depth look at what goes into maintaining the various certifications that New Earth holds to ensure their algae products are safe and of the highest quality in ingredients and in the harvesting and manufacturing process.
The facilities and microalgae of New Earth are certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Organic Program (NOP). Their facilities have undergone extensive annual audits by OCCPP/Pro-Cert of Canada for years. This includes examination of the processing facilities and the watershed that feeds Klamath Lake. They inspect all the certifications New Earth holds as well as suppliers and third party certifications and the traceability. Traceability ensures that the company is able to trace the product and ingredients document-flow back to the suppliers and that it has all been monitored and documented correctly. Pro-Cert also audits the watershed by physically examining various areas making sure there has been no change in the environment that would have an impact on the watershed or the lake from which the microalgae is harvested. Internal audits on the watershed are also reviewed that cover everything from plant and animal species to the temperature and dissolved oxygen values of the streams. Pro-Cert additionally examines the processing facilities and does a review of documentation that includes things such as harvest logs, product labels, standard operating procedures, and promotional literature. The audit Pro-Cert performs ensures that the environment is kept in pristine condition.
New Earth also maintains its own manufacturing facilities registered by National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) International to the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP). NSF is an independent third-party certification body that standardizes sanitation and food safety regulations. To ensure safety and sanitation methods are being utilized, the NSF conducts on-site audits one to two times annually. These audits can span over a three day period and include examination of conformity to standard operating procedures including maintaining of equipment, meeting cleanliness procedures, and testing production equipment after sanitation for presence of allergens. They also inspect documentation kept on everything from inventory data to batch records. New Earth’s facilities are also registered GMP for Sport which ensures that no banned substances are in their products. The NSF follows the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) procedures, which are far more extensive than the FDA requirements for supplements in ensuring products maintain healthy, safe foods that show no contamination. During the audit, a random product is selected and put through a trace exercise in which individual ingredients and amount of ingredients are traced back to their source. The audit also does a thorough examination of cleaning and maintenance schedules for all equipment, of harvesters, and production rooms as well as lab records, warehouse freezers, receiving refrigerated room that stores ingredients and finished product, and the shipping facility.
As you can tell, through the organic certification process every aspect of production is thoroughly examined and inspected on an ongoing basis to ensure New Earth algae is safe and of the highest quality. In addition, New Earth holds several other certifications to ensure other specific requirements are met. These include:
Star-K Kosher Certification – Star-K of Baltimore, Maryland, inspects the New Earth facilities quarterly to certify the facilities and products to kosher standards that meet the requirements of Jewish law. Star-K representatives also inspect all of the operations of vendors that produce and supply kosher-certified products to New Earth.
Halal Certification – The Islamic Food and Nutrition Council of America (IFANCA) developed a procedure for producing halal (meaning “lawful” or “permitted”) products that assure consistent methodical cleanliness throughout the entire production process. IFANCA inspects New Earth’s facilities and processes annually, and has certified Wild Body and Wild Mind to halal certification standards.
Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) and United States Food & Drug Administration (USFDA) – All regulations of the ODA and USFDA are adhered to by New Earth. Both ODA and FDA make unscheduled visits and examine the facility.
Paleo Friendly – The Paleo Foundation, Inc. developed the Paleo Friendly certification to identify food products that meet the standards of the Paleo Diet. This certification, which is updated annually, requires products to be free of grains, legumes, and dairy, with no artificial additives or preservatives.
I hope by gaining an understanding of the procedures and inspections New Earth employs in regards to its ingredients, watershed, equipment, documentation processes, and manufacturing facilities, that your mind is set at ease as to the safety of these AFA bluegreen algae products. Every effort is made at New Earth by going above and beyond the basic requirements to set your mind at ease and show proof these products are reliable, safe and of the highest quality.
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