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  • Is sprouted barley beneficial to gut health?

    Sprouted cereals have a better digestibility and contain oligosaccharides that act as prebiotics improving and stabilising the intestinal flora. Researchers in Spain have recently studied if supplementation with germinated malted barley could help to prevent the occurrence of colic in a population of horses.

    An observational prospective study was designed to record the colic incidence of an equestrian centre horse population during two 21‐month periods, only including horses that were maintained at the centre for the whole time.

    Horses’ routines and owners did not change during the study period. Only horses that maintained the same owners, similar exercise training and that were not transported out of the centre during both periods were included. All horses had free access to water, were vaccinated and dewormed twice a year and received a dental check‐up every 6 months.

    Age, sex, housing and colic events were recorded during Period 1 (control period) and Period 2 (with 0.5 kg/100 kg germinated barley once a day, Equinocol®). All colic events were diagnosed by a veterinarian.

    Sixty‐three horses were included in the study of which 43 were stabled 12 h/day (Group A) and 20 that lived at pasture all‐day long (Group B). Colic incidence of the total population, Group A and group B during Period 1 was 18.1, 23.9 and 5.7 cases/100 horses at risk‐year, respectively. None of the colic events required surgery and were all resolved in the field with medical treatment.

    With the inclusion of germinated barley, there was a significant decrease (P = 0.05) in the colic events in the total population (5.4 cases/100 horses at risk‐year) and group A (5.3 cases/100 horses at risk‐year). It was concluded that supplementation with germinated barley might decrease the appearance of colic in stabled horses. Further investigation is warranted to identify the potentially beneficial substances and the repeatability of the results.


    1. Troya, L., Blanco, J., Romero, I. and Re, M. (2020) Comparison of the colic incidence in a horse population with or without inclusion of germinated barley in the diet. Equine Vet. Educ. 32, Suppl. 11, 28‐32.

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