Effects of Feeding Frequency Using a Commercial Automated Feeding Device on Gastric Ulceration in Exercised Quarter Horses

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The objective of this study was to evaluate two feeding regimens: traditional grain feeding (twice a day, traditional fed [TF]) compared with horses fed with an automated feeder programmed to deliver grain in 20 equal aliquots (fractioned fed [FF]) and its effects on gastric ulceration, body weight, and body condition score (BCS). Thirty-one Quarter Horses were maintained in individual stalls during the 60-day experimental period and worked at moderate exercise intensity. Gastroscopies were performed before grain adaptation at 0, 30, and 60 days. Weight and BCS were evaluated biweekly. There were no changes in squamous (equine squamous gastric disease [ESGD]) ulcers in FF horses over the study period and higher ESGD ulcer scores in TF horses over both the 30 and 60-day time points. The proportion of horses with equine glandular gastric disease (EGGD) were significantly lower with fractioned feed when compared with traditional feed on day 30, but no difference was seen at day 60. No significant differences were found when comparing the two groups for BCS or body weight throughout the study period. This study further supports that fasting period is a strong contributing factor for gastric ulcer formation. FF of the daily total grain led to a decrease in time fasting when compared with TF which reduced the severity and incidence of both ESGD and EGGD. The use of the commercial feeder for FF may aid in lessening prevalence of gastric ulcers in young training Quarter Horses.

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