Cecum Exit Defies Gravity

By Juliet M. Getty, Ph.D.

Little known fact: The cecum in a horse has its entrance and exit at the top. 

And you should pay attention to this because... For digested material to exit, it has to defy gravity! To process food, the cecum contracts to push the contents out the top. To do this critical function  forage needs to be flowing through the digestive system at all times. 

Picture a full toothpaste tube that is open. If you squeeze the bottom of the tube, toothpaste will come out the top because it is full. Picture a half empty toothpaste tube, with the paste at the bottom. Squeeze the tube and no toothpaste comes out the top because there isn't enough inside.

Without enough food matter to "fill the tube" (cecum), sand, dirt, and undigested material can remain at the bottom of the cecum, leading to colic. Avoiding this is simple: Feed your horse a continuous supply of forage -- all day, and all night.

Worried about weight gain? No need. Feed a low calorie, low NSC hay, free choice and your horse will let you know how much he needs to maintain his weight. Read Dr. Getty's articles on Overweight Horses in her Resource Library as well as the book, "Easy Keeper,"  Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series.


For Permission to Reprint

For permission to reprint this article, in part or in its entirety, or arrange for a private consultation, please contact Dr. Getty directly at gettyequinenutrition@gmail.com.