Haylage and Ulcers in Horses: Understanding the Benefits of a High Forage Diet

The relationship between haylage and ulcers has been up for debate for many years - the benefits however, are clear. Our nutrition expert from Bishop Burton College helps us to understand the how a high forage diet can benefit ulcers.

The relationship between haylage and ulcers in horses has been up for debate for many years - the benefits however, are clear. Our nutrition expert from Bishop Burton College helps us to understand the how a high forage diet can benefit ulcers.

Ulcers are a prevalent gastrointestinal issue among horses, impacting their health and performance significantly. They affect up to 90% of racehorses and 60% of non-racing horses, forming due to stomach lining damage from excessive acidity. This erosion leads to pain, discomfort, and potential long-term health complications. Given these risks, exploring dietary interventions to alleviate ulcer symptoms and promote overall digestive health is crucial. One such solution gaining recognition is the inclusion of haylage in the equine diet.

The Benefits Of Fermentation

Haylage, a fermented form of forage, offers several advantages for horses with ulcers over dry hay.

Its higher moisture levels and lower dust content reduce the risk of respiratory irritation and digestive upset, making it particularly beneficial for ulcer-prone horses.

Additionally, the fermentation process in haylage produces lactic acid, acting as a natural buffer against stomach acid. This soothing effect can provide relief for horses suffering from ulcers, while the softer texture of haylage may be more easily chewed and digested by horses with sensitive stomachs, promoting gastrointestinal health.

Stimulating Saliva Production

One key benefit of feeding haylage to horses with ulcers is its ability to stimulate saliva production. With its longer length compared to hay, haylage requires more chewing time, thereby increasing saliva production. This saliva helps neutralize stomach acid and protect the stomach lining, reducing the risk of acid splashing onto ulcerated areas and promoting healing. Furthermore, the high moisture content of haylage helps maintain hydration levels in horses, crucial for optimal digestive function. Dehydration can exacerbate ulcer symptoms and hinder the healing process, making access to moist, palatable forage like haylage essential for equine well-being.

Improved Digestibility

Haylage's improved digestibility compared to hay allows for better nutrient absorption and reduces the risk of digestive issues, maintaining a healthy gut environment essential for horses with ulcers.


Additionally, its resilience to weather conditions ensures a consistent quality and nutritional value, providing a stable and reliable feed source for ulcer-prone horses. Haylage can be fed as a partial or complete forage source, offering flexibility in tailored feeding plans to support horses with ulcers and address their specific dietary requirements.

horse peering through stable door with a bale of Baillie Haylage at his feet.

Feeding Advice

When feeding haylage to horses with ulcers, it's essential to provide small, frequent meals to mimic natural grazing patterns and ensure a consistent forage supply. Choosing high-quality haylage is crucial for optimal nutritional value and consistency, while regular monitoring of the horse's weight and overall health allows for adjustments to their feeding plan as needed.

All Baillie Haylage varieties are suitable. Discover our range here.

In conclusion, feeding haylage to horses with ulcers can provide numerous benefits for their digestive health and overall well-being. Its unique characteristics make it an ideal choice for managing and preventing ulcers in equines, helping horse owners to take proactive steps in supporting the health and performance of their equine partners.

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