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Thursday, September 10, 2015


There is a popular belief that beer is good for horses.  It is especially recommended for horses with anhydrosis (inability to sweat).  There a numerous other beliefs such as; it will put weight on them, it will make their coat shine, it helps digestion and so on.  

There is no good reason or logic to feed beer to your horse, no matter who swears by it. To help understand why lets start with the digestive system.

A horse's digestive system moves food through it slowly.  It has to travel 90 to 100 ft to finally complete the process and eliminate the undigested food.  There is only one way in and out, the horse cannot vomit and expel bad food or liquids. 

Therefore, food that is spoiled such as moldy hay, contaminated water, grains and other undesirables have to make their way through the digestive system.  During this time damage is caused, perhaps by the formation of ulcers, acidosis, bacteria overgrowth, gas, indigestion, colic and much more.

Because of the way the digestive system is designed, deviations away from the horse's natural design for eating can have serious adverse effects on your horse.  Feeding beer to horses is a deviation that should not even be considered an option. 

Number one reason;  Beer doesn't exist in nature for them to graze on.

Number two reason; it is carbonated.  Carbonation can cause stomach pain, digestive pain and colic in horses.  What you are feeding them is carbon dioxide gas which the body cannot always expel.  If it does not get rid of it, the gas gets trapped in the intestinal tract and can cause bloating which leads to colic. Excessive gas built up in the stomach and intestines causes pain also leading to colic. Carbonation increases stomach acid production and irritates the stomach lining.  Excess acid leads to ulcers.

Number three reason; it contains alcohol.  Dehydration is caused by alcohol consumption.  Ethanol can cause uric acid build up which can lead to laminitis or arthritis.  Ninety percent of it is metabolized by the liver leading to liver disease.
Beer contains high levels of purines which also can contribute to laminitis and arthritis as it is accumulative. 

Lastly, beer contains many unwanted additives.  I had to dig a little to find out what other ingredients may be added to beer.  Keep in mind each manufacturer may or may not have some or all of these ingredients in their beer.

You do not want to feed your horses any of the following ingredients which beer may contain:
  • MSG, a food additive that causes sweating, hives,rapid heart beat, nausea
  • Propylene Glycol,  a toxic solvent used in paint, antifreeze and food
  • Calcium Disodium EDTA, a chemical salt used to separate heavy metals from dyes and in foods to prevent air from spoiling them
  • Sulfites, causes asthma attacks and other allergies
  • Natural Flavors, which can come from anything
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Carmel Coloring, a known carcingenic made from ammonia
  • FDC blue, red and yellow, made from petroleum
  • Insect Based Dyes to color the beer
  • Animal Based Clarifiers, the most common ones are egg whites, milk, casein, gelatin and isinglass (prepared from the bladder of the sturgeon fish).
  •  BPA (Bisphenol), leaches into beer from the container, can cause infertility
  • Carrageenan, used as a thickener, can cause inflammation and bleeding ulcers, considered a carcinogenic

There are much better alternatives should your horse need some digestive conditioning.  To restore the beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract, BioMos and Yeasacc work very well.  Also read my post on Ulcers. 

1 comment:

  1. ;-) Thank you. The beer feeding has stopped. Anyone want almost a 12-pack of Newcastle's Brown Ale? ;-)