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Forages grown in the Pacific Northwest may be deficient in the trace element selenium. Selenium is a trace element that is essential in the diets of all farm animals. Unfortunately, the soils in the Pacific Northwest contain little to no selenium. Generally, if the soil is selenium deficient, the forages grown on that soil will be deficient. Therefore, care must be taken to ensure adequate selenium intake by livestock that Ware fed hay and grains grown in the Pacific Northwest. Many supplements and mineral blocks that contain selenium are available for horses, cattle, sheep and goats. Be aware, however, that too much selenium is toxic.
What does a rabbit eat? Carrots? Fruits, grains and vegetables other than carrots? Sure, rabbits like these dietary options, but these types of food don’t match the diets of free-ranging rabbits and consumption of too much of any of these foods can lead to problems. Fruits and nonleafy vegetables contain high levels of sugars and grains also contain high levels of starch. Excess starch or sugars in the rabbit gut induces rapid growth of microbes that produce toxins that cause inflammation of the small intestine (enteritis), which results in diarrhea and could ultimately end in death (1). So, if picking fresh grass every day isn’t a viable option and if fruits, grains and vegetables aren’t recommended as the sole dietary components for rabbits, what should they be fed? A basic understanding the rabbit’s digestive system will lead to proper diet selection.
Horses are nonruminant herbivores and can eat and utilize roughages much like cattle or sheep. However, unlike cattle, horses have stomachs that function similarly to human stomachs, where feed particles are mixed with pepsin, an enzyme that breaks down proteins, and hydrochloric acid, which breaks down solid particles. But, a horse stomach is quite small in comparison to the stomachs of other livestock animals and can only contain about 10% of the total capacity of the digestive system. Because of the limited capacity of its stomach, a horse should be fed small amounts of feed often. Unfortunately, domesticated horses are fed once or twice a day and if stabled, spend much of the day not eating. Because hydrochloric acid is produced continuously in the horse stomach, it can accumulate in an empty stomach, irritate the stomach lining, and eventually cause ulcers.
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