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What Are The Benefits Of Brewer’s Yeast For Horses?

Updated: June 19, 2023 by Cathy Benson
benefits brewers yeast for horses

This humble supplement, a by-product of the beer-making process, is garnering attention in the equestrian world for its potential health benefits. From supporting digestion to enhancing skin and coat health, brewer’s yeast could be a handy addition to your horse’s diet.

In this guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about brewer’s yeast – what it is, how it works, its potential benefits, and how to use it safely. Let’s get started on this journey to enriching your horse’s health and well-being together!

What is Brewer’s Yeast?

Brewer’s yeast is a type of fungus scientifically known as Saccharomyces cerevisiae. As its name suggests, it’s commonly used in the brewing of beer, where it ferments the sugars in malted barley, producing alcohol and carbon dioxide.

However, brewer’s yeast isn’t just for making beer. It’s also a nutritional supplement for both humans and animals. It’s rich in essential nutrients like B vitamins, protein, selenium, and chromium. For horses, brewer’s yeast is often used as a probiotic to promote a healthy gut environment, aid digestion, and improve skin and coat condition.

It’s worth mentioning that brewer’s yeast is a by-product of the brewing process, meaning that once the yeast has been used to make beer, it’s collected, cleaned, and dried for use as a supplement. This gives it a different nutrient profile from nutritional yeast, a related product that’s grown specifically to be used as a supplement.

Benefits of Brewer’s Yeast for Horses

Brewer’s yeast is packed with a wealth of benefits that can be very beneficial for your horse. Let’s dive into these a bit more:

  1. Supports Digestive Health: One of the main benefits of brewer’s yeast for horses is its role in digestive health. This yeast is a type of probiotic, which means it contains live beneficial bacteria that can help balance the gut flora in your horse’s digestive system. A balanced gut can enhance digestion and nutrient absorption, aiding in overall health.
  2. Promotes Skin and Coat Health: Brewer’s yeast is rich in B-vitamins, including biotin, which are essential for maintaining healthy skin and a shiny coat. Regular consumption can help improve the appearance of your horse’s coat, making it look healthier and more vibrant.
  3. Boosts Immune System: A healthy gut is closely tied to a strong immune system. By promoting good gut health, brewer’s yeast can indirectly contribute to strengthening your horse’s immunity. This is crucial for overall health and disease resistance.
  4. Source of Essential Nutrients: Brewer’s yeast is an excellent source of several essential nutrients including proteins, selenium, and chromium. Proteins are necessary for muscle development and repair, selenium has antioxidant properties, and chromium can help regulate glucose metabolism.
  5. Appetite Stimulation: Some horse owners have reported that brewer’s yeast can help stimulate a horse’s appetite, which can be beneficial for picky eaters or horses recovering from illness.
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Brewers Yeast for Horses Dosage & How Much To Feed

The correct dosage of brewer’s yeast for your horse can vary depending on several factors, including your horse’s size, diet, and specific health needs. Generally speaking, a common dosage is around 1 to 2 ounces (28 to 56 grams) per day for an average-sized horse. But remember, these are just guidelines and individual needs can vary.

Before starting your horse on any new supplement, it’s always best to consult with your vet or an equine nutritionist. They can give you the most accurate advice tailored to your horse’s specific needs.

Here’s a hypothetical scenario to consider: Let’s say you have a horse named Max. Max is a mature, average-sized horse with no specific health issues, but you’ve noticed that his coat has lost a bit of its shine and his appetite isn’t as good as usual. After discussing with your vet, you decide to add brewer’s yeast to Max’s diet.

You start with a small amount, about half an ounce (14 grams), and gradually increase it over a week or two until you reach the recommended dose of 1 to 2 ounces per day. This gradual introduction helps ensure Max’s system can adapt to the new supplement without any adverse effects.

As the weeks pass, you notice Max’s appetite seems to be improving, and his coat is starting to regain its gloss. You continue to monitor his condition and keep up his regular vet check-ups to ensure the brewer’s yeast supplement is working well for him.

Brewer’s Yeast For Horses Side Effects

Brewer’s yeast is generally considered safe for horses when used in appropriate amounts. However, like with any supplement or dietary change, there’s always the potential for some side effects, especially if used in excess or introduced too quickly.

  1. Digestive Upset: If introduced too rapidly, brewer’s yeast might cause digestive upset such as gas, bloating, or loose stools in some horses. This is why it’s recommended to start with a smaller dose and gradually increase it.
  2. Allergic Reactions: While rare, some horses might have an allergic reaction to brewer’s yeast. Signs can include itching, hives, difficulty breathing, or swelling of the lips, face, or tongue. If you notice any of these signs, stop giving the brewer’s yeast and contact your vet immediately.
  3. Nutrient Imbalance: Supplements should complement a balanced diet, not replace it. Over-reliance on brewer’s yeast could lead to nutrient imbalances if the rest of the horse’s diet is not appropriately balanced.
  4. Interactions with Medications: If your horse is on any medications, it’s important to consult with your vet before adding brewer’s yeast to their diet, as it may interact with some drugs.

To minimize the risk of side effects, always introduce any new supplement gradually. Monitor your horse’s health and behaviour closely, and if you notice any changes or anything that concerns you, don’t hesitate to contact your vet.

Is Brewer’s Yeast A Probiotic For Horses?

Yes, brewer’s yeast is often considered a type of probiotic for horses. Probiotics are live organisms that, when ingested in the right quantities, confer health benefits to the host – in this case, your horse.

The primary benefit of probiotics lies in their effect on the gut. They can help balance the horse’s gut microbiome, which is the ecosystem of beneficial and harmful bacteria living in the intestines. A balanced microbiome can enhance digestion and nutrient absorption, promoting overall health.

Brewer’s yeast, specifically, is a rich source of a type of beneficial bacteria called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These bacteria can help to maintain and even improve the balance of the gut microbiome, supporting digestion and overall health. Additionally, brewer’s yeast provides B-vitamins and other nutrients, which further contribute to your horse’s wellbeing.

Is Brewers Yeast Good for Ulcers in Horses?

Brewer’s yeast may potentially be beneficial for horses with ulcers, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a standalone treatment.

Brewer’s yeast, being a type of probiotic, can contribute to a healthier gut environment by supporting a balanced microbiome, which is the ecosystem of beneficial and harmful bacteria living in the horse’s gut.

A balanced gut microbiome can help improve digestion and nutrient absorption, reducing the likelihood of digestive upset which can contribute to ulcer formation. Furthermore, brewer’s yeast is a rich source of B-vitamins which are often depleted in horses with ulcers due to poor absorption.

That said, while brewer’s yeast may help support gut health, it should not replace proper veterinary care for a horse with ulcers. Ulcers can be a serious condition and usually require a combination of dietary changes, stress management, and medication prescribed by a vet to heal.

Is Brewers Yeast Good for Itchy Horses?

Brewer’s yeast could potentially help alleviate itchiness in horses, but it’s not a cure-all, and the underlying cause of the itchiness needs to be addressed.

Itchiness in horses can be due to a variety of reasons, including parasites, skin infections, allergies, or dry skin. Brewer’s yeast is rich in B-vitamins and essential amino acids, which can support healthy skin and hair growth, possibly aiding in the relief of dry, itchy skin.

Moreover, being a probiotic, brewer’s yeast can help support a healthy immune system by maintaining a balanced gut microbiome. A strong immune system can better respond to allergens and reduce inflammation, which might help alleviate some allergy-related itchiness.

Is Brewers Yeast Good Longterm for Horses?

Brewer’s yeast is generally considered safe and potentially beneficial for long-term use in horses, however, there are a few points to consider for long-term use.

Firstly, it’s essential to remember that while brewer’s yeast is beneficial, it doesn’t replace a balanced diet. Your horse still needs a varied diet that provides all the necessary nutrients.

Secondly, every horse is unique and may react differently to supplements. It’s essential to monitor your horse’s condition and consult with your vet if you notice any adverse effects or if your horse’s health condition changes.

Finally, the benefits of brewer’s yeast depend on the quality of the product. Not all brewer’s yeast products are created equal, so make sure to choose a reputable brand that guarantees the quality and purity of their product.

Can Brewer’s Yeast Help Horses with Diarrhea?

Brewer’s yeast may potentially help horses experiencing diarrhea, thanks to its probiotic properties, but it’s not a definitive solution and it’s crucial to consult a vet for serious or persistent symptoms.

The primary way brewer’s yeast might help is through its probiotic effect. It promotes a healthy gut microbiome, a balance of good bacteria in the horse’s digestive system. When the gut microbiome is healthy, it can aid in proper digestion and nutrient absorption, which can, in turn, help firm up loose stools.

However, it’s essential to understand that diarrhea in horses can have many causes, including dietary changes, stress, bacterial or viral infections, parasites, or more serious underlying health conditions. While brewer’s yeast can support overall gut health and may potentially help with symptoms, it’s not a direct treatment for the underlying cause of the diarrhea.

Therefore, if your horse is experiencing diarrhea, especially if it’s severe or prolonged, it’s critical to consult with a vet. They can help identify the root cause and provide appropriate treatment. If the vet gives the okay, adding brewer’s yeast to your horse’s diet could be part of a broader strategy to promote gut health and recovery. But remember, always introduce new supplements gradually to avoid additional digestive upset.

Can Brewers Yeast Be Fed to Laminitic Horses?

Brewer’s yeast can be safely fed to laminitic horses, but as with any dietary change or supplement, it should be done under the guidance of a vet or equine nutritionist.

Laminitis, a painful condition of the horse’s feet, often comes hand-in-hand with issues like obesity and insulin resistance. In these cases, the diet needs to be carefully managed to control the intake of non-structural carbohydrates (NSCs), which include sugars and starches.

Brewer’s yeast is a low-NSC supplement and can be beneficial for gut health. Its high-quality proteins, B-vitamins, and probiotic properties can support a healthy digestive system, which is crucial for all horses, especially those with health issues like laminitis.

Importantly, the brewer’s yeast may aid in stabilizing blood sugar levels and improving insulin sensitivity, potentially beneficial for laminitic horses with insulin resistance.

However, it’s key to remember that while brewer’s yeast can be a useful part of the diet, it’s not a cure for laminitis. Management of this condition should always involve a holistic approach, including diet, exercise, hoof care, and regular vet check-ups.

While brewer’s yeast offers numerous benefits, it’s important to remember that it’s not a silver bullet for all equine health issues. It’s a supplement, designed to support, rather than replace, a balanced diet. A horse’s primary nutrition should come from good quality forage and possibly other specific feeds depending on their individual needs.

Before introducing any new supplement, it’s always recommended to consult with a vet or a professional equine nutritionist to ensure it will benefit your horse and not cause any unintentional harm. Remember, every horse is unique, and what works for one may not work for another.

Healthy horses are made in the paddock and the stable, not just the supplement tub.

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