Saturday, October 14, 2006

Bee-Collected Pollen Improves Athletic Horses' Feed Intake

Pilot Study Shows Bee Pollen Product Increases Appetite
By Stephanie L. Church, The Horse, October 2006

Keeping weight on a horse that's in intense training can be difficult; his appetite can fall off just as soon as you think he's reaching his athletic peak. Researchers at Michigan State University (MSU) have reported in a pilot study that a bee pollen-based product shows promise in improving athletic horses' feed intake, and it could be applicable in this type of scenario.

Brian Nielsen, PhD, PAS, Dipl. ACAN, associate professor in Equine Exercise Physiology at MSU, says, "I was as big of a skeptic on bee pollen as the world has ever found, but these owners of the company (WINNERS Bee Pollen Co.) were willing to put their money where their mouth was," notes Nielsen, and he says this quality is rare among supplement product companies...

What really surprised Nielsen was the bee pollen groups' hay intake. "What we were seeing was that the fiber digestibility on the treatment horses decreased a little bit, but their total amount of fiber digestion went up," he says. "But all of the treatment horses ate more hay (free choice) than any of the control horses on any of the days (an average of 9.4 kg/day consumed as compared to 6.3 kg/day in the control group). That explains it--they were just eating so much more." Horses that consume more dry matter intake have faster rates of passage through digestive tracts and therefore lower fiber digestibilities.

But why were the horses eating more? Nielsen suggests two thoughts: "It is stated or believed that bee pollen has high amounts of vitamins, particularly B-vitamins such as thiamin," he says. "Normally horses synthesize all the B-vitamins that they need. In theory, if you have a heavily stressed horse, he might not be able at times to synthesize enough B-vitamins and therefore might need thiamin, which is one of the reasons why horses conceivably go off feed...

No comments: