Starch from corn is less susceptible to equine small intestinal digestion than starch from oats, and starch that reaches the hindgut can be utilized by the microbiota. The objective of the current study was to examine the effects of starch source on equine fecal microbiota. Thirty horses were assigned to treatments: control (hay only), HC (high corn), HO (high oats), LC (low corn), LO (low oats), and LW (low pelleted wheat middlings). Horses received an all-forage diet (2 wk; d -14 to d -1) before the treatment diets (2 wk; d 1 to 14). Starch was introduced gradually so that horses received 50% of the assigned starch amount (high = 2 g starch/kg BW; low = 1 g starch/kg BW) by d 4 and 100% by d 11. Fecal samples were obtained at the end of the forage-only period (S0; d -2), and on d 6 (S1) and d 13 (S2) of the treatment period. Cellulolytics, lactobacilli, Group D Gram-positive cocci (GPC), lactate-utilizers and amylolytics were enumerated. Enumeration data were log transformed and analyzed by repeated measures ANOVA. There were sample day × treatment interactions (P < 0.0001) for all bacteria enumerated. Enumerations from control horses did not change during the sampling period (P > 0.05). All treatments except LO resulted in increased amylolytics and decreased cellulolytics, but the changes were larger in horses fed corn and wheat middlings (P < 0.05). Feeding oats resulted in increased lactobacilli and decreased GPC (P < 0.05), while corn had the opposite effects. LW had increased lactobacilli and GPC (P < 0.05). The predominant amylolytic isolates from HC, LC and LW on S2 were identified by 16S RNA gene sequencing as Enterococcus faecalis, but other species were found in oat fed horses. These results demonstrate that starch source can have a differential effect on the equine fecal microbiota.
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This work is supported by: a competitive grant from the Prairie Oat Growers Association. Principle investigator: LML, Co-investigator: MDF. The National Institutes of Food and Agriculture via Hatch: Principle investigator: LML. Salary for MDF was provided by USDA-ARS, National Program 215.
The information reported in this article (No. 15-07-084) is part of a project of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station and is published with the approval of the Director.
Harlow, Brittany E.; Lawrence, Laurie M.; Hayes, Susan H.; Crum, Andrea; and Flythe, Michael D., "Effect of Dietary Starch Source and Concentration on Equine Fecal Microbiota" (2016). Animal and Food Sciences Faculty Publications. 8.