Digestive System, Part 2: Hind-Gut Fermenters
Last week's blog post talked about ruminants, this week's will talk about hind-gut fermenters. Horses, rabbits, rats, zebras and guinea pigs are all considered hind-gut fermenters, due to the fact they do most of their digestion after the stomach.
There are two different types of hind-gut fermenters; cecal and colon fermenters. Rodents are considered to be cecal fermenters while equines are considered to be colon fermenters.
Although the digestive system is similar, there are a few minor differences. Cecal fermenters have two different types of feces, hard and soft. The hard pellets that are seen are indigestible fiber while the soft feces are directly consumed by the animal (coprophagy.) These soft pellets contain nutrients that can be re-digested for better absorption.
Colon fermenters have a large cecum that functions similar to the rumen of a ruminant.The cecum in horses can be up to four feet long and can hold approximately eight gallons of feed/liquid material! The cecum digests any remaining fiber and it is recommended to feed hay before grain to slow the grain so it is digested more efficiently.
As always and until next time,