Conklin Michael Cotton
Michael Cotton | AGROTRAK CONKLIN PRODUCTS | 14925 Afton Blvd S | Afton MN 55001 | E-mail MICHAEL.COTTON@CONKLINIBO.COM | 651-829-1073 (cell phone)

The Challenge

The performance and health of your livestock is dependent upon the proper balance of digestive tract bacteria. Newborn animals and newly-hatched birds enter the world with a sterile digestive tract, which is quickly populated with health-promoting bacteria and the much quicker growing, pathogenic bacteria and viruses. Unfortunately, feed and environmental changes, birthing/laying, weaning, medication and transporting, among other common management practices alter the intestinal environment in ways that favor the disease-causing organisms of animals and birds of any age.

The Answer: Fastrack® Direct-fed Microbials — The Natural Way

The unique combination of natural, live lactic acid-producing bacteria, FOS, yeast, enzymes, vitamins and specialized proteins in the Fastrack® products helps to ensure a healthy digestive tract; enhancing the immune system and defending against pathogenic agents in the digestive tract. Specifically the health-promoting Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium in the animals ‘and birds’ small and large intestines utilize FOS.


 Farm with sunset

                Trainers and owners report that providing the
                 Fastrack® products to their horses result in:
                  • increased performance and endurance
                  • improved hair coat
                  • enhanced appetite
                  • improved hoof quality

 Fastrack® Direct-Fed Microbials - The Natural Advantage
Conklin's Fastrack products offer horse owners products to establish and maintain a proper balance of beneficial digestive tract bacteria to enhance animal health and performance. Easily incorporated into your feed and management programs Fastrack will help you reach your production and performance goals

The appearance and performance of your horse is dependent upon proper digestive tract health. Birth, weaning, transporting, environmental conditions, strenuous training, athletic performance and antibiotic therapy can upset the digestive tract. The unique combinations of natural lactic acid-producing bacteria, yeast, enzymes, FOS, herbs, chelated minerals, antioxidants and specialized proteins in the Fastrack® products help to ensure a healthy digestive tract and peak performance.

  Programs for:                                         Benefits of Fastrack:
Pleasure horses                                   Enhanced feed utilization
Newborn  and growing foals              Improved hoof health
Performance horses                             Reduced founder, colic and tying up
  Breeding horses                                  Increased stamina
          • Senior horses   


Fastrack products:

  Equine Microbial Pack – a horse specific dry product for
  top-dressing or mixing with dry feeds daily to benefit the
  horse's digestive tract and increase performance.
  Fortifier – dry product for top-dressing or mixing into dry
  feeds daily to further nourish this digestive tract, joints and
  immune system for performance, breeding and senior horses.
  Equine Gel – highly concentrated gel formulation to
  establish a healthy digestive tract and aid the immune
  system. Use at birth, weaning, worming, transporting
  and irregular feed intake.





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Horses and Ulcers

Gastric ulcers are an increasing problem in equine athletes which results in performance and economic losses. Research studies suggest that 50 to 90% of horses within various disciplines may suffer from ulcers. Stomach anatomy, feed ingredients, management practices and horse temperament are some of the factors cited as causes for the high incidence of stomach ulcers. Understanding equine stomach anatomy and ulcer risk factors will help identify potential management responses to resolve gastric ulcers in horses.

Equine Stomach Anatomy

Approximately 80% of equine gastric ulcers occur in the promixal (front part) stomach, which is less resistant to digestive acids than the distal, or latter, part of the horse’s stomach. The distal stomach has a bicarbonate-rich mucus layer for protection, an extensive capillary network and a rapid ability for healing.

Causes of Gastric Ulcers in Horses

The equine stomach constantly secretes digestive acids, and the continuous exposure to the acids is the primary cause of gastric ulcers in horses. Bacteria residing in the stomach ferment readily hydrolysable carbohydrates (starch), and in turn secrete volatile fatty acids (VFA). The VFA are absorbed by cells lining the stomach, which then swell, die and finally ulcerate. The combination of hydrochloric acid (HCl), a low stomach pH, organic acids from fermentation, and the protein-digesting enzyme pepsin act together to cause gastric ulcers.

Risk Factors

Exercise intensity

A research study indicated that horses running on a treadmill had increased abdominal pressure and decreased stomach volume. Stomach contractions may push gastric acid from the distal part to the less-protected, promixal region of the stomach. Consequently, frequent exercise would regularly bathe the proximal stomach in acids for destruction of the stomach lining. Ulcer incidence and severity rises as exercise intensity increases.

Intermittent Feeding

The horse’s digestive tract is designed for grazing and the continual feeding and flow of saliva and ingesta to buffer the stomach. Intermittent or irregular feeding reduces saliva flow and allows the stomach to “sit empty” for various periods of time, resulting in a drop in gastric pH and exposure of the stomach lining to a more acidic environment.


High-starch diets are partially fermented in the stomach by bacteria, resulting in VFA, which combined with low-pH conditions in the stomach can damage the gastric lining. A research study compared a high-protein, high-calcium diet of alfalfa and grain to a lowprotein, low-calcium brome grass and grain diet for ulcer incidence. Horses fed the alfalfa and grain diet had a higher stomach pH, resulting in fewer and less severe gastric ulcers compared to the horses receiving the brome grass and grain diet.

Transport Stress

Transportation increases the incidence of gastric ulcers in horses. Horses risk dehydration, immune suppression, respiratory or digestive illnesses and other challenges while being transported. Water and feed deprivation lower stomach pH. Transport stress interacts strongly with the other risk factors, including heat stress.


Stall confinement changes a horse’s sociological behavior and feeding pattern. Exposure to other horses can have a calming effect with most horses. The risks from intermittent feeding have been previously discussed.

Nonsteroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAID)

The NSAID decrease mucosal blood flow, decrease mucous production and increase HCl secretion. This combination of factors leads to a stomach lining less able to protect itself in a lower pH environment.

Heliobacter Species

The role of Heliobacter species in gastric ulcers is well-documented in humans, yet less certain in horses. The use of antibiotics to control these bacteria may result in undesired complications due to shifting of the bacteria population in favor of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Management Responses

Feeding frequency and diet type Grazing increases saliva production and allows ingesta to be present in the stomach to absorb gastric acids. When grazing is impractical, more frequent feeding throughout the day may produce similar results. A shift to a high-forage diet will reduce starch fermentation and acid production in the stomach, as well as have a more fibrous ingesta residing in the stomach. High-protein, high-calcium diets based on alfalfa hay have reduced ulcer incidence in some studies. Forage quality should be considered to help meet the horse’s energy needs and yet provide enough fiber for proper digestive function. Chewing long-stem hay increases saliva flow to aid in buffering the stomach contents and lining. Research studies suggest that supplementing vegetable oil may provide a protective lining to the stomach, while also reducing the amount of starch fed to the horse.

Transport and Housing

Frequently transported horses need periodic rest stops to encourage water and feed consumption along with reducing transportation stress. The diet fed prior to transporting may reduce the incidence of ulcers. Social behavior has implication for transport and housing decisions to manage ulcers.

Probiotics (Direct-fed microbials)

Veterinarians, trainers and horse owners indicate that probiotics, or known as direct-fed microbials, have reduced the incidence of ulcers in various situations. Probiotics encourage forage utilization to enable the feeding of a higher-forage, lower-starch diet. Reducing the amount of starch fed can lower VFA production in the horse’s stomach. Starch digestion in the horse’s small intestine results in glucose absorption and potentially has a negative effect on its behavior. A horse’s behavior or calmness has been correlated to ulcer incidence. The higher-forage diet would result in fibrous ingesta remaining in the stomach for a greater proportion of the day, which could moderate stomach pH.


Gastric ulcers occur in a high proportion of horses in various disciplines. Managing the risk factors for gastric ulcers can improve a horse’s performance and well-being and reduce economic losses. Probiotics can be a management tool to moderate diet and behavior factors leading to ulcers.

Larry Roth, Ph.D., PAS is a research scientist with Conklin Co. Inc in Shakopee, MN. He researches the nutritional and microbial needs of newborn and high-performance animals.


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