Journal of animal science2007; 86(2); 316-323; doi: 10.2527/jas.2006-782

Effects of dietary short-chain fructooligosaccharides on the intestinal microflora of horses subjected to a sudden change in diet.

Abstract: Prebiotic compounds, such as short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS), have been shown to improve health, welfare, or both, in several species, but few studies have been conducted in horses, despite the sensitivity of their hindgut microflora. We hypothesized that prebiotic oligosaccharides, known to be able to stabilize the intestinal microflora in other species, would be of importance in horses. Our study was designed to evaluate the effect of scFOS supplementation on the equine intestinal microflora and to assess its effectiveness in reducing hindgut microbial disturbances related to sudden diet changes. Four adult geldings were allotted by weight into 2 groups and assigned to diets with and without (control) scFOS supplementation for 21 d in a crossover design. Cecal and colonic contents were collected through cannulas to assess the effect of an abrupt incorporation of barley in the diet of horses on microbial populations and fermentation variables. The addition of barley to the control diet caused substantial changes in the colonic microflora, such as increases (P < 0.05) in the concentration in total anaerobes, lactobacilli, streptococci, and lactate-utilizing bacteria. The scFOS supplementation reduced the barley intake-related changes. In contrast to the control diet, Lactobacillus and Streptococcus populations did not increase. Although the colonic d-lactate concentration increased (P < 0.05) after the meal of barley in the control group, it did not accumulate with scFOS supplementation. These data indicate that a scFOS supplementation would be effective in reducing disruptions of the microbial populations in the equine hindgut under stressful situations like acute starch overloads.
Publication Date: 2007-10-16 PubMed ID: 17940163DOI: 10.2527/jas.2006-782Google Scholar: Lookup
The Equine Research Bank provides access to a large database of publicly available scientific literature. Inclusion in the Research Bank does not imply endorsement of study methods or findings by Mad Barn.
  • Journal Article


This research summary has been generated with artificial intelligence and may contain errors and omissions. Refer to the original study to confirm details provided. Submit correction.

The research investigates the impact of dietary short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS) on the intestinal bacteria in horses, particularly during sudden dietary changes. Findings suggest that scFOS can help reduce disturbances in the horse’s intestinal bacteria associated with abrupt diet adjustments.

Objective and Hypothesis

  • The aim of the research was to evaluate the impact of scFOS, a type of prebiotic, on the intestinal bacteria of horses when their diets are suddenly changed.
  • The researchers hypothesized that prebiotic oligosaccharides, which are known to stabilize the intestinal bacteria in other species, could play a crucial role in horses as well.

Research Methodology

  • The research used four adult geldings, divided into two groups by weight.
  • One group was assigned to a control diet without any scFOS supplementation and the other group was given a diet with scFOS supplementation. The horses were subjected to these diets for 21 days.
  • The abrupt incorporation of barley in the horse’s diet acted as a sudden dietary change.
  • The researchers compared the intestinal bacteria from the cecal and colonic contents of the horses, as collected through cannulas, under these altered dietary conditions to assess variations in microbial populations and fermentation variables.


  • The addition of barley to the control diet without scFOS supplementation resulted in a significant surge in certain kinds of bacteria, including total anaerobes, lactobacilli, streptococci, and lactate-utilizing bacteria.
  • However, the group with scFOS supplementation showed fewer changes related to barley consumption. Notably, Lactobacillus and Streptococcus populations did not increase.
  • Additionally, while the concentration of colonic d-lactate (indicating fermentation in the colon) increased after barley consumption in the control group, it did not accumulate in the group with scFOS supplementation.
  • The findings imply that scFOS supplementation could be effective in controlling the disruptions in the intestinal bacteria population in horses under stressful conditions like acute starch overloads due to sudden dietary changes.

Cite This Article

Respondek F, Goachet AG, Julliand V. (2007). Effects of dietary short-chain fructooligosaccharides on the intestinal microflora of horses subjected to a sudden change in diet. J Anim Sci, 86(2), 316-323.


ISSN: 1525-3163
NlmUniqueID: 8003002
Country: United States
Language: English
Volume: 86
Issue: 2
Pages: 316-323

Researcher Affiliations

Respondek, F
  • Bu00e9ghin-Meiji, 67390 Marckolsheim, France.
Goachet, A G
    Julliand, V

      MeSH Terms

      • Animal Feed
      • Animal Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
      • Animals
      • Cecum / metabolism
      • Cecum / microbiology
      • Colon / metabolism
      • Colon / microbiology
      • Cross-Over Studies
      • Diet
      • Dietary Supplements
      • Fermentation
      • Hordeum
      • Horses / metabolism
      • Intestine, Large / metabolism
      • Intestine, Large / microbiology
      • Lactobacillus / growth & development
      • Lactobacillus / metabolism
      • Male
      • Oligosaccharides / pharmacology
      • Probiotics
      • Random Allocation
      • Streptococcus / growth & development
      • Streptococcus / metabolism


      This article has been cited 22 times.
      1. Nohejl T, Palkovicova J, Nesporova K, Valcek A, Lausova J, Dolejska M. Broad-Host Dissemination of Plasmids Coharboring the fos Operon for Fructooligosaccharide Metabolism with Antibiotic Resistance Genes.. Appl Environ Microbiol 2023 Aug 30;89(8):e0037123.
        doi: 10.1128/aem.00371-23pubmed: 37578374google scholar: lookup
      2. Adams VJ, LeBlanc N, Penell J. Results of a Clinical Trial Showing Changes to the Faecal Microbiome in Racing Thoroughbreds after Feeding a Nutritional Supplement.. Vet Sci 2022 Dec 30;10(1).
        doi: 10.3390/vetsci10010027pubmed: 36669028google scholar: lookup
      3. Collinet A, Grimm P, Jacotot E, Julliand V. Biomarkers for monitoring the equine large intestinal inflammatory response to stress-induced dysbiosis and probiotic supplementation.. J Anim Sci 2022 Oct 1;100(10).
        doi: 10.1093/jas/skac268pubmed: 35980768google scholar: lookup
      4. Johnson ACB, Biddle AS. A Standard Scale to Measure Equine Keeper Status and the Effect of Metabolic Tendency on Gut Microbiome Structure.. Animals (Basel) 2021 Jul 1;11(7).
        doi: 10.3390/ani11071975pubmed: 34359102google scholar: lookup
      5. Lindenberg FC, Lu00fctzhu00f8ft DO, Krych L, Fielden J, Kot W, Fru00f8kiu00e6r H, van Galen G, Nielsen DS, Hansen AK. An Oligosaccharide Rich Diet Increases Akkermansia spp. Bacteria in the Equine Microbiota.. Front Microbiol 2021;12:666039.
        doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2021.666039pubmed: 34093482google scholar: lookup
      6. Collinet A, Grimm P, Julliand S, Julliand V. Sequential Modulation of the Equine Fecal Microbiota and Fibrolytic Capacity Following Two Consecutive Abrupt Dietary Changes and Bacterial Supplementation.. Animals (Basel) 2021 Apr 29;11(5).
        doi: 10.3390/ani11051278pubmed: 33946811google scholar: lookup
      7. Mach N, Lansade L, Bars-Cortina D, Dhorne-Pollet S, Foury A, Moisan MP, Ruet A. Gut microbiota resilience in horse athletes following holidays out to pasture.. Sci Rep 2021 Mar 3;11(1):5007.
        doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-84497-ypubmed: 33658551google scholar: lookup
      8. Walshe N, Mulcahy G, Hodgkinson J, Peachey L. No Worm Is an Island; The Influence of Commensal Gut Microbiota on Cyathostomin Infections.. Animals (Basel) 2020 Dec 5;10(12).
        doi: 10.3390/ani10122309pubmed: 33291496google scholar: lookup
      9. Johnson ACB, Rossow HA. Effects of two equine digestive aid supplements on hindgut health.. Transl Anim Sci 2019 Jan;3(1):340-349.
        doi: 10.1093/tas/txy103pubmed: 32704804google scholar: lookup
      10. Glatter M, Borewicz K, van den Bogert B, Wensch-Dorendorf M, Bochnia M, Greef JM, Bachmann M, Smidt H, Breves G, Zeyner A. Modification of the equine gastrointestinal microbiota by Jerusalem artichoke meal supplementation.. PLoS One 2019;14(8):e0220553.
        doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0220553pubmed: 31393892google scholar: lookup
      11. Stewart AS, Pratt-Phillips S, Gonzalez LM. Alterations in Intestinal Permeability: The Role of the "Leaky Gut" in Health and Disease.. J Equine Vet Sci 2017 May;52:10-22.
        doi: 10.1016/j.jevs.2017.02.009pubmed: 31000910google scholar: lookup
      12. Barone F, Laghi L, Gianotti A, Ventrella D, Saa DLT, Bordoni A, Forni M, Brigidi P, Bacci ML, Turroni S. In Vivo Effects of Einkorn Wheat (Triticum monococcum) Bread on the Intestinal Microbiota, Metabolome, and on the Glycemic and Insulinemic Response in the Pig Model.. Nutrients 2018 Dec 20;11(1).
        doi: 10.3390/nu11010016pubmed: 30577558google scholar: lookup
      13. Liu J, Xue C, Sun D, Zhu W, Mao S. Impact of high-grain diet feeding on mucosa-associated bacterial community and gene expression of tight junction proteins in the small intestine of goats.. Microbiologyopen 2019 Jun;8(6):e00745.
        doi: 10.1002/mbo3.745pubmed: 30358163google scholar: lookup
      14. Biddle AS, Tomb JF, Fan Z. Microbiome and Blood Analyte Differences Point to Community and Metabolic Signatures in Lean and Obese Horses.. Front Vet Sci 2018;5:225.
        doi: 10.3389/fvets.2018.00225pubmed: 30294603google scholar: lookup
      15. Warzecha CM, Coverdale JA, Janecka JE, Leatherwood JL, Pinchak WE, Wickersham TA, McCann JC. Influence of short-term dietary starch inclusion on the equine cecal microbiome.. J Anim Sci 2017 Nov;95(11):5077-5090.
        doi: 10.2527/jas2017.1754pubmed: 29293739google scholar: lookup
      16. Gibson GR, Hutkins R, Sanders ME, Prescott SL, Reimer RA, Salminen SJ, Scott K, Stanton C, Swanson KS, Cani PD, Verbeke K, Reid G. Expert consensus document: The International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics (ISAPP) consensus statement on the definition and scope of prebiotics.. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017 Aug;14(8):491-502.
        doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2017.75pubmed: 28611480google scholar: lookup
      17. Ishizaka S, Matsuda A, Amagai Y, Oida K, Jang H, Ueda Y, Takai M, Tanaka A, Matsuda H. Oral administration of fermented probiotics improves the condition of feces in adult horses.. J Equine Sci 2014;25(4):65-72.
        doi: 10.1294/jes.25.65pubmed: 25558179google scholar: lookup
      18. Vendrig JC, Coffeng LE, Fink-Gremmels J. Effects of orally administered galacto-oligosaccharides on immunological parameters in foals: a pilot study.. BMC Vet Res 2014 Nov 19;10:278.
        doi: 10.1186/s12917-014-0278-4pubmed: 25407340google scholar: lookup
      19. Galland L. The gut microbiome and the brain.. J Med Food 2014 Dec;17(12):1261-72.
        doi: 10.1089/jmf.2014.7000pubmed: 25402818google scholar: lookup
      20. Schoster A, Weese JS, Guardabassi L. Probiotic use in horses - what is the evidence for their clinical efficacy?. J Vet Intern Med 2014 Nov-Dec;28(6):1640-52.
        doi: 10.1111/jvim.12451pubmed: 25231539google scholar: lookup
      21. Biddle AS, Black SJ, Blanchard JL. An in vitro model of the horse gut microbiome enables identification of lactate-utilizing bacteria that differentially respond to starch induction.. PLoS One 2013;8(10):e77599.
        doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0077599pubmed: 24098591google scholar: lookup
      22. Vendrig JC, Coffeng LE, Fink-Gremmels J. In vitro evaluation of defined oligosaccharide fractions in an equine model of inflammation.. BMC Vet Res 2013 Jul 22;9:147.
        doi: 10.1186/1746-6148-9-147pubmed: 23875544google scholar: lookup