Meal size and starch content affect gastric emptying in horses.
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REASONS FOR PERFORMING STUDY: Feeding practices have been associated with colic in horses. If meal size and composition have an effect on gastric emptying, this could be one of the mechanisms by which feeding practices are related to the occurrence of colic. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effect of meal size and starch content on solid phase gastric emptying. METHODS: Solid phase gastric emptying of 3 different radiolabelled meals, small low-starch (SmLS), small high-starch (SmHS) and large high-starch (LgHS) meals, was measured in 5 horses by scintigraphy using 99mTc-disofenin. Data were compared among meals using nonlinear mixed-effects models and paired t tests. RESULTS: On a percentage basis, SmHS emptied significantly faster than LgHS and SmLS emptied significantly faster than SmHS meals. However, when meals of unequal size were compared by emptying rate in g/min and Kcal/min, LgHS emptied significantly faster than SmHS. CONCLUSIONS: Meal size and composition affect gastric emptying. POTENTIAL RELEVANCE: Further work needs to be performed in order to substantiate the possibility of a relationship between digestive functions and occurrence of colic and gastric ulcers.