Post-partum colic is a major issue and scientists are still not completely sure what occurs in a broodmare’s gastrointestinal (GI) tract that makes them at a greater risk for colic after giving birth. There have been recent studies characterizing the mare’s gut microbiome during and after pregnancy as well as immediately before an episode of colic in order to get a better idea of any changes occurring in their GI tract. Understanding changes in their microbiome may give us clues on how to better manage broodmares after parturition.
The gut microbiome has become a popular topic of interest in recent years as scientists are beginning to understand the vast impact it can have on overall health and development in both humans and animals. A microbiome is defined as the collection of genomes of the microorganisms that reside in a specific environment . In regards to the gut microbiome, it is comprised of the genetic material of the microbes that inhabit an organism’s gastrointestinal system. In the horse, this microbiome includes bacteria, yeast, fungi and protozoa where the most functionally important microorganism is thought to be bacteria. Researchers have studied how this microbial community can affect not only the digestive tract, but also the immune response, endocrine system, behavior and even cognitive function.