What’s the deal with brewers yeast for horses?
It seems that it’s a good source of natural B vitamins, however any claims that it assists with digestion & fermentation should be taken with a grain of salt.
Brewers Yeast for Horses
What is it?
As the name suggests, brewer’s yeast is one of the by products derived from brewing beer.
Brewer’s yeast contains a relatively high concentration of high quality protein, and is also a good source of fat, water-soluble B vitamins (exception is B12) and phosphorus.
Brewer’ Yeast does not contain ‘live’ cultures.
Like most horse supplements, product listings for Brewers Yeast often have a lengthy list of purported benefits including:
- Improves appetite
- Calms nervous & anxious horses
- Acts an an immune system booster
- Works as a digestive aid
Despite articles vaguely referring to ‘studies’, it seems that the benefits of brewer’s yeast for horses are mostly anecdotal.
‘Seeming to give the horse a natural lift, these supplements, though unproven by science, have a great following among experienced horse people’
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) has historically been used as a supplement to calm nervous horses. This is because thiamine plays a vital role in carbohydrate metabolism and nerve transmission.
If a horse has a high grain diet and stressful lifestyle, they may develop a thiamine deficiency. However, thiamine is well supplied in green forage and deficiencies are rare.
The bullshit detector
Brewers yeast cultures enhance the activity of good (beneficial) hind-gut activity in your horse
Brewers yeast is non-active. In other words, the cultures are dead. They do not assist with repopulating a healthy bacteria population in the horse’s gut.
The bottom line
There’s no disputing that horses find brewers yeast delicious. Therefore it stands to reason that it will help stabilise a horse’s appetite when it’s added to feed.
As a calming supplement, it seems that there’s strong anecdotal evidence to support this. However, from a scientific viewpoint it seems that brewers yeast will only be effectinve with horses that have an existing vitamin B deficiency.
There’s little evidence to support claims that brewers yeast will boost a horse’s immune system.
Similarly, claims that brewers yeast acts as a digestive aid seem to be based on the (incorrect) assumption that brewers yeast is a source of live bacteria.