Return to Website

Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
This Forum is Locked
The correlation between molasses and ulcers...

Hi there,

I was considering ulcers and the reaction that molasses seems to produce and was wondering about your thoughts on that. Everything I have read seems to indicate that molasses, beause it is high in starch, is not easily digested in the foregut and can cause problems with ulcers - causing them or irritating them. Are my sources correct?

We have a couple of cribbers here whom we suspect have ulcers and since we stopped feeding even the small ration of molasses in our feed, we have noticed a difference in their behaviour. I had a mare we suspected had ulcers and had a couple of bad bouts with colic while we were feeding this grain, but stopped afterwards.

How would the starch in molasses compare, say, to the starch in barley? Is one worse than the other?

Thanks in advance,

Where are you from? Canada

How did you locate this forum? Had it saved in my favorites!

Re: The correlation between molasses and ulcers...

Funny that you mention cribbing and molasses. My husband's gelding is a terrible cribber, despite the fact that we feed hay three times a day and he is never stalled. He is kept in a very large paddock and has three buddies for mental health and stimulation. This horse is VERY orally fixated. He nibbles on everything he can get his teeth on, though he isn't a mean biter. He will carry sticks around like a dog. We recently took him off a grain mix, even though it was low in molasses, and switched him over to a 50/50 mix of plain oats and beet pulp (no molasses at all) and 1/2 cup Omega Horseshine. His cribbing has now decreased by at least 50 percent. We had tried a Miracle Collar last year, but he became very depressed and actually lost weight. I also read some info about a connection between ulcers and molasses... On the other hand, I suspect that my daughters' pony has ulcers and he's never been fed anything with molasses. Ah, horses...

Where are you from? Michigan

How did you locate this forum? online search for equine ulcer info

Re: The correlation between molasses and ulcers...

Hi Amanda and Krista,

You both bring up some very important points:

First, molasses contains sugar, not starch. But, starch (found in cereal grains such as oats, barley, corn, etc.) is digested in the foregut (small intestine) down to sugar. So, ultimately you end up with the same thing. And, in terms of ulcers, starch and sugar increase stomach acid production. So, sweet feeds (that contain molasses) along with starchy feeds (that contain barley, oats, and corn) are not advisable for horses with ulcers.

Second, horses' stomachs produce acid 24 hours a day (unlike our own, which produce acid only when we eat). So, a horse that goes for hours without anything to graze on, will chew just about anything to produce saliva (which neutralizes stomach acid). A horse that is fed hay at certain times during the day, and goes for hours in between feedings, is a candidate for ulcer formation. And, is in pain -- so he will develop mechanisms to relieve that pain, such as chewing on wood, trees, fences, etc.

So, two major points here -- the addition of starch and sugar that increases stomach acid, and the need for continuous access to forage to provide chewing (for saliva production and hence neutralization of stomach acid).

Thanks so much for writing about these two important topics.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO