Hoof Nutrition Intelligence Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is a twice-a-month web segment that is designed to add to the education of footcare professionals when it comes to effectively feeding the hoof. The goal of this web-exclusive feature is to zero in on specific areas of hoof nutrition and avoid broad-based articles that simply look at the overall equine feeding situation.

Below you will find Part 1 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.

Q: How Can I Reduce the Risks of Springtime Laminitis?

By Kentucky Equine Research staff

A: In many parts of the country, dormant winter forages will soon transition to lush, green grass. As seasons change, forage growth accelerates and the ingestion of fructan-rich grasses increases. While an overindulgence of fructans can be a concern with certain horses, owners can take steps to ensure a seamless changeover in forage consumption.

Even the healthiest of horses may encounter digestive disturbances associated with fast-growing grasses and overconsumption. Overweight horses and ponies with insulin resistance are particularly susceptible to high-fructan grasses. The amount of fermentable carbohydrates, including fructans, in lush pasture often overwhelms the gastrointestinal tract, escaping digestion in the small intestine and passing to the hindgut. These carbohydrates or sugars are then processed in the hindgut, setting the stage for hindgut acidosis and potentially resulting in laminitis and colic.

Time-released buffers help moderate the hindgut by supporting the residential microbial population and preventing the drastic drop in pH associated with acidosis. They can also reduce the risk of hindgut acidosis escalating to laminitis in horses grazing high-fructan pastures or receiving significant intakes of starch-laden grains, including those at risk for or with a history of laminitis.

Horse owners can restrict free grazing during times when fructan levels are likely to be elevated, beginning with several short grazing sessions each day and gradually increasing grazing time in length and number. Using a grazing muzzle to slow grass consumption, keeping the horse in a drylot for part of the day and continuing to offer hay in addition to pasture are additional ways to provide more dry matter and limit the intake of fructans.

Kentucky Equine Research is a nutrition consulting company located in Versailles, Ky.

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Click here to read part 2 of the May 15, 2020 installment of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence: What Role do Fatty Acids Provide in Developing High Quality Hooves?

Click here to read more installments of Hoof Nutrition Intelligence.