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 2 of the latest question and answer installment that you can share with your footcare clients.
Q: Can developmental orthopedic disease in foals be nutrition related?
By Don Kapper
A: If developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) or limb abnormalities are apparent in foals, a veterinarian should be called immediately. These conditions do not go away on their own and are indicative of an underlying problem. When DOD is diagnosed, horse owners need to work closely with their veterinarian, farrier and nutritionist.
The mare’s diet should be checked and her milk analyzed, as it can be the key in getting to the bottom of developmental problems in foals. The nutrients in the milk need to match what is recommended to support optimal growth rate.
Checking mineral and nutrient density in the milk is suggested 7 days after foaling and again at 4, 8 and 12 weeks. This is because low protein levels or low calcium or phosphorus levels in the milk can result in decreased bone density and have a negative impact on tendon and ligament strength. A deficiency in copper can result in contracted tendons.
When DOD is nutrition induced, balancing the diet for foals less than 30 days old can yield a positive response in 10 to 14 days. For weanlings, positive results can be seen in 30 to 45 days and within 60 to 90 days for yearlings. This is based on the rate of tissue turnover being faster in the younger horses.
Avoid practices such as starving the mare to prevent rapid growth, as this will lead to a decrease in a mare’s body reserves, which will reduce both milk quality and quantity. Decreasing the feeding of essential nutrients and not addressing the real cause of the problem will only lead to more developmental issues in foals both this year and next year.
During 30 years of research and monitoring growth-related problems on farms having over 25% of their foal crop affected with DOD, we’ve been able to reduce the incidence of this disease by over 80%. The most important management changes were addressing prenatal nutrition during the entire pregnancy, monitoring the growth rate and feeding amino acids, minerals and vitamins to meet nutritional requirements based on each foal’s growth rate.
Don Kapper was an equine nutritionist on the Cargill equine enterprise team and worked closely with the University of Guelph equine team in Ontario.
Hoof Nutrition Intelligence is brought to you by W.F. Young Co. (Absorbine).
Like many significant achievements, Absorbine® grew out of humble beginnings—and through the tenacity of someone willing to question the status quo. In this case, it was a young woman in late 19th-century Massachusetts: Mary Ida Young. Her husband, Wilbur Fenelon Young, was an enterprising piano deliveryman who relied on the couple’s team of horses to make deliveries throughout the Northeast. Inspired by Mary Ida and Wilbur’s vision, Absorbine® has continued to add innovative products throughout the years — products used every day by horse owners around the world. Which is why, since 1892, we’ve been The Horse World’s Most Trusted Name®.
Click here to read Part 1 of the May 15, 2016 installment: Can pasture fertilization have an impact on hoof health?