Newborn foals have minimal liver glycogen stores, and the drop in blood glucose in the first hour or so after they are born is a motivation for them to stand up and nurse. What nutrition does a newborn foal derive from milk?
I just acquired a yearling filly. What’s the best way to feed her? What kind of hay? Balancer pellets or concentrate? Please advise.
My filly has PSSM and growth issues. Is her current diet optimal?
Developmental orthopedic disease is a collective term that refers to various problems with skeletal formation and maturation in young horses. Several presentations at the recent Australian Equine Science Symposium addressed this topic.
The relationship between insulin status and the occurrence of osteochondrosis in Thoroughbred yearlings was recently studied by a team of researchers.
A horse’s diet changes significantly from the time it’s born until it reaches physical maturity. For certain individuals, physical maturity does not occur till they are four, five, or even six years old. Beginning with a liquid diet and ending with a diet that invariably contains both forages and concentrates represents a significant spectrum.
Requirements for protein and energy are closely linked in young horses, and a deficiency of either will result in a reduced growth rate.
A single causative factor for developmental orthopedic disease has not been identified, but several are known to be important. Nutrition is one of these factors, which has prompted nutritionists to design feeding and management programs to decrease the incidence and severity of the disease.
Young horses need the best-quality feeds to meet their requirements for growth and free exercise. Through the provision of sufficient energy, high-quality protein, and appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals, young horses will reach their growth potential.
Tall fescue infected with an endophyte sometimes causes reproductive problems in mares. The effects of endophyte-infected fescue on male horses seems to be less well known.
The weanling has similar nutrient requirements to the yearling, but eats less, so if a weanling is to achieve maximum growth rates the nutrients must be more concentrated.
Do foals drink water? If so, how much?
Literally the difference between life and death for foals, colostrum is loaded with antibodies that fight pathogens until the foal’s own immune system matures.
Careful observation of the mare following weaning will help ensure her well-being.
Though every mare should be managed individually with her specific needs in mind, a few general recommendations can be made.
There are some considerations that need to be made before the nurse mare option is chosen to raise an orphan foal.
It is certainly possible to raise a healthy orphan foal, but particular care must be given to the changing nutritional needs of the foal.
Calcium and phosphorus comprise most of the mineral matter in the horse’s body.
A common nutritional problem encountered in easy-keeping drafts is undersupplementation of key nutrients in their diets. If they are on a low-grain or forage-only diet, they are likely receiving inadequate quantities of vitamins, minerals, and possibly protein.
How the foal is fed following weaning often depends greatly on what is expected of it in the following months. In order for the weanling to achieve optimal growth, sufficient dietary energy must be supplied.
New research has shown that the most effective way to supplement horses with vitamin K is in the form of K3, or menadione.
Two important considerations when feeding warmbloods are carefully regulating growth in young horses and maintaining moderate body condition in adults.
<p> How should I manage my three-month-old foal that has been diagnosed with physitis?</p>
Osteochondrosis may have several causes including genetic, biomechanical, and nutritional factors. These causes and the roles they play in the disorder are not clearly understood.
<p> If I switch my overweight lactating broodmare from a sweet feed to a ration balancer, will there be a drop in milk production?</p>
Nutrition often plays an important role in the onset of developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) in horses.
<p> What do you recommend feeding young horses to build muscle and strength?</p>
Vitamin K status should be considered in the analysis of bone disorders in horses.
The nutrition of the mare affects growth and development of the foal both in utero and via milk production. In foals, these effects carry over for a year or more.
Basic steps to helping a clinically normal horse gain weight.
<p> Which is better for an orphan foal, goat's milk or milk replacer?</p>
Studying growth rates of warmblood and Thoroughbred foals reveals similarities.
Optimal growth rate results in a desirable body size at a specific age with the fewest number of developmental problems.
Creep feeding is still practiced, but there have been changes in how much and what type of feed is offered to foals.
Several factors influence birth weight and mature body weight of horses.
<p> How can I be sure I am properly nourishing the immature skeletons of two-year-old performance horses?</p>
Keeping a horse at its optimum body condition will help to ensure the horse can perform the work that is asked of it.
A horse's weight is an important statistic for horse owners, managers, and veterinarians to know when formulating a diet or medication dosage for the animal.
Knowing a horse's body weight doesn't tell us if that is the best body weight for that horse
<p> Can changing the diet help a yearling diagnosed with an OCD lesion?</p>
In a lecture at the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky, Dr. David Nunamaker of the New Bolton Center cited the following statistics: In California, 83% of racing-related equine deaths result from musculoskeletal injury.
In a lecture at the 2007 Alltech conference, Dr. Ernie Bailey of the University of Kentucky explained that about 30% of racing performance in Thoroughbreds is due strictly to genetic make-up, leaving about 70% influenced primarily by other factors (age, track surface, training, nutrition, and so on).
Don't know how much your horse weighs? Here's a formula from Equus that may give you a rough idea.
A study conducted on a Thoroughbred breeding farm showed that initial broodmare body weight averaged 1,272 pounds (577 kilograms), with an average weight of 1,448 pounds (657 kilograms) at the end of gestation.
<p> What is the recommended amount of CPI Equi-Balancer for a young foal?</p>
<p> Should I feed my yearling the <a href="http://ker.com/products/feeds/AllPhase/">Kentucky Equine Research (KER) All-Phase</a> ration balancer in addition to the hay?</p>
The main role of the equine skeleton is to provide structural support. In addition to bones, the skeletal system also includes tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Each element of the musculoskeletal system must be functioning correctly in order for the horse to travel soundly.
<p> Is free-choice creep feeding of foals prior to weaning is no longer popular?</p>
The sport in which horses participate often dictates the body condition in which they are maintained. Polo ponies are typically sleek and trim their fitness evident in a tight, tucked-up appearance. The same can be said of most racehorses. Pleasure horses, those mounts used to poke around trails and forests, are sometimes softer and less muscular, carrying more body fat.
Proper nutrition of the mare throughout pregnancy and lactation and of the young horse during its first two years of life will help prevent developmental orthopedic problems
Equine nutritionists and researchers are uncovering interesting trends related to body condition and metabolic conditions, some of which directly relate to whether certain sport horses are as susceptible to metabolic conditions as horses that are exercised from time to time or not at all.
While bone tissue continues to respond to exercise throughout the horse's life, cartilage loses almost all of its ability to adapt or regenerate by the time the horse is mature.
The relationships between growth, nutrition, bone strength and development, body weight, and the forces applied to bone are all orchestrated in a careful balance when optimal growth is achieved.
The racing success of a Thoroughbred horse is determined by a multitude of factors, many of which are impossible to evaluate. Thoroughbreds destined for the racetrack are often sold at weanling or yearling sales where buyers must rely on subjective methods, rather than performance history, to select future athletes.
One of the most important goals for Thoroughbred breeders is to produce a fully-grown, sound, and top-performing athlete. Rapid growth in horses has been associated with compromised skeletal growth; however, horses that grow too slowly may not reach optimal size, possibly reducing their sales value and lessening their chances of becoming elite athletes.
There is a belief among many people that defects in conformation predispose racehorses to poor performance and injury, and horses with obvious conformation problems tend to bring lower prices at public auction.
European warmbloods and warmblood crosses have become prominent as sport horses in the United States, where they compete regularly in dressage, show jumping, and three-day eventing. Feeding nutritionally balanced rations and attending to nutrition-related idiosyncrasies of warmbloods are the first steps in producing and maintaining sound athletes.
The care and management of old horses has been the focus of much scrutiny of late.
Both protein amount and type are important in the diets of growing horses because certain amino acids cannot be produced in the horse's body and must be provided by ingested food. The site of protein digestion is important to optimal absorption.
To understand splints, we need to remember that prehistoric ancestors of the modern horse had multiple toes on each foot. The horse of today walks on the tip of its middle toe, but vestigial traces of the other toes are still present. Two of these leftover toe bones, called splint bones, lie along the inner and outer sides of each cannon bone beginning just below the horse's knee or hock and tapering to an end above the fetlock.
Foals are generally weaned when they are somewhere between four and six months of age. Well before this time, young horses need to be eating grain regularly, deriving the majority of their nutrition from pasture and concentrates. One way to do this is by providing an enclosed feeding area in the pasture that allows foals to enter while excluding mares.
Yearlings that commanded bids higher than the median price of the session in which they were sold tended to be heavier and slightly taller, but not fatter, than yearlings receiving bids below their session's median price.
Weaning is synonymous with stress. The process produces anxiety among foals and mares, not to mention their caretakers. To ease the transition all foals must face-from maternal coddling to self-sufficiency among peers-owners can do a little homework before the day of parting arrives.
Horses, like humans, come in a variety of body shapes. Some breeds and individuals tend to be "easy keepers," naturally assuming a well-rounded shape. Others always seem to look a bit thin and ribby, no matter how they are managed.
Higgins, on the other hand, weighed a walloping 243 pounds at 28 days of age. Colts of his age born in April usually hit the 205-pound mark. This fact makes Higgins about 18% heavier than others his age. Higgins is not obese, in fact few foals are, but he possesses height and scope, likely a reflection of his tall, lanky mother.
Almost all the guidelines on feeding and caring for horses are aimed at the middleweight or light horse population, those that weigh in at about 1,000 pounds or so and little information is available regarding the equine extremes - ponies and draft horses. Generally speaking, horses are horses regardless of their size, but there are some differences in the nutritional requirements and management of these equids.
Raising an orphan foal is a formidable task. Often nurse mares are difficult or impossible to acquire during emergency situations, and bottle-feeding an orphan foal requires a significant commitment of time and resources.
In order to achieve maximal improvement in hoof health, a horse should consume 20 mg of biotin per day. If improvement has been seen within eight to 15 months, the horse will need to remain on biotin the rest of its useful life to maintain that improvement. Cutting the dose is not advisable because it may affect the results, and care should be taken not to buy more than what can be used up in six months.
During normal bone growth, cartilage is remodeled into bone. It is during this physiologic revision that ossification goes awry and OCD lesions originate.
First and foremost, hair helps in the formidable task of bodywide temperature regulation, and one integral aspect of this role is providing a shield against environmental conditions, hence the dense, wooly coats of winter and the slick, short coats of summer. Other functions of hair include protection against predatory insects and a pathway for transport of pheromones and other physiological signals from the body.
The importance of calcium in the diet of horses and ponies is crucial. When coupled with phosphorus, the two minerals compose up to 70% of the total mineral content in the body. Calcium is necessary for skeletal, cardiac, and smooth muscle function, nerve conduction, and a host of other metabolic reactions.
How can a rider decide what size equine is right? To answer this question, it is necessary to consider several factors about both the rider and the horse.
Stocking rate is defined as the number of horses allowed to graze a unit of land for a specific amount of time. Making the most of pastures by optimizing stocking rate may reduce other forage expenditures. Stocking rate is contingent upon numerous factors including grazing behavior, level of pasture management, forage species, seasons, and weather patterns.
Weaning is a stressful time for foals and mares. While mares are often ready to say good-bye to their rambunctious, rowdy charges, foals can be far more fretful. As such, weaning rarely negatively impacts a mare. In fact, some mares may blossom and begin to flesh out once they are freed from the burden of milk production.
Forage is chock full of fiber, a dietary component that is subjected to microbial fermentation in the cecum and colon of the horse. This fermentative process produces volatile fatty acids, important sources of energy for horses fed high-forage diets. Fiber can supply a horse with 30-70% of its digestible energy requirements.
Few topics in equine nutrition stir more controversy than feeding the weanling. Many factors add to the confusion of providing nutrition at this critical stage of growth.
As we become more aware of the problems facing geriatric horses, they have a much better chance at surviving into their golden years than they would have had 100 years ago. Strong emotional ties can motivate many owners to be observant of their beloved beasts and to take the extra steps it requires to maintain them in health and comfort.
There are many additional "tricks of the trade" that can be applied to help the halter horse reach his optimum potential, but the successful basics remain the same. It is essential for halter horses to be on a properly balanced diet. Exercise must be carefully designed for each individual animal to avoid potential injury and build the valuable muscle tone that can make a difference between winning and being just another horse in the class.
To anyone who has ever loved a horse, every healthy foal is a miracle. It is a joy and a wonder to watch them stand on their wobbly legs, take their first tentative steps, and find their first meal. While the vast majority of foals born every year find their way into the world in the usual fashion, occasionally a foal will arrive that provides a new definition for the word miracle.
Subclinical signs of selenium deficiency may be easily overlooked. Because the major role of selenium is in the oxidative defense system, deficiency would first compromise cellular integrity.
When a young horse begins training, horse owners and managers must realize the horse is still growing. The dual demands of training and growth make it especially important to pay attention to proper nutrition.
Flat-footed horses are very sensitive to the type of footing on which they live and exercise. They are intolerant of exercise on rough ground and may require pads to help them to be comfortable. Careful attention to providing corrective trimming and shoeing can greatly help horses that have hoof abnormalities.