FEEDING LAMINITIC PONY/HORSE
There are lots of old wives tales about feeding laminitic ponies:
As long as I feed old hay I can feed a normal amount, as it is low quality hay – true or false? FALSE!!
People say that leaving hay in a shed for a year renders it ‘safe’ for horses with laminitis. It is true that hay loses vitamins A and E after a year in storage. Perhaps this can be construed as ‘loss of nutrients’ if using very general terms, but depletion of vitamins will not prevent laminitis or obesity, which is caused by excess sugar and calories. Forage researchers have shown that when hay moisture is below about 40%, the enzymes that control respiration stop, so sugar can’t be lost through respiratory mechanisms. If hay is kept dry, sugar can’t leach out. Carbohydrate loss may also occur when mould feeds on the hay. Again, horse owners know better than to buy hay that is mouldy, because horses cannot tolerate mouldy hay like cows can. Hay baled at 12-15 % moisture, which should be the target for good quality horse hay, will not heat up, should not mould if stored properly and therefore will not change in quality from the time it is baled for several years if stored in a dry barn or shed in an arid environment.
I have to restrict amount (bulk) that my pony eats – true or false? FALSE!!
Reduce calories not bulk; all horses should eat a minimum of 2.5% of their bodyweight as food, (includes hay, chaff, and bucket feed, i.e. ANYTHING he consumes!). Restricting intake to less, means your horse is at greater risk of developing stereotypic behaviour, chewing wood, gastric ulcers, some types of colic, and dental problems. Soak hay for 12hrs or feed oat or barley straw. Soaking (at least 12 hours) removes most of the nutrition especially the calories, making it the horse equivalent of celery. You can then feed ‘adlib’ satisfying the horse’s need for trickle feeding.
I can feed my pony/horse normal rations as long as I feed one of the feed “suitable for laminitis” – true or false? FALSE!
When deciding what feed is suitable for the laminitic pony it is very important to first find out the reason for the laminitis (e.g. Equine Metabolic Syndrome, Cushing syndrome, etc.) and then take into account the weight and the body condition score of the horse and the amount of exercise it is doing daily. Horses in good body condition (score 2.5 or 3) that are in full work can be fed one of the many products on the market labelled “suitable for laminitis” and the energy intake should be equal to the energy spent daily.
However, the same “suitable” food (even in smaller portions) would be completely inappropriate for a pony with body score of 4 or 5, that has been diagnosed with Equine Metabolic syndrome. Dietary management of such a pony will require reduction of total caloric intake as well as the non-structural carbohydrate intake.
This table compares some of the feeds suitable for laminitic horses that are currently available on the market. The recommended amount is calculated for a 500kg horse, which enable us to compare different brands (they are in order from the least caloric to the most caloric). The maintanance requirement for 500kg horse is 69 MJ per day. It is recommended that NSC (%) must not exceed 40% of the dry matter of the feed to be suitable for laminitic prone horses (NSC is used as an estimate for the hydrolysable and rapidly fermentable carbohydrate feed fractions). Recommended feeding rate per meal should not allow NSC intake exceed 0.25% of bodyweight.
|Energy MJ/Kg||NSC %||Starch %||Protein %||Oils/Fats %||Fibre %||
Daily amount recommended for 500kg horse
=MJ per day
(for 500 kg horse)
|Balancers & Vitamins|
|Lite Balancer (2)||10.0||-||9.0||15.0||4.8||17.0||0.5 kg||5.00|
|Ultimate Balancer (1)||11.5||-||-||25.0||6.0||5.0||0.5 kg||5.75|
|Feed & Mix|
|Safe & Sound (1)||8.5||5.0||?||8.0||4.0||23.0||1.5 kg||12.75|
|Shape Up (3)||9.0||9.5||2.8||16.0||1.5 kg||13.50|
|Fibergy (1)||9.5||?||?||8.0||7.5||35.0||1.5 kg||14.25|
|Hi-Fi Lite (4)||7.5||7.0||1.5||10.0||1.5||35.0||2.0 kg||15.00|
|Alfalfa (1)||10.0||?||?||15.0||2.5||30.0||1.5 kg||15.00|
|Fiber-beet (5)||11.0||5.0||?||10.0||3.0||22.0||1.5 kg||16.50|
|Speedi-beet (5)||12.0||5.0||?||9.0||0.7||16.0||1.5 kg||18.60|
|Healthy Hooves Molasses free (4)||8.5||2.5||1.5||9.0||5.0||27.0||2.5 kg||21.25|
|Healthy Hooves (4)||8.5||5.0||1.5||9.0||2.5||27.0||2.5 kg||21.25|
|Hi-Fi Molasses free (4)||8.5||2.5||1.5||10.0||6.5||35||2.5 kg||21.25|
|High Fibre Cubes (2)||8.4||?||10.0||10.0||2.75||20.0||3.0 kg||25.20|
|Alfa-A Molasses free (4)||11.5||4.5||2.0||14.0||8.5||27.0||2.25||25.87|
|Happy Hoof (2)||8.8||?||4.0||8.0||4.0||25.0||3.0 kg||30.00|
|Pasture Mix / Cubes (1)||10.0||?||?||9.5||4.0||15.0||3.0 kg||30.00|
|Low quality pasture*||8.0||12.5 kg||100.00|
|Average hay*||8.7||9.5||30.0||12.5 kg||108.75|
|High quality pasture*||12.5||12.5 kg||156.25|
❶ Dodson & Horrell (http://www.dodsonandhorrell.com)
❷ Spillers (http://www.spillers-feeds.com/en-gb/united-kingdom)
❸ Saracen horse feeds (http://www.saracen-horse-feeds.co.uk)
❹ Dengie horse feeds (http://www.dengie.com/pages/products/healthy-hooves.php)
❺ British horse feeds (http://www.britishhorsefeeds.com)
* Forage analysis of your hay/grass is of utmost importance when you preparing your horse's weight loss plan.
So what should I feed?
First establish the body score of your horse and the amount of work he is currently doing:
Neck - "ewe" neck, narrow and slack at base. Back and ribs - ribs easily visible, skin sunken either side of backbone. Spinous processes well defined. Pelvis - rump sunken but skin supple, plevis and croup well defined, cavity under tail.
Neck - narrow but firm. Back and ribs - ribs just visible, backbone well covered. Spinous processes felt. Pelvis - rump flat either side of backbone, croup well defined, some fat, slight cavity under tail.
Neck - no crest (except stallions), firm neck. Back and ribs - ribs just covered, easily felt. No gutter along back. Spinous processes felt. Pelvis - covered by fat and rounded, no gutter, pelvis easily felt.
Neck - slight crest, wide and firm. Back and ribs - ribs well covered. Gutter along back bone. Pelvis - gutter to root of tail. Pelvis covered but soft fat, felt only with firm pressure.
|5 (Very fat)||
Neck - marked crest, very wide and firm, folds of fat. Back and ribs - ribs buried, impossible to feel. Deep gutter, back broad and flat. Pelvis - deep gutter to root of tail, skin distended, pelvis buried, impossible to feel.
|Convalescence||Most of the day in a bare paddock|
|Light work||Maximum of 1 hour per day hacking, mostly at walk with some cantering, or 30 minutes of schooling or lunging, mostly at the trot with some canter.|
|Medium work||Schooling, dressage, show-jumping, novice or intermediate 1 day eventing or hunting 1 day per week.|
|Hard work||Advanced one day events, 3 day events, hunting 2 days per week, polo and all forms of racing.|
Following examples of feeding are using Dodson & Horrell range, but please see the table above for comparison with other manufactures (use the similar energy and fibre content):
Moderate or good body condition horse/pony:
Top tips to remember:
Copyright. East Kent Equine Ltd. 2015