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Equine nutrition

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  • 1. Equine Nutrition
  • 2. Horse and Donkeys Mouth- lips, tongue and teeth - Full set of teeth, flat for grinding - Lips- very sensitive - Use both teeth and lips to get food Saliva - Produce a lot - Lube and buffer in proximal region of stomach
  • 3. Digestive tract Non-ruminant herbivore - Designed to eat plants, ( primarily grasses) and graze over large distances, ingesting a wide variety of forages in small amounts - Confined horses with limited access to pasture, who are fed two to three times a day must be carefully maintained to avoid digestive problems
  • 4. Physiology of the Equine GI tract Monogastric with a functioning cecum The cecum with its large amount of microbial digestion is very similar to the rumen Proper dental care is essential for digestion in the horse The muscles of the esophagus ( cardiac sphincter) are so strong where they meet the stomach that vomiting or belching is almost impossible for a horse Horses will also overeat due to a poorly functioning satiety center ( they do not feel full and stop eating)
  • 5. Stomach Small as they are grazers, should eat small amounts throughout the day Cardiac sphincter- is so strong that it does not allow vomiting Pyloric sphincter - Rupture of the stomach is possible - Stress >>> no eating>>>> then overeat - Usually eat the wrong type of feed - Fermenting in the stomach>> lactic acid which impairs the relaxation of the pyloric sphincter and emptying of the stomach ( can happen when weaning foals)
  • 6. Small Intestine Responsible for the digestion of macromolecules Glycemic index: determined by composition of the diet ( grain, forage and fat) affects glucose levels in the body Pre-cecal digestion - Depends on the type of grains and how they are processed - If pre-cecal digestion does not occur >>> rapid fermentation of the contents of the cecum can lead to colic
  • 7. Cecum Large because these are hind gut fermenters Anatomical design leads to problems in digestion - A blind sac which has a very high entrance and exit - If there is not enough water in the diet, the cecum will become impacted The cecum requires a very slow transition is the diet is being changed
  • 8. Colon Finishes fermentation Absorbs water
  • 9. Feeding Consumption and Slowing Consumption Donkey - Do not graze as often as horses - Very easy keepers - Don’t need to supplement Horses - Very selective grazers - Very picky eaters - Palatability and availability important
  • 10. Grazers Spend approximately 50% of the day grazing, mostly during the daylight hours Time spent grazing depends on pasture quality and amount of forage available Slow down the consumption of concentrates to prevent GI disturbances: - Spread grain thinly over a large surface - Utilize compartments in the feed box to slow consumption - Feed small amounts often
  • 11. Concentrates Better utilized when fed about 2 hours after roughage is fed, due to slowing of passage through GI tract The conventional procedure of feeding the concentrate with or before the hay is likely to depress the net value of the dietary protein
  • 12. Water Aids in digestion and elimination of wastes Must have fresh, clean drinking water available at all times Drink 10-12 gallons a day which increases with exercise and temperature Pregnant mares will also need more water
  • 13. Energy Allows the horse to maintain optimum body condition for performance, reproduction and growth Body condition scores are assessed to estimate if energy levels are adequate 1. Poor 7. Fleshy 2.Very thin 8. fat 3. Thin 9. extremely fat 4.Moderately thin 5.Moderate 6.Moderately fleshy
  • 14. Feeding Different Classes of Horses Daily rations depend on a horses lifestyle NRC’s 2007 Nutrient Requirement of Horses is used by veterinarians and technicians to make feeding recommendations to owners
  • 15. Forages Very important to provide pasture and hay Grass forages - Are low in Ca and high in P Legumes - Are high in Ca and low in P • You want to feed a combination of grass and legumes • Lactating or growing foals will need additional additives to meet their specific dietary needs
  • 16. Forages Continued Tall Fescue can be infected with endophytes - Not for use in pregnant mares Alfalfa - A very good choice if it is affordable - High protein - Feed in small amounts - Inspect for blister beetles which will be very irritable to the horses and can lead to colic Timothy hay is another good choice
  • 17. Feeds for Horses Electrolytes and Minerals - Especially important in endurance animals - Necessary for bursts of energy, utilizing muscle glycogen - Needs vary by the animal and its use Vitamins Biotin - Improves hoof condition - Is very expensive to supplement in horses
  • 18. Feeds for Horses ( cont) Carbohydrates - High grain diets can predispose them to laminitis Protein - Quality is most important for young animals - Lysine is the most limiting amino acid in horse diets ( endurance horses are not fed high-protein diets or alfalfa hay) Minerals ( Ca, P, Se, Cu, Zn, Na, K and Cl) - Adjusted when changes in hay or training/exercise
  • 19. Feeds for Horses ( cont) Vitamins- not required if on good quality hay or pasture - Supplementation of A, E and D when green forage is lacking in the diet - Supplementation of animals kept in stalls and during training - Vitamin E reduces immunosuppression - Horses have very low levels of calcidiol
  • 20. Early pasture season problems Intake is too high when horses are first put out to pasture in the spring or if pastures are lush and growing rapidly Overeating at this time can cause diarrhea, colic and laminitis
  • 21. Managing pasture time in horses Remove horses from pasture as soon as they have eaten the available forage Horses prefer younger growth because they digest forage less efficiently than cattle The horses small stomach means they need short grazing sessions at frequent intervals Horses spend more time walking around and eating then cows, especially if alone
  • 22. Pre-cecal digestion and fat use Processing of corn - Whole corn undergoes little pre-cecal digestion so when it reaches the cecum, unprocessed, it leads to rapid fermentation which can lead to colic and other digestive upsets - Ground corn is best for digestion in the horse - Corn is referred to as a “hot feed” because it contains so much starch
  • 23. Oats Whole grain Good pre-cecal digestion in horses Additional processing is usually not an advantage Crimping or micronized can decrease pre-cecal digestibility
  • 24. Fats Horses do not have a gall bladder, bile is released directly into the digestive tract Fats in the diet delay gastric emptying of carbohydrates Supplement fats only if exercise increases and intake is maximal
  • 25. Carbohydrates Pre-cecal digestibility determines the proportion of cereal carbohydrates absorbed as glucose and that absorbed as Volatile Fatty Acids and the potential for adverse hindgut fermentation Pre-cecal digestibility of oat starch exceed that of corn, barley, and sorghum Grinding enhances pre-cecal digestibility but reduces shelf life of cereals Small intestine carbohydrate digestibility is influenced by the type of cereal, grain processing and amount fed
  • 26. Carbohydrates ( cont) High pre-cecal digestibility decreases the amount of lactic acid and other organic acids in the large intestine and the problems of grain overload When undigested starch reaches the ileum and cecum, organic acid production is increased and the Ph is decreased Feed modification is important in nutrient utilization but more important in preventing hindgut problems This is why most horse owners prefer to feed oats instead of corn
  • 27. Feeding Programs for Horses Maintenance Reproduction Growth Performance Aging foals
  • 28. Maintenance Horses Mature, non working horses that are not pregnant or nursing May need supplements depending on pasture and forages in the diet Good quality pasture in summer and hay in winter Adequate forages will deter many abnormal behaviors
  • 29. Reproduction Increased Calcium and Phosphorus Make sure they have an acceptable body condition score Gradual increase in intake around 6 months and by 8- 10 months, 20% increase Maintain BCS 5-7, moderate, fleshy condition but not obese Ca and P needs increase in last trimester and during lactation Prenatal nutrition- Cu to foal in utero reduces DOD
  • 30. Development Orthopedic Disease The term "DOD" describes a variety of orthopedic disorders in growing horses. Contracted tendons, wobbles, phystis, osteochondritis, osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD) and angular limb deformities are all considered Development Orthopedic Disease.
  • 31. Growth Critical in avoiding DOD Use of creep feed Accelerated is bad for bone and joint formation
  • 32. Performance Anaerobic activity- build up reserves of glycogen for easily accessible energy Aerobic- utilizes fatty acids and stores glycogen Ergogenic aids - Additives - Metabolites - Enhances performance - Sodium bicarb milkshake prevents lactic acid build up, given before the race BANNED
  • 33. Aging Horses Small amounts at a time of a highly digestible feed Teeth are extremely important, owner must pay attention to them Senior pelleted diets are complete but for optimum GI health, they need forages
  • 34. Breeding Meet the requirement of the mare and the foal Nutritional needs change during gestation Early gestation, late gestation or lactation Body condition scoring is essential First 8 months of gestation nutritional requirements are similar to maintenance Last 3-4 months of pregnancy must increase protein, energy, vitamins and minerals Foaling/lactation consume between 2-3 % of body weight
  • 35. Stallion Nutrition Maintenance until breeding season ( protein requirements are higher than mare maintenance) Assess body condition prior to breeding season Thin stallions can have reduced libido and fertility
  • 36. Aged Horse Nutrition Genetics and lifestyle determine when a horse is classified as aged Many older horses have dental problems which can lead to severe nutritional problems Motility of the digestive tract can also decrease with age Processed feeds may lead to better absorption
  • 37. Normal Foal Nutrition Must receive colostrum within the first 18 hours of birth May need an enema to pass meconium The mares diet should provide all the required nutrients so her milk will lead to optimal growth in the foal Coprophagy will actually benefit the foal by providing the GI tract with necessary microbes Orphan foals need a nurse mare, nurse goat or milk replacer
  • 38. Coprophagy Normal foal behavior, possibly due to pheromones, it should not be discouraged Innoculates the GI tract with necessary bacteria, and vitamins Starts as early as the first week of life, especially during the first two months, utilizing the feces of the mare
  • 39. Nutritional supplements for foals If foals are unable to feed, they must be supported by enteral or parenteral feeding Delayed feeding of the foal can lead to problems - won’t get colostrum which is necessary for the foals immune system - Reduction in intestinal villi height - Decreased weight of stomach, pancreas and small intestine - Increased risk of necrotizing entercolitis
  • 40. DOD Alters growth rate Copper is involved in the cross linking of matix Growth plate is a very active region Ca:P ratio needs to be correct
  • 41. Donkey Feeding and Nutrition Higher forage digestibility Very adaptable, easy keeper Energy- low resting metabolism Can utilize straw Water- don’t need to drink as much because they don’t waste as much energy, and don’t sweat as much Major problems: over feeding leading to obesity Like short grass Utilize protein very efficiently
  • 42. Laminitis Founder or lameness, especially of the forefeet - Genetic differences in susceptibility - Exposure to black walnut • Inflammation of the sensitive laminae of hoof • Nutritional etiology- carbohydrate overload of hindgut - Grain or lush pasture ( overloading) - Grain with low pre-cecal digestibility * Microbial growth increases lactate and microbial toxins
  • 43. Laminitis ( con’t) Preventative nutritional intervention includes: - Avoid sudden exposure to lush pasture or grain - Maintain susceptible animals on dry feed such as grass hay - If grain mix is used, factor in pre-cecal digestibility and glycemic index - If grain is fed, feed using Virginiamycin as an additive
  • 44. Azoturia Characterized by dark, sweet-smelling urine, myoglobinuria, severe muscle cramping ( tying up), animal is stiff and sore and in great pain A genetic condition may predispose horses to this condition ( improper use of glycogen) Associated with hard exercise and forced immobility Vit E and Se deficiency and electrolyte imbalance may predispose horses to it
  • 45. Azoturia nutritional intervention Feed balanced ration in small meals to avoid excess glycogen storage Feed a low – energy diet with added fat and avoid grain Feed high-quality alfalfa hay but make sure to balance for Ca and P
  • 46. Starvation and Neglect Detrimental effects on the immune system, digestive tract health, healing and body score Feeding a starved, neglected horse ( Stull, 2003) 1. Days 1-3 one pound of leafy alfalfa every 4 hours 2.Days 4-10 increase amount of alfalfa to four pounds every 8 hours by day 6 3. Day 10 to several months feed as much alfalfa as the horse will eat twice a day. Provide a salt block. Do not feed grains or supplements until the horse maintains a normal body score
  • 47. Colic Generic term for abdominal pain caused by distension of the gastrointestinal tract Many causes of colic are related to the diet Impaction - Due to reduced water intake - Poorly digestible feeds - Ingestion of sand - Sudden diet changes - Poisonous plants
  • 48. Colic ( cont) Gas- from fermentation - Consumption of lush green forage or grain - Sudden change to a much lower nutritional plane • Irritation of gastrointestinal tract or alteration of motility - Poisonous plants - Blister beetles in hay
  • 49. Possible Causes of Colic Feeding unwholesome feeds Horses bolt their feed Overfeeding Irregular feeding schedule One large meal per day Diet changes without a transition period Inability to vomit
  • 50. Vitamin deficiencies Se and Vit E - White muscle disease and steatitis in foals - Reproductive failure and azoturia in adults - Equine motor neuron disease due to low plasma vit E White Muscle Disease - stiff, stilted gait, hopping in rear legs - Necropsy shows mottled white patches of gritty feeling muscle
  • 51. Vitamin Def ( cont) Selenium deficiency - In presence of adequate vitamin E - Generalized steatitis - Subcutaneaous fat is grossly tan and appears necrotic • Biotin deficiency - Hoof wall problems - Low in grains - corn and soybean meal> oats> wheat, barley and milo - Bacteria in gut generates avidin which binds biotin