Helpful tips & information on how to minimise the threat of Laminitis
Laminitis is a common disease and is the second biggest killer of horses and ponies in the UK. It’s frequently seen in overweight horses and ponies in the Spring, Summer and Autumn months when the grass is typically rich in sugar. There are many different causes of Laminitis, however the most common cause and prevention is diet and feeding management. Saracen Horse Feeds have put together some top tips that will help you reduce the threat of Laminitis so that with correct feeding management, you can keep your horse or pony protected from the disease. As they say…prevention is better than cure!
When addressing fibre intake…
Research has shown that horses and ponies should not ever be fed less than 1.5% of their body-weight in forage, as this can increase the risk of digestive and behavioral issues.
High fibre diets are healthy, and you shouldn’t compromise fibre intake if your horse or pony is on limited grazing, in a starvation paddock or is stabled. Soaking hay for a minimum of 3 hours has been proven to effectively reduce calorie content…just remember to rinse the hay off after soaking.
If your horse or pony has a tendency to be a good doer and is overweight, replace a portion of their hay with good quality oat straw.
Should I feed a balancer?
Feeding a forage only diet may mean that you need to supply key nutrients that forage naturally lacks, a balancer can complement natural stress resistance and help boost the immune system, whilst also improving coat, skin and hoof quality.
Stick to feeds that are low in calories and starch, and high in fibre and nutrients such as vitimins, minerals and antioxidants.
Many low calorie feeds are typically low in quality protein and oil, which can over time result in a poor coat and hoof quality and a lower tolerance to exercise.
So which balancer is best for your horse or pony you ask?
Saracen’s Shape-Up and Essential Balancer are designed to make sure that these factors are addressed whilst also making sure that calorie, starch and sugar levels are managed carefully.
Saracen’s Shape-Up is designed for horses at risk of laminitis and as such it contains a range of ingredients to help support normal metabolism such as magnesium, omega 3 fatty acids and cinnamon. It promotes a healthy hoof and also helps to maintain normal pH levels in the stomach.
Essential Balancer is a cost-effective feed balancer designed for all horses and ponies and is low in sugar, starch and calories; making it ideal if your horse is a good doer. It’s a fantastic source of vitamins, minerals, quality protein sources and Omega 3 fatty acids which will have your horse looking a picture of health, inside and out!
The importance of managing weight…
No surprises here…exercise!
Dr Nicholas Frank from the University of Tennessee’s College of Veterinary Medicine recommends exercise as a ‘more is better’ approach providing that the horse is sound. Moreover, research has found that exercise can improve insulin sensitivity, further helping to reduce the risk of Laminitis.
We all live busy lives, but even just 20 minutes of exercise can help to encourage weight loss…and let’s face it, it doesn’t do us any harm to keep fit during the Summer months too!
Some other ways to manage your horses weight include only letting horses graze when sugar levels are lowest (often overnight is the best time) and fitting your horse with a grazing muzzle for a monitored amount of time when grazing.
Furthermore, avoid turning out in frosty paddocks, especially on sunny mornings as the sugar content in the grass often rises.