D I E TA RY C U R E FOR

EQUUS - - Medicalfro­nt -

A study from Bel­gium sug­gests that feed­ing prac­tices alone may aid the heal­ing of mi­nor de­vel­op­men­tal bone le­sions in young horses.

Re­searchers at the Equine Re­search Cen­ter of Mont-leSoie tracked 204 foals en­rolled in a rou­tine screen­ing pro­gram for or­tho­pe­dic dis­ease. Each young­ster was ra­dio­graphed twice: once at 6 months old and again at 18 months old. At the be­gin­ning of the study, each horse’s care­taker com­pleted a ques­tion­naire about man­age­ment prac­tices, in­clud­ing hous­ing and feed­ing rou­tines.

At the first screen­ing, 132 foals had no de­tectable bone trou­bles and 72 had signs of os­teo­chon­dro­sis (OCD), a growth-re­lated dis­rup­tion of the con­ver­sion of car­ti­lage to bone in joints. OCD leads to swelling and lame­ness and, if un­ad­dressed, can re­sult in long-term sound­ness prob­lems. When the sec­ond set of ra­dio­graphs was taken 12 months later, 132 horses still had healthy bones, but the num­ber of those with OCD le­sions dropped to 37. None of the study horses had sur­gi­cal in­ter­ven­tion to ad­dress OCD be­tween screen­ings.

Af­ter the sec­ond screen­ing, the re­searchers cor­re­lated the ra­dio­graphs with in­for­ma­tion gath­ered through the ques­tion­naires. They dis­cov­ered that foals who had le­sions at the first screen­ing were more likely to have nor­mal ra­dio­graphs 12 months later if they were not fed con­cen­trates dur­ing the in­ter­ven­ing pe­riod. “When we talk about con­cen­trates, we mean ev­ery grain or pro­cessed grain,” says Luis Men­doza, DVM. “Most of them were com­mer­cial foal’s food with added nu­tri­ents.

Ref­er­ence: “Test­ing stor­age meth­ods of fae­cal sam­ples for sub­se­quent mea­sure­ment of helminth egg num­bers in the do­mes­tic horse,” Ve­teri­nary Par­a­sitol­ogy, May 2016

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