D I E TA RY C U R E FOR
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