TIME - TESTED HEAVES MAN­AGE­MENT

EQUUS - - Eq Medical Front -

Air lev­els of ir­ri­tants were sig­nif­i­cantly higher in the barns with straw and hay com­pared to those where wood shav­ings and hay­lage were used.

A new study from the Nether­lands sug­gests that horses with heaves ben­e­fit more from old-fash­ioned man­age­ment mea­sures, such as the use of low-dust bed­ding and feed, than from high-tech in­ter­ven­tions like air-ion­iz­ing de­vices.

Heaves, also known as re­cur­rent air­way ob­struc­tion or equine asthma, is a chronic in­flam­ma­tory lung dis­ease trig­gered by dust, mold, pol­lens and other air­borne par­ti­cles nor­mally found in barns. Horses with heaves have dif­fi­culty ex­hal­ing and may cough fre­quently, mak­ing ex­er­cise dif­fi­cult. In ex­treme cases, a horse may strug­gle to breathe while sim­ply stand­ing still. Pre­vi­ous stud­ies have shown that us­ing bed­ding and feed low in mold and dust and pro­vid­ing plenty of fresh air through turnout are the most ef­fec­tive man­age­ment tech­niques for horses with heaves.

Look­ing for an­other tool to help heavey horses, re­searchers at Utrecht Univer­sity tested air ion­iz­ers, which send neg­a­tively charged elec­trons into the sur­round­ing air where they at­tach to par­ti­cles that are then trapped by the unit’s air fil­ters. The ion­iz­ers were used in four barns that had six stalls each. At two of the barns straw bed­ding was used and horses were fed hay, while at the other two, stalls were bed­ded with wood shav­ings and the horses were fed low-dust hay­lage. Dust par­tic­u­late lev­els in each en­vi­ron­ment were mea­sured mul­ti­ple times, both dur­ing the day and at night, over a six-week pe­riod and with the ion­iz­ers turned on and off.

The data showed that the ion­iz­ers did not re­duce con­cen­tra­tions of air­borne par­ti­cles in any of the barns. What’s more, air lev­els of ir­ri­tants were sig­nif­i­cantly higher in the barns with straw and hay com­pared to those where wood shav­ings and hay­lage were used. “The sub­stan­tial ef­fect of low-dust bed­ding and feed is con­firmed,” the re­searchers con­cluded.

Ref­er­ence: “Ef­fect of ion­iza­tion, bed­ding, and feed­ing on air qual­ity in a horse sta­ble,” Jour­nal of Vet­eri­nary In­ter­nal Medicine, Fe­bru­ary 2018

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