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Equine Nutrition Lectures
• Monday 29th April 11am SSLB6 • Thursday 2nd May 9am SSLB6 • Monday 6th May 11am SSLB6 • Powerpoints on Stream, plus required reading
227.208 Equine Nutrition
Erica Gee BVSc, PhD, Dip ACT Room 1.21
Acknowledgement: Dr Simone Hoskins
Who am I?
• Senior lecturer in Equine Science • Equine nutrition and reproduction • E.K.Gee@massey.ac.nz
• Evaluate the diet of a horse • Explain the main principles of feeding horses • Discuss the benefits and potential problems of pasture based diets for horses • Discuss the effects of nutrition on health and well-being of horses
– The basics of feeding horses (and why the horse is not a cow!) – The role of fibre – Assessing fatness and adequacy of diet – Pasture as a nutrient source – Where problems occur & how to prevent them by feeding practice – Why feeding is both art & science…
Prior knowledge assumptions
• Equine GI tract anatomy • Equine GI tract physiology • Nutrients & nutrient digestion – Protein & amino acids – Lipids – Carbohydrates & fibre – Vitamins & minerals • Some knowledge of equine management, behaviour, breeds etc
vitamins A. teeth – High degree of selectivity – Fibre grinders Large intestine & caecum – Big capacity – Slow passage – Mucus & motility – Bends & flexures – Microbial fermentation – Absorption VFA’s. B vitamins. NH3.26/04/2013 The digestive system • Foregut – Mouth – Oesophagus – Stomach – Small intestine What is happening in the small intestine? • Enzymes. E. vits • Acetic. phosphorus. bile. butyric & proprionic • Stomach – Small capacity. H2O. tongue. other digestive juices • Feed passes through in 30-90 minutes Digestion • Soluble carbohydrates (sugars and starch) – → glucose – What enzyme is rate limiting for starch digestion? • Most protein from grains • Oils and fats • Calcium. D. fast passage – Cardiac sphincter = one way valve – Normally rarely empty & highly buffered • Small intestine – Relatively fast passage – Urea secretion terminal ileum • Gall bladder • Designed for high fibre diet low in soluble carbohydrate & no sudden changes in diet 2 . K The equine digestive system • The hindgut – Caecum – Large colon – Small colon – Rectum What happens in the hindgut? • Giant fermentation vat • Bacteria break down fibre → volatile fatty acids (VFA) • B vitamins • Fermentation takes days – Quality – Water reservoir Features of GI tract • Lips.
MRI and CT And the horse? • Weight • Condition score • Excess dietary energy not desirable 3 .26/04/2013 Natural feeding behaviour • 14-18 hours per day grazing • Covering 10-15 km per day • Grasses preferred with some legume/ browse The domesticated horse The equine athlete Sources of energy • Horse at pasture – 75 to 80% of energy from VFAs (ie hindgut digestion • Horse in heavy work (fed lots of grain) – obtain 70 to 75% of their energy from starch and oil digested in the small intestine How do we know a diet is adequate? • The horse can – Perform as desired – Maintain appropriate body condition and weight Assessing fatness/adequacy of diet Humans • Weight • Skinfold thickness • BMI • Waist circumference • Bioelectric impedance analysis.
shoulders and neck structures are discernible. 7 FLESHY A crease is seen down the back. Area behind shoulders filled in flush with the barrel of the body. Ribs difficult to feel due to fat in between. but withers. shoulder and neck are emphasized. The tailhead is evident. but noticeable filling between ribs with fat. Fat over the ribs feels spongy. tailhead and hipbones are prominent. Fat beginning to be deposited along the sides of the withers. Fat can be felt along tailhead. Bone structure of the withers. behind the sholders and along the neck. shoulders and neck easily noticeable. Fat on the tailhead feels soft. • 3 THIN Fat built up about halfway on vertebrae. Flank is filled in flush with the barrel of the body. – Age – Sex – Purpose – Season – Breed – Etc etc etc 4 . neck and behind shoulders. 8 FAT Crease down back is prominent. Individual ribs can be felt. • 2 VERY THIN • Condition Scores: Texas A&M 5 MODERATE Back is level. Fat is in patches over rib area. Slight fat covering over vertebrae. 9 EXTREMELY FAT Obvious crease down back. Area along withers filled with fat. Withers. Fat deposited along the inner buttocks. withers. but ribs easily discernible. Optimal body condition • Varies with discipline • Individual variation • Evidence for optimal body condition – Racehorses – Endurance horses Overall weight and body condition score What is normal? Depends…. with bulging fat over tailhead. The backbone. 6 MODERATELY FLESHY May have a slight crease down the back. Backbone. but individual vertebrae cannot be seen. behind the shoulders and along the neck. Ribs can be felt but not easily seen. neck and shoulders not obviously thin. Slight fat layer can be felt over ribs. Fat around tailhead very soft. Hip bones cannot be seen. Noticeable fat deposited along the withers. Withers are rounded and shoulders and neck blend smoothly into the body. ribs. Fat around tailhead is soft. No fatty tissues can be felt. ribs. The hipbones cannot be seen. Fat along inner buttocks may rub together.26/04/2013 Body condition scoring Condition Scores: Texas A&M • • 1 POOR • Horse is extremely emaciated. Withers. • 4 MODERATELY THIN • • Negative crease along back. Fat around tailhead beginning to feel spongy. Noticeable thickening of neck. Faint outline of ribs can be seen. hipbones and tailhead project prominently. Horse is emaciated.
metabolic disease. metabolic disease Risk factor for hyerlipidemia Athletic performance Heat tolerance Exacerbate osteoarthritis Reproductive performance??? Developmental orthopaedic disease??? Condition scores for athletes BCS for broodmares • Start of breeding season: • <5/9 lower pregnancy rates cf ≥5 • <5/9 longer time to conceive (more cycles) • Slightly lower pregnancy maintenance rates than fatter mares after 90 days Review lecture 1 • Monogastric hindgut fermenter • Designed for high fibre/low starch diet • Body condition score reflects adequacy of DE intake • Many horses are overweight: can exacerbate problems like arthritis. ‘fizzy’ behaviour etc • Aim for BCS 5-7/9 (3.5) for maximum reproductive efficiency 5 .26/04/2013 Body weight • In humans excessive body weight may be associated with – Cardiovascular disease – Type 2 diabetes – Sleep apnea – Osteoarthritis Fat animals? • Not desirable in meat producing animals • Overfat heifers have decreased lifetime milk production • Cats and dogs associated with increased risk for diabetes • Visceral fat is important…. And a fat horse? • Excessive fatness and obesity is a growing problem… – – – – – – – Predisposed to laminitis.5-4. associated with laminitis.
Exertional Rhabdomyolysis etc Waghorn et al.5-2/5 Eventing ~2/5 Show horses 2. low fibre – Not great for pasture ornaments… • Yes. low protein – Energy mainly from VFA’s not glucose …Pasture too good? But horses evolved as pasture grazers didn’t they…?? Modern pasture ok for modern horses? • No. modern pastures are great for some – Rapid growly young horses.Publ.5-2. poor-moderate • 2. (2007) NZSAP Occ. high in minerals. mod-good • 3.5 trim. 14. modern pastures designed for ruminants – High sugar. risk factor for – Laminitis – Colic – Azoturia. horses in hard work • Yes.5 heavy. insulin resistance • Developmental Orthopeedic Disease? 6 . pregnancy.5/5 What horses evolved to eat • Evolved on prairie/ rangeland • 10-20 km per day travel • Native grasslands – Big variety in mostly perennial species – Predominantly grasses. good-fat • Diet – Highly fibrous.5-3/5 Endurance 1.5 fleshy. poor/older pastures are great for some Pasture chemical composition % DM Soluble sugars Hemicellulose Cellulose Lignin Protein Lipid Ash Leafy RG 14 16 21 3 15 9 8 Seeding RG 10 26 27 7 6 5 6 Whats wrong with high soluble carbs/ low fibre? MAY result in: • Digestive disturbance. • Behavioural problems • Metabolic disorders. rapid fermentation • Hindgut acidosis. lactation. but also herbs & legumes – Unselected for digestibility or performance • 1.26/04/2013 Typical body condition scores • • • • • Dressage 2.5-3/5 Race horses 1.
colour.26/04/2013 Nutrition and laminitis • Pasture-associated laminitis – Fructans – Soluble sugars Can pasture be ok as sole diet? • It can be too good… • Pasture can provide enough energy & protein – Similar growth of TB youngstock on NZ perennial ryegrass pasture as pasture + grain overseas – However. clover – Quality importance – Smell. macro & micro minerals…? • But can be difficult to assess quantity/ quality • Grain overload – Undigested grain in hindgut. alfalfa/lucerne.5% BW as DM • Essential for hindgut fermentation • Pasture. rapid fermentation Pasture vs requirements Pasture/ hay PRG/WC NZ Leafy spring Stalky summer USA Bermudagrass Kentucky BG Native Meadow (h) Native Prairie (h) Requirements* Maintenance Growth 4-6mo MJ DE/kg DM 12 8 10 9 7 7 MJ DE/kg DM 8 12 g CP/kg DM 230 100 125 175 87 64 g CP/kg DM 80 145 Pasture problems… • Too little… • Too much… • Damage to pasture and soil • Overgrazing • Encouraged growth of weeds eg docks • Horse sick paddock: faecal rejection *NRC (1989) Nutrient requirements of horses (USA) Pasture • Not just for exercising • Nutrient content variable • Faecal rejection and overgrazing • Horse sick pastures – Infective parasite larvae But all horses need forages! • Forage basis of diet: min 1. digestibility and palatability with maturity • Variable nutrient 7 . dust. stem:leaf • Not energy dense • Variable energy. hay. preserved forages – Grass.
66.26/04/2013 Conserved forages for horses • Hay (soaking vs not soaking) – Grass vs legume mix: – Lucerne. abnormal oestrus • Mn*. potential interaction with other minerals. pea-vine.0-3. smell.1 0. oaten. deficiency = goiter. damp.specific reqts not known. adequate when Na reqts met with NaCl Pasture vs requirements mins g/kg DM mg/kg DM Nutritional-secondary hyperparathyroidism NSHP • Millers. silage – Lucerne and chopped oat “hage” custom made for horse – Conventional pit pasture silage not recommended (beware secondary fermentation. developmental orthopaedic disease prevention.3 Cu 10 10 Se 0. Mo* not deficient in NZ pastures? • Se. low [Ca].2 3. red clover.4 Cu 7.7 2. clostridium) – Baleage/ haylage lower risk • K .specific reqts unknown. baleage. toxicity w overdose supplements • Fl* Zn*. weeds etc Pasture and macrominerals • Ca:P min ratio 1. adaption to Na restriction. clover. grains high P • Chaff (chopped legume hay or oat straw) – Commonly lucerne. dust. Hoskin & Gee (2004) Microminerals • Mg . pasture likely to be limiting? • Cl . – Stimulation of parathyroid gland which results in Ca removal from bones – Often caused by high feeding levels of wheat bran (Ca:P ratio.1 P 1. tropical grasses like kikuyu (oxalates) Pasture PRG/WC Tall Fescue Reqts. Bran or Big Head Disease – From diet with low Ca:P. important for growth.deficient pastures causing Mg tetany in ruminants ok for horses? – Behavioural problems w spring pasture.5:1 vital – Forages tend to be high Ca.reqts easily met by forages • Na .02 Se 0. pastures inadequate for ruminants ok for horses • Cu. herb – high protein. NZ soils deficient = white muscle disease.4 5. Fe*? * Not specifically determined for horses 8 .8 P 3.8 3. Growth 4-6 months Ca 3.5 6. 1:12).2-3.3-4.0 Ca 2.02 0. low Mg? – Lots of supplements sold – Research required Microminerals • Co*. Ca – leaf:stem.1 *NRC (1989). pea-vine • “Hage”.* Maint. nutritional myopathy. oxalates (kikuyu grass) – High P levels or oxalates can impair utilization of Ca which result in low blood Ca levels. NZ soils deficient • I*. mould.
hay • Low or no endophyte pasture? Horse friendly pasture? • Blood tests… • Mycotoxin binders… – Over-react to external stimuli – Muscles tremors. especially young horses. concentrate feeding • D. broodmares • PRG good energy and protein. altered Ca:P – BigHead • PRG may have low fibre and high sugar during rapid growth that not all horses do well on – GI disturbances. lawns and troughs. affects horses too • Usually late summer after drought when grazing very low • Remove from pasture. faecal contamination and parasites Feeding the equine athlete Why not pasture alone? • As energy requirements increase the ration needs to become more energy dense – Maintenance: eats about 2% BW per day as DM – Can consume up to max 3% BW per day as DM – Pasture has low energy density – BUT must consume at least 1. need ultraviolet light (stables & covers) • Vit C synthesised in hepatic tissues • Biotin supplementation above ‘adequate’ – enhanced hoof growth in some horses Review lecture 2 • Pasture is a good.5% BW as forage each day for GI health 9 . behaviour • Overgrazing.26/04/2013 Vitamins • Fat & water soluble vits high in fresh forage – Hay storage reduces vit content – Soaking hay leaches vits But • We usually don’t know the nutrient content of pastures or hays for horses! • B & K synthesised by hindgut bacteria – But absorption may vary – High fibre diet needed – Deficiencies may occur w low fibre pasture. uncoordinated gait • NSH oxalates bind Ca. marginal Ca? – NB usually don’t know the nutrient content – Energy content can be too high Ryegrass staggers • Lolitrem B in high endophyte grasses • Yes. acidosis. cheap source of nutrition for horses.
5kg per meal/500kg • Death of gram negative bacteria – Endotoxin in cell wall – Any disruption in mucosa allows endotoxin to be absorbed – Laminitis and endotoxaemia 10 .26/04/2013 What other energy sources are there? • Grains (oats. barley. variable protein. maize) • Premixed feeds (grains.5kg per meal! • GI disturbances common Meeting energy requirements: carbohydrates • Processed grains – Loose – Pelleted – Extruded Are grains bad? • No! • Energy dense. minerals and vitamins often) • Fats and oils • Superfibres • (Protein) • • • • • • Meeting energy requirements: carbohydrates Oats Barley Maize Palatable Energy varies Starch digested in small intestine • α-amylase limiting: no more than 2. chaff. often low in minerals and vitamins • Quality variable • Affordable • Problems with too much grain… – Rapid fermentation of undigested grain in hindgut – Behaviour • Sweetfeeds – Added sugar • Complete and premixed feeds – Must be fed as directed – Same for balancers Problems with grain: grain overload • Undigested soluble CHO in hindgut • Proliferation of lactic acid producing bacteria – Change pH How much grain to feed? • Limit of 2.
glycogen sparing Protein Supplements • Often overdone! • Usually as the energy content increases the protein also increases • Most protein supplements 20-25%CP • Quality of protein in important – lysine for young horses • Usually expensive 11 . glycogen sparing Fats and Oils • • • • Incorporated in many prepared feeds Up to 10% DE (even up to 25% of total MJ) Energy dense so smaller volume required Vegetable oils more palatable.26/04/2013 Grain meals • “Sugar high” after meal • Linked with – “Hot’ and excitable behaviour – Stereotypies – Muscle problems in susceptible horses – Development orthopaedic disease in youngsters What if grains make the horse too ‘hot’? • Try other energy sources – Fermented forages – Other sources of highly digestible fibre • Sugar beet pulp • Soya hulls – Fat-fortified feeds and fat supplements • Vegetable oil • Stabilised rice bran Alternative energy sources • • • • Fats and Oils Incorporated in many prepared feeds Up to 10% DE (even up to 25% of total MJ) Energy dense so smaller volume required Vegetable oils more palatable. introduce slowly • Performance benefits? – Calmer – Improved fat oxidation. introduce slowly • Performance benefits? – Calmer – Improved fat oxidation.
26/04/2013 Minerals and vitamins • • • • • Often overdone! Complete. branch chain amino acids Antioxidants Diet evaluation • Check energy content – Usually too much (fat. or too little (thin. carnitine. premixed and balancer feeds Ca:P ratio (NB grains) Iron not required Selenium important – Toxicity: acute and chronic Other supplements • • • • Often not much information Overdone? Creatine. fizzy horse).5 and 3% of their bodyweight as dry matter each day • Small stomach • Important hindgut bacteria • No more than 2.5% BW as forage DM each day • Check protein content • Minerals and vitamins Basic rules • 50 to 100% diet as forage • Horses eat between 1. lethargic horse) Evaluating the diet of a horse • Check forage content and quality of feedstuffs – At least 1.5kg grain at any time • Small feeds often • Feed by weight not volume • Change feeds slowly (hindgut bacteria) • Feed as individuals Optimal nutrition • May optimise performance… • Won’t improve genetic potential • Won’t make up for poor training 12 .
(Cuddeford. with concentrates) 4.possible adaptation to cope with starvation in harsh conditions + dependence on high fibre diet with low glucose availability Feeding tips 1. horse needs to extend feeding ‘budget’ but doesn’t = undernutrition – Herbage excess. Fresh water should always be available. Maint. Ad-lib.26/04/2013 Feeding behaviour issues Horses are not nutritionally wise! • Feed shortage = abnormal behaviour • High concentrate:roughage / low roughage availability = abnormal behaviour • Stabling w. utilisation of conc. Maint. Feeding concentrates after roughage = slower intake & passage of concentrate. Feed little & often 3. Make dietary changes gradually (esp. even when grazing lush pasture 13 . Feed by weight not volume according to nutrient requirements 6. more inquisitive Reduce stress and intensity of startle reaction Lower heart rates More tractable Fewer stereotypies % of time spent feeding 58 55 64 60 10 12 % time in abnormal activities 0 2 <1 2 58 66 Equine glucose tolerance/ insulin sensitivity • Big variation in equine ability to tolerate a glucose load (or starchy feed) • ‘Hot’ breeds (TB. + potential net protein value of diet 5. ad-lib hay = similar behaviour to grazing pasture • Feeding time ‘budget’ constant despite herbage availability – Herbage shortage. Feed high fibre (pasture/ forage) 2. horse needs to restrict feeding ‘budget’ but doesn’t = overnutrition Dietary problems in the equine athlete Effect of feed type on time spent behaving abnormally in horses Feed n Pasture Stable Tie-stall Tie-stall Tie-stall Tie-stall 6 5 5 4 4 4 Grass Hay Hay Hay Hay Pellets Lucerne/ maize cobs Feed level Ad-lib. Ad-lib. 1996) High fat and fibre diet • Effects on behaviour – Controlled studies conclude: • • • • • Calmer. Arab) more tolerant than ‘cold’ breeds (heavy) • But excitable behaviour after grain feeding of ‘hot’ breeds • Ponies insulin insensitive . Maint.
) • Currently: hunts twice weekly. – 3kg red clover/ryegrass hay – Balancer pellets for minerals and vitamins – Sugarbeet if pasture quality/quantity decreases – Oats if reqd Typical diets • 5yo Standardbred gelding. Prone to being overweight when not in work. full training 480kg – – – – – – – – Paddock trained Approx 6kg premixed feed 1-2kg fermented forage 1-1.5kg lucerne/oaten chaff Electrolytes Mineral mix Apple cider vinegar Garlic • Summer: ‘Jenny Craig’ paddock – Balancer pellets for minerals and vitamins – Grass hay (stalky) Summary • Optimal nutrition for optimal performance • Each horse is an individual and needs to be fed as such • Forage is more than a filler • Grains aren’t always bad but there are alternatives • Aim for a balanced diet…there can be too much of a good thing… Questions? 14 .26/04/2013 Typical diets • 12 year old pony 450kg (430480.
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