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Date added: 20/03/2017 HELP! I've got high oxalate grasses!

 
The first thing is: don't panic! Having a high oxalate horse pasture isn't the end of the world, and won't make you a 'bad' owner. 

 

It is worth bearing in mind that if horses have access to some high and some low oxalate grasses in their pasture they will often select more of the low oxalate species. A horse in a paddock of 50:50 high/low oxalate grass is very unlikely to be actually eating 50:50.

 

High oxalate grasses often have some benefits, too. They're often tough and drought resistant, and survive under heavy grazing pressure where other grasses die. They can provide green pick, omega-3 oils and ground cover at times of the year when low oxalate grasses and legumes have not survived.

 

Common high oxalate grass species include:

Setaria sphacelata - Setaria

Cenchrus clandestinus - Kikuyu

Cenchrus ciliaris - Buffel grass

Urochloa mutica - Para grass

Urochloa decumbens - Signal grass

Digitaria eriantha - Pangola grass

Megathyrsus maximus subsp. pubiglumis - Green Panic

Megathyrsus maximus subsp. maximus - Guinea Grass

Urochloa humidicola - Humidicola.

The web is full of fantastic keys and resources to help identify the grasses in your paddocks. Your local Department of Primary Industries/Agriculture and your local nursery are also often very helpful.

 

If your pastures contain high oxalate grasses there are a few simple principles horse owners need to understand to balance  horse diets correctly. Ingested oxalates bind calcium molecules which means that some of the calcium your horse consumes is not available for the horse to absorb into the bloodstream.The amount of calcium bound is proportionate to the amount of oxalate in the gut. Therefore the higher the oxalate level of your grass, and the more grass your horse eats, the more oxalates will be present.

 

This can mean that all the available calcium in the diet is bound and a horse can develop a calcium deficiency EVEN THOUGH THE DIET PROVIDES 100% RDI for calcium.

 

There are four simple strategies that can be used to overcome this danger:

  1. Add extra calcium to the diet (RDI plus enough to bind all oxalates present) Australian research confirmed that a diet needs at least half the amount of calcium compared to oxalates (i.e. a calcium to oxalate ratio of 0.50 to 1).

  2. Provide low or no oxalate roughage as a proportion of the diet. Feeding lucerne hay (which has the added benefit of being high in calcium), rhodes grass hay or meadow hay before and after the calcium supplement is fed is a good way of achieving this. If your horse is stabled or yarded overnight, offer a low or no oxalate grass hay such as rhodes for free choice consumption (unless your horse is overweight).

  3. Feed calcium supplements when oxalate levels are lowest. In practice this can be achieved by locking your horse off high oxalate grass for at least half an hour before giving a hard feed containing a calcium supplement. This is a good time to feed some lucerne or low oxalate grass hay to reduce the amount of pasture consumed. Keep the horse locked off high oxalate roughage for about another half an hour after eating the supplements as well, to allow the body time to absorb the calcium fed in the absence of oxalates.

  4. Include some chelated calcium which may slightly decrease the volume of powder required in the feed. It is not necessary to feed only chelated calcium to manage horses successfully on high oxalate pastures.

Remember that is also important to balance calcium levels with the phosphorous and magnesium levels across the whole diet. Equine Vit&Min TropiCAL Blend takes the worry out of balancing the diet of horses grazing high oxalate pastures. Find out more at http://www.equinevitmin.com/tropical-blend.html.

Date added: 25/11/2016 Farmalogic Rejuvenate

Date added: 15/07/2016 Which Equine Vit&Min should I buy?

Choose your EVM based on roughage type

Date added: 02/06/2015 Nutritional InfoBytes - Balancing Minerals

Nutritional InfoBytes - Balancing MineralsThe Keys to Balancing Minerals

 

Ensuring that your horses are getting their recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals is a science in itself. But simply giving them enough minerals isn't quite enough to ensure adequate nutrition. Some minerals interfere with the absorption of others, so that too much of one can cause a deficiency in another EVEN IF YOU SUPPLY 100% of the horse's daily needs.

 

Australian horse owners are well aware of the importance of balancing calcium to phosphorous and calcium to oxalate ratios to maintain calcium availability. (Note that oxalates are not minerals, but this ratio has an important impact on calcium availability). Having these ratios correct is necessary to prevent the risks of “Big Head” syndrome to horses grazing high oxalate subtropical coastal pastures or those on very high bran/millrun/cereal diets.

 

Guidelines to aim for regarding calcium balance include:

•  The calcium to oxalate ratio must be greater than 0.5-1 to 1 especially for growing horses or those kept for long periods of time on these pastures.

•  The calcium to phosphorous ratio needs to be between 1-3 to 1 for growing horses and between 1-6 to 1 for a mature horse, leaning towards the high end for a horse grazing moderate/high oxalate pastures.  (Hint: feeding additional limestone can be a cheap solution to boost the calcium content of a diet).

•  Keep the total calcium intake below 5 times dietary requirement.

 

Other mineral ratios of importance include:

•  Calcium to magnesium should lie in the range of 1-2 parts of calcium for every part of magnesium (Hint: Magnesium oxide is an affordable and effective ingredient to boost magnesium levels in the diet).

•  Zinc to copper should be between 2-3 parts zinc for every part copper.

•  Iron to copper should be between 5-7 parts iron for every part zinc.

 

Toxicity and out of balance mineral ratios are of particular concern for performance horses when fed high levels of grain or when multiple fortified energy sources (pellets or mixed grains) are fed.

 

For this reason, we provide a FREE HORSE DIET ANALYSIS conducted by our qualified equine nutritionist to every Equine Vit&Min customer.

 

All you have to do to claim your free diet analysis is email a copy of your proof of purchase of any size Equine Vit&Min to info@equinevitmin.com. We will ask you to weigh your horse’s daily ration and send you a link to our nutrition questionnaire. Our Nutritionist will then prepare a thorough report offering you advice on where you can improve your horse’s diet, save money as well as confirming the correct dose of Equine Vit&Min for your horse.

 

 

Whilst it is acceptable to provide more minerals than required, the need to keep minerals in balance relative to each other is imperative because they can compete with each other at absorption points in the digestive system. This means that it is possible for your horse to be deficient of one mineral even though you feed the daily recommended intake of that mineral, because a competing mineral is in too high a supply.  For instance, did you know that copper deficiency can be induced by too much iron and zinc in the equine diet? Signs of copper deficiency can include suboptimal performance, a dull coat (lacking intensity), poor stress tolerance, increased susceptibility to infection, anaemia and limb deformities in foals whose mothers lacked copper during pregnancy. Most feedstuffs contain copper, the trick is to balance the proportions with other minerals.

 

Magnesium is a macromineral which is often discussed in relation to horse behaviour. Magnesium and calcium both play a critical role in muscle function which is why they must be balanced in the diet. Magnesium deficiency can cause muscle soreness, tremors and a lack of coordination which can lead to collapse and death if not alleviated. Even a small magnesium deficiency can cause behavioural problems like nervousness and inattention. This can be corrected by feeding sufficient magnesium and supported by providing adequate vitamins from the B group.

Date added: 26/05/2015 Nutritional InfoBytes - Roughage

Nutritional Infobytes - Feeding RoughageThe first step in formulating a healthy diet for a horse is to provide a healthy amount of roughage. This is the base of the pyramid for good nutrition – all the fancy supplements and ingredients in the world won’t keep a horse healthy if you do not feed enough fibre through roughage.

 

The horse gut evolved to ingest and digest fibre almost constantly. Their stomachs secrete acid continuously for digestion (compared to a human stomach which is stimulated to secrete acid by chewing). When horses secrete acid into an empty stomach, they are at risk of developing stomach ulcers. Many horses do not get enough roughage in our man-made environments. This is particularly true for horses kept in stables and small yards as well as during drought times. They need to be able to eat hay or chaff or grass approximately 23 hours every day. Horses need to eat 2% of their bodyweight in dry matter. Dry matter is the weight of a feed if you put it in the oven on low heat to dry out all the moisture it contains. Fresh grass is low in dry matter/high in water (15 - 30% dry matter; 70 - 85% water) compared to hay (85% dry matter) and grain or pellets which are high in dry matter (90%) and low in water (10%). So if you have a 500kg horse, you need to provide 10kg of dry food. This can mean as much as half to two thirds of a bale of grassy hay a day or free access to a large bale of hay when pasture is poor or not available. Of course, if your horse is working hard and needing the extra energy provided by grain or pellets, less hay is required. (e.g. 2 kg pellets, 9.5kg grassy lucerne hay to provide the 10kg of DRY matter).

Did you know that an adult horse at maintenance (spelling) can often get all its daily energy and protein requirements from roughage alone if it is fed the necessary 2% of its bodyweight in dry matter? It would only need added vitamins and minerals to fill any gaps and balance the critical mineral ratios to have a perfectly healthy diet.

 

As a rule of thumb, horses at rest should consume 80 - 100% of their daily intake as grass, hay or chaff. Horses in light work may need around 25 - 35% of their intake as grain/pellets & the remainder as roughage. Horses in moderate work often need 35-45% of their diet as grain to provide the energy required to perform that level of work, and horses undergoing intense training can be consuming 50-60% of their daily intake as grain/pellets. To find out how to define your horse's workload, visit www.equinevitmin.com/horse-feeding-tips.html You can find out more about determining how much dry matter is in your feed at www.equinevitmin.com/moisture-testing.html

Date added: 19/05/2015 Nutritional InfoBytes - Protein

Infobytes - ProteinAnimal bodies are made up of a very high percentage of water, followed by large quantities of protein. All living cells make proteins in thousands of different variations to perform many different functions needed to sustain life (e.g. skin, hair, enzymes, hormones, immune system components). Bodily protein is ‘built’ from amino acids, commonly referred to as the building blocks for protein. Horses are able to manufacture some amino acids (these are known as nonessential amino acids) but they need to receive adequate amounts of essential amino acids (those they can’t synthesize themselves) from their diets.

 

Each type of protein synthesized in the body is built to a strict recipe – the amino acids are set down in a fixed pattern in order to create a specific protein. It’s a bit like building a Lego brick wall to a set colour pattern. If you need a white brick as every second brick in every second row and you run out of white, you can’t complete your Lego wall (and your Lego horses might escape!!) - EVEN THOUGH you have LOTS of other colour bricks (other amino acids) left over.

 

Therefore a well-balanced horse diet has to supply more than just sufficient crude protein (the total number of lego bricks), it has to make sure that there are enough of the most limiting amino acids (white bricks). High forage diets (especially fresh grass) usually contain enough protein for adult horses spelling or in light work. Lysine, threonine and methionine are often the most limiting amino acids in the diets of growing or breeding horses and sometimes in very hard working horses.

 

Pregnant, lactating and growing horses need high quality protein in their diets – especially for lysine, a key amino acid which they are unable to produce in their bodies. Soybean meal is one commonly used ingredient to add lysine to breeding horse feeds. During the last 3 months of pregnancy, a mare will need 50% more lysine than usual (a 600kg mare needs 46g of lysine/day at 11 months gestation).

 

Full Fat Soybean Meal (FFS) is an excellent choice for pregnant, lactating and growing horses who need more and higher quality protein than is provided by pasture and grains or grain products. FFS has a crude protein content of around 38% and a well balanced amino acid profile (Lysine 2.3%, Methionine 0.5% being the most important ones to look at for equine nutrition).

 

So why doesn't Equine Vit&Min contain added amino acids? Simply because most horses don't need them, and we don't think you should pay for ingredients you don't need. Studs and high performance competitors who do need to feed higher quality protein than that found in roughage can simply add a supplement such as soybean meal which is a good, highly digestible source of well-balanced essential amino acids.

Date added: 12/05/2015 Nutritional Infobytes - Energy

Energy in Horse NutritionWhen nutritionists talk about energy, they give it a slightly different meaning to the definition riders use to describe how 'energetic' their mount is feeling. In nutrition, energy refers to the energy it takes to breath, operate a heart, a brain, an immune system. It takes energy to breed and raise a foal. It takes energy to keep warm in the cold. And it takes energy to work – the more work your horse does, the more energy it needs. Every body (from an ant to a whale) needs energy to function properly.

This energy is used as fuel for “Maintenance” of the body.

Excess energy is stored as fat, or used up in exuberant behaviour.

All food contains energy. Energy is measured in kilojoules (kJ) or calories (cal).

The roughage (hay and grass) your horse requires to keep a healthy gut contains energy. Proteins contain energy.

However, hard working horses usually need more energy than grass provides. The feeds we usually choose as energy sources for horses are grains and oils. As well as straight or processed grain, many pre-mixed grains and pellets are commercially available.

 

How much energy a horse needs from a feed depends on the type and amount of work the horse performs, breeding status, individual metabolism efficiencies and whether weight loss, gain or maintenance are desired. Weight gain happens when you eat more energy (calories or kilojoules) than you burn. It doesn't matter how you eat those calories, if you have too many you put on weight. This rule applies to horses, humans, and all living things Humans can get fat from overeating healthy meals as well as from eating high fat/sugar junk food. Horses can get fatter from eating many different feeds - from quality grass to everything we feed them from a bag. It's just that the energy level of what's in some of those bags is higher (more calories) meaning that weight gain (fat production) occurs from eating less of those feeds than the lower energy feeds. Look at the digestible energy (DE) number on the feed bag to compare which feeds have more energy per kilogram.

 

Date added: 01/04/2015 Nutritional INFObytes - Horse Nutrition Basics

Equine Vit&Min Nutrition INFObytes - Horse nutrition basics

Feeding horses well is not rocket science, but the results can blow you out of this world! And it’s much cheaper and easier than you would expect.

 

The first step is to provide enough roughage, energy and protein to meet your horse’s requirements. The right amount depends on your horse’s weight, age, stage of growth, reproductive state and work level. However, diet analyses reveal that even horses fed all the roughage, energy and protein they need to grow, work, play, repair and maintain their bodies often still lack vitamins and minerals.

 

Vitamin shortages are most common when hay or grains form a large part of the diet because vitamins are most abundant in fresh plants.

 

Mineral shortages will depend on the plants eaten and the nutrient status of the soil. Zinc, copper, iodine, selenium and Vitamins B and E are almost always deficient in an unfortified diet. Minerals must also be in balance with each other. Even when a diet provides enough of every mineral, if the ratios between them are incorrect, your horse's body won't be able to get enough to satisfy it's mineral requirements.

 

The Equine Vit&Min Nutritional InfoBytes series will help to step you through each of these stages of horse diet formulation. You can join our club and receive more feeding tips and news via email or on Facebook. Simply signup at www.farmalogic.com.au/newsletter-sign-up.html or on Facebook just Like our page www.facebook.com/EquineVitMin.Then hover over the “Like” button to turn notifications on and select “Following” so that Facebook doesn’t hide our posts from your news feed. Visit our web site www.equinevitmin.com for more information.

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