Sunday, June 04, 2017

Nifty Conversion Calculator

Confused about how many milligrams of copper or grams of calcium, etc. are in your horse's feed or supplement? I know some days my brain is simply too tired to do the math.

But the Triple Crown Feed website has an easy to use conversion calculator -  simply plug in the amount shown on the label, select the "units" (ppm, %, etc.) shown and the calculator will show the results.

For example - if the label on your feed bag reads "Copper 65 ppm", the calculator will show that there are 25.9 mg in each pound of feed and you will likely need to feed 3-1/2 to 4 lbs a day to meet the average horse's minimum copper requirement (of 95+ mg).

$$$ In, $$$ Out - make your $$$ count!

If this were a "supplement" which you'd usualy feed in ounces,  at 1.8 mg/oz you'd see that it doesn't come anywhere near supplying sufficient copper without feeding some huge amount.

Don't shop for feed or supplements blindly - you can use the calculator to see if your horse is really going to get what he needs.  And don't get taken in by the "BIG" bucket - checking with the conversion calculator can help you decide if it's truely a bargain or if you're paying good money for a lot of filler.

Happy Summer!
Patti in (very warm) Vail AZ

Saturday, December 19, 2015

You've Been Asking For This -

So I finally sat down and reviewed, updated and revised my original Hay Analysis Mineral Balancing Paper/Pencil Worksheet.  I haven't done a major revision on this in several years and several users who prefer the paper/pencil and calculator method to using my spreadsheets have been asking me where to find it.

In addition, I have also made up a "simplified" version with a bit less detail which can help walk you through a quick look at what your need with your hay - based on your hay analysis results, of course. This can also be used as a quick manual check against a spreadsheet if you do use those.  There is a Basic Example Worksheet already filled out to give you an idea, and a Basic Blank Worksheet to download and print.

Both versions will take you step by step through the math and I purposefully did not use any "shortcuts" which tend to snag the unwary or math challenged.  If you simply plod through each step you should come up with correct results.

I'd like you to keep in mind that these worksheets are simply a device or tool to help you plow through the math, these are not recommendations or guidelines for supplementing your horse's diet.  If you're not familiar with or comfortable with the Nutritional Requirements of Horses, seek assistance from an independent equine nutrition consultant, your veterinarian or other equine professional familiar with your horse's nutritional needs.

To help get you started, a basic table of NRC Nutrient Requirements (from the 1989 edition) is available on the Equi-Analytical website.

I'd like to thank everyone who has stuck with me through what turned into a very stressful year filled with a multitude of unanticipated medical issues but which brings me to this holiday realizing I am blessed in my friends, my family, my horses and my life.

(And did I mention the pdf worksheet downloads are free?)

Happy Holidays and Warm Regards,

Patti in balmy Vail, AZ
whose going to go to the barn and hug a horse!

Mineral Balancing Worksheets on Google Drive

How to Access the Equine Nutrition Balancing Spreadsheets

Basic table of NRC Nutrient Requirements

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Itchies Are Coming!... Whoa - it's not even Winter yet!

Now is the time to be thinking about warding off the spring/summer "itchies" which seem to plague many horses beginning with spring shedding and progressively getting worse as summer's bugs and sweat become part of daily life with your horses.

"It's winter and cold out, it's not a problem now!" I can hear many of us thinking. But this is exactly the time to start thinking about the basic causes of the inflammation process that triggers many forms of "the itches" and to begin your intervention tactics.  A multi-pronged approach I first learned from Dr. Eleanor Kellon, VMD, well known  leader and innovator in equine nutrition, has worked well for clients horses in the Southwest and across the country.

The basis of "itch", a sensation that causes the desire or reflex to scratch, arises from inflammation of nerves. Once sensitized, it becomes easier and easier for the nerves to become "excited" and more and more difficult to quell the sensation.  The sensitivity may carry over from the original culprit (an insect bite or contact with a noxious plant or substance) so that almost anything becomes a "trigger" - something which will set off the need to scratch.  Along with this comes a whole catalog of false-positive "allergies", even to substances the horse has never been exposed to before. A "true" allergy requires previous exposure to an allergy causing substance and the development of antibodies to the allergen itself, while a "false" allergy is an inflammatory reaction to a trigger acting as an irritant to the immune system.

Why some horses respond or react more to inflammatory insults than others isn't really known - just as why some people are allergic to bee stings or have autoimmune diseases and others do not.  There may have been a reaction to midge bites or another "trigger" when their immune system was busy with something else and that began the process. What we need to accomplish is to support the immune system so it can effectively deal with future triggers.  At the same time we don't want to "stimulate" the immune system as it is already overstimulated.

The first step in a comprehensive plan to combat next season's itchies is mineral balancing your horse's diet.  Without the base diet in place to provide the body with the tools and building blocks to develop and maintain a strong immune system, all your subsequent interventions become an exercise in futility and a waste of your time and money.  Start with a calcium phosphorus ratio as close as 2:1 as you can bring it, add magnesium to bring it to a similar level to phosphorus, then identify and balance excessive levels of iron (pro-inflammatory) and manganese.

The next step in your comprehensive plan is to provide a source of Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E in your horse's diet year round.  When horses graze active gowing pasture they receive adequate Omega-3 but, as soon as hay is cut and cured this is lost almost immediately (along with vitamin E). Flaxseed (fresh ground or stabilized) at a rate of two to six ounces a day, flaxseed oil at one to four ounces per day, chia seed at two to six ounces per day or any of a number of commercial Omega-3 supplements can provide the powerful antioxidant support missing from hay.  Vitamin E is another antioxidant which is easy to include (at a rate of 2 IU per pound of body weight or 2,000 IU for an average horse).

By starting these steps now when your horses may least seem to need them you're ensuring they enter into the critical spring shedding season with good immune system reserves.

Thinking ahead to your horse's spring and summer response to their usual triggers - bug bites, sweat, etc. - be prepared to take action before these triggers can set off a full scale inflammatory response. If your horse always breaks out in hives at the first sign of a gnat or midge, begin giving Spirulina at a rate of 20 grams twice a day (or 40 grams once a day) about a month before the first bug is expected to appear.  Spirulina is a farmed source of a specific blue-green algae (not "any" blue-green algae will do). Despite some of the outrageous claims of Spirulina as a "super food", it does have some mast cell inhibition properties and suppression of histamine levels which can effectively slow down or even halt some inflammatory responses, (similar in effect to the human medication montelukast).

A "nutraceutical" which has an anti-inflammatory effect is chondroitin sulfate.  This is the "same" chondroitin popular as a joint supplement but given at a rate of 2.5 to 5 grams per 500 pounds body weight per day, or 5 to 10 grams per day for an average horse.

There are several other herbs and "natural" remedies which may be helpful but few will be effective once the inflammatory cascade has been set in motion.  If you wait until your horse is already reacting to sweat and bug bites with hives or scratching themselves raw, you'll most likely need veterinary intervention and medications incluiding steroids and anti-histamines to slow down and halt the process and you - and your horse - will be stuck with another year of the misery of the itchies.

Caution! Just because sometihing is "natural" does not mean it is safe!  Make sure your veterinarian is aware of any supplements, herbs and nutraceuticals you give your horse, especially if any medications or treatments are also needed.  Even "natural" topical medications and sprays can be triggers - for example, a "natural" fly spray triggered my asthma last summer and raised hives on one horse's rump.

Plan ahead - and think about next summer's worst being a good roll in the sand and a shake after a ride. (This would be a great time to take Dr. Kellon's NRC Plus and Nutrition as Therapy courses!)

Warm regards,

in very chilly Vail Az

I have included Wikipedia and commercial links here today because they provide some simple explanation.