Increased Risk of Laminitis in Fall Grasses

What is Laminitis?

sorrel horse fall

 Laminitis is an inflammatory condition in the hoof tissues, called lamina, that bond the hoof wall to the coffin bone. Laminitis can be very painful to the horse. It can affect a horse of any age male or female at any time of the year. However, typically horses that are obese or have a history of metabolic or hormonal issues are more prone to laminitis.

How Fall Grasses Can Affect Laminitis:

You may think laminitis is a springtime disease. However, it is an issue in the fall as well. Grasses accumulate NSC(non-structural carbohydrates), or Sugar and Starches when it is exposed to sunlight and heat. As the temperatures drop and nights become colder the grasses have a regrowth period and once again have high amounts of NSC. Grasses that have high levels of NSC can increase the risk of Laminitis for your horse. In addition, as days get shorter and colder your horse secretes more ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone). Higher levels of ACTH lead to higher insulin levels, which a leading cause of laminitis. 

fall horse grazing

Fall Nutrition for Your Equine:

One way to know if your pastures are too high in the NSC level is to simply get your pastures tested. Test your pastures every couple of weeks to be aware of what is going on, and what levels are present in your fields. If your pastures have high levels of NSC, it is best to take your horses off the pasture and feed them quality hay. In addition to quality hay, adding a vitamin and mineral supplement is a good idea. A vitamin and mineral supplement ensures their needs are being met without adding extra sugars to their diet. Feeding a hoof supplement that contains high levels of biotin will also help to ensure a strong hoof wall which will help reduce the stress on the lamina. By adding a supplement to their diet, it can help prepare them for a smooth transition into winter feeding. In the colder months of the year, quality nutrition is important to the overall health of your horse. The cold can impact the health of your horse, be sure your horse isn‰Ûªt missing any key nutrients this Fall.

Dr. Kelsey J. Nonella Ph.D., P.A.S.

Dr. Kelsey J. Nonella Ph.D., P.A.S.

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