Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Managing pasture to reduce laminitis risk

A new report provides owners with practical information on how to manage their pasture to reduce the risk of laminitis in horses and ponies.

The search for improved meat, milk and fibre production has led to the development of grasses containing high levels of non structural carbohydrates (NSC- sugar, starch, and fructan).

The non-structural carbohydrate content can increase dramatically if the pasture is exposed to extreme conditions - such as intense sunshine, drought and cold stress. Such pasture presents a high risk for horses and ponies susceptible to obesity, insulin resistance and laminitis.

But with good pasture management, these conditions can be minimised.

The report, entitled "Equine Laminitis - Managing pasture to reduce the risk", is written by US -based agronomist Kathryn Watts and Professor Chris Pollitt, Director of the Equine Laminitis Research Unit at the University of Queensland, and published by Australia's Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation (RIRDC). It outlines how horse owners can reduce the level and concentration of sugar, starch and fructan in their pastures. High levels of these carbohydrates can cause laminitis in horses and ponies.

According to Professor Pollitt, the report represents an important step forward in the understanding of pasture associated laminitis.

“While there are still significant gaps in our knowledge about laminitis, a source of great frustration to horse owners and veterinarians alike, we do know that what the horse or pony has eaten over the last few days, weeks or months may trigger laminitis,” Professor Pollitt said.

Equine Laminitis – Managing pasture to reduce the risk can be purchased in hard-copy for $A25 or downloaded (free) in PDF format. See: www.rirdc.gov.au

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