Dr David Marlin discusses the topic of Nutrition
This podcast is loosely based around a Facebook Live event done by Dr David Marlin recently.
Nutrition and specifically looking at the sort of information David has collected over the past 5 to 10 years from horse owners on the problems that they have with their horses, particularly from a nutrition point of view.
The nutrition questionnaire that David used with horse owners is around 50 questions long and it asks a wide variety of questions, starting with questions about the horse, its temperament age, sex breed, things like that, what it’s used for, what sort of feeds it’s on what sort of work it’s in Vaccination, teeth illness, all sorts of questions like that.
In this podcast, David will be discussing the sort of things that these questionnaires have thrown up and also what the most common advice David would give.
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Here is a transcription of the podcast. (Please note this is an automated transcription, so we apologise for any errors from the original podcast.)
Hi there and welcome to this podcast on equine nutrition with me Dr David Marlin.
Now, this podcast is loosely based around a facebook live event I did recently on it.
Quite nutrition and specifically looking at the sort of information I’ve collected over the past 5 to 10 years from horse owners on the problems that they have with their horses, particularly from nutrition point of view.
The nutrition questionnaire that I use with horse owners is around 50 questions long and it asks a wide variety of questions, starting with questions about the horse, it’s temperament age, sex breed, things like that, what it’s used for, what sort of feeds its on what sort of work it’s in Vaccination, teeth illness, all sorts of questions like that.
It probably takes around 45 minutes to an hour to fill in and at the end I ask owners you know what they’re concerned about and usually after getting that information, I will go back to owners and ask them for much more information to kind of fill in any gaps.
Um, but then I can offer some advice.
So what I’m going to talk about in this podcast is the sort of things that these questionnaires have thrown up and also what the most common sort of advice I give is.
So the first thing is what a horse owners concerned about, well gastric ulcers is at the moment or has been for several years.
The number one, not just gastric ulcers also also asked me about hind gut ulcers as well, I would say.
So the same amount of questions are about weight management.
Either horses that struggle to maintain weight or struggle to lose weight and then ridden behavior and stress are probably the next most common in terms of what sex of horses, It’s pretty much 60% geldings, about 42% Phillies, mayors, and then one or 2% cults of stallions.
In terms of body condition, just over 50% of owners say their horses just right, with slightly more overweight.
Again, perhaps not a surprise about 25% saying they’re under eight underweight, whereas only about 12% saying they’re slightly under And then very overweight and in poor condition are about 5% each.
Uh A lot of people say their horses are good doers.
In fact, more people say their horses are good doers than average, about 45%, whereas only about 42% are average and around 15% say their horses are poor doers.
Uh if I ask people do they want their horse to lose weight, maintain weight or gain weight?
We’ve got around 60% saying they want them to maintain weight and 20% lose and 20% to gain in terms of how long people have owned their horse before coming to me for advice.
This is quite an interesting one, because the majority have either either owned them for 2 to 5 years, that’s about 35% or more than five years, which is 32%.
So Only about 10% of people coming to me have had them for less than a couple of years.
So it’s interesting.
It seems to be either they’ve spent, you know, perhaps one or two years, hopefully not five years trying to find answers to questions or these are problems that have occurred relatively recently in terms of how horses are kept.
I would say 60% of these are horses that are kept stabled, either individual stables, blocks of stables or in barn type environments.
So the majority of them are kept inside at least for part of the, of the day.
If we look at what people say, they mainly do with their horse, the majority of them seem to be hacking pleasure and dressage and what’s interesting is with for example, gastric ulcers, we tend to see a lower risk in horses that I used for pleasure riding.
Um so it’s interesting that for me it’s a particularly most of the questions or most of the people who want advice, maybe over 60% are involved in not in competitive sport with their halls in terms of the types of forage people are feeding the most common are ryegrass, timothy meadow or seed.
Hes probably around for most of these 3 to 4 times as many people are feeding hay as are feeding hay lige.
So whilst hail it has become more common still hey dominates if we ask about people’s pasture, there does seem to be quite a number of people who are struggling with pasture that is overgrazed With 40% of owners identifying their pastures overgrazed when they’re given the criteria of that.
It’s less than 1″ high in terms of feeds per day.
The majority of people, about 75% are still on two feeds per, per day.
Very few people are on three, about 10% of people on three and maybe only one or 2% on four or more feeds a day, 82% say their horses have a salt block.
And what’s interesting here is these salt blocks on average are lasting for at least 4-6 months.
We have some owners saying they last a year and 10% of owners saying that actually never have to replace them.
And if we work that out in terms of intake in grams for one kg block.
If it lasts your horse a month, then on average your horses taken in about 33% sorry, 33 g of salt a day if it lasts 2 to 3 months and that’s about 13 g a day.
If it lasts 4-6 months, we’re talking somewhere around seven g a day And if it lasts your horse a year, on average, your horses taking 3g a day, which you know, once we get down to there, it’s probably not doing very much In terms of drop ins, 70% of people report their horses droppings are normal And a very few percent, only 2% report them as being slightly hard or very hard, interestingly, we have 21% of people saying that their horses drop ins are slightly soft and 6% very soft.
So there is a tendency towards softer than normal or at least perceived to be softer than normal droppings.
And of course, soft, loose droppings are an indication of G.I.
Disturbance in terms of what people say are the biggest problems when they’re traveling they’re horses or stabling away from home.
Again, loose drop ins is the most common around what a third of horse owners saying that’s a problem.
About 12, say reduce drinking or going off feed and 6% reporting colic and 2.5% reporting exacerbation of respiratory problems in terms of horses that have had previously a particular health problem or currently have a health problem when the owners feed it, filling in the questionnaire. Again, loose problems comes up as number 1 37% gastric ulcers also, 35% lameness, 30% Back pain, 31% skin reactions, 27% colic, 25%.
So there’s a lot of potentially nutritionally-related problems laying this obviously less so back pain.
Less so likely to be related to back pain directly to to nutrition directly.
Of course the horse that’s overweight might suffer from lane missile back pain.
Fortunately horse owners are seeking advice from their vets From my questionnaires.
About 17% had seen their vet this week, about 12% last week and 50% had seen their vet within the past three months.
If we ask about the issues that they’re contacting me and whether they discussed them with their vet, the really encouraging thing, is yes, 70% of owners contacting me had discussed the problem that they’re concerned about with their vet and often part of my advice will be to go back and discuss this again with their vet.
Perhaps, you know, with asking, raising a couple of different questions, something new that perhaps hasn’t been covered or asking for perhaps even a better explanation of something.
So the most common things that I’m being asked or the owners are concerned about.
Gastric ulcers, hind gut ulcers, loose drop ins, losing weight, recurrent colic, recurrent gastric ulcers, behavior, older horses and ponies, fitness and performance, and also muscle problems.
And in terms of the most common advice that I give now, please remember, this is very general.
I’ve looked back through Over 900 of these questionnaires and I’ve taken a view on what my main advice was from these.
But as I say, this is very general and doesn’t particularly apply to say gastric ulcers or hind gut ulcers.
This is this is general, across all the problems.
The first thing I often advise is don’t make any sudden changes to the diet or management.
The only possible exception might be there to remove all hard feeds and all supplements in certain cases where we might consider there’s some analogy going on or where there’s severe gi disturbance.
Um but the next stage will be looking to usually simplify the diet,
especially when there are multiple feeds and supplements.
Um I usually suggest removing iron supplements or I often suggest removing iron supplements.
I often advise soaking or steaming.
Hey, increasing forage intake, increasing meal frequency.
We saw already that 70% of owners are only feeding two meals a day and increasing that to say three or four meals.
I know this can be difficult to manage with horses sometimes, but that can actually solve a lot of problems adding some salt into the diet, adding in a probiotic into the diet.
Probiotics can help particularly in horses that are prone to losing weight or are prone to recurrent colic removing starch, but also adding starch for some horses as well, particularly for performance horses, stop using our advice to stop using small bowl automatic waters again in horses with imp action colic.
I would suggest moving over two buckets and closing off automatic waters, especially if they are the ones that make a noise because it’s been shown in several studies that these can reduce water intake.
Another piece of common advice would be to add in a source of oil and as I’ve already mentioned, going back and talking to your vet.
So we will look at nutrition again in the new year.
But this is to say it’s just an insight into the sort of things owners are most commonly contacting me about, and some of the most common advice that I’m giving out.
Thanks very much.