Signs of a Healthy Foal

Chances are your foal will sail through the baby stage with flying colors. Especially if it’s normal at birth and good management practices are in place at your farm. However, even under the best circumstances, it’s possible that your baby could experience some problems. How does a healthy newborn foal appear?

Healthy newborn foals should:

brown foal representing the signs of a healthy foal
  • Assume a sternal position (be able to sit up on his chest) within minutes of delivery.
  • Breathe easily. – slowing from an initial 70 breaths per minute to 40 to 60 minutes within 15 minutes of birth.
  • Have red or at least pink mucous membranes, indicating adequate oxygen is reaching the tissues.
  • Display a strong suckle reflex within two to 20 minutes of birth.
  • Appear alert and display an affinity for the dam.
  • Be able to stand within two hours and nurse within three hours.

If your foal does not meet these criteria, he may already be experiencing a serious condition and need prompt attention. Good observation coupled with prompt action gives you the best opportunity to help your foal avoid a setback. 

Management Practices For Continued Health:

The following tips a

  • A well-ventilated, clean foaling environment.
  • Good farm and stable hygiene and parasite control.
  • Sound nutrition, current vaccinations and regular deworming of all equine residents.
  • Plenty of fresh air and room to exercise.
  • Commencement of a regular vaccination and deworming program.

Our Foal Health Watch Guide describes signs of common ailments that can occur during the first 6 months of life. In most cases, even if not life-threatening, you will want a diagnosis and treatment plan from your vet. Please keep in mind this guide lists signs that are frequently observed with certain foal disorders. Not all foals, however, display the same signs or to the same degree. A foal’s condition can deteriorate rapidly, so don’t wait to see all the signs before calling your veterinarian.

Foal Health Watch Guide:

FIRST SYMPTOMOTHER SYMPTOMSPROBABLE DIAGNOSISACTIONS
Labored, suppressed or noisy breathingSoreness, reluctance to moveBroken ribs due to severe compression from deliveryStall rest, gentle handling
 Reluctance to move or nurse, extended abdomenRuptured diaphragm, often due to birth traumaImmediate corrective surgery
 Yellow-stained amniotic fluid with deliveryMeconium-aspiration pneumoniaAntibiotics
 Depression, coughing, intermittent feverFoal pneumoniaAntibiotic treatment based on bacterial culture
Loose stoolsMild diarrhea at time of dam’s foal heatTransient, “9-day scours”Gently clean foal’s tail and buttocks with soapy water to prevent scalding of skin
 Dehydration, scalding of skin on buttocks, matting of tailNoninfectious diarrhea (from overeating, eating manure, etc.)Fluids, decreased rations, clean tail and buttocks as above
 Rapid dehydration, scalding, matting, fever, depressionInfectious diarrheaAntibiotics, fluids, clean tail and buttocks regularly
ColickyColic after ingesting first milk, enema ineffectiveClosed colon or rectum – development error causes gut to end in blind pouchSurgery, success depends on length of missing part
 Rolling, thrashing, lying on back, fecal matter not passedSevere constipation, fecal mass too large or too far forward for enema to be successfulLaxatives, fluids
 Lethargy, appetite loss, diarrhea, teeth grinding, lying on ground with feet in airUlcerConfirm with endoscopy, treat with anti-ulcer medication
Profuse watery discharge from eyesBlinking, avoidance of light, scratched corneaInversion of eyelid (entropion), dehydration, if uncorrected can lead to blindnessFluids, lubricate eye and lids gently, pull out eyelid as often as necessary, surgery may be needed
Navel stump dripping urineWet, soiled, warm, swollen navel stump“Leaky navel” (pervious urachus), umbilicus fails to closeDaily cauterization with silver nitrate or iodine, possible surgery
StrainingTail switching, meconium (first feces) not passedSimple constipation, meconium not passedEnema, fluids
 Distended abdomen, little or no urine produced, toxicity, fever, jaundiced membranes, progressive weaknessRuptured bladder due to birth trauma or jerk on umbilical cord after deliverySurgery to repair hole in bladder, drain urine from bladder, fluids
Low immunoglobulin (IgG) countLess than 400 mg/dlFailure of passive transfer, foal did not receive adequate colostrum or was unable to absorb IgGProvide colostrum if foal less than 24 hours old, otherwise administer plasma IgG transfusion
 Greater than 400 mg/dl, low risk environmentPartial failure of passive transferFoal probably adequately protected, but watch closely
 Less than 800 mg/dl, high risk environmentPartial failure of passive transferAdminister plasma IgG transfusion, monitor IgG level
Weakness, incoordinationDelivery between 300 and 320 days of gestation, low birthweight, little or no suckle strength, weak fetlocks and lax pasternsPremature birthOxygen, humidity and temperature control, tube feeding, fluids
 Intolerance to exerciseCongenital heart defectCardiovascular exam, surgery
 Will not nurse, severe diarrhea, dehydration, subnormal temperature, bluish-white third eyelid“Sleeper foal” caused by Actinobacillus equii bacteriaAntibiotics, fluids
 Inflammation of umbilical vein, fever, depression“Navel ill” (septicemia), systemic bloodstream infectionAntibiotics, fluids, intensive nursing care
Swollen jointsLameness, fever, depression, joints are hot and painfulJoint ill (septic arthritis) or bone infection (osteomyelitis)Antibiotics, surgical draining
Mare cannot nurseMare dies, does not allow foal to nurse, or is unable to provide milk (agalactiae)Orphan or rejected foal, agalactic mare, early weaningSupply colostrum is newborn, provide foal milk replacer or nurse mare

At Nutrena, we believe proper nutrition plays the biggest role for a lifetime of health and happiness for every horse. That’s why Nutrena horse feeds are specifically formulated for every life stage and activity level. 

Ready to ensure your horse is getting the optimum nutrition at feeding time, every time? Find the perfect feed formulated specifically for horse’s needs with our Feed Selector Tool.

Feed Selector tool

Why are Trace Minerals Good for Horses?

Trace minerals have a significantly large impact on the overall health of your horse. Feeding them in proper amounts AND ratios is key to helping your horse be as happy and healthy as possible!

What Are Trace Minerals?

Trace minerals are required by animals in small amounts, usually only milligrams per day. The most common trace minerals include: zinc, copper, cobalt, manganese, iron, iodine and selenium. The organic trace mineral complexes used in all premium Nutrena® horse feeds, including both SafeChoice® and ProForce® are absorbed into the body better than conventional trace minerals because they are chelated. Effectively meaning they are bound one-to-one with an amino acid. Better absorption means an optimal quantity is formulated into the feeds, reducing the amount of wasted minerals.

infographic representing why trace minerals are good for horses.

What Are The Benefits Of Organic Trace Minerals In Feeds?

A diet fully fortified with organic trace minerals provides the following benefits for horses:

  1. Improved hair, coat, skin and hoof quality/hoof wall integrity
  2. Formation, maintenance and repair of joint cartilage
  3. Proper muscle and bone development
  4. Increased immune response to help remove free radicals and protect cell membranes
  5. Proper fertility function including milk production and fetal development

Deficiency can result in immune depression, reproductive failure and poor hair coat. Outward signs of deficiency are difficult to spot. Organic trace minerals help give your horse a lifetime of improved performance, safety and nutrition from every feeding.

Ready to ensure your horse is getting the optimum nutrition at feeding time, every time? Find the perfect feed formulated specifically for horse’s needs with our Feed Selector Tool.

Feed Selector tool

Equine New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of year when everyone seems to be resolving to do things differently. Whatever that means to you, we are putting a horsey spin on resolutions as they relate to what we do with our equine partners and our activities around the barn. Here are some resolutions to consider if you’re trying to change things up for the New Year:

Commit to a barn safety evaluation

Look around and identify things that need repair such as loose boards, nails protruding, broken crossties, or loose electrical outlets. This is also a great time to revisit or create your fire evacuation plan. Make sure you have extinguishers around in key areas and that they are functioning. You don’t want to discover your fire extinguisher is no longer working when you need it most.

Focus on nutrition

Take a close look at your horse and determine if they require some extra weight, need to lose a few pounds (like many of us this time of year!) or look just right. Also check to see how your horse’s topline looks and utilize the TES tool to review how it should look. This is a chance to re-evaluate your nutrition program.

Work on an emergency fund

“Horses are extremely predictable and always make good decisions”, said no one ever. We all know that there is a high probability our horses will get injured or sick at some point in their lives. And often it’s on a weekend or holiday that incurs emergency vet fees. If you can put away some extra funds to build up savings in case disaster strikes when you least expect it, it will help soften the economic blow.    

Clean out your trailer, tack box or your mobile tack room (i.e. your truck or car)

“A place for everything and everything in its place” is a great mantra to start the New Year off right. There is nothing more satisfying than opening a neatly organized tack box or getting rid of the extra horsehair in your vehicle.

Enjoy your time together

No matter what you do with your horse, commit to spending some quality time with them every day. Riding, groundwork or even just some grooming to see what lurks under that winter blanket or shaggy coat will strengthen your bond.

Ready to make this the year you ensure your horse is getting the optimum nutrition at feeding time, every time? Find the perfect feed formulated specifically for horse’s needs with our Feed Selector Tool.

Feed Selector tool

Performance Horses and Muscle Recovery

Stevi Hillman barrel racing representing Performance Horses and Muscle Recovery

In various disciplines speed, strength, collection and stamina all play into the difference between earning a big paycheck and awards or going home empty handed. Performance horses need to be able to come out of the stall ready to win, whether it’s the first day of the event or the last. Like their human athlete counterparts, a solid nutrition plan is the fuel that allows performance horses to compete and perform at their highest level. With Rebound Technology™, recovery isn’t an afterthought, the horse is always being fed for optimal performance.

Enhancing Performance Horse Recovery with Rebound Technology™

Rebound Technology™ is a unique, proprietary blend of research-backed chromium and branched chain amino acids (BCAAs) to support exercise recovery. When performance horses have the right nutrition, they are more able to quickly return to peak performance after strenuous training sessions and/or competitions.  Each time an equine athlete competes or performs there is an opportunity to increase its value, that of future offspring or help a rider achieve his or her goals. That’s why avoiding muscle fatigue and giving horses the ability to rebound from exercise and efficiently train for performance activities is a high priority for horse owners and trainers alike.

What Happens When Performance Horses Exercise

When horses exercise, they experience an increased cortisol level, reduced muscle glycogen, increased Serum Amyloid A (normal inflammation), increased heart rate, reduced blood sugar and reduced plasma BCAAs. Three major factors in improving athletic performance in the horse are muscle development, muscle recovery and glycogen availability. Faster glycogen replenishment in the horse could lead to increased muscular performance.

As horses work, ATP or energy enables their muscle fibers to quickly contract and relax. Each muscle cell contains only enough ATP for a few contractions, which means horses must continuously resynthesize ATP during exercise primarily via stored glycogen. The more glucose we can make available to the cells in the performance horse, the better able they are to quickly replenish glycogen. The unique ingredient combination found in Rebound Technology™ optimizes the opportunity for these glycogen and glucose levels to rebound after work.

The essential BCAAs leucine, isoleucine and valine help to decrease muscle fatigue and improve muscle recovery19. Research with BCAAs has demonstrated that leucine infusion along with glucose infusion appears to increase whole body glucose availability, potentially increasing glycogen synthesis in horses1. Oral leucine supplementation has shown increased markers associated with protein synthesis in the post-exercised performance horse. Providing an increased rate of protein synthesis would increase both muscle mass and muscle recovery, both of which may improve athletic performance. In humans, BCAA supplementation prior to exercise appeared to reduce delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle fatigue, increased insulin response along with increased post-exercise rates of glycogen synthesis 5,7,8,9,10. Increased availability of amino acids and glucose demonstrated in research shows an improvement not only in protein synthesis, but also a decrease in protein breakdown19

Chromium’s Role in Recovery and Protein Synthesis

Recently FDA and AAFCO approved chromium propionate as a feed ingredient. Found in Rebound Technology™, it supports glucose getting to the cells where it’s needed for energy to repair and replenish after work. Chromium is involved in carbohydrate metabolism and other insulin dependent processes such as protein and lipid metabolism12. As performance horses exercise, increased levels of cortisol work against insulin as insulin attempts to move glucose and nutrients into muscle cells. Chromium supports more efficient insulin function by stabilizing insulin receptors leading to more efficient movement of glucose from the blood stream, thus reducing the negative impacts of exercise stress and increasing the body’s physiologic ability to move nutrients into muscle cells to function efficiently during exercise and rebuild muscle broken down following exercise13. Research in Thoroughbreds during exercise has demonstrated blood glucose was controlled on lower insulin levels versus control, which demonstrated higher insulin sensitivity when they were supplemented with chromium11

Another potential benefit to the improved insulin sensitivity demonstrated in performance horses supplemented with chromium propionate is in supporting the signaling pathway for protein synthesis, which is the re-building of structures. When insulin sensitivity is improved, glucose can more readily be available for protein synthesis. Insulin infusion in mature horses was shown to stimulate whole-body protein synthesis and activate the upstream and downstream effectors of mTor signaling in the gluteus medius muscle1. Simply put, this means is there was an increase in protein synthesis, or a re-building of muscle.

Glucose – An Important Component for the Working Horse

Glucose is the key energy source for every cell in the horse’s body and BCAAs stimulate protein synthesis. The proprietary BCAAs and chromium in Rebound Technology™ have been shown to make this key energy source more readily available to the cells of the horse. Rebound Technology™ can be extremely important for the performance horse needing muscle repair and remodeling to rebound in between shows and workouts.

Ready to ensure your horse is getting the optimum nutrition at feeding time, every time? Find the perfect feed formulated specifically for horse’s needs with our Feed Selector Tool.

Feed Selector tool

References:

1. Urschel, et al. Insulin infusion stimulates whole-body protein synthesis and activates the upstream and downstream effectors of mechanistic target of rapamycin signaling in the gluteus medius muscle of mature horses.  Domestic Animal Endocrinology 2014; 47: 92-100.

2. Glade,  M.J.  Timed  administration  of  leucine,  isoleucine,  and  valine, glutamine, and carnitine to enhance athletic performance. Equine Athlete 1991; 4:4-10.

3. Trottier, et al. Equine endurance exercise alters serum branched-chain amino acid and alanine concentrations. Equine vet. Journal 2002; 34:168-172

4. Eva Blomstrand, Jörgen Eliasson, Haåkan K. R. Karlsson, Rickard Köhnke, Branched-Chain Amino Acids Activate Key Enzymes in Protein Synthesis after Physical Exercise, The Journal of Nutrition 2006; 136(1): 269S–273S

5. Shimomura et al. Nutraceutical Effects of Branched-Chain Amino Acids on Skeletal Muscle. 2006. Downloaded from https://academic.oup.com/jn/article-abstract/136/2/529S/4664393 on 05 June 2020

6. Ra, S., Miyazaki, T., Ishikura, K. et al. Combined effect of branched-chain amino acids and taurine supplementation on delayed onset muscle soreness and muscle damage in high-intensity eccentric exercise. J Int Soc Sports Nutr 10, 51 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1186/1550-2783-10-51

7. Arfuso, et. Al. Dynamic Change of Serum Levels of Some Branched-Chain Amino Acids and Tryptophan in Athletic Horses After Different Physical Exercises. Journal of Equine Veterinary Science 2019; 77:12-16

8. Van Loon, et al.  Maximizing post exercise muscle glycogen synthesis: carbohydrate supplementation and the application of amino acid or protein hydrolysate mixtures. Am J Clin Nutri 2000; 72:106-111

9. Van Loon, et al.  Plasma insulin responses after ingestion of different amino acid or protein mixtures with carbohydrate.  Am J Clin Nutr 2000; 72:96–105

10. Zawadzki, KM, et al.  Carbohydrate-protein Complex Increases the Rate of Muscle Glycogen Storage After Exercise.  J Appl Physiol 1992 May; 72(5):1854-9

11. Pagan, J. D., S. G. Jackson and S. E. Duren. 2018, March. The effect of chromium supplementation on metabolic response to exercise in thoroughbred horses. ker.com/published/the-effect-of-chromium-supplementation-on-metabolic-response-to-exercise-in-thoroughbred-horses

12. Spears, et Al. 2020. Chromium propionate increases insulin sensitivity in horses following oral and intravenous carbohydrate administration. Journal of Animal Science 2020; 3:1-11

13. Mertz, W. 1992. Chromium history and nutritional importance. Biol Trace Elem. Res. 32:3.

14. Lancome, et al. Muscle Glycogen Depletion and Subsequent Replenishment Affect Anaerobic Capacity of Horses. J Appl Physiol. 2001; 91:1782-1790.

15. Lacombe V, Hinchcliff KW, Geor RJ, and Lauderdale MA. Exercise that induces substantial muscle glycogen depletion impairs subsequent anaerobic capacity. Equine Vet J Suppl 1999; 30:293–297.

16. NRC. 2007. Nutrient requirements of horses. 7th rev. ed. Washington (DC): National Academies Press.

18. Graham-Thiers P.M.; Kronfeld D.S. Amino acid supplementation improves muscle mass in aged and young horses. Journal of animal science 2005; 83:2783–2788, 10.2527/2005.83122783x

19. Matsui et al.  Effect of amino acid and glucose administration following exercise on the turnover of muscle protein in the hindlimb femoral region of Thoroughbreds.  Equine Vet Journal Suppl 2006; 38:S36 611-616.

How to Safely Introduce Dogs and Horses

Many of us who own horses also have a dog (or two or three…) that is part of the farm family. In general, horses and dogs go together like peas and carrots. But just like people, animals are individuals so caution should always be taken. If you’re considering introducing your dog to your horse, here are a few steps to help ensure the meeting goes well.

Importance of Training and Obedience for Dogs

First, make sure your dog is trained and obedient. Basic commands – especially come, sit and stay – are vital to be certain you have your dog’s attention.

Gradual Introduction: Getting Your Dog Familiar with the Barn Routine

Gradually introduce your dog to your horse by getting him or her used to the daily routine of the barn. Let your dog see your horse in a stall or pasture before they meet nose-to-nose. Use this approach for a few days. 

Rider petting dog while holding horse lead representing How to Safely Introduce Dogs and Horses

Ensuring Safety: Tips for Introducing Dogs and Horses

When you are ready to introduce your dog and horse, have someone there to help in case an unexpected situation arises. Each person should have full control of only one animal. You don’t want your dog’s leash getting entangled around a horse’s legs or a horse stepping on a lead rope if you are busy trying to tend to your dog. 

Handling Nervousness & Aggression When Introducing Dogs and Horses

If either your dog or your horse is nervous, don’t force the interaction and try again another day. And if one acts aggressively, immediately remove them from the situation and when all is calm reward them with a pat or treat.

Building a Positive Relationship: Signs of Comfort and Compatibility

You’ll recognize when your four-legged companions are comfortable with each other when they just go about their own business, in a relaxed, calm manner.

Patience is Key

The most important thing is to remember to take the introductions slowly. By nature, dogs and horses are predator and prey, so building the relationship will take some time. Once they are accustomed to each other, they are likely to be good companions for life.

Ready to ensure your horse is getting the optimum nutrition at feeding time, every time? Find the perfect feed formulated specifically for horse’s needs with our Feed Selector Tool.

Feed Selector tool

Nutrena Nutrition Tips: Feeding Horses During Reduced Work

Learn our top tips for feeding your horse during reduced work. Tiffany Pattison, a consultant for Nutrena, shares valuable insights and recommendations for modifying your horse’s nutrition plan to maintain optimal health and performance during periods of reduced activity.

Understanding Workload Changes

There are various situations that can lead to changes in your horse’s workload. If you show seasonally, your horse might experience periods of intense work during competition time and more relaxed schedules during the off-season. Trail riders, however, tend to ride harder in the spring, summer, and fall months, but take a break when the winter weather turns unfavorable. And of course, there is the unfortunate scenario of injury resulting in stall rest or limited turnout. By recognizing these factors, we can better prepare ourselves for adjusting our horses’ diets accordingly.

Selecting the Right Feed

When it comes to feeding, hay is the cornerstone of your horse’s nutrition. Always remember its significance and consult with a nutritionist for guidance if you have concerns. There are several different feed options available for your horse when their workload is reduced. There are high-fat pellets, textured feeds, and standard pellets, each with its own unique characteristics. It’s crucial to choose the feed type that aligns with your horse’s preferences and specific needs.

Weighing Your Horse’s Feed Accurately

Accurate measurement of feed is key to providing the right amount of nutrition to your horse. We all have our own ways of measuring, whether it’s a scoop, cup, or coffee can. However, it’s essential to establish precise measurements to ensure consistency. That’s where tools like a scoop scale or even a shipping scale can come in handy. Alternatively, you can weigh your horse’s feed in a ziplock bag to determine the exact amount. Remember, precise measurements lead to precise nutrition!

Adapting the Diet for Horses with Reduced Workload

It is a common misconception that you should significantly reduce feedings when your horse experiences stall rest or reduced work. That’s just not the way to go! Instead, adjust the feed quantities based on your horse’s activity level. Refer to the feeding instructions on the feed tags, which usually indicate recommended amounts for maintenance or light work. By following these guidelines, you’ll ensure your horse receives the necessary nutrition without unnecessary weight gain.

Exploring the Role of Diet Balancers

Enter diet balancers, the superheroes of horse nutrition during periods of reduced workload. These highly concentrated and balanced feed options, such as Nutrena’s Empower Topline Balance, provide all the essential nutrients your horse needs without adding excessive calories. Diet balancers are especially beneficial for horses on stall rest or light work, helping maintain their hair coat, hoof condition, and muscle strength. By incorporating a diet balancer into your horse’s feeding routine, you’ll keep them in tip-top shape, even when exercise is limited.

By understanding your horse’s changing workload, selecting the right feed, measuring accurately, and incorporating diet balancers when necessary, you can ensure your equine companion receives the optimal nutrition throughout every stage. Remember, a well-fed horse is a happy and healthy horse.

Ready to ensure your horse is getting the optimum nutrition at feeding time, every time? Find the perfect feed formulated specifically for horse’s needs with our Feed Selector Tool.

Feed Selector tool

Nutrena Nutrition Tips: Feed Freshness and Storage

One of the many components of feeding horses properly is feeding fresh feed. This video will walk you through some simple steps to ensure that you are purchasing the right amount, storing it properly, and feeding it correctly to your horse, so that he always receives the freshest feed possible.

Switching Feeds Safely

Most horse owners know that changing their horse’s feed should be done with care – but how exactly should it be done? In this video, Nutrena Equine Consultant Kirk Carter explains the proper way to transition feed.

  • Slowly transition horse to new feed over 7 days
  • Weather can play a really critical role in transitioning horse to new feed
  • Make sure your horse is in an environment that they’re used to

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