Developmental Orthopaedic Disease in Horses
Developmental Orthopaedic Disease (DOD) can be given to a range of problems often found in the young, growing horse.
Due to the multifactorial nature of DOD, no single factor can be identified as the cause. The factors that may contribute can include; genetic pre-disposition, biomechanical trauma, mechanical stress through inappropriate exercise, obesity, rapid growth and inappropriate or imbalanced nutrition.
Different combinations of these factors may be involved in different cases, environmental or management factors probably provide the final triggering factor. It is therefore important to try to limit those nutritional and management factors that may increase the risk for example:
♦ Feeding an elevated copper level is unlikely to be the answer to DOD, however it is important to maintain appropriate and balanced copper intakes in the gestating mare as well as the growing foal.
♦ While there does not appear to be any clear evidence of a link between excess calcium or marginal phosphorus intakes and DOD, high intakes of phosphorus appear to result in an increased incidence of lesions, although too little will also not be beneficial.
♦ Diets which intrinsically produce high glycaemic peaks, or individual horses that respond to certain diets with high glycaemic peaks, may have an increased risk of developing DOD. Feeding diets, which provide the same energy intake but also utilise oils and fibres rather than starch and sugars may modulate these changes.
♦ Using alternatives to traditional cereal based feeds for example using feeds with starch plus sugar levels less than 15% and oil contents around 10% which produce a low glycaemic response may provide a number of advantages including;
♦ Improved gastric health.
♦ Improved behavioural development.
♦ Maintenance of insulin sensitivity.
♦ Increased support for sound bone development
You may also be interested in Feeding Young Horses – Hints for Optimal Health and Growth
With thanks to: Pat Harris, MA PhD VetMB MRCVCS DipECVCN : Clare Barfoot BSc RNutr
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