The Horse

SEP 2018

The Horse:Your Guide To Equine Health Care provides monthly equine health care information to horse owners, breeders, veterinarians, barn/farm managers, trainer/riding instructors, and others involved in the hands-on care of the horse.

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Page 46 of 59

47 September 2018 THE HORSE Theoretically, feeding fewer calories per day than required results in weight loss but might also cause negative metabolic changes such as hyperlipemia (the mobi- lization of fat from adipose tissue). More evidence is pointing toward a broodmare diet's ability to predispose foals to hormonal disturbances, via a process known as fetal programming. This has been an area of interest in other species, as well. For instance, lambs from obese ewes fed 150% of NRC require- ments for that species consumed 10% more feed and had a greater percent body fat during a 12-week free-choice feeding trial than lambs from ewes fed at 100% of NRC requirements. Lambs from obese ewes also had lower insulin responses to glucose, meaning they were insulin sensi- tive (Long et al., 2010). Let's get back to horses. Feeding broodmares a high-starch diet during late gestation resulted in impaired insulin sensitivity in foals (George et al., 2009). A Texas A&M University and North Dakota State University research team looked at the effect of feeding broodmares pasture that met 100% of NRC requirements, or pasture plus a commercial grain mix that met 120% of NRC requirements, during late gestation through parturition. Up until 18 hours post-foaling, foals from mares fed the grain mix had lower mean plasma leptin concentrations, says study coauthor Clay Cavinder, PhD, PAS, now professor and extension horse specialist at Mississippi State University. Leptin (remember, that's the satiety hormone) works closely with other hormones such as IGF-1 (interleukin growth factor 1) and cortisol (the stress hormone) to regulate growth and development, functioning through the hypothalamic-pituitary axis. "In the adult, leptin levels can fluctu- ate depending on the amount of body fat, obviously, since leptin is secreted from adipocytes (fat cells)," says Cavinder. "The elevation in serum leptin in the neonates in this study from mothers fed 100% nutritional status is probably due to mo- bilization of fat within the mares." Could this potentially increase the risk for foals developing metabolic disorders later in life? That remains to be seen. Wrapping It Up Managing your broodmare's weight properly might help produce a healthy foal capable of meeting his performance potential. Researchers are just begin- ning to uncover ways broodmare weight can set the tone for foal growth and development —positively or negatively. Although veterinarians and nutritionists agree that BCS might not be an accurate determination of fat cover in broodmares, it currently serves as the best method for managers of breeding operations. h Natural HERBS Natural herbs, minerals and HIGH DOSE VITAMIN E Just 95 ¢ per day! Also good for nervous/ anxious geldings/stallions Ask for it by name or call 800-578-9234 for a dealer near you! For information on constructing a diet for your broodmare, see: ■ Feeding Broodmares, ■ Keys to Consider When Feeding Broodmares, ■ Feeding Broodmares During Late Gestation,

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