Equine Science Society

BUCKEYE™ Nutrition research presented at prestigious Equine Science Society conference

BUCKEYE Nutrition within MARS Horsecare was the most represented US feed brand at the prestigious Equine Science Society Symposium held in Texas on June 6th-9th, 2023, where the latest equine research was shared by leading equine professionals from around the world. BUCKEYE Nutrition was involved in 14 research studies presented, helping us in our quest to improve the health and welfare of horses and ponies around the world. Our very own Director of Science, Dr. Pat Harris, has been president of the Equine Science Society for the past two years, and was the first president to be based outside of North America.

Here is a quick summary of the projects we were involved in…

Assessment of bite and mouth shape variation in ponies different slow-feeding management practices This novel study looked at the effect of hay feeding practices on mouth shape in ponies, and found that the type of hay feeding device used (full hay nets, lightly filled nets, hay boxes or ground fed) affected the ponies’ biting mechanism. Slow feeding devices varying in size and capacity can alter intake rate as well as the way of feeding in terms of bite and mouth shape.

Effects of storage-handling methods on nutrient analysis of mixed-grass pasture samples This paper indicated that storage-handling methods and time can affect the nutrient content of fresh forage thus, samples need to be handled carefully before analysis.

Effects of meal frequency on blood amino acid concentrations in horses of various body condition scores This work concluded that feeding smaller, more frequent meals could be a simple way to improve the number of amino acids (the building blocks that make up protein) that can be absorbed and utilized by the body (bioavailability).  

Development of a rapid screening tool for monitoring the relative nutritional value of pasture samples This work identified a faster, less labor-intensive test compared with traditional wet chemistry analysis methods, which in the future could help to help to monitor the influence of several factors on the relative proportions of key nutrients in pasture. In turn, this could help owners to make more informed choices about grazing management.

Water-soluble carbohydrate (WSC) content in equine pasture – Impact of fertilization season and grass species This study suggested that season and grass species composition can have a greater effect on WSC concentrations in pasture than fertilizer treatment. Further studies are warranted, to estimate the impact of fertilizer on other aspects of grass nutrient composition that may have implications for managing pasture for grazing animals.

How challenging is it to find non-insulin dysregulated horses in an apparently clinically healthy herd of university horses? This research found that Body Condition Scoring alone was not sufficient to determine insulin dysregulation (ID) status and supported the practice of using an oral sugar test to screen for ID, especially when choosing horses for nutrition-based research studies. However, the results are relevant to all horses. It is important that we remember insulin dysregulation cannot be predicted based on body condition alone – horses in ideal’, lean or even underweight condition may have insulin dysregulation!

Confidence in care: exploring native pony management in Scotland and the role of experience and confidence in undertaking action This paper concluded that management practices supporting a reduction in risk for laminitis and obesity in native ponies were more likely to be implemented by owners currently managing a pony with metabolic disease associated with dietary requirements.

Fecal microbial metabolite profiles are unaltered by laminitis history This work found similar fecal metabolite profiles in previously laminitic and non-laminitic ponies, suggesting that laminitis may not result in significant, long-term changes in microbial metabolism in the hindgut.

Effect of sampling and storage conditions on fecal samples This paper identified a selection of comparably effective sample collection conditions which preserve microbial diversity in equine fecal samples.

A survey of general road transportation of horses in the United States This study provided insight into the main reasons why horses are being transported by road in the U.S. and the most frequent types of journeys.

Management of horses transported by road in the U.S. on journeys of three hours or less This work, based on a survey, suggested that for those transporting horses by road the biggest concern was potential injury to the horse, followed by stress and then dehydration or overheating. The biggest factors when planning to travel were season or weather, trip length, horse health and traffic.

U.S. senior horses: when are they considered “old” and how does that affect their management? This study concluded that horses were often considered old at distinct ages (20 and 25 years), with changes in fitness level, health status, and physical characteristics reported as the main reasons. For almost all horses, management was adjusted once they were considered old, and changes mainly related to exercise, regime, and diet.

U.S. senior horses: Prevalence of medical conditions and routine preventative veterinary care. This study concluded that about 2/3 of senior horses (aged 15+ years) were affected with at least one veterinarian-diagnosed condition, most frequently osteoarthritis. Most horses had received at least one routine preventative veterinary care visit within the previous year, but retired senior horses were at high risk of not having any recent preventative veterinary care.

Can a common cereal grain be used to indicate the presence of insulin dysregulation? Results of this research suggest that using dehulled oats (with no further processing) may be an alternative feedstuff for use in an oral sugar test, as Karo syrup is not available in all countries. However, more work is needed to define cut-off values for the diagnosis of insulin dysregulation, as well as to evaluate individual variation.

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