As a company, we pride ourselves on constantly innovating and pushing the horse feed industry forward with regards to producing feeds which are correctly developed for the modern horse’s needs and requirements. Intolerances to some common feed ingredients are becoming increasingly prevalent in horses of all shapes and sizes, these can be recognised in a number of ways
Have you ever had a horse that has reacted badly when you changed his diet? Perhaps he became very spooky, fizzy or excitable or suffered from loose droppings or even mild colic? Did your horse suffer from unexplainable lumps and bumps? Or does he have a dull scurfy coat? Perhaps your horse suffers from one or more of these problems at the moment but you just don’t seem to be able to get to the bottom of it? If this sounds familiar it might be time you took a closer look at his diet.
For some horses, normally nutritionally sound ingredients appear to cause unexpected and unwanted reactions. Individual horses react differently, but food intolerances may affect your horse's health and behaviour in many ways:
- Excitable or ‘bolshy’ behaviour
- Unexplained lumps and bumps
- Itchy or scurfy skin
- Loose or watery droppings
- Recurrent bouts of low-grade colic
- Feed allergies in horses are rare, while intolerance to a specific feed ingredient appears to be much more commonplace, intolerances to common feed ingredients such as barley, molasses and alfalfa also seem to be increasing.
- Feed Allergy – something that the horse eats causes its immune system to react
A true allergy can be diagnosed with the aid of a simple blood test, which will show whether a specific allergen causes an increase in antibodies. However, blood tests used in veterinary medicine are not yet 100% reliable and may yield several false positives.
- Feed intolerance – the horse’s system consistently reacts abnormally to particular feed ingredients, but does not provoke the immune system to react.
The immune system may still be involved in a different way. The difficulty with this is that if particular antibodies are not involved in the reaction, then blood tests that measure the antibodies produced by a certain food or feed are of no use in detecting the problem.
By Process of Elimination…
Many horses live quite happily with low level sensitivities to foods that you may never even have been aware of, and only become a problem when their health is compromised in some other way such as suffering infection, some stress, trauma or injury, or being generally run down.
Using supplements or topical skin creams to cover up these problems is like repeatedly taking painkillers for recurrent headaches without finding out what is causing the problem. If the problem is not addressed, then eating foods which the body is not able to digest satisfactorily will further stress the system, and the number of foods to which your horse reacts may grow.