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Re: Re: Bermuda Grass

When I lived in NC, we fed costal...that's pretty much what you get there...and also peanut hay.  Gotta wash penut hay before you feed it to get the sand out of it, but it's Eastern NC's version of 'alfalfa'.  Never had a colic problem.  But these horses were born and raised on costal hay.
----- Original Message -----
From: Susan Garlinghouse
To: ;
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2001 10:31 PM
Subject: RC: Re: Bermuda Grass

I sure wish I knew what seminar the vet had heard this at. 
It is true that grass hays *can* be less digestible than legume hays like alfalfa, and I have heard that used as an argument that it shouldn't be fed.  But that's kinda like saying that the human body digests butter easier than bran muffins, so we shouldn't ever eat bran muffins.
I worked in an equine hospital that did close to a thousand colic surgeries a year, and there wasn't any particular correlation to impactions from bermuda (and yes, they were looking and I was asking).  And there doesn't seem to be any valid data substantiating that bermuda is more likely to cause impaction colic in the journals.  In fact, the studies that have been done (at UC Davis) looking at the diet history of horses in for colic surgery found that the majority of them were on high-alfalfa rations.  There's certainly alot more data to support the feeding of bermuda than data against it.  I definitely agree with Karri that making feed changes to rapidly is a good way to cause an impaction, and of the several bermuda-related impaction colics I've known about, a too-rapid feed change was a factor in all of them.
Having said that, there is a difference between the bermuda fed in the western states versus that in the SE.  Bermuda is a tropical grass, which means for all intents and purposes that it'll grow in hot weather, but when it *is* grown in hot weather, than the lignin (indigestible fiber) content is a lot higher and that is going to make it less digestible (read: more likely to cause an impaction) than grasses (including bermuda) grown in cooler weather.  So, given a choice, first cutting bermuda in the west is generally going to be more digestible than bermuda grown later in the summer.  And, for bermuda grown in the SE, the majority of the crop regardless of cutting, is probably going to be less digestible than western hays, just because the vast majority of the SE hay is grown in hot weather and therefore higher in lignin. 
And I think Angie makes a good point that demographics might play a role as well.  Case in point, there was a study some years back that suggested Arabians are more prone to enterolith formation.  However, the study was done in California (where there are alot of Arabians) and it was done in the early eighties, when every Arab with a dishy face was theoretically appraised as being worth a buh-jillion dollars---and therefore much more likely to be sent for colic surgery than the average backyard cow pony.  So it wasnt necessarily that Arabs got more enteroliths, it might very well be that just more Arabs were showing up for surgery rather than just being euthanized.
I lived in So Cal for thirty-something years, and there just aren't alot of choices in hays that are available.  You can either get alfalfa, bermuda, occasionally some cereal grain hays and timothy if you want to pay $20 for a three-wire bale.  If you're independently wealthy, feed the timothy.  If you're like the rest of us, feed the bermuda and pay close attention to making feed changes slowly.  If you're looking for a good way to grow enteroliths in your horse and cause colic that way, then feed the alfalfa.
Susan G
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Wednesday, April 11, 2001 5:41 PM
Subject: RC: Bermuda Grass

I just came from the feed store with some Bermuda grass hay. The feed store
owner warned me that he heard from a local vet that Bermuda grass has caused
some deaths due to intestinal blockage and this vet does not recommend
Bermuda grass hay.

Has anyone else heard about this? Apparently this vet heard about it at a
seminar or something like that.

So. Calif.

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