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Re: Re: swollen joints in foal

> My book says to balance the ration - in severe cases feed the animal hay
> a salt/mineral mix, withholding grain until the problem is corrected.  The
> change in diet should be combined with an initial 4 to 6 weeks of stall
> in a deeply bedded stall.  The feet need to be carefully trimmed, if
> angular deformity is present and is not corrected by rest and diet,
> may be necessary.

I agree veterinary consultation is called for, but not all epiphysitis
requires such extreme measures, and often, regular turnout and exercise is
very helpful in managing good bone growth.  Good radiographs are probably
warranted to assess the situation and to make sure there aren't any "joint
mice" cruising around in there.

> All the advice I have read and got from my vet on feeding weanlings is:
> only grass hay, offer salt, either don't feed or limit grain to a handful
> per day (and it's very important to feed a mix balanced for growing

It depends on the quality of the grass hay.  Limiting protein *too* much can
make the epiphysitis even worse.  And, if the grass hay is deficient in
critical minerals (calcium, phosphorus, copper and zinc, mostly), then that
can also lead to developmental problems.  Again, it all has to be within
reasonable limits.  I absolutely agree that the mix needs to be specifically
formulated for babies---this is no time to be mixing up your own witch's
brew or trying to save a few pennies.

> My vet said no supplements of any kind for babies.

What does he consider supplements?  If he means foal formula grain mixes, I
respectfully disagree, as long as guidelines are followed.  If he means a
bit of this to make the coat shiny and a dab of that because you got it free
and a scoop of something else because it had a nice picture on the front,
then I agree with him 100%. :-)

 It's too complicated for
> laymen to balance their ration, because balance is critical for growing
> babies.  Better for the weanling to be a bit thin than too fat.

This is probably the most important point.  DOD all comes down to a ration
too high in energy, which leads to too-rapid increase in body mass which the
bone growth plates can't keep up with if the mineral balance isn't exactly
right.  Staring ribs and a harsh coat can also cause problems, but the
general rule is that you should be able to easily feel ribs under your hand
without being able to see more than the merest hint.  If the foal is fat
enough to please a halter judge, he's probably too fat for optimal bone
growth (which is why so many halter babies, especially of the very
fast-growing breeds, are lame by the time they're two).


Susan G

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