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Re: [RC] Lucerne Hay and Laminitis - Kirt Lander

Lucerne hay, AKA Alfalfa, has over time been enhanced in "quality" by agricultural authorities to the extent that now in recent years even cattle are getting laminitis.  Research suggests that the high protein content of the Alfalfa causes metabolic problems which can lead to laminitis.  I highly suggest you seek out more information at the excellent web site www.safergrass.org run by Katy Watts, a leading agricultural researcher on the topic of forage for equines as it relates to laminitis and other health disorders.  Furthermore, the natural process of digestion includes a population of microbes in the cecum who's job it is to help breakdown their forage into absorbable  compounds.  This  population of microbes is very sensitive to the flow of forage and requires a constant and stable flow in order to be happy.  As the flow of forage rises and falls as is common with intermittent meals associated with the feeding of alfalfa,  so to does the population count of these microbes which can replicate at the rate of doubling their numbers every seven minutes.  As the flow of forage slows between meals, starvation and a dying off of said microbes can occur.   The  problem with  this is  the exoskeletons of these microbes contains a toxin which can be absorbed into the blood steam, travel down to the hooves and cause an uncontrolled release of an enzyme called  matrix metalloproteinase, otherwise knowns as MMP.
    This enzyme is naturally found in the hooves of the horse as a release mechanism for the purpose of facilitating the growth of hoof wall past the coffin bone.  Ask yourself this question: How can the hoof wall be attached to the coffin bone so strongly as to take the force of a 40 mile per hour gallop, yet at the same time, the hoof wall is not so strongly attached as to restrict the natural growth of the hoof wall down and past the coffin bone?  It is the job of MMP to release the lamellar attachment in a controlled fashion so that the hoof wall may slide past the coffin bone as it grows, yet still take the pounding force of a gallop.  Unfortunately, if the release of MMP is uncontrolled, laminitis of some level can be the result even to the extent of total lamellar release whereby the entire hoof capsule (sole and frog too) slough off and away from the coffin bone.

 For more information regarding the biological mechanisms that lead to laminitis, I suggest you seek out the research performed by Dr. Chris Pollitt of the University of Queensland Australia who is the worlds leading researcher on laminitis.

Considering my exposure to hoof care and more specifically the hooves of barefooted horses, my horses are kept on a diet of Bermuda grass hay fed free choice, meaning they are never without something to eat.  For the hard keepers, or during times of heaving work, I've found no problem feeding some alfalfa as a supplement though I will also implement some grain buffered with fats such as Cocosoya oil from Uckele Health.

Kirt Lander

Nik Isahak Abdullah wrote:
A friend of mine had a stable of around 20 endurance horses.Over the last 1 year, 2 of his elite 'endurance campaigner' developed debilitating laminitis. Looking at their previous 'feeding' regime I did not feel that they are 'over-graining'. The previous stable manager loves 'Lucerne Hay' though... there is a mountain of it in the ware house!
Can  too much  of  'Lucerne Hay' be associated with laminitis??!!


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[RC] Lucerne Hay and Laminitis, Nik Isahak Abdullah