Hay

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Husbandry topics are items that help the horse owner manage the horses in their care. There are a lot more topics to add, but these will get you started with the basics.
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Comments 2

  1. Hi Dr. Tucker,
    Our mare Sassy has heaves and a local vet says a lot of horses in this area have allergic reactions to bahia grass and hay. Her pasture is a mix of grasses, but her hay has been bahia for several years. I found a local supplier that sells coastal and alicia (alecia) bermuda. However, there is a great deal of information online regarding bermuda hay being the vet’s best friend, suggesting bermuda causes a lot of horse to colic. I appreciate any insight you can share with me.
    Many thanks,
    Carol Pecot
    Amite, LA

    1. Post
      Author

      Heaves is a very complex subject. The first thing to do is to test her severity of heaves by performing a broncho-alveolar lavage (BAL) for a grade of 1 or 2 (treatable) or 3 or 4 (not treatable). If treatable then find the right medication that works for her and adjust the dosage to the minimum amount needed.

      Why did I start with the diagnostics? Because identifying the cause of the heaves is just about impossible but even if you did, if the allergic process has advanced into stage 3 or 4 then removing the cause or treating the disease is unrewarding.

      Heaves may be caused by the Bahia grass or it may be the molds on the grass or the lectins in the grass and all can be seasonal. Investigating this is frustrating because improving things usually requires the removal of several things in her diet even though it appears that only 1 thing caused an allergic event (worsening of the heaves).

      Finally, there are many people who won’t feed Bermuda hay and others won’t feed Coastal hay because of impactions caused by them. There are other horse owners who feed only these hays without problems. My thoughts are that the hay is digested by the bacteria in the colon and if those bacteria are not healthy due to the horse being fed grain and / or sugar then the horse is likely to have colic from these types of undigested hay due to their higher fiber content and less leaf content. This is only my belief because I believe there is no reasonable research done on this – only anecdotal observations.

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