Archive for the ‘Horse’ Category

Your Horse: Avoid Being Felled by Fall Founder

Monday, November 22nd, 2021

Avoid Being Felled by Fall FounderYour Horse: Avoid Being Felled by Fall Founder: If you’ve been involved with horses for any length of time, you’re no stranger to the anguish caused by laminitis. You may be aware of common causes of founder. For example: grain overload, endocrine disturbances, and overloading of supporting limbs, there’s one you may overlook: fall grazing.

Spring pastures contain high levels of sugar that can induce a bout of laminitis. However, a feeding frenzy in the fall could have the same effect.

Fall Founder:

“Some rain and a late-summer heatwave, especially after a long, dry summer, can cause pastures to have a growth spurt similar to what happens in the spring. These pastures can have high water-soluble carbohydrate levels, including both sugar and fructan, that may induce laminitis,” explained Catherine Whitehouse, M.S., a Kentucky Equine Research nutrition advisor. “Fall founder can also occur following the first frost.”

Cool-season forages such as tall fescue continue to grow late in the year, posing a risk for any horse or pony predisposed to developing laminitis. Further, cool-season grasses often experience a dramatic increase in sugar content after a frost.

“Grazing muzzles must be used for at-risk horses even in the fall to avoid pasture-associated laminitis,” Whitehouse said.


Using a research-proven buffer such as EquiShure will help minimize changes in hindgut pH, thereby stabilizing the intestinal microbiome.

Laminitis remains one of the most common reasons for euthanasia of horses. Above all, direct efforts at hoof health regardless of the season. One study* reports reasons related to euthanasia were attributed to disease stage, severity, and progression. For example, persistent lameness following a recent bout of laminitis commonly prompted owners to elect humane euthanasia.  A horse had a slow recovery from a laminitic episode. Some owners perceived their horses were at risk for future episodes and chose to euthanize.

“Owners were also more likely to elect humane euthanasia if slow recovery necessitated prolonged periods of time in a stall. Owners believed extended stall rest would negatively affect their horse’s psychological well-being and quality of life,” added Whitehouse.

Horses that have recovered from laminitis may benefit from a well-rounded hoof supplement. “Kentucky Equine Research offers high-quality products that include nutrients necessary for growth of strong, resilient hooves, such as biotin, zinc, methionine, and iodine,” shared Whitehouse.

In conclusion, do you have a specific question about your horse’s  health or diet? Visit Kissimmee Valley Feed today to check out our horse feed, hay and supplies!

Article Source: Kentucky Equine Research

*Pollard, D., C.E. Wylie, J.R. Newton, and K.L.P. Verheyen. 2020. Factors associated with euthanasia in horses and ponies enrolled in a laminitis cohort study in Great Britain. Preventative Veterinary Medicine 174:104833.


Fall Maintenance for Healthy Winter Horses

Thursday, October 21st, 2021

For example, here are some steps to take around the barn:

  • Stock up on quality hay and store it in a dry place
  • Outdoor hoses and water lines need to be drained or winterized
  • Installed and check water tank heaters
  • Fences and gates should be repaired, and high-traffic areas might need to be rebuilt or topped off to help manage mud in the coming months
  • Move all medications, chemicals, and other liquids to a frost-proof area
  • Give all barn areas a thorough cleaning
  • Check over winter blankets and make any needed repairs or replacements
  • Clean and store any sheets, flymasks, or tack that won’t be used
  • Have your horse trailer serviced and park it out of the way

In conclusion, Kissimmee Valley Feed has a wonderful selection of horse hay, feeds and supplements to keep them at their best, no matter the season.

Article Source: Fall Maintenance for Healthy Winter Horses from Kentucky Equine Research

Six Signs of Good Quality Horse Hay

Friday, August 27th, 2021

Forage makes up between 50 and 90 percent or more of a horse’s diet. Much of the forage part of the diet comes in the form of hay. Because it’s such a big part of the ration, a good quality hay can help keep a horse healthy, while a poor quality hay can be detrimental. This is why, as nutritionists and horse owners, we put a big emphasis on the quality of hay we feed.

The nutritional value of hay is the most important factor when determining its quality. This begins with the stage of plant maturity at time of harvest. Young, immature plants contain more nutrients than older, stemmier plants. Though after hay is harvested, the level of horse hay quality goes beyond the age of the plant at harvest.

Identifying good quality hay for horses:

When selecting your horse’s forage, keep these six signs of good quality hay in mind:

1. High leaf-to-stem ratio 

Think about the leafy greens you eat. You likely prefer greens with leaves rather than just stems. The same is true for your horse. Look for more flat leaves in the hay and fewer round stems; this indicates the plant was less mature when cut. More leaves typically mean higher digestibility and nutrient content for your horse.

2. Small diameter stems

Stems smaller in diameter or finer are also indicators of higher quality horse hay. Small stems mean the plant was less mature when cut. To test stem size, grab a handful of hay and give it a squeeze. Good quality hay is soft and pliable, and feels good in your hand. If it feels like you’re squeezing a handful of sticks, it is not a good choice of hay to feed your horse.

3. Few seed heads or blooms

No matter the species of plant, hay with little to no seed heads or blooms indicates a younger, early maturity plant, and thus a higher quality hay. For example, timothy hay should be cut in the pre-bloom or early-bloom stage when you see little to no seed heads; and alfalfa should be cut when you see few to no blooms.

4. Fresh smell and appearance

On our farm, there’s nothing like haying season. We love the smell of fresh hay. The same is true for your horse. Good quality hay should have a fresh cut smell and appearance. Avoid musty, moldy or off-setting smelling hay, because it can reduce palatability and indicate poor quality.

5. Cleanliness

Hay should be primarily made up of the harvested forages. Look for a clean forage with little to no dust. Even if the majority of the hay is high quality, hays containing dirt, mold, weeds, trash or other foreign materials indicate poorer quality hay and may be unfit to feed to horses.

6. Hay Color

Good quality hay should be bright green in color with little fading. A bleached, yellow, brown or black color may indicate aged hay, mold or poor storage conditions. Storage condition and age have a significant effect on vitamin content of hays. Many vitamins, such as vitamins A and E, are not stable over time and lose biological activity. After approximately six months, almost all vitamin A and E activity levels are lost. The nutritional value of hay is compromised with increased exposure to heat, sunlight and rain, which speed up this process.

When good quality hay for your horse is scarce or too costly, you may need to compensate for poorer quality hay. You can do this by supplementing with a quality balanced horse feed. Hay balancers help provide the missing essential nutrients the horse requires in the diet. In some cases, they can replace hay in the diet entirely.

Equine feeds and supplements available at Kissimmee Valley Feed offer built-in forage for situations where hay is not available in a horse’s diet.

Article source: Purina Animal Nutrition

Why Fat is Important for Performance Horses

Tuesday, August 24th, 2021

Fat is important for performance horses. The use of fat in the equine diet has a long history.  A very old book, Horse Secrets by A.S. Alexander, published in 1913, points out that horse traders knew back then that adding fat to the diet was beneficial for gaining weight and improving hair coat.  They may not have known why it worked, but they knew that it worked!

Horse Feed With High Fat Content – The Evolving Role of Fat: The Omega-6 and Omega-3 Ratio

Corn oil was an early oil source as it was available and palatable.  Flax seed also provided both fat and protein. Boil the flax seed . Boiling both softened the husk and eliminated anti-nutritional factors.

The use of vegetable oil as an energy source has become standard in horse feeds.  Animal fat sources, while used in early research, have pretty much been eliminated from use in horse feeds. This being primarily due to palatability and perception issues.

From an energy standpoint, all of the common vegetable oils are very similar.  More recently, considering the essential fatty acid content, particularly the Omega-6 and Omega-3 levels, has become important in selecting the oil source.  As with many things, balance along with quantity is important.

As grazing herbivores, horses are accustomed to the limited amount of fat (3-5%) found in forages, particularly fresh pasture, which is high in Omega-3 fatty acids, whereas oils from grains and seeds tend to be higher in Omega-6 fatty acids.

Scientists have not yet pinpointed the ideal total dietary intake or ratio of Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids for horses.  Multi-species work has indicated that a ratio someplace between 2:1 and 10:1 is an acceptable Omega-6: Omega-3 ratio in a total diet.  This considers the higher Omega-3 content of forages and the higher Omega-6 content of grains and some vegetable oils

Omega-3 Benefits:

Dietary supplementation with Omega-3 fatty acid sources has been shown to provide numerous benefits to horses and other animals including:

  • Improved skin and hair coat quality
  • Decreased joint pain in arthritic individuals
  • Reproductive benefits
  • Reduction in risk of gastric ulcers
  • Anti-inflammatory effects

Better sources of Omega-3 areFlax seed, flax oil, soy oil and fish oil (limited use due to palatability).  Chia seed and oil may also be a useful source and other sources are becoming available.

The fat present in forages is balanced by feeds and supplements containing added oil . Which, subsequently, deliver balanced Omega-6 and Omega-3 levels in the total diet.

Here at Kissimmee Valley Feed, we are happy to lend our knowledge to maintain the perfect diet for your horses.

Source: Roy Johnson at

How to Keep Horses Cool in Hot Weather

Friday, August 20th, 2021

How to Keep Horses Cool in Hot WeatherHow to keep horses cool in hot weather? As summer drags on, heat can become a serious problem for many horses.

Sweating is the primary way horses cool themselves. Experts believe that prolonged, consistently high sweat rates can lead to “exhaustion” of the sweat glands. In horses, this may result in anhidrosis, or the inability to produce sweat adequately. It is crucial to address anhidrosis and find other ways to keep horses cool because it can pose a serious health risk to horses in warm climates.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when trying to keep your horses cool this summer.

1. Fresh, cool water

Hydration is critical during hot weather, but poor water quality can severely limit your horse’s intake. Most horses don’t like to drink hot water, so it is best to provide fresh, cool water daily. Dark-colored troughs or buckets placed in direct sunlight will absorb heat and warm the water quickly.

Keep horse water troughs and buckets clean and free of algae to encourage drinking. Remember, it can be hard to see accumulated algae and debris at the bottom of a dark-colored trough. Another tip: overfill water buckets and troughs to provide moisture for your horse’s hooves, especially in dry climates.

2. Salt and electrolyte supplementation

Feeds do not contain enough salt to meet a horse’s daily sodium requirement. Therefore, an additional source of salt is always recommended. At a minimum, a salt block should be available free choice. However, horses are not natural lickers and may not lick enough voluntarily. Top-dressing their feed with 2 oz plain salt per day is a good way to ensure they get enough.

In the “sweating season,” whether due to temperature or workload, salt should be switched to a quality electrolyte. This will supply important minerals like potassium and calcium, in addition to salt, that your horse loses through sweat. The best electrolytes will be mostly minerals, not sugar.

3. Summer horse shelter

We can all appreciate how much cooler it is under the shade tree in the middle of summer versus being out in the full sun, and your horse feels the same way. If there are no trees in your turnout areas, providing a run-in shed or even a fabric sunscreen as a horse shelter can make a big difference in helping to keep your horses cool.

Horses cool themselves primarily through evaporative and convective cooling. To help them, apply cool baths or use sprinklers to keep your horses more comfortable and to decrease their need to sweat as much. Moving air increases both convective and evaporative cooling. If the breeze isn’t blowing, provide a fan to move the air. Some farms even use large golf course fans to keep their horses cool in pastures. Finally, remember it may be more comfortable outside in the sun than inside a stuffy barn with poor airflow.

4. Exercise and heat stress in horses

Metabolic heat from exercise is another primary heat source for horses; therefore, it is best to confine strenuous exercise to early morning or later evening hours when ambient temperature and humidity are the lowest. Alternatively, you can give yourself and your horse a break from hard training during the hottest summer months.

To avoid additional heat stress, postpone events such as vaccination, weaning, changing barns, moving horses between groups, etc. If any of these events must occur during the hottest days of summer, try to do them during the coolest hours of the day.

Even though summer can be a sweaty, uncomfortable time, these tips can help your horse stay healthy and happy year-round.

Check out Kissimmee Valley Feed’s equine feed & supplements to help your horse stay happy!

Article source: Purina Animal Nutrition


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