Custom Search
Shoes mask weaknesses, barefoot highlights strengths

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

You are what you eat

Grace's ears have turned orange.  I kid you not.  If I hadn't broken my old phone I'd show you a photo (and Grace begged me not to - soooo embarrassing).  On a deep liver chestnut it is not a good look and it signals loudly my failure to address a copper shortage that I had a good idea was on the way.  So you can all slap my wrists now.  Only its a very useful scenario that I hope will help someone, somewhere, sometime.

So a bit of background.......
I live and livery in a very high iron area, even the water is loaded.  All the grass is ex dairy, mostly Rye and when I am really unlucky it gets nitrogen thrown at it too.
The livery yard has recently changed its modus operandi and I can now buy my own hay in.  Which is a huge relief as the previous hay was over 18% sugar and over 21% sugar/starch combined, low in minerals and rather mouldy.  So I am pleased I can get my own in and hugely grateful that the yard has allowed this departure from the norm.
As always though there is a hitch - the only alternative hay, while lower in sugar and much less mouldy, is mega high in iron.  I know because I've had it tested.  By an ISO accredited lab.  Twice.

So what's the problem?  Horses need iron right?

Yes they do, but diet related iron deficiency has never been described in the horse except in foals. Instead, because iron is so abundant in the equine diet, iron overload and iron interference with the absorption of the other trace minerals such as copper and zinc is much more likely.  Hence Grace's orange ears.

Excess iron has other unwanted side effects, including: predisposition to infection, predisposition to arthritis and increased risk of tendon/ligament problems, liver disease and altered glucose metabolism – including insulin resistance and overt diabetes.

So looks aside who would want to expose their horse to these risks unnecessarily?

Which leads me to my next post


Wolfie said...

I would have loved to see a picture of Grace's ears! I guess the good news is that her orange ears makes it easy to identify a potential issue. :-)

Sam said...

Wow cant believe how high in sugar that hay is!
How does the iron cause/contribute to the side affects mentioned?

Lucy Priory said...

High iron inhibits absorption of other minerals. They need to be kept in balance with each other.

Unfortunately the iron in the high iron hay is so high that balancing the minerals to the optimum levels is not possible. The level of copper required would be above the upper end of the safety limit.

Fantastyk Voyager said...

I had a friend who was a ginger and she said it was from the high iron content in the water. Didn't realize there were so many adverse side effects.

About Me

My photo
Southern England, United Kingdom