Ask the Vet – Sidebones, steaming vs soaking hay, alfalfa cubes vs pellets, & more! – December 2019


DAN: Hey, SmartPak fans. I’m SmartPaker Dan. I’m here with Dr. Lydia Gray,
SmartPak’s Staff Veterinarian and Medical Director. And we’re here to answer
horse health questions asked and voted on by you. We do have a little update
about our holiday schedule. Things are changing a
little bit next month. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, OK. DAN: We do have that update
for you in our previous video. We’re asking you guys
to submit questions. So we’ll put a link
in the description so you can check that out. But we do have another
very exciting update from last month’s episode. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, boy. DAN: Do you know what it is? DR LYDIA GRAY: Maybe. DAN: Panic. So cashewbutter had
submitted a question about how to wean a mini colt. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yes. DAN: So I selfishly– of
course, when I heard mini colt, I asked cashewbutter
to send in some photos. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh,
you want a picture. DAN: And we got
some great photos. So cashewbutter actually
sent us an email that says, “Since you all wanted
to see the colt in question, this is Hercules. As his name suggests,
he’s tiny but mighty.” So she sent us a
series of photos when he was three months
old, and seven months old, and I think even just born. There’s a pretty
little one there. So I hope you all enjoy those. DR LYDIA GRAY: Great! DAN: And if you guys
have any other photos, please send them our way. But now into this
month’s question, so let’s see what we got here. So question number one
was submitted by Bettina on the SmartPak form at And they would
like to know, “What is the difference between
feeding alfalfa pellets and alfalfa cubes? Is there a better
option between the two? Noted my horses are getting free
choice hay and have good teeth. I just want to add some
alfalfa in their diet for the winter months
for more calories.” We actually had some comments
on YouTube about this. So Little Kitty said,
“I just recently started feeding my horses
alfalfa, and I was recommended to get the cubes. But they seem like they
don’t soak very well, even when I tried mushing
it down with my hands. Am I soaking them wrong? Are pellets better? What’s the benefit
with the cubes?” And then, Monteego Bey
also wanted to know– DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, Jamaica! DAN: I know! I need that this time of year. Monteego Bey wants to know,
“Pellets do soak better than cubes, but I’m not
sure what’s better.” DR LYDIA GRAY: Wow. DAN: So this one’s a hot
topic, it looks like. DR LYDIA GRAY: Apparently. I like they use the word better. DAN: Oh, OK. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Because it depends on what you want them for. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So the
original question writer said she’s using them for
extra calories for the winter. DAN: Correct. DR LYDIA GRAY: Which is
great, because alfalfa does have more calories than grass. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: It also has
more protein, more calcium. Intuitively, you’d
think it would have more sugars and starches,
but it actually has less. DAN: That is something
that people commonly think! DR LYDIA GRAY: I know, I know. So less simple carbs. So she mentioned using it
for weight gain or weight maintenance, probably. She didn’t say her
horses were thin. DAN: Just maintain
through winter. Yep. DR LYDIA GRAY: Other uses for
alfalfa, this is any form. Certain life stages
need more calories than others such as growth,
late pregnancy, or lactation when the mare is
actually making milk. That’s the highest energy
drain on the system. She mentioned her
horse had good teeth. So if you don’t have
good teeth and you can’t chew long stem forage,
then a pellet or cube is a better choice. Post-operative care, just after
colic surgery, gastric ulcers, or hind gut ulcers. You can hydrate your horse
for travel by soaking cubes. Get a little water into them. DAN: Great point. DR LYDIA GRAY:
They’re convenient. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: You know,
they’re easy to store, easy to travel with,
easy to measure. DAN: Compared to
bales of hay, yep. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep. And then, they also have a
guaranteed analysis right on the bag. So your hay, in order
to know what’s in it you have to do an analysis. But these come in a bag. DAN: The work’s
already done for you. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah,
the work’s done for you. OK. So I went to these
folks’ website. This is Standlee, the
Premium Western Forage. We sell these Apple Berry
Cookie Cubes that are yummy. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: Apparently. DAN: Big hit at my barn. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah! Yeah, mine, too. And they had some really
good factoids about pellets and cubes and long stem forage. And one of the first
things they focused on is a pound of forage
is a pound of forage, regardless of the form. So the point was,
a pound of pellets has the same nutritive
value as a pound of cubes as a pound of hay. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: Now
notice we’re saying in terms of weight, not volume. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: So if you
think about the space that a pound of cubes takes
up, and a pound of pellets takes up, and a pound of
hay, it’s very different. So it’s important to weigh
anything you feed your horse. OK. So research has shown
there’s no difference in the digestibility. That’s one question I get a lot. Well, isn’t it easier to
digest the cubes versus hay? And pellets versus cubes. If you think about the
lenghth of the stem. In a bale of hay,
you’ve got long stems. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
in a cube, which is maybe like one inch by
one, it’s still got stems. But they’re very much
shorter than a bale. And then a cube has no stems. DAN: The pellet. DR LYDIA GRAY:
The pellet, sorry. The pellet is
maximally processed. DAN: So regardless, there’s
no difference in digestibility between any of those forms. DR LYDIA GRAY: Nope. And so you pick the
form based on what your horse prefers,
how well they eat it, and your convenience. So there were comments
about soaking. Their advice on soaking
is the first time you feed horses
pellets or cubes, you might want to
soak them so that they don’t eat them too fast. And then if they
eat them too fast, they might run into
a choke situation. So you want to slow
their consumption down. And also when you are adding
pellets or cubes, just like anything you change
in a horse’s diet, you add them gradually. And you take 10 to 14 days
to get them into the diet so that the horse’s digestive
system can become acclimated. DAN: Because it is a
change to their diet. DR LYDIA GRAY: Absolutely. DAN: Even though
we think it’s just another sort of
forage type product. It’s still different than what
they’re currently getting. DR LYDIA GRAY: Their
advice on soaking is to soak for 30 minutes
with a range of 15 minutes to two hours. And then, you can experiment
with hot and cold water also. Or until properly softened. And then, the ratio should
be two parts of water to one part of pellets or cubes. DAN: I feel like you should
do a cooking show for this. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh, goodness, the
Julia Child of horse feeding. Yeah. So it’s really what
your horse likes, what’s convenient for you,
why you’re feeding alfalfa to begin with. Now pellets and cubes
also come in grass, so they’re not just alfalfa. So if your horse has
chewing problems, then you could supply them with
grass pellets or cubes, also. I personally use the
cubes because they come in little mini bales sometimes. They’re like four
inches long, and they break apart pretty easy. That actually might
help your soaking. Maybe you’re putting the
whole big thing in there. And if you break them up or
crumble them a little bit, the water will get
to them better. And they’ll soften easier maybe. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: But I
just use the little ones as treats for my horse, because
if they’re for alfalfa, pretty low in sugar. I know what the sugar is
because it’s on the bag. And they’re quite tasty. I mean, they’re very palatable. One of the reasons
we didn’t put on here was if you’re feeding
them because you have a horse who’s not eating well. That’s a great
reason to feed these. DAN: So nutritional value,
there’s not a real difference between cubes and pellets. DR LYDIA GRAY: Or hay. DAN: Or hay. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep. DAN: So really, it’s
coming down to what’s more convenient
for this and what the horse finds more palatable. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah! DAN: Well, that’s easy enough! So if you’re having
trouble with the cubes and getting them to
be soft, maybe pellet is an option for her then. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah! Or try breaking the cubes
up, or use warm water, or just soak longer. DAN: And then we’ll check out
Dr. Gray’s next cooking show on how to prepare. DR LYDIA GRAY: How
to prepare cubes. DAN: Well, thank you very
much for that question. And so on to
question number two. And this was submitted
by kayyparis on Instagram who wants to know, “What is
the difference between steaming and soaking hay?” Lots of hay questions or
forage questions today. “What is the benefit for both?” So again, we had another
YouTube community comment. So Cheyenne Denning said, “I
soak my 22-year-old gelding’s hay. It seems like it helps with his
allergies, but I’m not sure.” And she also wanted us to point
out that she was the first one to comment. So congratulations. I know that’s a big thank for
our YouTube community watchers to be the first comment. So congratulations on that. DR LYDIA GRAY: So
when your feed forage, you have a couple of choices. You can feed it dry,
just as it comes. Right? You can dampen it. Some people just take the flakes
and spritz it with the hose. And that just to cut
down on the dust. The next would be to soak it. And then the next would
be to actually steam it. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And the best way to steam,
really the only way now, there is commercial steamers
like Haygain Steamer. DAN: Correct. DR LYDIA GRAY: Because you can
make your own steamer, but– DAN: That sounds dicey. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep. And it’s not only
potentially dangerous, water and electricity,
but if you don’t steam the bale from the inside
out, you’re not as effective. And you might also be
creating a dangerous situation with microorganisms. So there’s lots of research
about the Haygain steamer. If you go on their website,
I mean just pages and pages of published, peer-reviewed
scientific research. And what it says is that– I better read it
so I get it right. The Haygain steamer
takes about an hour. I don’t know. Have you smelled it? DAN: I have. So they actually have been
in a lot of our booths at trade shows and
things like that. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: It always smells very good. DR LYDIA GRAY: It does! “Significantly reduces
airborne respirable particles.” That’s your dust and allergens. “And microbial contamination,”
so bacteria, yeast, and mold. That is the fungi. So I think the original
asker said why would you pick one over the other. You pick steaming
if you’re concerned about respiratory allergens
or airway irritation, and you’re trying to reduce the
contaminants in your horse’s breathing zone. DAN: So if your horse
has some sort of allergy. DR LYDIA GRAY: Like
Equine Asthma Disease, the Inflammatory Airway
Disease, or the Recurrent Airway Obstruction. Let’s just call it Heaves. OK? Right. That’s the main
use for a steamer. It also softens the hay, and
it’s very, very palatable. When horses are given
a choice, they always choose the steamed hay. That’s in the research. I just read that. DAN: They’ve got great taste! DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. So, soaked hay — why would you soak hay, then? There are some commercial
units for this, but do we have a hay net? There’s people who have really
good systems of putting hay in hay nets, and then putting it
in a muck bucket or something. And some people even put the
hay net on a pulley, a rope, because it gets heavy
when it’s waterlogged. And so they pull it
up out of the water. It helps to have
sort of some help. DAN: This little Velcro. DR LYDIA GRAY: The gator mouth. DAN: Gator mouth. Easy to fill, and then
basically just closes up. And then you just dunk this in. DR LYDIA GRAY: The whole
thing in the water. DAN: Nice! And this acts like
a little spaghetti strainer when you pull it out. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah! Yeah, right. And you want to
discard the water. There’s a list of pros and cons
between soaking and steaming. One of the cons is that
this takes a lot of water, like 40, 50, 60 liters of water. Lots and lots of water. The Haygain steamer takes,
they say, four liters. DAN: OK, so drastically less. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah,
so much less water. And potentially, there’s
environmental contamination with this. But why would you soak? You would soak if you were
trying to remove sugars. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: So the horses
that are insulin resistant, maybe have Cushing’s disease
with some insulin resistance, the horses that are PSSM, that
are laminitic and shouldn’t have either sugars or fructans. And so if you soak,
the guidelines are 30 minutes hot water
and 60 minutes cold water will leach out significant
amounts of the water soluble carbohydrates. Fancy term for the
sugars in the fructans. Potassium has been shown to
come out at about the same rate also. Now, hay is very
high in potassium. But if you have
an HYPP horse, you could soak and remove potassium. DAN: Oh, there you go! DR LYDIA GRAY: Right, right. So soaking would be
to remove sugars. And then steaming
would be to reduce the allergens, the respirable
particles, the contamination. DAN: Microorganisms. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep. DAN: So steaming does
not get rid of the sugar. DR LYDIA GRAY: It gets
rid of some of them. DAN: But not the
same way as soaking? DR LYDIA GRAY:
The numbers range. Most studies show 2% to
3% only of the sugars are removed with steaming. There’s not very
much, and probably not enough to move the hay into a
safe range for the horse, which you know because you
analyzed the hay. DAN: Ah, got you. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. There are some studies with
higher numbers that have shown 12% and 18% removed, but still. When you compare it to
30% that soaking removes– and it’s been as high as 55%. DAN: Wow! DR LYDIA GRAY: Soaking
really does the better job. If that’s your goal,
sugars, then soaking is the technique
you want to use. If your goal is to help
your horse breathe better, then steaming is
what you want to use. There was one study
in the list where they said the best of all
worlds is to soak then steam. DAN: That’s like top notch. DR LYDIA GRAY: That’s hardcore. DAN: That’s all the way there. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. But it can be very time
consuming if you do all that. DAN: That’s really
helpful, because I was on our Customer Care team
for a long time at SmartPak. And that is a common
misconception. People are not really
sure whether to soak or whether to steam, and what
the difference between the two and what their goal is. So I think that’s a really
helpful and easy way to break it down as to
what the best options are. So hopefully that
helped you out. So on the question
number three, and this is submitted by
equestriangrace4 on Instagram– this is actually the third
month in a row having a question answered by equestriangrace. DR LYDIA GRAY: Some
people really get it. DAN: She’s got a technique down. So previously
wanted to know when mares go into heat and the
proper work to rest ratio. DR LYDIA GRAY: Oh! That may have been my
favorite question of 2019. DAN: She’s got some great ones! I saw a lot of comments from
her asking some follow up ones. So hopefully those will get
answered in future videos. She wants to know for
this month, “Is there any benefit to feeding
horses flax seeds or chia seeds in their grain? If so, how much
should you feed?” And I know this is one
of your favorite topics. DR LYDIA GRAY:
I’m surprised it’s taken this long to sort
of float to the top. So the short answer is yes. Next question. So benefits to feeding horses
flax seeds or chia seeds. Yes. And the benefits
could be just maybe you want to provide more omega
3s period, because they’re not on grass. Or they’re on a high grain diet,
and you’re trying to rebalance. Like they’re getting
too many omega 6s, and you want to
bring that balance. Shift it back to
a higher 3 to 6. DAN: So for some
people at home who aren’t super familiar with
omega 3s and omega 6s. What’s the difference
between the two of them? DR LYDIA GRAY: Without
getting into regulatory jail? DAN: Yes. I like to put you on
the spot like that. Sorry. DR LYDIA GRAY: You need both. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. And we don’t know
for horses what the exact correct ratio is. We think it’s about three
parts omega 3 to one part omega 6 because
that’s what grass is. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: Being
the natural food, we’re like that makes sense. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: The problem
is, in today’s modern system of horse keeping when we feed
high grain diets that are more skewed 6 to 3, or they
don’t get fresh grass, their ratio is off. And because 6 tends
to form the precursors of inflammatory
pathways, we think horses might be in a chronic
state of inflammation because their 3 to 6
balance is shifted. DAN: Got it. So this could help balance it
out if they aren’t on pasture and are getting grain. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep,
and take them back out of that chronic state
of inflammation. DAN: Perfect! DR LYDIA GRAY: Other
reasons you might add it is you might want to
add calories to the horse, because it’s fat. Flax is about 40% fat. Chia not as much. Maybe 30% fat, but
still significant. Right? They have significant
levels of protein. They have some
minerals and vitamins. They both provide mucilage. We’ll get into it in a minute. If you soak or cook flax– have you ever done that? It turns into a gooey, sticky
mess in your container, and your spoon will
never be the same again. You’ll be like,
why did I do that? But that’s the mucilage in it. And then some people just want
to support cellular health and provide omega 3 fatty
acids within the cells. It’s a wellness idea. All right. So flax seeds, the biggest
question I get asked is how to feed them. I don’t think she asked that. She said how much. We’ll get to that in a minute. But it’s how, so you can
feed them just whole. You can feed them ground. You can feed them fresh ground. Like it’s feeding time,
grind them and feed them. You can buy pre
ground and stabilized so they don’t go rancid. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. And then you can soak
them, say overnight, or you can even cook, boil them. DAN: Wow, this is
quite the prep work. DR LYDIA GRAY: I know. Well you mentioned
earlier about a cookbook. DAN: You’re doing a
cooking show, for sure. Next episode. DR LYDIA GRAY: The reason we
tend not to feed them whole is because flax seeds have
a very hard outer shell or coating. And it’s difficult
for the horses. If they don’t chew
them and break it, then their enzymes in
their digestive tract can’t really open it up either. And then, it just passes
out completely unused, and they didn’t have access
to the nutrients in there. So they didn’t get the omega 3s. So that’s why we grind them. At my barn, we have
a coffee grinder. DAN: Oh! That’s a smart idea. DR LYDIA GRAY: So we
have a container of flax. And then at every
feed meal time, we just get out
everyone’s serving, grind it, pour it
in a thing, feed it. So it happens right then. So the omega 3s
don’t have a chance to interact with the
air and sunlight. DAN: I love that. That’s a great idea. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And then when they’re
out in pasture and they hear the coffee
grinder, they all come running. So if you want
any of our horses, you just put some flax in the
coffee grinder and press it. And then they come running. DAN: Whatever works. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. But if you don’t
want to do that, then you can buy some
pre-ground stabilized. That’s easy. You can soak to soften it, but
that’s a little bit of a pain. And you don’t need
to cook or boil them. I like the grinding. I think that releases
the nutrients, and it penetrates
that hard shell. And then she wanted
to know how much. So it does depend on
why you’re feeding them and what else your
horse is getting and conditions your
horse might have. There was a study in the
90s, I think, about horses with sweet itch. And they fed them a pound of
flax seed to see if it changed. DAN: A pound a day? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And notice again, we’re
not talking about volume, like a half a cup, or cup,
or a quart, or a scoop, or whatever unit
you want to use. We’re talking about weight. So the weight that
you’ll see is you can feed two ounces, four
ounces, eight ounces, which is half a pound. 16 ounces, a pound. But it all depends on
why you’re feeding it. And again I would
say, if you were just starting to feed flax
seed or chia seed– which by the way, you don’t
have to grind or soak or boil. DAN: Chia, you don’t? DR LYDIA GRAY: No,
because it’s very small, and there’s no hard shell. They get all the nutrients. But if you’re adding either
of these to your horse’s diet, you want to do it gradually. So don’t start with eight
ounces or 16 ounces. Start with one to two
for a week, and then gradually increase it
until you get to the amount that you want. DAN: Everything very
slowly with horses. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. They don’t like to be surprised. Trust me. DAN: I love that. So I know we do also
sell other flax products. We have our Smart &
Simple Flax, which comes in a powder, which makes
it super easy to feed as well. DR LYDIA GRAY: Pre-ground
stabilized, yeah. DAN: Take a little bit of the
work out of it for you as well. There’s lots of options
on the market, as well. DR LYDIA GRAY:
That one, you mean? DAN: That was the one! Yes! Convenient that was there. Well, let us know
what works for you and if the coffee grounds
are your way to go. Next question was submitted
by Megan on the SmartPak form. And Megan wants
to know, “Can you discuss the presence of
side bones in horses? Is it normal or an
area of concern? Would a horse with side
bones fail a PPE–” pre purchased exam– “in your opinion? So we do have a YouTube
community comment on this as well. So Andromeda417– if I butchered
your name, I am very sorry– “My older horse is currently
developing sidebone and it feels like there isn’t
enough information out there as to what to do. I would appreciate it if you
guys could talk about it.” Well, here you are. DR LYDIA GRAY: OK. So she asked about
sidebone And then, she said the magic words pre
purchase examination. DAN: Yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: So I went to
my good buddy Dr. Kaneps. DAN: Yes! He’s a good friend of the show. DR LYDIA GRAY: He’s done several
videos on pre purchase exams. And he is a lameness expert. He has lots of letters
after his name. It’s ACVS, which means
he’s board certified as a veterinary surgeon. And this one, ACVSMR. DAN: That one’s got
lots of letters. DR LYDIA GRAY: I know! This one stands for the American
College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation. DAN: Sounds like the
guy to go to for this. DR LYDIA GRAY: So he was my guy. OK. So here’s what he
said to your question. Side bone, which he defined
as mineralized collateral cartilages– I’ll help you with
that in a minute– is a common finding. Instead of the word
mineralized, you could also say ossified,
calcified, or plain old hardened. OK. DAN: Got that. DR LYDIA GRAY: All right. DAN: We’re back on track. DR LYDIA GRAY: Good. As long as the structure
isn’t fractured or infected– and if it’s infected,
it has a name quittor. DAN: Quittor? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah! DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: There
is usually no concern. Presence of sidebone on
a pre purchase exam, PPE, does not affect my conclusions
when the horse is sound. When the horse is
negative to flexions and has no evidence of a
previous injury to the side. DAN: OK. So if there’s no
infection, if there is no fracture, and
the horse is sound. DR LYDIA GRAY: And no
evidence of injury. It’s inconsequential. DAN: So is it just basically
a hard piece of cartilage? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yes! It’s basically a hard
piece of cartilage. DAN: Summed up. DR LYDIA GRAY: Now he
says this in all caps. However– DAN: There’s always a however! DR LYDIA GRAY: There’s
always a however. Sue Dyson’s group
out of the UK has reported that there may be
some association of sidebone with heel discomfort. I’ll send the abstract. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY:
Here’s the abstract. DAN: So one more
time with that one. DR LYDIA GRAY: There might be
some association of sidebone with heel discomfort. So she’s saying there
might be more to it. It might not be as simple. DAN: As just a hard
piece of cartilage? DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Sorry. DAN: I was so close. DR LYDIA GRAY: And
I read the abstract. I highlighted some things
that I think are important. So here we go. She says extensively mineralized
or ossified cartilage are significantly associated
with injury of the collateral ligament. So those are the ligaments
that are on the side. They go from the short pastern
bone or middle pastern bone to the coffin bone, the hoof. Those collateral
ligaments– there’s one on the medial side
and one on the lateral, or inside and outside. If those have been injured,
or if the coffin bone itself has been injured
and those cartilage are really mineralized,
that might be significant. There might be an association. DAN: So if there
was this injury, and there’s this sidebone
that’s really ossified, then there could be a problem. DR LYDIA GRAY: It might
have extensively ossified because there was an
injury, and it did it as a protective mechanism. DAN: Got it. So this might be an
indication of something else. DR LYDIA GRAY: Exactly! Oh, my gosh. Ding! Cookie treat for you. So the point is
normally sidebone itself isn’t the issue. It points to something
else being a problem. So a lot of people
say as my horse ages– and they’re typically bigger
horses, heavier horses, even draft horses– he’s developing
sidebone I can see. I can even feel it right above
the coronary band on the sides. Or we took a radiograph for
some reason, and we saw it. And they blame the
unsoundness on the sidebones It might not be. Because now we have ultrasound
and MRI, these new modalities. We can see collateral
ligaments and things. And it might be other things. The other thing she says
is so extensively ossified might be associated. Markedly asymmetric. You’ll see we’ve got some
X-ray images that we’re going to put up along with this. DAN: Ah, yes. DR LYDIA GRAY: Very cool. He sent them. He’s wonderful. Sometimes you’ll see
one side, there’ll be a little bit of the
cartilage turned to bone. And the other side is very tall. So that’s what she calls
markedly asymmetrical. Like this would be symmetrical. DAN: Yep. DR LYDIA GRAY: Asymmetrical. DAN: OK. So we think the
sidebone’s caused because there’s the asymmetry? DR LYDIA GRAY: I’m exactly
reading this, because I do not want to get it wrong. Markedly asymmetric
ossification should be considered at pre purchase. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: Because it
might indicate another problem, an injury somewhere. Maybe a previous
injury somewhere. So it just means
dig a little deeper. DAN: To your point– so
I broke my wrist when I was in high school. So when you get a
break, your body then goes in to add some more
support there as it heals. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah! DAN: So that’s why that
could be an indication that there was an injury
somewhere down the road, potentially. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: Well, that
was super helpful! Well Megan, it sounds like
you’re horse shopping, and hopefully that
was helpful for you. Let us know how that works out. So then on to
question number five. This was submitted by
Equine 9 on YouTube. And Equine 9 would like to
know, “Does coastal hay actually increase a risk of colic? If so, why?” DR LYDIA GRAY: Are there
community questions? DAN: There is not on this one. DR LYDIA GRAY: I feel
like I have to wait. OK. Short answer again, yes. And it says recent evidence
indicates there is at least a threefold increased risk of
a horse developing an ileal impaction– it’s a very
specific kind of impaction– if coastal Bermuda hay is feed. DAN: So why is that, though? DR LYDIA GRAY: Why is that? OK. First, can I say that there
is Bermuda grass, and then there’s Coastal Bermuda grass. It’s just a type or variety– cultivar, maybe? I didn’t do very
well in horticulture. Of Bermuda grass. There are other Bermuda
grasses that can be fed. It’s probably the
most common grass and hay in the southeast US. DAN: OK. DR LYDIA GRAY: It’s hardy. It’s got some pros. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: It’s hardy to
overgrazing, to trampling. It recovers well. It doesn’t have
as good a nutrient profile as some other
grasses, some cool season grasses like orchard
grass or Timothy. Doesn’t have as high protein. But it’s not bad hay. You don’t want to
discredit it completely. However, if Coastal
Bermuda grass is harvested for hay
when it’s too mature, it’s got a very fine stem. It’s sort of a perfect storm. If you combine a very fine
stem with excess maturity– excess maturity means you’ve
taken the carbohydrates in it that were non structural
and made them structural. And the horse cannot digest it. And the microorganisms in
the horse’s GI tract, also — nobody can digest it. DAN: Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: So it
just passes through. When it gets to where the last
section of the small intestine, the ileum, connects
with the cecum, which is the big fermentation vat,
there is a muscular ring right there. And it’s been likened to
when hair plugs a drain. DAN: That’s what happens? So it just gets stuck somewhere. Yeah. DR LYDIA GRAY: Because
it’s very fine stem. And when it’s overly
harvested, too mature, it becomes indigestible like hair. DAN: So it’s just passing
through in full form almost. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah! It balls up and blocks
this very small opening. DAN: Again, the digestive
tract of the horse is not very well designed. DR LYDIA GRAY: By
committee, right? That’s what they say. Let me read what
this one author– it was a paper at AAEP in 2009. It was an in-depth
session on colic. He said the author speculates
that mastication, chewing, may be insufficient so
that this type of hay is swallowed before the
stem length has been reduced to a reasonable size. This hay accumulates at
the ileocecal junction where the very muscular ileum
could hypothetically squeeze out fluid so it gets very dry. Yeah. And then, this forms
a dehydrated mass which combines with mucus
to become an impaction. DAN: It’s like a perfect storm. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. So it’s not good chewing,
it’s excessively mature hay, it’s very fine hay. DAN: Can’t be digest. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. And then it goes to
a part of the body. Now the other thing is there
are two major risk factors for ileocecal impactions. The feeding of sub-optimal
Coastal Bermuda hay, so excessively
mature, and tapeworms. DAN: Oh! DR LYDIA GRAY: Turns
out that tapeworms have decided that the best place
in the whole digestive tract to set up housekeeping
is at the junction of the ileum and the cecum,
because of all the food. Food passes. Yeah. DAN: Everything that’s
got to go through it. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. So they’re like, you know what? DAN: Let’s hang out here. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah! And so they actually hook on
and wait for food to come by. And so that area gets
inflamed and thickened. DAN: Making it even harder
to pass things through. DR LYDIA GRAY: Right. So now, we have
the perfect storm. DAN: Yeah, that’s literally all
the things you can possibly not want to happen. DR LYDIA GRAY: So
there is some advice for if you’re in an area
where Coastal Bermuda hay is. And it’s reasonably priced. If your horse is new, you just
moved to the southern US– that’s like Georgia, and Texas,
and Alabama, and Louisiana, and those states– again, add it to the
horses diet slowly. Take the full two weeks to
transition them from whatever hay they were feeding
getting to this hay. Try to use high quality hay. So know where you’re
getting the hay from, and make sure it wasn’t
harvested or cut too– DAN: Late. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. Have the hay analyzed. There’s something
called NDF, which stands for Neutral Detergent Fiber. If that’s above about 50%,
your horse can’t digest it. DAN: Wow. DR LYDIA GRAY: And that’s
setting them up for impaction. So have it analyzed. And then, there
are some varieties of Bermuda, not coastal,
such as Tifton 85, that might not be as
prone to balling up like hair in the drain. DAN: You did kind of talk
about that at the beginning, where there’s the Bermuda
grass, and then there’s coastal. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yeah. DAN: So maybe the word Bermuda
is not your trigger word to look out for. DR LYDIA GRAY: Coastal
might be the word. DAN: Just want to make sure. DR LYDIA GRAY: Yep. DAN: That has quite a
disaster potentially. But hopefully, those
tips and tricks can kind of help you guys
out as you sort of situation. DR LYDIA GRAY: So we don’t
want to demonize Bermuda grass or coastal Bermuda grass. But you have to
be smart about it. DAN: Do your research
a little bit. Perfect! Well that is it for the
questions for this month. Thank you guys so much for
taking the time to submit them. So keep asking your questions
so we have ones for our February 2020, our 2020 episode, which I
cannot believe will be our next video. You can ask your questions on
YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, the SmartPak
blog, and our form at Just use #AsktheVetVideo
If your question was answered in this video
or one of our previous ones, make sure to reach out
to our Customer Care team at
[email protected] so you can claim your
SmartPak gift card. So until next time, guys,
make sure to subscribe and have a great ride.


5 Responses

  1. moogiemom

    November 29, 2019 3:55 pm

    My 21 yrs old mare is constantly getting hoof abscesses . Is there any hoof care products that are available wether it be internally or externally to strengthen her hoofs , or should I change her Diet?

  2. Equestrian Grace 4

    November 29, 2019 9:12 pm

    Hi, I have gotten 3 questions answered 1 in October, 1 in November, and 1 in the December episodes…. I had recently emailed Smartpak about recieving the gift cards and have not heard back. Is there some better way to contact them? Thank you for all the amazing answers and videos!! Equestriangrace4


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