Spring Grass Induced Laminitis
Mar 11, 2011
Please give me a safe schedule for putting horses out on spring grass to prevent laminitis.
Answer Provided by Dr. Grant Minnemeyer:
When looking at ways to prevent spring pasture induced laminitis, let's first talk about why horses placed on spring pasture are at risk for this disease. When horses are turned out on pasture rich in starches and sugars, they often consume enough forage to exceed the capacity of their small intestine. These starches and sugars bypass the small intestine and enter the horse's hindgut and thus change the bacterial flora and pH of the hindgut. This increases intestinal permeability causing toxins to enter the bloodstream leading to laminitis. As with all feeding practices, it is best to avoid sudden changes. When a horse is being introduced to pasture, initially limit the turnout time to a few hours. The safest times for your horse to graze are late at night and early in the morning, with the worst being late morning and early afternoon. Ways to limit your pasture size include using a round pen or strip grazing using a mobile electric fence. Grazing muzzles work very well to limit the amount of forage the horse can consume. Unfortunately, pasture access may need to be taken away completely in horses with a history of pasture induced laminitis.