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Fescue,mares and morning dew

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iloveappys

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My sister and her husband bought two pregnant mares about 2 weeks ago_One mare foaled a week ago and the other is due in the next couple of weeks.They fenced about five acres of fescue grass for the horse pasture.They have been turning both mares out in the pasture
. I've advised him not to do this,but another family member (His side) told him it won't hurt the mares to turn them out in the afternoon,becuase the morning dew is what makes the fescue toxic :DOH! I've never heard of "Dew toxicity"

I've tried to talk sense into him,but apparently his uncle is the ONLY person in the world who's owned horses,and he hangs on his every word. Am I wrong about the fescue? Is it okay in the afternoon?

He also told him that they had to leave the foal completely alone for the first 4 weeks
,( foal out weighs them already)but be sure they desensitize the foal WTH??
.These are TOTALLY in-experieced horse owners,with small no horse-sense children.I go over there to help them but I end up having to leave,because it just makes me soooo angry and upset.Families........ :DOH!
 

kaykay

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Time of day doesnt matter. What does matter is if its been tested to be endophyte free or not. Most fescue carries this toxicity. Heres an article

There are newer varieties of fescue that is endophyte free and make good horse pastures. To find out if your fescue is free of endophyte's, see your county agent for instructions for collecting and testing the fescue on your property.

Some of the commonm documented problems with Fescue toxicity are the following:

1) Abortions may occur around the time the mare would be expected to foal. Mares may carry foals for 27 to 40 days longer than normal. During the prolonged gestation the foals continue to grow and the birth is often difficult because of the size of the foal.

2) Thickened placentas are often seen in mares grazing fescue. Mares may retain the placenta longer than normal leading to infection, laminitis (founder) and difficult rebreeding. The placenta is thick, heavy and deep red. You also may be presented with an angry red sac at birth. Retained placentas happened in 50% of the cases.

3) The most common problem of mares on fescue is that they produce little or no milk (agalactia) and the production of colostrum can be decreased. Your foal may be nursing but not receiving an adequate supply of colostrum. Checking IGg levels on all foals whose dam may have eaten fescue is strongly advised.

4) The mare may not exhibit the typical signs of foaling.

5) The number of stillborn foals doubled.

6) Prolactin and progesterone is decreased.

The Toxic Principle: The toxic agent in fescue is associated with an endophyte fungus. The fungus lives between the plant cells and either produces a chemical or causes the fescue to produce a chemical which scientists believe to be an alkaloid toxin. Three groups of alkaloids; diaziphenanthrene, pyrrolizidine and ergot are found in endophyte infected fescue. The toxin thought to be responsible for poor performance are the ergot alkaloids produced by Acremonium coenophialun. Exactly what triggers the production of this toxin has not been determined, however, they do know that the fungus is seed borne and cannot be spread any other way. They also know that most fescue pastures are infected with the endophyte to varying degrees. Typically infections may range from 10 to 100%. Problems have been reported on farms with infections across the entire range. Cutting the grass for hay does not destroy the endophyte or reduce the alkaloid content or effect. The fungus lives within the plant and cannot be detected visually, however, your county agent can test fescue for the level of endophyte infection.

While the mechanism that causes the reproductive problems is not absolutely known. It is thought that an alkaloid resulting from the endophyte infection causes an excess production of a neuro-active chemical, dopamine. Excess dopamine has a suppressing effect on the reproductive hormone, prolactin. Prolactin is essential to the final stages of pregnancy and birth. Without the prolactin signal, the mare's body does not realize it is time to foal. However, the last stages of pregnancy is not the only time ill effects are caused by ingestion. (see the article below: The Effects of Endophyte-Ridden Fescue on Early Pregnancy)

Management Approaches There are no easy solutions to the fescue problem for broodmare owners. Current practices for dealing with the problem include the following:

If you have a mare that is approaching foaling, take her off fescue pasture or hay immediately and contact your local veterinarian. Monitor udder development and the foaling process. Test to see if you have an endophyte problem.

Horse producers with fescue should remove the mares from fescue fields during the last 90 days of pregnancy. The mares could be fed a legume hay or some other grass hay and grain on a dry lot or a paddock planted in an alternate cool season grass. This is also the time when the mare will require a slightly higher nutritional level. Be aware that this action alone is no guarantee that you will avoid fescue related problems.
 

Miniv

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DITTO to what Kay posted.......... The dew has NOTHING to do with the toxicity of the fescue.

May I suggest that you print out Kay's post .......and also do a google search on the subject, which will back up what she has written.
 

Bunnylady

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My sister and her husband bought two pregnant mares about 2 weeks ago.These are TOTALLY in-experieced horse owners,with small no horse-sense children.
Am I the only person who reads this as a recipe for disaster?

Besides the fescue question (which I think Kay has done an admirable job of covering) there are a whole lot of other issues in play here. Uncle Numbskull's advice is going to get somebody hurt, and it's so unneccesary. Let me guess - he thinks you have to "break" young horses?

Young horses need handling, from the get-go. It'll never be easier, they just get stronger and (colts especially) rowdier.
 

Miniv

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You are absolutely correct Bunnylady...........The colt needs to be imprinted on ASAP. I was so focused on the fescue part of the post, I missed that.
 

Nathan Luszcz

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The foals do NOT need to be imprinted, there is a lot of research that shows that improper imprinting is far more damaging than minimal handling. What the foals need is HANDLING, not imprinting.
 

Margo_C-T

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I do hope that the information provided by Kay will convince these folks that 'Uncle Numbskull's' advice is totally off-base(LOVE your choice of terms, bunnylady--RIGHT ON POINT!
)

I knew some folks who repeatedly planted a little pasture of 'guaranteed' endophyte-free fescue for their mini mares. Each year, they suffered foal losses...while the husband(a hobby farmer) declared that it "must" be OK for the mares. Finally, he quit planting fescue in there---and they quit having the largest number and most awful foal losses of anyone I've EVER personally known. Honestly, I would not graze pregnant mares on ANY fescue pasture--PERIOD.

With all due respect to Dr. Miller? I agree with Nathan on the 'imprinting' thing. Like a lot of 'bright ideas', I think 'imprinting' has been oversold and overrated--kind of like Parelli. That said, the foals should MOST DEFINITELY be handled early on! Waiting until they are a month old makes no sense; a well-handled, well-mannered, well-trained horse has a lot better chance of always having a home-an important issue in today's world.

Margo
 

Miniv

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Well, you can slap me for the use of the word "imprinting". We don't do the formal imprinting that is written about. Perhaps it's better to describe it as LOVING ON.

We do lots of nose-kisses, stroking the face and ears, rubbing the legs and body. Initially we do it while towel drying the foal, and then the following days we just love on them with kisses and scritches. Eventually this leads to puting a halter on them and teaching them pressure and release.

We have noticed that if for whatever reason, one of our foals doesn't get the handling we usually do, it takes twice as long to teach them when they are weaned.
 

iloveappys

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My sister and her husband bought two pregnant mares about 2 weeks ago.These are TOTALLY in-experieced horse owners,with small no horse-sense children.
Am I the only person who reads this as a recipe for disaster?

Young horses need handling, from the get-go. It'll never be easier, they just get stronger and (colts especially) rowdier.
Oh Bunnylady,you are sooo right!!! I totally see disaster on the horizon
And I swear this filly has doubled her size in less than a week.The "Uncle" may be able to get away with not handling his babies for awhile,being a big guy,who breeds little bitty miniature babies.But these are fully grown,strong headed,quick legged,big shoe footed horses!!!! I've tried to get it through his head that this isn't a mini filly,and she is only getting bigger and stronger :DOH! Oh yeah....Uncle told him that their shoes don't have to be removed,his farrier "just trims the foot around the shoe"
This is a very well known mini breeder,well known in the showring,Nationals,Parades...you name it........I don't get it......How?
 

barefoot

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I wonder if they are getting the dew thing confused with something I just heard. I don't know if this is true or not. But I was told that the morning dew is when the worms come up and they pick them up from the blades of grass.

Emma
 

wildoak

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You might print this out for them (and for uncle Numbskull LOL) and point out to them that they surely need to be in contact with a vet anyway with a newborn foal and another on the way.

Okay, I'm kind of a fan of imprinting but ONLY if it is done correctly. I agree that it can do more harm than good if done improperly/incompletely. Like Miniv, we basically just handle and love on the mini foals - they are small and most seem to socialize pretty easily. Big horses are another matter - it helps if they learn early on (before they outweigh us 10 to 1), what their relationship with people should be.

Trimming feet around the shoes??? sheesh.

Jan
 

iloveappys

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I just printed it out and will be going over there in a little while to show it to him.He's under the impression that only putting her out for an hour or two won't hurt her (in the afternoon of course
)

Oh crap! Worming!......can't wait to see what "remedy" Uncle N.S will tell him about


What's that old saying? You can lead an idiot to water.........
 

Bunnylady

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[quote name='iloveappys' date='May 19 2008, 02:28 AM' post='102083Uncle told him that their shoes don't have to be removed,his farrier "just trims the foot around the shoe"

I'm beginning to think Uncle is the sort of person (like my husband) who thinks it's funny to feed a line of horse hooey to gullible people. At least Hubby is nice enough to immediately admit what he's been doing and give 'em the straight story. As we all know, minis don't wear shoes, so that's nonsense twice over!

On second thought. . . . if you only have BIL's word for what Uncle has said . . . . Maybe Uncle isn't the numbskull, maybe its BIL? Are you sure HE's not pulling YOUR leg?

A friend of mine had lots of experience with trained adult horses, but none with training foals. A couple of her mares foaled, and she pretty much let the foals be for the first few weeks. She petted them, when they let her, but that was about it. Her mini filly is now about 18 months old, and lives with me. She had a farrier try to trim this kid's feet when the filly was about 6 months old, without ever having so much as picked up her feet. Not pretty! I'm still having to deal with the aftershocks of this. I can do whatever I want with this girl's feet, but when she sees that leather apron, she freaks! The farrier isn't doing anything I haven't done, but the memory of that first trim is just too strong. The moral of this story? Baby steps, when they are babies, may make a huge difference later!
 
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