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Re: Wishful's post about "lockjaw" that turned

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Little Wee Horse Farm

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I found this online on "The Ultimate Horse Site" about the condition:

"ECLAMPSIA

Calcium deficiency in a lactating mare. Can cause convulsions and coma associated with hypertension, endema, and/or excess protein in the mare's urine. It usually occurs around two weeks after foaling and is associated with lactation and stress. Decreasing high-protein feeds in the mare's diet in late gestation may help to prevent it in susceptible mares; mares with eclampsia are treated by decreasing the calcium intake two to five weeks before foaling, then adding calcium to the mare's feed after she foals. High-protein, high-calcium diets help mares that are prone to eclampsia."

For years, the common practice seemed to be to feed up a mare's protein intake in the last few months of pregnancy. I did it too. So did everyone I know. They sell special feeds with INCREASED protein for preg mares.

However, about 10 years ago, I was corresponding with a breeder who told me he discovered that so many of his mares aborted in later term. He didn't see anything that was related in all of them, except the increase in protein levels. He said he actually lost 25 foals one year!

So, he quit upping that protein level. He just left his mares on a normal 12% intake. And he had no more abortion problem.

It stopped me in my tracks from feeding excess protein in later pregnancy. Several of my friends thought I had "de-railed" my train by doing so. But, we've never had a problem & I didn't want one. "Food" for thought?
 
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Charlotte

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This is very interesting information. thank you for posting. I am always on the lookout for new thoughts on reproduction and for advice from long time breeders.

Charlotte
 

wishful

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tHank you Little wee, even hearing it from the doctor I was only getting cause ,didnt really understand exactly what brought it on, but this clears it up.

I never increased protien during preganancy either only after the foal was nursing. Autumn had dropped wieght and started to look bony 2 weeks before she foaled, i assumed it was the different feed , Angie was at a loss as well and although we are sisters we are as different as night and day. Losing wieght a few weeks proir to foaling may be a tale-tale sign of this, i'm not sure, I have had horses for 30 years and never have I had a horse with milk fever before.
 
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Lisa-Ruff N Tuff Minis

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My vet in Ca had me not up so much on the protien and doesnt believe in tons of protien for foals and yearlings either

My mares get one cup of mare and foal grain added to there normal ration of whole oats and beet pulp it has worked for me and is the same diet the babies and yearlings are on as well.
 

HGFarm

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Thank heavens - and I am assuming this is easily fixable?? Can the vet give them a 'boost' to get them over the hump? Wow, I didnt realize that a lack of Calcium could be so devistating. Have only seen it in one cow.

Man, is there ever a happy medium on what to feed? Seems you're darned if you do and darned if you dont!!

Glad to hear it was not more serious!!
 

Marty

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I just hate what has gone on here with the little mare. Made me sick to think of her so distraught.

Because of what has happened here, you guys can only imagine how upset I am now. Another thing for me to worry about with Holly.

So as usual, I went into my research mode. I spent many hours yestarday reseaching this milk fever. I was completely thrown off because there was nothing I could find that even mentioned "lockjaw" and some of the other symptoms. According to a number of articles that I read, although she exhibited some symptoms as defined, she just did not really fit the profile very well for eclampsia. So now I am really wondering and of course more worried than ever.

I would like to know what Wishful thinks could have brought this on in her case.

And thank GOD that things are going to be happy again at Wishful's barn.
 

Minimor

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Little Wee Horse Farm said:
I found this online on "The Ultimate Horse Site"  about the condition:

"ECLAMPSIA 

Calcium deficiency in a lactating mare. Can cause convulsions and coma associated with hypertension, endema, and/or excess protein in the mare's urine. It usually occurs around two weeks after foaling and is associated with lactation and stress. Decreasing high-protein feeds in the mare's diet in late gestation may help to prevent it in susceptible mares; mares with eclampsia are treated by decreasing the calcium intake two to five weeks before foaling, then adding calcium to the mare's feed after she foals. High-protein, high-calcium diets help mares that are prone to eclampsia."
Decrease calcium intake 2-5 weeks prior to foaling?????? I don't think so. This idea is flawed, because the truth about eclampsia is, there are 3 stages where the mare is most prone to eclampsia--TWO WEEKS PRIOR TO FOALING, the first 2-4 weeks after foaling, and at weaning.

Our mare Scarlet had eclampsia this year exactly 2 weeks before she foaled. (There's a thread on it back in the archives here somewhere!) Our mares were on grass hay that had just a touch of alfalfa in it. They were not at all on high protein feed, nor was it high calcium. As our vet said, Scarlet's problem wasn't really diet related--where the feed ration works for most of our mares, it didn't work for Scarlet, just because of how her body was processing calcium and diverting it into her foal and beginning milk production and such. However, in future we will not be keeping our pregnant mares on grass hay--or if they are on grass hay they will also be on PMU mineral, which is around 20% calcium/10% phosphorous; it's made to balance the grass ration that PMU mares are normally fed.

After Scarlet's bout with eclampsia she and our other mares went on the PMU mineral until they foaled (the mineral seems to cause diarrhea in nursing foals, so we have to discontinue it after the mares foal), and since then we've been getting some lovely 2nd cut hay which is 75% alfalfa/25% grass, so the mares and foals are getting that. We're hoping to have more of the same sort of hay for this winter & next spring/summer, but remains to be seen if our weather lets us get any hay up at all.

So as usual, I went into my research mode. I spent many hours yestarday reseaching this milk fever. I was completely thrown off because there was nothing I could find that even mentioned "lockjaw" and some of the other symptoms. According to a number of articles that I read, although she exhibited some symptoms as defined, she just did not really fit the profile very well for eclampsia. So now I am really wondering and of course more worried than ever.
Marty, wishful's original post DID sound to me like eclampsia--I posted on the thread yesterday after work, and commented on how Scarlet had the clamped jaw (could have been described as lockjaw I suppose, if one looked at it that way) and was unable to eat.
I forgot to say--Wishful, I'm glad to hear that your mare is fine! Last night when you said she was being treated for tetanus, I was very concerned that the belief it was tetanus was going to keep her from getting calcium, which I did believe was what she really needed. I'm glad your vet went with the second treatment after giving the tetanus anti-toxin!!
 
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Little Wee Horse Farm

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Minimor -- Now I'm WAY confused. I guess I'll have to read your post several times before I get it. I had just posted what I found on that site. Never know how reliable/unreliable things are online. But, like I said, it IS food for thot. Nutritional readings are almost as confusing as genetics, but not nearly as interesting!

Also, do you actually mean a certain supplement given to the Premarin mares? I don't get that. Never heard of it.

I don't understand the grass hay/alfalfa argument either. Alfalfa, I always thot, was higher in protein than grass hay, no? Haven't heard before about its calcium content. If your vet said her condition was not diet-related, why the concern about grass hay? Just trying to understand this, not trying to be argumentative.
 
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Minimor

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"PMU Premix" (that's what it's called if you buy from Feed Rite; Co-op sells their own version, "PMU Mineral" I believe, and I'm not sure who else makes it--all very similar, just different feed mills use different levels of minerals. Co-op has higher iodine, but slightly lower calcium, for instance.) is a mineral supplement that the PMU producers give to their mares. Because the mares on the line do not get high quality hay, they would not be getting all necessary nutrients from their feed. This PMU mineral serves as a diet balancer for them. I believe all of the PMU ranchers give this mineral to their mares, and it ensures that they have healthy, strong foals. Locally many Mini breeders swear by the stuff too--any of them will tell you that it is a "must" for reducing foaling problems--Many tell stories of a year where they lost several foals in the sac, so they started using PMU mineral, and that eliminated the problem of thick, unbreakable sacs...

Yes, alfalfa hay is generally higher in protein than grass hay. As a side note here I'll say I've never had concerns about feeding alfalfa hay and the related protein levels, outside of being careful not to let the horses get too fat & then founder...we've always liked it for our young, growing horses (I'll explain why in a moment!) While we've fed alfalfa nearly always to our young horses, we've never had a problem with leg defects or growth plate irregularities. I believe that is because we do not feed a fancy grain ration--we've always fed "plain oats". Breeders I know that have these leg problems in their young horses weren't just feeding alfalfa, they were also piling the high powered grain/pellet rations to their horses, and it is the high powered grains that cause the biggest problem from what I've seen.

The reason we like alfalfa for our young, growing horses, and for our bred & lactating mares, is for the calcium content. Yes, alfalfa is the best "natural" source of calcium for horses. Grass hay does not have calcium (though somewhere I heard that timothy does have some calcium in it? We cannot usually get good timothy around here--most of it grows much too coarse, so we don't use it much). Phosphorous comes from the grain.

I'll try to explain better about Scarlet's eclampsia just being "her" and not really diet related. What I asked our vet at the time is this--does this mean that we have a calcium deficiency in the entire herd, or is it just Scarlet? She said no, it doesn't mean that we have a calcium deficiency--while the hay we were feeding was not high in calcium (mostly brome/prairie hay, and just a very small percentage of alfalfa) it should have been sufficient for the average horse. It almost certainly is sufficient for our other mares. However, for Scarlet, because she was putting so much into her foal & the milk production, it wasn't enough. Only time will tell if the PMU supplement and/or alfalfa hay will be enough to keep her from getting eclampsia again next year when she is near to foaling.

Our vet said she sees eclampsia a lot in cattle, usually dairy cattle, but some beef cows as well. 95% of a herd may never have a problem, but there are always a few cows that get eclampsia--usually it's the heaviest milkers thta are putting absolutely everything into their milk. Their overall diet is excellent, but those few cows just need extra.
 

zacharyfarms

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Thumps in Horses: Exhaustion, Lactation Tetany, and Other Causes of Hypocalcemia in Horses

by Robert N. Oglesby DVM

Introduction

Perhaps it has been a harder than a normal trail ride, maybe you have a heavily lactating mare, maybe your horse has had diarrhea for awhile, but all of a sudden you realize your horse seems to be hiccuping. His whole body is being racked with mild rhythmic spasms. There may be also signs of stiffness and depression. The condition is called thumps and is due to changes in blood ph. and blood calcium concentrations. It may be a mild transient problem but it may indicate a life threatening electrolyte imbalance in the blood. This report discusses causes, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of hypocalcemia in horses.

Symptoms

Thumps look like a hiccuping horse. The diaphragmatic (phrenic) nerve is discharging abnormally resulting in the diaphragmatic muscle jumping in concert with each heart beat. The condition is most frequently seen in exhausted horses and indicates stress on the electrolyte system of a horse.

If the hypocalcemia is severe enough, you may also see: a stilted gait from muscle stiffness, muscle fasiculations, rapid heart rates, depression, and colic may be seen.

Causes

In the exhausted horse thumps is related to a condition of the blood called metabolic alkalosis. The blood?s ph. has become too alkaline. The sequence of events is:

excessive sweating

loss of electrolytes sodium, potassium, chloride, and to a lesser amount magnesium and calcium

the low chloride results in a build up of bicarbonate (an alkali)

the increase of bicarb makes the blood alkaline

the alkaline blood lowers the available calcium

the low calcium results in sensitization of the nervous system

the phrenic nerve (close to the heart) depolarizes when the heart beats the phrenic nerve makes the diaphragm jump

It may also be seen in hypocalcemic conditions like during heavy milk making (lactation). In the lactating mare, calcium loss through milk production exceeds intake and resorption from bone. Usually this occurs in the first or second week of lactation but may be as late as six months.

Other causes of thumps is:

diarrhea

transport stress

blister beetle toxicosis

oxalate toxicity

and rarely hypoparathyroidism

Treatment

Mild Exhaustion

If the horse is still interested in food and water and only a little tired usually cooling out the horse and allowing proper access to water and food will correct the problem. Calcium rich legumes are a good choice if the horses digestive system is use to them.

For more information on exhausted horses.

Severe Exhaustion and Other Causes

If the horse has severe electrolyte abnormalities and dehydration he will be depressed, not interested in food, and though obviously in need of water will not drink. He may also be over heated, so needs to have his temperature taken. Horses in this severe condition are at risk of shock and death and need the support of large amounts of balanced IV fluids. Correction of fluid and electrolyte balances is essential. If electrolyte concentrations are not available, 100 to 300 mls of 20% calcium gluconate per 1000 lbs can be given slow IV till the thumps resolve. Also IV preparations used to treat milk fever in cattle, containing calcium, magnesium, and glucose, can be used.

Monitoring During Treatment is Important

It is important that while administering calcium rich fluids that the heart is monitored by auscultation. Increase volume of heart sounds is a good indiction of a favorable response as is urination. Increased heart rate or arrhythmias developing are a sign treatment should be immediately discontinued as a fatal hypercalcemia can occur.

Prevention

Better conditioning is certainly the first step to prevention. Supplementing electrolytes daily actually weakens the systems ability to retain them. Electrolyte supplementation should be reserved for times of maximal stress. Start about 12 hours before the riding is to begin, then continue until two days after the ride is done.

Just like the other electrolytes regular calcium supplementation weakens the body?s ability to conserve and mobilize calcium. Horses prone to this problem should, paradoxically, be on a low-normal calcium diet during non-stressful periods. This translates into no leguminous pasture, hay, or feed. This would include clover and alfalfa products. Then during the times of exercise, lactation, or stress the calcium in the diet should be boosted, but only during the stressful periods. A good way to do this is with alfalfa pellets or cubes substituting for about one third the concentrate portions of the diet. If it has been awhile since the horse has seen alfalfa, you need to spend a few days introducing it to the horse.

You may have to teach your horse to drink water away from home. In an attempt to teach your horse to eat on the trail when you stop to water have a quart of molasses based sweet feed with three level tablespoons of a 50/50 mixture of table salt and Lite salt (available at the grocery store for low sodium diets) shaken in with it. While the others drink, feed your horse the food and salt. It may stimulate drinking. Also a pasture with a stream in it as the only source of water encourages horses to remember that they can drink from it.
 

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