Weanlings require sufficient protein, energy, and balanced minerals to support proper skeletal and soft tissue development as they grow.
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
True or false: Weanlings, which are growing like weeds as they begin their transition from foal to adult horse, need high-carbohydrate grain-based concentrates and restricted protein to avoid developmental orthopedic disease (DOD) and support speedy growth rates.
False! In fact, high carbohydrate diets in young, growing horses could contribute to DOD, whereas protein does not. Young horses expected to mature at 500 to 600 kilograms (1,000-1,200 pounds) gain up to1.0 kilogram (2.2 pounds) per day in the first year of life, which makes careful nutritional balance critical for healthy growth.
Sarah Ralston, VMD, PhD, Dipl. ACVN, of the Department of Animal Sciences at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick, separated fact from fiction pertaining to growing weanlings’ dietary needs in her presentation at the 2016 American Association of Equine Practitioners Convention, held Dec. 3-7 in Orlando, Florida.
Weanlings require sufficient protein, energy, and balanced minerals to support proper skeletal and soft tissue development as they grow. The faster the growth rate, the more critical nutritional balance becomes. In the past, excess protein was thought to cause DOD, but it turns out that high protein does not actually cause of abnormal growth. Rations with high levels of carbohydrates and improperly balanced minerals are the more likely culprit, said Ralston.
In fact, researchers revealed in repeated studies that low-carbohydrate, forage-based rations containing little to no carbohydrate-rich grains were more efficient for rapidly growing weanlings than traditional high-grain rations, when both were balanced for mineral content. So Ralston conducted a study from 2004 to 2008 in which she compared rapidly growing draft-crossbred weanlings with free access to forage-based, total mixed ration (TMR) cubes to those consuming a traditional 50/50 forage/grain concentrate ration in recommended amounts
Across all years, protein content ranged from 11% to 18% and was consistently slightly higher in the TMR rations. The high-grain rations’ nonstructural carbohydrate content (NSC, starch and sugar) was from15.5 to 20%, whereas the TMR rations’ was less than 16%, dipping as low as 6.5% in the last year. Other nutrient concentrations were similar between the two rations. The TMR weanlings had higher average daily gains across all five years compared to the high-grain-fed weanlings, which gained weight at the predicted rate. There were no differences in the incidence of DOD between the groups in any of the years, and the researchers observed only very mild DOD in both groups.
A low-carbohydrate, forage-based TMR ration fed free choice to weanling draft-cross horses supported rapid growth rates at or above National Research Council predictions without harmful DOD. All-forage rations that are properly balanced for protein and mineral content are a viable option for growing weanlings, said Ralston.
About the Author
Nettie Liburt, MS, PhD, PAS, is an equine nutritionist based in Long Island, New York. She is a graduate of Rutgers University, where she studied equine exercise physiology and nutrition. Liburt worked for a commercial feed company for nearly four years and currently runs Liburt Equine Nutrition as an independent consultant.
- GOLDEN STATE GOLDEN AT ECLIPSE AWARDS
- CAL-BREDS VIE FOR $1 MILLION ON SATURDAY
- CHAMP FINEST CITY EYES GRASSY BUENA VISTA
GOLDEN STATE GLITTERS AT ECLIPSE AWARDS
The Golden State was never more golden than it was Saturday night, after seven horses that call California home won eight Eclipse Awards as best in their divisions for 2016.
Heading the list was California Chrome, who was named Horse of the Year and champion Older Male. It was only the second time any horse managed to win multiple Horse of the Year titles in non-consecutive years. Chrome, who also won the honor in 2014, thus joined legendary John Henry, winner in 1981 and 1984.
Other California-based champions were Champagne Room, two-year-old female; Arrogate, three-year-old male; Songbird, three-year-old female; Beholder, older female; Drefong, male sprinter; and Finest City, female sprinter.
“It just goes to show you how tough it is out here in California,” said Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, who conditions Arrogate and Drefong.
“We have really good horses and everybody buys fast horses. I appreciated that I did get 20-some votes (actually 21, good for second to runaway winner Chad Brown with 208) for (outstanding) trainer, which is pretty good.
“I used to get five votes, and Jill (his wife) told me five years ago the only way I could win again was to part the Red Sea or win the Triple Crown, and she was right.”
Baffert, who braved wet, wintry conditions Sunday morning at Clockers’ Corner, did the latter in 2015, masterminding Horse of the Year American Pharoah to a Triple Crown sweep, the first in 37 years.
Arrogate was a finalist for Horse of the Year along with Chrome, but finished a distant second, 202 to 40. Arrogate was, however, named champion three-year-old male with 243 of the 248 votes, far outdistancing finalists Nyquist (two), who won the Kentucky Derby, and Exaggerator (also two), winner of the Santa Anita Derby and the Preakness Stakes.
“It takes a superior performance to beat a Kentucky Derby winner like Nyquist, who was undefeated going into the race,” Baffert said. “A horse has to do something special.”
Arrogate assuredly did that, winning the Grade I Travers by 13 ½ lengths in track record time and defeating California Chrome in a memorable Breeders’ Cup Classic, giving Baffert an unprecedented third straight win in the marquee World Championship event.
“We work very hard to compete at the top level, win big races and championships; that’s always our goal,” Baffert said. “I’m proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished.
“We were hoping for Horse of the Year but I guess we came to the party too late.”
Meanwhile, Baffert plans to ship Arrogate Tuesday from Santa Anita to Gulfstream Park for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational and a highly anticipated rematch with California Chrome, who was overtaken in deep stretch by Arrogate in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 5, falling a half-length short of victory.
“I’m happy we got that work into him yesterday but we’ve still got a lot of hurdles to overcome,” Baffert said. “We’ve got to ship, he’s got to stay healthy, he’s got to draw well; that will be crucial as well as the break.
“But work-wise, we got all we wanted, so we’re going in treating it like another race.”
ENOLA GRAY SET FOR SUNSHINE MILLIONS RACE
Enola Gray, undefeated in her only start on Santa Anita’s downhill turf course, is set to explode next Saturday in the $150,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf Sprint at about 6 ½ furlongs over the same venue.
“I think she likes the hill,” said Phil D’Amato, who trains the four-year-old Grazen filly for owner/breeder Nick Alexander. “She’s one for one on it; hopefully she’ll make it two for two.”
Enola Gray won the California Distaff Handicap at about 6 ½ furlongs on turf Oct. 15.
She worked five furlongs Saturday between races on a fast main track in 59.60.
The Filly & Mare Turf Sprint is one of five stakes Saturday in the Golden State Series for California-bred or sired horses, offering a total of $1 million in purse money.
The others are the $150,000 Donald Valpredo California Cup Sprint; the $200,000 California Oaks; the $250,000 California Cup Derby; and the $250,000 California Cup Turf Classic presented by City National Bank.
FINISH LINES: Trainer Ian Kruljac said Sunday morning that Eclipse Award female sprint champion Finest City, winner of Saturday’s Grade II Santa Monica Stakes at seven furlongs on a wet/fast track in her five-year-old debut, could make her next start on grass in the Grade II Buena Vista Stakes at one mile on Feb. 18 . . . Santa Anita is dark for live racing Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Live action resumes Thursday at 1 p.m. Admission gates open at 11 a.m.
“Chrome,” who began his 2016 campaign for trainer Art Sherman with an authoritative victory in Santa Anita’s Grade II San Pasqual Stakes on Jan. 9, would go on to win six consecutive races, including the Grade I Awesome Again Stakes here on Oct. 1, before running second by a half length to Arrogate in the $6 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita Nov. 5.
A winner of the 2014 Santa Anita and Kentucky Derbies, California Chrome is tentatively scheduled to retire to stud at co-owner Taylor Made Farms in Kentucky following next Saturday’s $12 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational at Gulfstream.
Bob Baffert’s Santa Anita-based Arrogate, who followed his record-shattering win in the Grade I Travers Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 27 with his Breeders’ Cup Classic victory over California Chrome in only his sixth career start, was voted Eclipse Champion 3-year-old Male.
Owned by Juddmonte Farms, Arrogate, who completed his final work in preparation for a rematch with California Chrome yesterday morning at Santa Anita, was a perfect three for three at The Great Race Place in 2016, beginning with his maiden special weight win on June 5.
In addition to Arrogate, Baffert also tasted Eclipse victory with Drefong, who was voted Eclipse Champion Male Sprinter. Unbeaten in three starts here last year, Drefong capped his championship season with a 1 ¼ length win in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint Nov. 5.
“It just goes to show you how tough it is out here in California,” said Baffert this morning from Clockers’ Corner. “We work very hard to compete at the top level, win big races and championships…that’s always our goal. I’m proud of our team and what we’ve accomplished.”
In a masterstroke that has been commonplace throughout his incredible Hall of Fame career, trainer Richard Mandella oversaw Santa Anita-based Beholder’s fifth and final racing campaign, which was culminated by an epic nose victory over previously undefeated Songbird in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff on Nov. 4. That, along with two other graded victories at Santa Anita, enabled the Spendthrift Farm color-bearer to be named Eclipse Champion Older Dirt Female–making her a four-time Eclipse Champion.
Undefeated in seven starts leading into the Distaff, Santa Anita-based Songbird began 2016 by streaking to four consecutive victories; in the Grade II Las Virgenes on Feb. 6, the Grade III Santa Ysabel on March 5, the Grade I Santa Anita Oaks on April 9 and the Grade II Summertime Oaks on June 18, by a combined 20 ½ lengths.
Owned by Rick Porter’s Fox Hill Farms and trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, Songbird’s nose defeat to Beholder in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff will no doubt go down as one of the greatest Distaffs of all-time, rivaling the 1989 showdown between Personal Ensign and Winning Colors.
In what trainer Ian Kruljac, 28, described as “a once-in-a-lifetime day,” his prized filly, Finest City, won yesterday’s Grade II Santa Monica Stakes, while Kruljac’s father, Eric, was on-hand at Gulfstream to pinch hit for his son and receive Finest City’s Eclipse Award as Champion Female Sprinter.
Based throughout the year at Santa Anita, Finest City, a 4-year-old filly by City Zip, capped 2016 with a three quarter length victory in the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint here on Nov. 5. Owned by Seltzer Thoroughbreds, Finest City was 8-2-2-2 on the year and she amassed annual earnings of $823,200.
Like Kruljac, trainer Peter Eurton brought home his first Eclipse Award last night as well, as his Champagne Room was voted Champion 2-year-old Filly. Based at Santa Anita, the Kentucky-bred daughter of Broken Vow broke her maiden in the Grade II Sorrento Stakes Aug. 6 at Del Mar and culminated her freshman season with an upset win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies here Nov. 5. Owned by Ciaglia, Exline-Border, Gulliver Racing, R. Christiansen and Sharon Alesia, Champagne Room ended 2016 with a 5-2-1-1 mark and earnings of $1,286,600.
In addition to eight equine Eclipse Awards, Santa Anita-based Baffert and jockey Mike Smith were also finalists in their respective categories.
Suffice to say, Santa Anita was The Great Race Place to be in 2016!
|January 26 – Santa Anita|
|Sally Simpson||Wgt-122||Race 2||Maiden Special Weight|
|Princess Leia||Wgt-123||Race 4||Starter Optional Claiming $32,000|
|January 27 – Santa Anita|
|Upper Mesa Falls||Wgt-123||Race 8||Maiden Claiming $30,000|
|January 22 – Golden Gate|
|Just Kidding finished 8th beaten 12 1/4 lengths||Race 8|
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/The Horse
Do you give your foals probiotics to prevent diarrhea? New research suggests that perhaps you shouldn’t. It appears that the substance meant to put a halt to diarrhea isn’t stopping it and, in fact, might even encourage it.
Designed to enhance the body’s defense, probiotics can produce antimicrobial compounds that target intestinal pathogens and their toxins. In theory, and even in in vitro (laboratory dish) tests, the concept seems to work. However, results from a new study by scientists in Switzerland suggest that in the living foal, the probiotic’s effects are disappointing.
“Our results are a bit frightening, particularly because probiotics are often given under the assumption that ‘even if they don’t work, they won’t cause any harm,’” said Angelika Schoster, DrMedVet, DVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, ECEIM, senior clinical lecturer at the University of Zurich’s Vetsuisse Faculty in the Clinic for Equine Internal Medicine, in Zurich.
However, that doesn’t mean all probiotics are ineffective, Schoster added. “There are some studies where the product used did not cause a negative effect,” she said. “But ours did. What this means is that every product has to be tested.”
Currently, many of the over-the-counter probiotics on the equine market have not been tested in clinical trials, she said.
Owners should choose over-the-counter probiotics with caution, said Angelika Schoster, DrMedVet, DVSc, PhD, Dipl. ACVIM, ECEIM, a senior clinical lecturer at the University of Zurich’s Vetsuisse Faculty in the Clinic for Equine Internal Medicine, in Switzerland.
Not only have most of these products not been tested in a clinical setting, but many of them also lack the composition that their packages claim.
“Several studies have been performed where over-the-counter products (for humans and for animals) were bought and evaluated for their content,” she said. “Only two out of the 13 products contained the specified organisms at the concentration indicated on the label. Some products did not contain the organisms at all or were missing some of them. Some products contained more or less than the specified amount, with the amounts ranging from 0-215% of the claimed amounts.”
Schoster said she cannot currently recommend the use of over-the counter probiotics unless the products have been quality tested (for what they contain and how much of it) and subjected to safety testing in a clinical trial.
Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA
In their study, Schoster and her fellow researchers investigated the efficacy of a probiotic they designed based on promising in vitro study results. The scientists selected the specific bacteria strains—which, based on the preliminary results, should have been even more potent and effective in preventing diarrhea than currently available probiotic products, she said.
They followed 72 weanling foals—mostly Thoroughbreds—over a four-week period at several different Canadian breeding farms. For the first three weeks, half the foals received the specially designed probiotic, while the other half received a placebo (an identical-looking product but with no active ingredients). While the scientists kept track of which foal received which product package, the foals’ handlers were unaware of which product they were giving to each foal. Twice-weekly fecal analyses provided useful data about the microbiota (the whole “community” of microorganisms in a certain environment) of the horses’ intestines.
The researchers found that 41 of the 72 foals (59%) developed diarrhea during the study period. While the treated foals and untreated foals had about the same rate of diarrhea, it was the treated foals who were more likely to need veterinary intervention for their bouts of diarrhea, Schoster said.
“We were fairly surprised about the negative impact,” she told The Horse. “We were hoping for a positive effect of the probiotic; however, given results from other studies, a lack of effect would not have been unexpected.” Several previous studies have shown poor levels of efficacy in other strains of probiotics for preventing diarrhea.
Furthermore, fecal samples showed disappointingly little effect of the probiotic on Clostridia (such as C. difficile or C. perfringens), organisms that can cause diarrhea in foals, she added. “We thought we would see more impact on Clostridial shedding, as the strains we chose were selected based on their ability to inhibit selected Clostridia,” she said.
“It is likely that we need to move away from the current practice of using probiotics which contain one or a few strains of bacteria,” Schoster said. “The future likely lies in products containing many bacterial strains, or even complete fecal bacterial transplantations.”
In the meantime, letting nature take its own course might be best. “Foals are very smart and usually consume mare’s feces through the first weeks of life,” she said. “This aids in colonizing the gastrointestinal tract with ‘good bacteria,’ and foals should certainly not be prevented from consuming the mare’s feces. Maybe we can use this practice therapeutically in the future. However, scientific studies are needed before recommending this practice to the breeder or veterinarian.”
The study, “Effect of a probiotic on prevention of diarrhea and Clostridium difficile and Clostridium perfringens shedding in foals,” was published in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine.
About the Author
Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor’s in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.