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Discussion on PASTURE foals on kikuyu/OCD problems

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Natalie Hodges (Npennh)
Posted on Tuesday, May 7, 2002 - 8:27 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

My 10 month old foal who was born with no problems has DOD from being turned out on kikuyu grass. He ate grass/alfalfa hay twice a day and a vitamin mineral supplement.
The kikuyu binds calcium, and I did not feed supplemental calcium.
My one month old foal is starting to buckle a little at the knees. It is a SERIOUS problem for developing horses. Adults have lived on it fine for years here. I have to take an acre of it out, and not turn the yougsters out on it, as well as the "starvation diet" for the 10 month old, and hope he recovers.
Dr. O, do you know anything about the kikuyu/ oxalate/calcium binding problem and how to offset it?
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM (Dro)
Posted on Wednesday, May 8, 2002 - 6:15 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Natalie,
We cover this in the article on Calcium and Phosphorous in the nutrition section.
DrO
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Natalie Hodges (Npennh)
Posted on Saturday, May 11, 2002 - 12:04 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks you Dr. O
I know you mention kikuyu and the oxalate problem in your calcium and phosphorus section, but I am turning the adults and foals out on it 6 hours a day for exercise, and want to know how much extra calcium to feed them on top of their hay? Could you give me an example for a broodmare and foal on straight alfalfa hay (and kikuyu pasture) and adult riding horses on 1/2 alfalfa/1/2 orchard hay(also on kikuyu pasture.)
Should the foals not be on it at all, or is it OK as long as they are supplemented calcium on top of the alfalfa hay? How much per age?
Thank you,
Natalie
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM (Dro)
Posted on Saturday, May 11, 2002 - 9:51 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Without knowing:
1) the amount of oxalate in the grass,
2) how much grass they are eating,
3) the amount of the other constituents in the diet,
4) and what there Ca and P percentages are,
there is no way of answering your question accurately.

I tried to find average amounts of oxalate in kikuyu grass and could find no published amounts and suspect it variable so without testing we will not know. I also was unable to find any reports of horse poisoning on oxalate but did find that kikuyu is borderline deficient in calcium and very high in potassium. I think you have 3 choices if you cannot get them off the kikuyu:
1) Best: I recommend you have the grass tested using procedures given by the lab and see how it compares with the amount recommended in the article. The calculations are a little difficult you and some assumptions will have to be worked with, but if you can provide with with the information above I can help.
2) OK: See what people around you have done for years with a similar situation that have not had known problems, then emultate them.
3) Unknown: Reduce the time on the grass to 4 hours and and switch to a 100% alfalfa diet which will significantly increase the calcium.

However as this last recommendation does not fit into a treatment plan for a contracted tendon, the alfalfa is too rich, let's discuss that. I think this is a good time to point out that it is uncertain (we do not know the amounts) that oxalate binding of calcium or even calcium deficiency is the cause of the flexor contracture you are experiencing. I do think you are right to address this possible problem. However, of more immediate concern is treating the preexisting problems. You should review the rest of your management with a critical eye. Lastly study the article on this problem, Equine Diseases: Foal Diseases: Tendon Laxity and Contracture.
DrO
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Natalie Hodges (Npennh)
Posted on Monday, Jun 3, 2002 - 12:47 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr O, I have been doing above option number three, and see no signs or problems with the now 8 week old foal.
What lab would you recommend do the grass testing?
Also you mention several 25% and up calcium supplements in your title article about calcium/phosphorus, but which of the high calcium supplements are the most digestable and utilized by a horse. I would like to increase the calcium, but feed a 1/2 orchard/1/2 alfalfa hay instead of straight alfalfa to the mare and foal.
Also if the mare is eating a high calcium supplement, will it be in the milk?
I have not been watering or fertilizing the kikuyu grass, and it is mowed short once a week.
It stays green with morning fog alone. This is the place I wanted the grass to be before I test it, to reflect the oxalate content. Thank you,
Natalie Hodges
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM (Dro)
Posted on Monday, Jun 3, 2002 - 7:13 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

I think bone ash or bone meal may be the most utilizable calcium source, but is also the most expensive. The amount of calcium in the milk is high and fairly independent of diet. The University of Kentucky's Livestock Disease Diagnostic Center runs oxylate values and they can be reached at, 1429 Newtown Pike, Lexington, KY 40511, (859) 253-0571.
DrO
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Natalie Hodges
Member
Username: Npennh

Post Number: 16
Registered: 5-2003
Posted on Thursday, Jul 24, 2003 - 7:38 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O I have tested the kikuyu grass for minerals, but forgot about your post which has the lab listed above which checks for oxalate content.I have called the above number, but get no answer or voice mail service . Do they have a web-site, that I could contact instead, and download a forage analysis form? Thank you,
Natalie
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Moderator
Username: Dro

Post Number: 8825
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Jul 25, 2003 - 7:02 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Try University of KY's Livestock Diagnostic Disease Center
DrO
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