No grass - But why?


Sheri and Peaches
 

I hear the "no grass" rule, but I need more convincing.  Please consider my pasture analysis, summarized below (posted at Pasture-Results)

Peaches' insulin and glucose were normal with 6 hours/day pasture, plus soaked hay morning and night, until AFTER she spent 12 months on dry lot in solidarity with her PPID companion.  With Pumpkin passed on, Peaches would love to spend more time on pasture, but now she's IR.  I have tested the pasture twice, as follows: 

Dec 2020:  Protein 6.0%, ESC 5.5%, Starch 0.1%, Potassium 0.52%, Iron 0.82 ppm.  The Winter results (not dormant) were so much better than I expected, that I asked Dairy One to run the test a second time to confirm.

June 2021:  On a sunny day at 2:00 p.m., the Summer results were even better:  Protein 4.2%, ESC 2.4%, Starch 0.9%, Potassium 0.62%, Iron 0.55 ppm.  Grass samples were frozen a couple days, then shipped overnight with ice packs for both tests.

In contrast, my alfalfa/grass mix hay before soaking:  Protein 14.2%, ESC 6.3%, Starch 0.6%, Potassium 2.67%, Iron 256ppm (dirty hay).

I am compulsive about pasture turnout consistent with safergrass.org*, and I mow the pastures every two weeks.  In light of the analysis results, how can pasture grass be worse for Peaches than soaked hay?   Is it just an issue of volume consumed?

Thank you for considering my questions.

------------------------
Link to Case-History
In October 2019, her results were normal with 6 hours pasture/day: 
     Insulin (Normal) 31 uU/mL  (0-42, on hay <50),
     Glucose (Normal) 97 Mg/dL  (70-120);
     ACTH (Normal) 26 Pg/mL  (<100). 

After one year of dry lot, her results were IR in October 2020: 
     Insulin (High) 89 uU/mL  (0-42, on hay <50),
     Glucose (Normal) 113 Mg/dL (70-120);
     ACTH (Normal)  13 Pg/mL(<100).
------------------------

 * -- My pasture management includes morning turnout; shortened time after sunny days; mindful of drought stress; nightly monitoring of overnight temperatures and reduced time in Fall; stop all turnout when below 45 F; gradually reintroduce for winter; reduce time in Spring and then reintroduce starting at 15 minutes per day; etc. 

--
Sheri P in IL 2021
Peaches Case History & files:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Sheri%20and%20Peaches


Sherry Morse
 

Hi Sheri,

It sounds like you think that being in a dry lot caused Peaches to develop IR, is that a wrong assumption on my part?  If she's currently in a regular exercise program and still too fat I would look at modifying her diet to remove all alfalfa and oats and see if tighter diet control has an effect on her weight as well as increasing her exercise. I would not be taking a chance with letting her out on pasture until she had achieved her ideal weight as many IR horses will start to get sore with even a little bit of grass access.





Sheri and Peaches
 

Thank you for your response, Sherry.  So, why would grass cause laminitis, in light of those test results?  Strictly by the numbers, Peaches should be on grass 24/7 instead of soaked hay.

I admit that I am frustrated that Peaches developed IR despite management already being in practice.  But, Peaches always has been an easy keeper, so it was just a matter of time.  Fortunately, she is still sound.  Increased exercise, Thyrol-L and Metformin have had no effect on Peaches' weight or insulin. The grass hay that I purchased tested higher ESC + Starch than the alfalfa-grass mix that we've been feeding.  I even started using an App tracker, because her vets found it hard to believe that she was being exercised and not losing weight.  Now, we're starting Steglatro, hoping to head off the otherwise inevitable laminitis.  I understand the current thinking for controlling IR, but are we right?  In light of those pasture test results, why is pasture bad? 
 


--
Sheri P in IL 2021
Peaches Case History & files:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Sheri%20and%20Peaches


Nancy C
 
Edited

Hi Sheri

Comments based on personal experience and learning from others here:

Based on your numbers and time of testing, Your higher insulin 10.2020 could have been driven by seasonal rise of ACTH or even colder temps.  Ambient temps under 50 degrees can have an effect on insulin.

I may be misreading something, but your 10.2019 insulin shows to me as EMS at baseline. Reading it as "normal" is a common problem in the vet community. You may have already seen the EMS calculator but just in case, please have a look.

Here are a few articles links and on why ECIR differs in interpretation of "normal", based on member experience and research:

https://ecir.groups.io/g/main/message/247157

From Dr Kellon: For horses eating pasture only, upper insulin nonfasting is 12 https://ecir.groups.io/g/main/files/Blood%20Testing%20for%20IR%20and%20PPID/IR%20PONY%20FIELD%20STUDY.pdf

This research is a pivotal piece, worth reading and sharing with your equine pros.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1090023317302290?via%3Dihub

And why lab reference ranges are not normal. https://www.ecirhorse.org/FastingInsulin-LabRefRanges.php

Managing pasture intake with correct weight, time of day and exercise, is what many have have done, including myself, for very severe hyperinsulinemia. You October insulin is reaching the level of inducing laminitis, and you are right to be worried.

Testing pasture grass for ESC is unreliable.  Time of day, time of growing year, temps can all have an impact. Not sure how Katy is advising how you send in samples as I've not been to her site in years.  I am not aware of new studies on testing pasture (I can be educated) but unless the sample was flash frozen, you will not have the real numbers of sugar in the grass in your field. There is more here:  https://drkhorsesense.wordpress.com/2020/06/20/grazing-the-metabolic-horse/

I agree with Sherry. Based on your case history, you have a complicated intake regimen for Peaches. ECIR has found that taking horses off all pasture until insulin is in a safer range and managing the diet based on forage reduces insulin. You want to feed an amount to achieve her desired weight, and balanced for mineral excess and deficiency. For horses still in danger after diet adjustments, new drugs are now available. We are finding here daily that they are not a replacement for the correct diet, and present their own diet management rules. If you need more input, here's a link to the films, one of which is dedicated to diet.  https://www.ecirhorse.org/video.php

The best news is that you can keep her moving. Many cannot and that complicates things. As a side note, two hours of the NO Laminitis! Conference will be dedicated to exercise and glucose/insulin metabolism.

Throwing a lot at you with what may be a different management approach. It can time to digest. Thanks for reading.

--
Nancy C in NH
ECIR Moderator 2003
ECIR Group Inc. President/Treasurer  2020-2021
Join us at the 2021 NO Laminitis! Conference, August 13-15, ECIR Virtual Conference Room


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

On Sat, Jul 24, 2021 at 07:37 PM, Sheri and Peaches wrote:
Dec 2020:  Protein 6.0%, ESC 5.5%, Starch 0.1%, Potassium 0.52%, Iron 0.82 ppm.  The Winter results (not dormant) were so much better than I expected, that I asked Dairy One to run the test a second time to confirm.

June 2021:  On a sunny day at 2:00 p.m., the Summer results were even better:  Protein 4.2%, ESC 2.4%, Starch 0.9%, Potassium 0.62%, Iron 0.55 ppm.  Grass samples were frozen a couple days, then shipped overnight with ice packs for both tests.
Nancy already did a good job of explaining why pasture analyses cannot accurately predict all exposures. Also, for the numbers above, are these as fed or dry matter? What was the moisture level in the samples. How were they handled after you collected them?
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

I found your actual analyses. You are comparing apples to oranges. To compare to your hay you have to use the dry matter numbers because moisture levels are very different in the grass samples. Your hay is only 7.7 S+S dry matter and the pasture much higher, especially the winter, as expected since a June grass growth has probably reached full maturity and dropped its seed.

You're playing with a loaded gun.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

P.S. If she is still overweight despite exercise, she is being overfed.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Kirsten Rasmussen
 

Hi Sheri,

Thank you for asking those questions.  Everyone benefits here by reading them and the responses because obviously there's nothing some of us still want more for our horses (aside from keeping them healthy and sound) than to let them live on pasture.  We have to remember that pasture is not natural and the relatively small, enclosed, well-managed, predator-free pastures of improved grass strains are not what our horses' ancestors evolved on.  Nor can we keep our horses moving all day, every day, on the search for food, water, salt, etc.

There is a sweet spot after exercise for 1-2 hours where EMS horses can safely have pasture.  BUT, the exercise needs to be 'real' exercise (minimum 30 min brisk trotting, more if the horse is fit).  This is not something I would attempt before my horse was at a healthy insulin level (ie, <20 uIU/ml, but ideally <12 uIY/ml) and a healthy weight (BCS 4.5-5), and of course sound.  I'm really looking forward to hearing the new research on this at the No Laminitis conference because I'd love to give my horse an hour of grazing after exercise one day...

--
Kirsten and Shaku (IR) - 2019
Kitimat, BC, Canada
ECIR Group Moderator
 
Shaku's Case History
Shaku's Photo Album


Sheri and Peaches
 

The dry analysis numbers make so much more sense.  That should have been obvious, but I was so surprised and confused by the results (while reading the wrong column) that Equi-Analytical even re-tested the Winter grass to confirm.  Thank you for taking the time to help me!
--
Sheri P in IL 2021
Peaches Case History & files:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Sheri%20and%20Peaches


Sheri and Peaches
 

Compiling Peaches' photos over the last three years was an eye-opening process.  I'm feeding her to death.  Hanging scale for weighing hay arrived today. 
--
Sheri P in IL 2021
Peaches Case History & files:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Sheri%20and%20Peaches


Cindy Giovanetti
 

One more thought on this; and, Sheri, I feel your pain.  I wanted so badly to prevent laminitis through strip grazing long-stem native grass; but it didn’t work. 

 

I do think the problem is that we can’t control the intake quantity.  I think some horses, given hours of exposure to pasture, eat three or four times more grass than they need, and they can do this very quickly. 

 

Obviously most horses do fine on grass, but our EMS horses don’t manage their intake, and their systems can’t manage the quantity they consume.

 

What I think would be an interesting study is if somehow somebody could hand graze EMS horses so that they took in exactly 1.5-2  percent of their body weight in long-stem, shaded, native grass, (in  small, frequent meals)  and measure the effect of that on their insulin.

 

Of course that sort of study would never happen.  But I would be so interested in the results.

 

Cindy


--
Cindy, Oden, and Eeyore, North Texas
On ECIR protocol since 2/19
https://www.facebook.com/LifeWithOden/
History: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Cindy%20and%20Oden
Photos:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=91125


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 
Edited

What I think would be an interesting study is if somehow somebody could hand graze EMS horses so that they took in exactly 1.5-2  percent of their body weight in long-stem, shaded, native grass, (in  small, frequent meals)  and measure the effect of that on their insulin.

= = = =

 

Cindy,

 

To give you an idea of how much they can eat when they only have limited access to pasture, in this study https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0737080615005845 unmuzzled ponies ate 1% of their body weight in dry matter in just three hours. If your target is 2% of body weight, it would take only 6 hours per day of grazing to meet requirements. If the goal is 1.5%, that's 4.5 hours of grazing. This is much more restrictive than hay in slow feeder nets. In that same study, a grazing muzzle reduced intake by 78%, which would increase the time allowed to 20.5 to 27 hours. The muzzle was a Shire's Equestrian which is very similar to Best Friends and it was replaced if wear resulted in the hole on the bottom enlarging.

 

The other thing to consider is that grass always has higher sugar and starch than the hay made from it. The “native grass” craze has not worked out because all grass needs sugar to survive and grow. Even if you can replicate the types of grasses available to feral horses, unless you are providing a 200 square mile range and 15 to 20 miles of daily exercise, it's just not the same thing.


--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

Sheri,

I should mention your hay is high calorie compared to the average. If her idea weight is truly 1100 pounds, which actually sounds too high for a horse that is only 14.3 hands, she would need between 18 and 20 pounds of hay + pellets. Subtract 2 pounds from that for every pound of oats you feed on working days.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Sheri and Peaches
 

Peaches has been getting one cup of Oats only temporarily to increase her Fibrobacter and Paludobacter, which are quite low.  Of interesting note is that her Equibiome results were consistent with an EMS horse.

After weighing hay this morning, I think that Peaches' weight consumption has been around 20 pounds.  But, Peaches leaves a lot of rejected hay, which I then take out and replace with fresh.  So she picks out only the best, tasty parts (alfalfa), rejects the nasty stuff (grass), and then waits for more.  


Sheri P in IL 2021
Peaches Case History & files:  https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Sheri%20and%20Peaches


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 
Edited

If the oats hadn't been timed to only immediately after work you need to stop them right away.  You can replace it with a few tablespoons of oat bran if you like but there is no reason to think there are changes specific to oats. The bran is all that would make it back to the hind gut.

There is very little legitimate published literature on the intestinal microbiome in metabolic horses and most of it is with obese horses which are not necessarily metabolic. There is no published research that supports the claims and recommendations/supplements from Equibiome.

You need to stop letting Peaches dictate what she will eat. Weigh her hay and that's it for the day. Don't take out the grass. Leave it.
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


Maxine McArthur
 

On Tue, Jul 27, 2021 at 05:33 AM, Sheri and Peaches wrote:
So she picks out only the best, tasty parts (alfalfa), rejects the nasty stuff (grass), and then waits for more.  

Sheri, do you feed hay in nets? I’ve found that the 4cm nets have large enough holes not to frustrate my horses, but reduces wastage greatly. If you have a mat or tub under the net, it catches any dropped hay, which you can put back into the next day’s net. I also found that if the hay contains alfalfa or clover, they will pick through it, but if I feed a fairly homogeneous hay like teff or Rhodes, they will resignedly eat the whole lot. IME, if they leave hay, they’re not hungry, and I can either reduce the amount I put out or reduce their bucket feed. Even limited grazing (not recommended in Peaches’ case) can significantly reduce their hay intake. 

I have hand-grazed Indy, whose grazing works on the conveyer-belt principle, and counted her personal best of 33 bites before pausing. I can well believe she would consume 2% of body weight in a couple of hours! 
 
--
Maxine and Indy (PPID) and Dangles (PPID)

Canberra, Australia 2010
ECIR Primary Response

https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Maxine%20and%20Indy%20and%20Dangles 
https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/album?id=933

 


Eleanor Kellon, VMD
 

On Mon, Jul 26, 2021 at 04:31 PM, Maxine McArthur wrote:
I can well believe she would consume 2% of body weight in a couple of hours! 
And remember that was 2% of bodyweight in dry matter so for a  grass with say 75% moisture that's actually 8% of body weight in grass or 40 pounds for a 500 kg horse!
 
--
Eleanor in PA

www.drkellon.com 
EC Owner 2001


celestinefarm
 

Hi Sheri,
Merriewold Morgans has had photos and an article on their website for years about how to weigh hay. If you click on the photos, they will enlarge.  Those of us with Morgans know the constant battle to reduce fat and weight on our horses, as they were not bred to stand around and eat all day. You can substitute the hay net for the laundry baskets Jacqueline uses in her set up. I use my scale a lot as it is amazing how your eyes get used to a hay net size and you think you know what it weighs. I also have a canning scale ( was my grandmothers, probably 70 plus years old) in my feed room that I measure out what I use as carriers, etc. I looked at Peaches photos today , from 2017 to now. She is definitely well overweight. At 14.3, she should likely be weighing somewhere around 950 at max, IMO. 
Weighing and Saving Your Hay, by Jackie Brittain | Merriewold News & Horses For Sale (merriewoldmorgans.com)

--
Dawn Wagstaff and Tipperary   

Saline, MI  2003

Tipperary Case History

Juniper Case history: https://ecir.groups.io/g/CaseHistory/files/Dawn%20and%20Juniper/Case%20history%20Juniper.pdf .