Saturday, May 1, 2010
Severe Grass Founder Watch
The National Grass Founder Association has included West Michigan in the high risk area for grass founder. The watch area includes the counties of Muskegon, Ottawa, Allegan, Newaygo and Kent counties. Horse owner should exercise extreme caution when turning horses out on green grass for the next month. The grasses that grow well this time of year (cool weather) have a disproportionately high level of fructans. This is one particular type of sugar that has been linked to causing cases of founder (laminitis). Horses that are overweight, have a ‘cresty’ neck or you can not feel their ribs are at particularly high risk. Any horse that has previously had an episode of laminitis should also be considered high risk. High risk horses should not be turned out on any grass pasture.
Okay, so there really is no such thing as the National Grass Founder Association, but maybe there should be. Laminitis is one of the most devastating diseases that we deal with. This is the time of year that we see a spike in those cases. Be cautious about turning horses out on grass. Any change in feed should be made slowly, but much more so when the feed is lush green grass. Grass pasture is an excellent feed source, just be careful that your horses do not get too much too soon.