There are many reasons why horses and ponies get laminitis
What is is?
Laminitis is where the soft tissue binding the hoof to the bone becomes inflamed. At its worst, laminitis can cause total collapse of the hoof. Inflammation is the first response of the body to damage, and the process isolates the damaged area to allow subsequent healing. Usually the release of healing agents (dependent on the type of damage) are followed by anti-inflammatory agents, and the process is helped by a good blood supply.
Pro-inflammatory factors result from the underlying causes:
- Metabolic conditions such as Cushing's, EMS and insulin resistance interfere with how carbohydrates are digested and this leads to hypoxia or glucose not reaching the cells in the hooves.
- Dietary factors include the over-supply of starch and sugars. If they are not digested in the small intestine, they flood the hindgut where their fermentation disrupts the healthy environment. This disruption destroys the normal fibre fermenters with an increase in sugar fermenters and this has a number of implications.
What are sugar fermenters?
Sugar fermenters generate high amounts of lactic acid, which opens up the hindgut wall enabling absorption of larger molecules, including endotoxins and bacterial degradation products, causing inflammation. Amines, also generated in the disrupted hindgut, cause vaso-constriction resulting in pro-inflammatory factors pooling in areas of lowest blood flow – the hooves.
Therefore, feeding relatively high levels of starch/sugar (starch is merely a long chain of the sugar glucose) can negatively impact on laminitic horses.
Why is Speedi-Beet good for laminitics?
Speedi-Beet, 100% unmolassed beet pulp, contains less than 5% sugar and negligible starch, one of the lowest levels across equine feedstuffs, substantially lower than grass. Its fibre profile contains highly degradable slow release energy and, importantly, generates very low levels of lactic acid and high levels of butyrate. Butyrate “tightens” the gut wall, combatting lactic acid, and so reduces absorption of larger molecules in the hindgut, those toxins and vasoconstrictors that may trigger laminitis.
Feeding high levels of starch or sugar does not necessarily lead to laminitis. As we discover more about the condition, though, the more we realise it is a trigger to those horses who are susceptible. Feeding cereal rich diets has been justified as supplying energy for high levels of activity, but is no longer agreed to be a sensible option. Beet pulp has a high effective degradability, meaning it can rapidly generate slow release energy and so have an energy value equivalent to oats.
Recent work has shown Speedi-Beet has a higher fermentative rate that ordinary beet pulp, and so can readily replace starchy feeds without loss of performance.
These key factors make Speed-Beet suitable for laminitics:
- Low sugars,
- No starch
- It rapidly ferments to provide slow release energy
- It helps maintain normal absorptive processes in the hindgut.
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