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Breeders benefit from expert advice at NZTBA Winter Seminar Series

Almost 200 people enjoyed this year's excellent NZTBA Winter Seminar Series presented last week in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North and Christchurch.

The 2013 Series was free of charge for all attendees, thanks to the generous support of the NZTBA's commercial partners, the BNZ, Dunstan Horsefeeds, Fertco, Magnum Industries & Goldpine, in association with Caledonian Holdings.

Alec Jorgensen (NZ Equine Veterinary Association), Gretel Webber (Dunstan Nutrition) & Dr Peter Pulford (Virbac Animal Health) spoke on important topics requested by breeders: Scoping, X-Rays, Nutrition and Worm Resistance. There have been major developments in all these areas over the past decade and Alec, Gretel and Peter did a fine job of summarising current research, protocols and recommendations.

NZTBA Chief Executive Michael Martin, who attended the Auckland seminar with around 45 members and guests, says, "The Winter Seminar Series was established some years ago to meet the request from our members and other industry participants for practical, expert and up-to-date advice on key aspects of equine management.

"This year's series met that brief perfectly. We're very grateful to our speakers who took time away from their own businesses to share knowledge that is directly applicable to breeding, rearing and selling thoroughbred horses.

"Special thanks also to NZTBA Northern Councillor Vicki Pascoe for her considerable input to the organisation of the Series, and to the Branch Committees for their excellent assistance to the speakers."

PDFs of each speaker's presentation will be posted here as they become available; Key points from each presentation are:

Major causes of problems

  • Traumatic – either one-off injury or repetitive/chronic
  • Developmental – principally OCD, where the transition of cartilage to bone is interrupted.
  • Causes of OCD are Body size, Growth rate, Nutrition, Heredity, Gender, Exercise & Trauma. Precocious, fast-maturing horses are more likely to have OCDs – so we are selectively breeding for them – but we can now treat them much more successfully.
Risk Assessment
More research is needed, but recent Australian study & Alec's own experience indicates that:

  • Middle knee joint problems are most serious because around 70% of racehorse lameness occurs there
  • High Risk does not mean the horse will never race
  • Only about 5% of X-Rayed yearlings are High Risk
  • Low Risk does not mean No Risk
  • Clean X-Rays now do not mean Clean X-Rays forever
  • Changes can occur very quickly especially in the stifle which is late to mature.
Horses intended for yearling sales should be X-rayed in July-August to let lesions develop and allow time for surgery & recovery.

Trends since the introduction of Sale X-Rays

  • Increased forgiveness of faults that are known to be less significant
  • Better appreciation of less common lesions
  • Not all cysts are equal eg pastern cysts are viewed less seriously n
  • Lesions with little or no inflammation are more likely to be forgiven
  • Research indicates that surgeries done between screening & sales (eg removal of front fetlock chips) can improve prices.
Nutritional Issues in Developmental Orthopeadic Disease in young horses
Download PDF of Gretel's full presentation

  • Too many calories & fast growth
    1.5 kg/day is too much
    850g/day is optimal
  • Mineral deficiencies & imbalances
    Calcium, Phosphorus, Copper & Zinc are key minerals
  • High carbohydrate feeds
Pregnant Mares

  • Supplemented feeds are very beneficial in the key final trimester
  • 500 kg mare needs 3kg/day
  • 250g of a concentrate feed is a good alternative for good doers
  • Don't add random minerals – can lead to serious imbalances.
Lactating Mares
Use lucerne chaff or other fibre source to bulk out the concentrate to 3-6 kg/day

Foals from 3 months

  • Introduce low GI pre-mixed feed with quality protein & correct minerals before weaning
  • Don't start with sweetfeed
  • May look "potty" (because of the higher fibre & fat) but steady growth rate will be maintained
  • 6-12 months is the critical stage: ensure balanced minerals & not too many calories
  • Concentrates recommended for good doers
  • Weaning recommended at 4-6 months.

  • If not going to sale: maintain on weanling feed programme through to 2YO
  • Sale yearlings: 1%-1.5% of body weight in fibre (hay, chaff etc)
  • Use low GI & grain based feeds
  • If overweight: use more fat (blended or Omega-3 oils) and fibre; delay increasing energy intake as long as possible.
Post-auction purchase examination that focuses on the pinch-point of the horse's airway to produce a grade from 1 (best) to 5 (worst).
Major problems include:

  • Laryngeal hemiplegia ('roaring')
  • Rostral displacement of the palatopharyngeal arch
  • Persistent epiglottic entrapment
Important to note:

  • There is considerable variation and gradings can, and do change, slowly or rapidly, in both directions.
  • Grade 3 horses can race; a few Grade 1s will collapse at exercise; most, but not all 4s & 5s will have problems.
  • Foal scoping is very unreliable, but scoping during the yearling prep is advised as some conditions, especially infections, can be successfully treated.
  • Tieback surgery for roarers (cost $3000-$3500) has a 70% success rate for racing, but is best done on 2YOs.
Airway problems are not proven to be hereditary or more prevalent in male or female horses.
However, they may be linked with size, especially longer-necked horses, which are more often colts than fillies.

Recommendation for Sale Yearlings
Scope twice, first in November and again within 14 days of the sale. This allows treatable conditions to be picked up and checked before the sale.

Types of Worms

  • Ascarids (Round Worms) - foals develop resistance by 18 months
  • Threadworms – foals develop resistance by 6 months
  • Pinworms – not serious
  • Large Strongyles - less common now, but can cause serious colic
  • Small Strongyles – now the bigger problem because of anthelmic resistance
  • Tapeworms – long considered benign but now known to increase chances of colic
  • Bots – control by worming late May & repeat in early August
Worm Resistance
The use of drenches eventually creates a drench-resistant worm population as the number of mutations within each population steadily increases.

Active Ingredients

  • Benzimidazoles – used for many years; resistance is beginning to develop
  • Mectins – very effective but resistance is emerging
  • Tetrahydropymidine – little used in NZ until recently

  • Worm Testing – faecal egg count or faecal larval culture (more sensitive test)
  • Reduce exposure by having fewer horses in each paddock
  • Quarantine – to remove parasites from new horses before introducing them to your property
  • Rotate a broad spectrum -azole wormer such as Strategy-T with a –mectin wormer (eg Equimax).


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