Monday, December 15, 2008

My horse is eating silage

OK, not really silage, but it might as well be! Dreamy is now on Lucerne Farms Hi Fiber product, AKA as Hi Fi, AKA Dengie. It is a chopped hay mix of timothy, oat, and alfalfa packed in a 40 pound plastic bag.



Just why am I now feeding this?

Well, the Dream Girl has been diagnosed with COPD/RAO for a few years now. The common name is "heaves" and until 2000 this condition was known as COPD or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Some fancy group of international veterinarians decided to start calling it RAO or recurrent airway obstruction to differentiate this equine respiratory condition from COPD in humans.

So whatever you want to call it, Dreamy basically has allergies. She has a problem breathing and for years I managed her on 24/7 turnout/stall, a product called Wind by Emerald Valley, and soaked hay in above freezing temperatures. For whatever reason, I was always able to switch her to regular old dry hay when the temps. dropped.

But not this year. :(

Dreamy had a mild RAO attack this late summer in August. She has been on Dexamethasone (steroids) and TriHist (antihistamine) before, so this was nothing new. I figured a round of both and we would be back to normal.

Uh, not this time.

You see, I had a lovely load of MOLDY hay in my barn from the even MORE lovely hay guys I now despise. Yes, that is another blog post around here somewhere. Long story short, just having the hay in the barn was causing my horse problems. GRRRRR.....

So we bought new hay (from someone else...), did the round of Dex and TriHist, scratched from an event at the end of that month, and just took it slow for the weeks that led up to the Nationals in NJ. I was bound and determined that I would have her well enough for NJ. I put her on another product from Emerald Valley, which I cannot remember what it was called, but basically it is echinecea. Dreamy seemed to bounce back fine and we went to NJ without a hitch at the end of Sept.

I first started trying to feed un-soaked/dry hay in November. Within 2 days she was coughing. :( I had this gut feeling that after her episode in August, things had gotten worse. Granted so far I have been lucky to manage her with just supplements and wet hay. I just had this nagging feeling that she was no longer going to be 100%.

So without any way to soak hay in the freezing temps., I had to resort to feeding the Dengie. Here is what the Dengie website says:

Horses suffering from respiratory problems and allergies associated with field-dried hay benefit by feeding our forage feeds. The high temperature drying process eliminates harmful mold spores that can lead to respiratory allergies (heaves), resulting in a chronic cough and decreased physical performance ability. Feeding your horse any one of Lucerne Farms high temperature dried forages will help prevent an allergic cough and to help keep his airways clear.

And truthfully, it comes down to about the same price as the hay I bought after the BAD HAY EXPERIENCE, if not cheaper. I spent $4 a bale on the bad hay, and then ended up spending $6 on the new GORGEOUS hay from NY (thanks Justin!!!!) Dengie costs $12 a 40 pound bag, which right now I am feeding out at 10 pounds per day. That ends up at $3 per day, which is actually cheaper than hay. I have a feeling I may have to up the Dengie as it gets colder. It is confusing because the product says to feed it at a rate of 10 lbs. a day and my vet said to feed it on a pound-for-pound ratio. Now I feed 20-22 pounds of regular hay a day, so there is a HUGE difference between feeding 10 lbs. of Dengie and 20 lbs. of it! I consulted with the folks at Lucerne Farms and they recommended feeding it at the 10 lbs. a day rate and adjust as necessary.

So things are OK for now. Dreamy actually likes the Dengie, which is a miracle seeing as she is the Pickiest Horse Ever. The only bad part is that it cuts down on her "chew time" and then she spends time looking around for things to chew on. I need to get her some poplar logs to chew instead of my barn!! Truthfully, I have snuck in a flake of dry hay here and there at lunch, especially when I am home and it is cold. So far, no problems and no coughing. I hope I can go back to soaked hay in the spring, as much as it is a pain in the ass to soak it.

Man, my horses are spoiled! :) Why is no one surprised? ;)

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