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  1. #1
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    Dec. 30, 2008
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    Default Soy and broodmares

    Do any of you worry about feeding soy to your broodmares? In humans it is considered in phytoestrogen - is it the same in horses?

    A breeder friend feeds Progressive and it contains soy. She had a couple of mares that absorbed over the winter and is wondering if the soy in the feed could have any impact.

    Thanks!
    Darcy
    There is a reason that the windshield is larger than the rear view mirror!



  2. #2
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    I have all my horses on a ration balancer that contains soy. I have never had any problems with my broodmares aborting, in fact the one time my mare did abort was after I sent her to PA to foal and she went off my feed and onto whatever that farm feeds. I do not think their feed or lack of my feed caused the abortion but thought I should add it in to my response.



  3. #3
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    I have fed soy based ration balancers since 1998. My mares have excellent production records and I have experienced only good results in them and in the foals' growth and correctness.



  4. #4
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    Like HAF I have fed soy based RBs since they became available and prior to that fed a home mix composed of soybean meal and beet pulp balanced with a mineral supplement.

    I have never had any reproductive issues, but I have had some issues with the horses looking sort of "puffy and edematous", no discrete fat pads but an all over smooth looking edema. I switched from Progressive's Grass Balancer to their Ultimate which has protein sources from other sources rather than just soybean meal, and the edema disappeared.

    In practice, I've seen more issues attributable to clover phytoestrogen than to soy phytoestrogen.

    HTH
    Liz
    Lionwood Irish Draught Horses
    irishdraught.co



  5. #5
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    My problems with feeds containing soy have been with mares who are not in-foal. The problems have been mainly unpredictable cycles and difficulty getting them in foal, etc. I had one filly 12 months of age that started lactating but stopped when I changed her feed (everything else remained the same in her diet and environment to the best of my knowledge.) I've taken my open broodmares off of feeds containing large amounts of soy and cycles became more normal. Hopefully now we can get the mares in foal.

    Soy contains phytoestrogens. Perhaps some horses are more sensitive than others to phytoestrogens. Obviously giving a horse, or any creature, estrogen has the potential to effect their cycles. On the other hand, estrogen during pregnancy probably is not as big of a problem because estrogen increases during pregnancy anyway.

    Are you familiar with any of the over the counter soy-based menopause products? Women in menopause are lacking estrogen. Taking in estrogen from soy products can help alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause that are due to low estrogen. It stands to reason that soy can influence a female horse's reproductive system.
    Altamont Sport Horses
    Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
    Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
    Birmingham, AL



  6. #6
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    I had a false pregnancy last year, complete with bagging up.

    Now, it may have happened anyway, as she was still pregnant at a 45 day check, and I'm not sure when she lost it...

    But I was feeding her my last 90 days protocol, which has always included Calf-Manna or Sunshine Pellets (the blue seal version of CM), which is a soy based protein supplement specifically for just such situations.

    She was big enough for me to believe she was 11 mos pg, and also her udder kept puffing up and going down, uneven teats, etc. So she really had me going.

    Finally, she broke out in hives as the weather finally changed over from cold/wet to normal summerish weather. Thought it was bugs, but it didn't go away. Have seen hives in soy sensitives before, so pulled the Sunshine pellets...

    And within 24 hrs hives were down significantly, gone withint 48, and by then udder was shrunken back to non-pg look and belly was very quickly dissapearing.

    I will now use a combo of alfalfa, barley, corn, and tri-aminos if needed in the last trimester and during nursing. (I already use oats as the mainstay.)

    Having a stallion who can't have soy or alfalfa... and now this, and all the other horses I *personally* know and have TOUCHED with soy issues... I'm just done. Whether it's the mfg or processing, or my own vits/mins or lack thereof in local soil/water/whatever... Soy just doesn't work for me.
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)



  7. #7
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    In practice, I've seen more issues attributable to clover phytoestrogen than to soy phytoestrogen.
    Which has me extrapolating--perhaps the soy is an issue up here because we have clover. Lots of aliske (sp?) and very little else other than plain old grass. Very, very sparse timothy or orchard. It's just GRASS, really. And clover.

    So perhaps, just maybe, it's the RATIO. Because we've got so much clover (in comparison to other areas) the soy puts them over the edge.

    Just thinking out loud

    I'd been thinking more along the lines of the high iron content in our water, complete lack of selenium, and those factors. But it could be as simple as enough clover to not be a problem on it's own--but to be a problem when you ADD another phytoestrogen...
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)



  8. #8
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    Oh boy...I could write a book. I have a breed of horses that are apparently soy sensitive in general. Most of my issues after switching my herd to a soymeal based ration balancer were with open mares developing udders, reactive strange behavior, as well as metabolic issues developing with both genders in a significant number of my horses.

    However one mare that was in foal did have a major problem. I have no proof it was the soy but it was quite weird. First she developed laminitis quite suddenly and with no obvious cause we ever found. Due to a combination of factors, I pulled her (and all my horses) off the Ration Balancer she was on and she quickly got over the laminitis. She only rotated a few degrees and came out of the attack quickly with the feed change.

    As a precaution, my vet took a hormone test on her since she was in foal. The results were startling for a mare at her stage of pregnancy. Her progesterone was VERY low. Certainly stress and illness can cause that but it was so low that the vet was shocked..she said the levels would normally indicate a horse that was in severe discomfort...which was not the case with her. We immediately started her on Regumate and were able to save her pregnancy and discontinued the Regumate when she reached 100 days of pregnancy. She foaled a very large but normal filly this past Spring. Same mare is back in foal living in the same paddock on a different feed and no problems this year.

    I have no idea if the soy had anything to do with her low progesterone levels but I did have a biochemist tell me that there is a similar condition in women called "estrogen suppression" and that person did feel the soy phytoestrogens in the feed could have caused her hormonal imbalance.

    So, to say the least, I don't feed any soy feeds to my horses anymore...I don't care if it's soy meal, soy hulls or soy oil. So far, this past year, they have done much better on alfalfa pellets, a few oats, and a vit/mineral supplement with their grass hay.

    One thing you will find is that there have been NO published studies on the effects of soy in horse feed nor on phytoestrogens. I asked and searched and only found one where they tried to change behavior with adding soy...to see if it had a calmative effect or something. Nothing on metabolic effects, thyroid damage (a well documented problem in humans) or phytoestrogens. I do realize lots of people feed it to their horses with no ill effects (or at least none they attribute to the feed) but I won't go there again. It's not worth it.



  9. #9
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    I'm with Home Again in that I've fed soy-based ration balancers to my broodmares for quite a few years and without any problems.

    Reading some of these responses, I'm wondering what kind of commercially available feed is recommended by the folks that think that soy is the root of all evil in broodmares? Any suggestions?

    Always ready and willing to learn something new....
    Siegi Belz
    www.stalleuropa.com
    2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
    Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.



  10. #10
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    Basically, NO commercial feed on my farm, I had to go back to whole grains, alfalfa and flax, and soy-free vits/mins.

    I am always interested in why some horses react and some don't.

    I wish they would study it.

    I don't think it's evil, and in fact is a pretty darn convinient protein source... but I have two horses who cannot tolerate it myself, and know five others that had 'sweet itch' or 'summer sores' or 'hives' or whatver you want to call it, that cleared up completely for the first time ever when soy was removed.
    InnisFailte Pinto Sporthorses & Coloured Cobs
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Bits are like cats, what's one more? (Petstorejunkie)



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by pintopiaffe View Post
    Basically,

    I don't think it's evil, and in fact is a pretty darn convenient protein source...
    It's also cheap and easily available...thus why it is so common in horse feeds.

    I also don't think you will find any commercially available feed without soy for a broodmare...but that doesn't mean you can't provide excellent nutrition without one. In fact, I feed much as PP does and my horses have never looked better nor been healthier. It's not rocket science. ;-)



  12. #12
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    And if it isn't broken? Sorry, but I've been feeding this for a long, long time to all my horses. My maidens get pregnant. My older mares do, too. My young horses grow up with no problems. In short - no problems, just success. FWIW, that is my story, and I'm sticking to it.



  13. #13
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    I used to make my own soy based rations for my broodies and youngsters and have never had an issue. I took an equine nutrition course in Uni and our prof claimed that soy is super for horses because it is a complete protein AND it is high in limiting amino acids Lysine and Methionine. So it's not just that it's cheap, it's that it is a very high quality protein source (and a good source of fat).
    www.svhanoverians.com

    "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.



  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by pintopiaffe View Post
    Basically, NO commercial feed on my farm, I had to go back to whole grains, alfalfa and flax, and soy-free vits/mins.

    I am always interested in why some horses react and some don't.

    I wish they would study it.

    I don't think it's evil, and in fact is a pretty darn convinient protein source... but I have two horses who cannot tolerate it myself, and know five others that had 'sweet itch' or 'summer sores' or 'hives' or whatver you want to call it, that cleared up completely for the first time ever when soy was removed.
    There is a Professor at Auburn University that is studying the effects of soy protein toxicity. Dr Benson Akingbemi is his name, and I can't wait to see the results. I have had lots of problems with soy, ranging from hormonal problems with my broodmares to reactive problems riding horses, scratches, rainrot, hives, you name it. Once we got rid of soy, we got rid of the problems.



  15. #15
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    Well here's my story. I don't think all soy balancers are evil and if fact I still use them, but I do have horses (all related) who have a definite intolerance to soy. And one of my biggest problems was getting my previous easy breeder in foal. And it was costing me way too much money. Took mare off of all soy and she got in foal first crack in a very cold winter. As a matter of fact could have bred her on Feb 2nd last year but we decided to track her cycles and see how regular she was. Bred her on March 2nd like clockwork.

    What most people don't realize is that it does affect some horses. It's all fine and well to have the motto "if it ain't broke don't fix it" unless you've delt with the many issues surrounding soy intolerance. I'm talking very sore feet, behavoir issues, constantly over weight despite management. And what happens when you go to your vet for advice? More money, an IR diagnosis, more special feeds (with soy) and expensive peroglide and horses on a dry lot for their lives. So by taking soy away from these horses not only is their life much better so is mine. If anyone comes to me crying about how they can't get their mare in foal for yet another year or she's not settling I tell them to take the soy away and see what happens. These are mares that are clean and healthy inside but you get the age old "not settling" excuse. Amazing when they do get in foal relatively easy when trying this diet.

    I still use balancers and for those horses they work perfectly. It's easier for me with so many to feed and I dont' have to worry they aren't getting enough of everything. But I have alternatives which give happy lives to horses which can't handle soy and I am also a better informed person now. A better informed less broke person that is!

    Terri
    COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

    "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.



  16. #16
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    By they way there is a super feed company in Germany that makes balancers and a an amazing range of feeds all soy free. So obvioulsy they wouldn't do that without a reason as it is much cheaper and easier to use soy. I just wish there were more alternatives for soy intolerant horses because I don't actually enjoy making feeds. I want the ease of balancers without the side effects.

    Terri
    COTH, keeping popcorn growers in business for years.

    "I need your grace to remind me to find my own." Snow Patrol-Chasing Cars. This line reminds me why I have horses.



  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Donella View Post
    So it's not just that it's cheap, it's that it is a very high quality protein source (and a good source of fat).
    Did your professor discuss the possible downsides though? The toxins in soy (called antinutrients), phytic acid (which blocks mineral absorption and soy has a lot of it) and the isoflavones...or biologically active phytoestrogens...are present in nearly all soy products. These ingredients of the soybean are not all removed with processing and all processing methods are not as thorough as others.

    For example... a baby on soy formula is getting the equivalent of 5 birth control pills a day with the soy milk. That has been tied to all sorts of problems from obesity in children, thyroid malfunction and allergies to peanuts....and that is "human grade" food...not animal feed.

    There is a reason why the Asians only ate fermented soy products and did not feed it to babies...but we Americans in our industrial processes and desire to find 1001 ways to use a soybean, are processing soy much differently. Much of that protein you all are feeding your horses (or your families) from soy is treated with solvents and comes out of a vat....not really all that wholesome after all that is done to it.

    Soy is toxic without the processing or fermenting...so it's not exactly something a horse or a person could naturally eat safely otherwise.

    Also consider that soy hulls are pretty much just a fiber source. Due to the costs of processing, the soy protein isolate or soy meal is more expensive and does seem to be the part of the soybean most likely to cause trouble for most horses. The ration balancers have a lot more soy meal in them than most feeds which have much more of the hulls for example...and I think that is one reason why the sensitive horses I own had such a strong reaction to it versus any smaller amounts they were exposed to earlier.

    We had a very interesting thread in Horse Care a month or so ago with Dr. Melyni Worth on the various reactions and problems that some horse owners have seen with their horses on soy. It was very enlightening and so nice to finally see someone with her credentials paying attention to what can be a real problem if you have a soy sensitive horse as several of us do.

    I just wanted to add that if you are feeding a soy based feed and your horses are doing fine, that is wonderful. No one is advocating change if you are pleased...but keep an open mind to this if later you do have a horse that develops some of the issues discussed. I think those of us who have been down this very frustrating path would just like to help save other horse owners the mess that we have been through by sharing. Information and knowledge and sharing of it are one reason this forum is here. :-)



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by flyinghorse View Post
    There is a Professor at Auburn University that is studying the effects of soy protein toxicity. Dr Benson Akingbemi is his name, and I can't wait to see the results. I have had lots of problems with soy, ranging from hormonal problems with my broodmares to reactive problems riding horses, scratches, rainrot, hives, you name it. Once we got rid of soy, we got rid of the problems.
    That is great news! Finally someone is studying this!



  19. #19
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    Terry,

    I don't doubt that some horses are allergic or badly effected. However, in my own experience feeding soy based ration balancers has been problem free.



  20. #20
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    I think the take home message is that for some horses, soy is a problem, for some, it isn't.

    IF you are having otherwise unexplained metabolic, reproductive, or behavior issues AND feed a soy based diet, soy sensitivity should be investigated.
    Liz
    Lionwood Irish Draught Horses
    irishdraught.co


    1 members found this post helpful.

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