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foals not doing well - need input from experienced breeders

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  • foals not doing well - need input from experienced breeders

    A farrier client of mine went to a local auction and came home with a pair of foals in september. They appear to be quarter horse breeding. They looked about 4 months when they brought them home. They are not thriving. They have always been rather too quiet. We got them wormed with a in the water farm waterer - not handleable and not interested in grain, and they passed huge anounts of parasites. Still dull, hairy, pot bellied. One is lame front and back, stands stretched out front and back for about 2 weeks, the second is just starting to do the same. Finally got the vet out (farm type vet, not a horse specialist). Got them into the trailer and used the slants as a chute. Vet said thin but okay, dewormed them and started vaccines got their feet trimmed. Feet look okay, but there is heat and reduced range of motion in the pastern, more so in the lamer one, but also present in the second. Presents like ringbone. Vet is thinking some form of epithysis from low protein and bad ca ratio. Other joints look okay. They are eating about 1/2 lb of 12% sweet feed, a cup of mare and foal growth formula (nutrena - they don't like it) and free choice grass hay. Vet suggested adding alfalfa, and a few days of bute. Vet also said not to worry about deworming again until spring.
    Would xraying the joints give any useful info? I have only seen epipthysis in fetlock and knees in over fed babies? I have always been told to dewom young stock more frequently and with these ones passing as many as they did with the first dose (piperazine)? I am concerned and would like them to call out a vet with experience with young horses, but need to give them a reason to do so.
    thanks for any input

  • #2
    I would deworm again withing a month with a dewormer that has a different active substance.

    I wouldn't think its fare to keep an animal alive who will be in pain for the next twenty-something years of his life. So I would also X-Ray just to see what you are dealing with, and then act from there.

    I know I'm going to have a lot of thumbs down for this, but I think we need to use our heads and not our hearts when dealing with these situations.
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    • #3
      My guess is is the ulcer ridden. I would treat with the good stuff ie gastrogard/ulcergard. They definitely need to be wormed every four weeks with a double dose by weight of an appropriate dewormer.
      McDowell Racing Stables

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      • #4
        My guess is is the ulcer ridden
        They may also have ulcers, and that would leave them apathetic, but it wouldn't make them lame...
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        • #5
          Originally posted by SCMSL View Post
          They may also have ulcers, and that would leave them apathetic, but it wouldn't make them lame...
          Right but I assumed the incorrect diet was being addressed which would correct the physitis but do nothing for the ulcers.
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          • #6
            Well, if there is damage in the bones and cartilages, it may be very hard to correct it, depending on the degree of said damage.

            Thats why I mentioned it would be important to X-Ray them.
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            • #7
              I would definitely worm again a month after the last worming. I also got a new filly at the end of Sept and she was not in the best of shape. I wormed with a single dose of Safeguard, 2wks later a double dose of Pyrantel and a month later with Ivermectin. She is STILL passing quite a few worms so I will keep rotating each month, I would definitely NOT leave yours until spring.
              I would also treat for ulcers (mine is on Omeprazole though showing now signs of ulcers) and make sure they are on a balanced diet. If things didn't resolve in a month or so I would x-ray. They are so young and laying down so much bone that even IF there is a problem it could just resolve/solidify with growing. The young ones have a really good ability to heal themselves. If things get progressively worse even while treating you might have to make a tough decision. But kudos to your friend for trying to help and give them a chance.
              Cindy's Warmbloods
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              • #8
                There is no treatment for physitis except for a proper diet. Assume that is what it is and go from there.
                McDowell Racing Stables

                Home Away From Home

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                • #9
                  This. Foals with such a sketchy history can have multiple problems. I would worm monthly until a year of age (aiming mostly at roundworms which are very much a foal problem), treat for ulcers, get on a feeding program that gives enough protein and high quality minerals and then see how things develop. Mineral imbalances can definitely cause joint problems. If there has not been permanent damage to the cartilage, you may be able to turn things around.

                  Originally posted by Cindy's Warmbloods View Post
                  I would definitely worm again a month after the last worming. I also got a new filly at the end of Sept and she was not in the best of shape. I wormed with a single dose of Safeguard, 2wks later a double dose of Pyrantel and a month later with Ivermectin. She is STILL passing quite a few worms so I will keep rotating each month, I would definitely NOT leave yours until spring.
                  I would also treat for ulcers (mine is on Omeprazole though showing now signs of ulcers) and make sure they are on a balanced diet. If things didn't resolve in a month or so I would x-ray. They are so young and laying down so much bone that even IF there is a problem it could just resolve/solidify with growing. The young ones have a really good ability to heal themselves. If things get progressively worse even while treating you might have to make a tough decision. But kudos to your friend for trying to help and give them a chance.
                  Mary Lou
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                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    I'm glad I am not the only one thought they needed more, I felt uncomfortable second guessing a vet, even if he doesn't do a lot of horses. My own homebreds have always been muscled even if in a ribby growth spurt and lively or according to my husband - obnoxious and seeing these poor things not like that is heart breaking. They are working on alfalfa hay already, extra deworming will be an easy to convince them on, they want to do right by these foals. The vet I use has digital xray so if they don't improve I'll talk to my friend about booking him. Is physitis common in the pastern joint (I've only ever seen it in fetlocks and knees on over fed halter babies). Their future is as trail horses, is that realistic long term if they improve quickly? Is there an ulcer treatment that is available OTC as I doubt their vet will have anything on hand even if he does agree about the ulcers? Should they cut out the sweetfeed and use a specific foal formula feed instead, as well as adding alfalfa hay?
                    thanks again for the help

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                    • #11
                      I agree with the OP the sweet feed has got to go. Id replace with a ration balancer. The worming suggestions are spot on.

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                      • #12
                        Ulcers and worming have already been mentioned, also think about sand. I've had good luck adding in some sort of pelleted complete (in addition to hay and concentrate) for poor doing babies. I'm using Triumph Complete right now and am really happy, but there are lots of options
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                        • #13
                          Yep they have GOT to get off the sweet feed. I'd use the very best quality ration balancer such as Buckeye Gro-n-Win or Progressive RB. I'd be sure to have loose minerals with them at all times.
                          I'd also worm monthly with, as Marylou said, an emphasis on killing roundworms which only takes a double dose of safe-guard & it's written on the package how to dose for foals/roundworms. Plus have some fecal counts done on them to see if they need other wormers. Also have some blood work done to see if they are anemic or signs of infection.
                          I'd give them free choice great quality hay preferable T&A & plenty of turnout 24/7 if possible. Don't go crazy on x-ray findings as babies can & do change. Lots of OCD changes in young foals aren't even there as they come of riding age. Just feed them right. If you need a supplement maybe go with a great one like Platinum Performance.
                          I agree that they shouldn't be painful but FIRST, let them get some nutrition & you might be suprised at they turn around. Good luck & keep us posted.
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                          • #14
                            "Osteoform" has been proven effective in the treatment of ephysitis. It turned one of our ISH fillies around in the length of time it took to feed two containers. Good luck with these two...sounds like they landed in a home where someone was trying to help.
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                            • #15
                              Do what the vet said and feed them some alfalfa. It is a natural acid reducer, they usually like it, its high protein and lower carb....just what the Dr. ordered. I would not worm as suggested above, rather I would do a fecal sample and worm accordingly.

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                              • #16
                                I'm agreeing with the consensus re worming (more) and sweet feed (none), and either adding ration balancer or a foal-designed feed (more protein and vitamins). In addition to ulcer treatment, 2 good, inexpensive additives for foals with physitis, low immune systems, and stressed out are MSM and DMG. Very difficult to overdose, and help in nutrient utilization, and are anti-inflammatory, boosting energy while also calming. Oh, and yes, I'd give some alfalfa in addition to good grassy hay.
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                                • #17
                                  I would do bloodwork, before spending money on x-rays. If they aren't thriving it could be for any number of reasons.
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                                  • #18
                                    I have not read each post but I would also see if they are anemic. Also, from the first post, they are in no way getting enough to eat. Babies need the balanced feed to grow-especially if they are compromised, as these sound to be. Also they need FAT not necessarily real high protein. The body can only handle so much protein and then it is extreeted through the kidneys-which is hard on the kidneys. I have raised a ton of babies, and compromised orphans we have rescued too, on a High fat, low starch feed. Mine are on an average of 2-4 pounds of feed/day, depends on the age and size of the baby, and great timothy hay. I also have added Omegatin-a high fat Omega 3 fat pelletted supplement, to their diet this adding nutrient density not just more grain.

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                                    • #19
                                      DON'T JUST KEEP WORMING without doing a fecal on them. You need to identify the parasites and then treat for those parasites. Just listening to people saying keep worming them every 4 weeks is bad advise and can be creating digestive issues if it's overdone.
                                      Treat for the parasites they have and then do fecals to make sure the worming program is working.
                                      I would recommend Immunall which is a great products for stressed horses. I would not start pumping more alfalfa in them because if they are not digesting properly or chewing properly you can end up with a blockage from the alafalfa not be digested correctly.
                                      Also do a complete blood screen to see if they are anemic or to rule out other deficiences.
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                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        Just an update. Foals are improving, they have lost the potbellied bloated look, and are slowly gaining condition. Owners have switched to a foal feed and added alflafa pellets as are having difficulty getting alfalfa hay. Lameness is somewhat improved and they seem more active. Vet gave no more input then to add the alfalfa. If the lameness continues to persist next month the owner is going to take them to the equine clinic and go from there in regards to joint health.

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