Mare May Have Fatty-Acid Deficiency

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We have a five-year-old Welsh/Thoroughbred mare. My 10-year-old daughter rides her every day in the arena for a couple hours, mostly walk/trot. She has a lesson four times per week for 45 minutes, which is pretty light.

The mare gets one flake of timothy hay three times daily, and about five cups of pellets in the evening (see sidebar for analysis). She was underweight when we bought her 2 1/2 months ago but now looks about right.

She has a red salt block that she licks a lot. The main ingredients in the pellet look to be wheat middlings, ground corn, rice bran, suncured alfalfa meal, calcium carbonate, cane molasses, whole pressed safflower meal, then all the trace elements. I’ve included the label analysis (see sidebar).

How do I estimate her weight if she is 14 hands' The instructions say for medium exercise to feed 0.8 to one pound per 100 pounds of body weight.

Also, she has dandruff that won’t go away even with lots of currying and betadine baths and Listerine baths. Is this related to diet'

-Ann Ceraldi
California

Horse Journal Responds:

If this pony mare is getting about 1.5 pounds per day of the pellet feed you’ve included an analysis for and 15 pounds of timothy hay, she should be getting enough to hold an estimated proper weight of 600 to 650 pounds, and her mineral balance would be excellent. As long as she’s maintaining a good weight and not getting too fat, we would keep these elements of her diet the same.

If the timothy has a lot of large, mature seed heads in it, she’s probably an easy keeper and its protein content could be as low as 4 or 5%. If that is the case, a slight protein deficiency could be causing her skin problem. It could also be either a B vitamin or essential fatty-acid deficiency. Of all of these, the fatty-acid deficiency is probably most likely.

We would suggest you try two weeks of either a whole ground flax supplement (see June 2000) or an unprocessed natural oil like Uckele’s CocoSoya (800/248-0330) or Soy Inc.’s Healthy Coat (800/484-9760, ext. 1735) and feed 1/2 to 1 oz./day of the oil.

Try not to bathe her during this trial period, as too much washing could be stripping her coat too, but do groom as usual to stimulate the skin. You’ll see results quickly, if this is the source of the problem.

Also With This Article
Click here to view ”Pellet Analysis, From The Label.”