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Feeding The Draft Horse


By Martin W. Adams, PhD, PAS – Equine Nutritionist for Southern States Cooperative, Inc.

draft horse

Tying up disease, which has been referred to as EPSM in draft horse breeds, is now called Polysaccharide Storage Myopathy (PSSM). It is an inherited metabolic muscle problem that occurs in many horse breeds. Horses with PSSM have symptoms including exertional rhabdomyolysis or tying up symptoms when they are exercised, muscle tremors and gait abnormalities. Recent research has shown that a genetic mutation causes unregulated glycogen formation in the muscle of a horse with PSSM. This mutation is in a gene called GYS1 and it is responsible for the accumulation of excess glycogen in muscle cells and symptoms of PSSM in affected horses. About 75% of Quarter Horses and 85% of draft breed horses affected with PSSM have the GSY1 mutation.

PSSM is now classified into two main types: Type-1 PSSM is due to the GSY1 mutation and occurs mainly in Quarter Horse, Paint, Appaloosa, Morgan, Tennessee Walker and draft purebreds and crosses. Type-2 PSSM is the form that affects most Warm bloods as well as all Arabians, Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. The cause for this Type 2 form of PSSM has not yet been discovered.

Horses affected with Type-1 PSSM respond well to a low-starch diet. Southern States has feeds that can be used for PSSM horses and all fixed-ingredient formula horse feeds are analyzed for starch and sugar content by an independent laboratory. Recommendations are to feed horses a diet with less than 15 to 20% soluble carbohydrates in the total diet. Table 1 on the following page contains feeding recommendations that will provide a total diet of less than 15% starch and sugar content when fed with an appropriate source of hay.

For many years feeding recommendations for draft horses affected with PSSM have included vegetable oil as a means to reduce starch and sugar levels in the diet and possibly providing other benefits in reducing symptoms. These recommendations have been to provide 20 to 25% of the total daily dietary calories from fat sources. The most convenient source of fat for this purpose has been vegetable oil (i.e. corn oil, safflower oil, soy oil, flaxseed oil, rice bran oil). All sources of vegetable oil contain approximately 240 kilocalories (Kcal) of digestible energy (DE) per ounce, so a cup or 8 ounces of oil contains 1,920 Kcal or 1.92 Megacalories (Mcal) of DE.

Table 2 of this article contains feeding recommendations for draft horses with vegetable oil supplementation. These feeding recommendations achieve the recommended fat percentage in the diet along with a horse feed or supplement to provide proper nutrient fortification. Please note that hay should be weighed and fed according to recommended levels to prevent obesity and provide the proper fat level in the diet. If your horse won’t consume the vegetable oil readily, consider substituting some chopped hay or beet pulp that you have "presoaked" with oil for regular baled hay. You may also "presoak" your horse feed with additional oil if consumption of the oil becomes a problem.



Table 1. Feeding Recommendations for Draft and Draft Cross Horses with PSSM.

Draft/Draft Cross Weight and Activity Level

Daily Digestible Energy Requirements1

Hay

(lb/day)2

Triple Crown Lite

(lb/day)

Legends® CarbCare Performance or Triple Crown Complete

(lb/day)

1200-lb No Work

16.49 Mcal

17

2

-

1200-lb Light Work

21.79 Mcal

18

-

4

1200-lb Moderate Work

25.38 Mcal

18

-

6

1300-lb No Work

17.87 Mcal

18

2

-

1300-lb Light Work

23.56 Mcal

18

-

5

1300-lb Moderate Work

27.49 Mcal

18

-

8

1400-lb No Work

19.24 Mcal

20

2

-

1400-lb Light Work

25.38 Mcal

18

-

6

1400-lb Moderate Work

29.61 Mcal

18

-

9

1500-lb No Work

20.62 Mcal

20

3

-

1500-lb Light Work

27.19 Mcal

20

-

6

1500-lb Moderate Work

31.72 Mcal

20

-

9

1600-lb No Work

21.99 Mcal

22

3

-

1600-lb Light Work

29.0 Mcal

22

-

6

1600-lb Moderate Work

33.83 Mcal

22

-

9

1700-lb No Work

23.36 Mcal

23

3

-

1700-lb Light Work

30.81 Mcal

24

-

7

1700-lb Moderate Work

35.95 Mcal

24

-

10

1800-lb No Work

24.74 Mcal

25

3

-

1800-lb Light Work

32.63 Mcal

26

-

7

1800-lb Moderate Work

38.06 Mcal

26

-

10

1900-lb No Work

26.10 Mcal

26

3

-

1900-lb Light Work

34.44 Mcal

28

-

7

1900-lb Moderate Work

40.18 Mcal

28

-

10

2000-lb No Work

27.49 Mcal

28

3

-

2000-lb Light Work

36.25 Mcal

30

-

7

2000-lb Moderate Work

42.29 Mcal

30

-

10

2100-lb No Work

28.86 Mcal

30

3

-

2100-lb Light Work

38.06 Mcal

30

-

8

2100-Moderate Work

44.41 Mcal

30

-

12

2200-lb No Work

30.24 Mcal

31

3

-

2200-lb Light Work

39.88 Mcal

32

-

8

2200-lb Moderate Work

46.52 Mcal

32

-

12

1Based on National Research Committee 2007 Recommendations, “no work” is maintenance requirements for a mature horse in a stall with no or little turnout, “light work” is 1-3 hours of activity per week (riding, driving, light training, showing, etc.) and “moderate work” is 3-5 hours of activity per week (riding, driving, training, showing, etc.).

2Based on hay nutrient levels of minimum 8% crude protein, 0.85 Mcal DE/pound and a starch and sugar (ethanol soluble carbohydrate or simple sugars) content of 15% or less.

 

Table 2. Feeding Recommendations with Vegetable Oil Supplementation for Draft and Draft Cross Horses with PSSM.

Draft/Draft Cross Weight and Activity Level

Daily Digestible Energy Requirements1

Hay

(lb per day)2

Triple Crown 30%

(lb per day)

Vegetable Oil

(cups/ounces per day)

Legends® CarbCare Performance or Triple Crown Complete

(lb per day)

1200-lb No Work

16.49 Mcal

17

1

2/16

-

41200-lb Light Work

21.79 Mcal

18

-

2/16

4

1200-lb Moderate Work

25.38 Mcal

18

-

2/16

6

1300-lb No Work

17.87 Mcal

18

1

2/16

-

1300-lb Light Work

23.56 Mcal

18

-

2/16

4

1300-lb Moderate Work

27.49 Mcal

18

-

2/16

7

1400-lb No Work

19.24 Mcal

20

1

2/16

-

1400-lb Light Work

25.38 Mcal

18

-

2/16

5

1400-lb Moderate Work

29.61 Mcal

18

-

2/16

8

1500-lb No Work

20.62 Mcal

20

1

2/16

-

1500-lb Light Work

27.19 Mcal

20

-

2.5/20

5

1500-lb Moderate Work

31.72 Mcal

20

-

2.5/20

8

1600-lb No Work

21.99 Mcal

22

1

2.5/20

-

1600-lb Light Work

29.0 Mcal

22

-

2.5/20

6

1600-lb Moderate Work

33.83 Mcal

22

-

2.5/20

9

1700-lb No Work

23.36 Mcal

23

1

2.5/20

-

1700-lb Light Work

30.81 Mcal

24

-

2.5/20

6

1700-lb Moderate Work

35.95 Mcal

24

-

2.5/20

9

1800-lb No Work

24.74 Mcal

25

1

3/24

-

1800-lb Light Work

32.63 Mcal

26

-

3/24

6

1800-lb Moderate Work

38.06 Mcal

26

-

3/24

9

1900-lb No Work

26.10 Mcal

26

1

3/24

-

1900-lb Light Work

34.44 Mcal

28

-

3/24

6

1900-lb Moderate Work

40.18 Mcal

28

-

3/24

10

2000-lb No Work

27.49 Mcal

28

1

3/24

-

2000-lb Light Work

36.25 Mcal

30

-

3/24

6

2000-lb Moderate Work

42.29 Mcal

30

-

3/24

10

2100-lb No Work

28.86 Mcal

30

1

3/24

-

2100-lb Light Work

38.06 Mcal

30

-

3/24

6

2100-Moderate Work

44.41 Mcal

30

-

3/24

10

2200-lb No Work

30.24 Mcal

31

1

3/24

-

2200-lb Light Work

39.88 Mcal

32

-

3/24

7

2200-lb Moderate Work

46.52 Mcal

32

-

3/24

11

1Based on National Research Committee 2007 Recommendations, “no work” is maintenance requirements for a mature horse in a stall with no or little turnout, “light work” is 1-3 hours of activity per week (riding, driving, light training, showing, etc.) and “moderate work” is 3-5 hours of activity per week (riding, driving, training, showing, etc.).

2Based on hay nutrient levels of minimum 8% crude protein, 0.85 Mcal DE/pound and a starch and sugar (ethanol soluble carbohydrate or simple sugars) content of 15% or less.


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