My mare is at 305 days and got into some fescue hay we have at the farm for other horses. The hay was bailed last spring and she only ate about 2-3 flakes. Should I be concerned? What can I do to prevent any problems?
Michelle: I just wanted to add my thoughts for you regarding Fescue. We have had a severe hay shortage in the midwest this year. We had no alternative than to feed a Fescue/Brome mix hay. We have supplimented alfalfa flakes and put our mares on a good graining program w/ lots of vitamins/minerals. Although not ideal, my vet is aware of the issue. She states that fescue can make the embryonic sac thick and hard to tear, as well as, present some milk issues. Although we have not delivered yet and I can't attest to the sac issue, my mares have bagged up quite nice. Tracy is correct in that the endophytes being infected can produce an extreme toxicity (to cows as well as horses) and can make them extremely ill.
You should be fine and dandy. I wouldn't sweat the fescue issue you had.
I agree, if she just at a few flakes this once, you are fine. If you want to be SUPER vigilent, just make sure you are there for the foaling, but honestly I don't think on fescue meal will thicken the placenta. If you are worried about milk, treat her to Domperidone as a precaution.
Clemson University (Clemson, SC) has been a leader in research on infected fescue (since almost all fescue in our region IS infected). They have developed a shot (Equidone) for mares that are either inadvertently left on fescue or fescue is the only forage available.
From The Horse magazine (04/2006) "If the mare must be on infected fescue, she can be treated with domperidone (trade name Equidone), a dopamine antagonist that fills the receptor sites where the toxin binds, blocking the receptor sites so the toxin can't exert its effects. Cross says, "The drug blocks the effects of the alkaloid at the cellular level, preventing the ergot alkaloids from interacting with D-2 dopamine and alpha-1 receptors throughout the peripheral tissues of the mare's body."
Domperidone can be given to mares in late gestation. The research and development of domperidone used rats and was done by Cross and his graduate students at Clemson University. In one field study, domperidone was given orally to 1,423 mares on infected fescue. The drug increased serum prolactin and progestogens; mares began to produce adequate milk when the drug was given 10 to 15 days prior to their due dates. Treated mares had live, healthy foals and normal gestation lengths, normal placentas, and foaled normally.
The drug has proven to be safe, with no adverse effects on the foals' central nervous systems. Unlike other dopamine antagonists, domperidone does not cross the blood-brain barrier, and it does not cause nervousness nor lethargy. Equidone is an oral gel produced by Equi-Tox Inc., and is only available through veterinarians by prescription. Dosage depends on severity of the problem.
"You can't treat every mare the same," comments Cross. "In some instances a pasture contains other grasses, while on some farms it's pure fescue. Dosage depends on the amount of fescue being eaten. The main thing is to get mares on the medication prior to foaling. Many mares are removed from fescue 15 to 30 days prior to expected foaling and started on the drug 15 days prior to foaling." Cross holds four U.S. and several international patents on the domperidone technology, and he says Equi-Tox Inc. has funded the expensive regulatory approval process to make the prescription drug available to veterinarians.
Please note that opinions, product information, advice or suggestions posted on this bulletin board are not necessarily those of the management at Equine-Reproduction.com nor does the maintenance of the post position indicate an implicit or any endorsement of that information, opinion or product.
Further, although we have the greatest respect for the posters offering assistance here, you are advised to seek a consultation with your veterinarian prior to using information obtained from this board if it is of a veterinary nature.Proud to be sponsored and supported by: