Peat Moss Or Wood Shavings: Bedding For Asthmatic Horses

The natural dust and molds found in bedding material often intensify the clinical signs of horses with asthma. Bedding materials differ in the inhalable and respirable particles they release, just as they have variable absorptive qualities and aesthetic appeal. While horsemen the world over use straw and wood shavings extensively, the popularity of peat moss often coincides with where it is easily obtained, such as in Nordic and Baltic countries. Finnish researchers recently investigated if the use of wood shavings and peat moss as bedding had different effects on the respiratory health of horses.

Researchers chose 32 clinically healthy riding-school horses for this study. The daily schedule of the horses included 18 hours in a stall, 2 to 3 hours of exercise in an indoor arena, and 3 to 4 hours outside in sandy paddocks. Horses were stabled in identically sized stalls with a common airspace and with the same level of ventilation. Researchers maintained bedding at a depth of approximately 4 inches, with new bedding added each day after stall cleaning to keep the depth consistent. Horses stayed on each bedding material for 35 days. Diets consisted of haylage and pelleted concentrate. Horses ate the haylage off the stall floor. Researchers performed lower airway endoscopy and sampling (tracheal wash and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid) for cytological examination at the end of each bedding period.

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While researchers found no differences in respiratory rate or tracheal mucus accumulation between treatments, horses bedded on wood shavings had more neutrophils in their tracheal washes and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. The researchers concluded that “between the two bedding materials used in this study, peat caused less neutrophilic lower airway inflammation in horses.”

Asthmatic horses should be kept outside as much as possible, a management strategy that keeps many horses from having severe symptoms of asthma. High-performance horses must often be stabled to accommodate training and competition schedules. In these instances, medical management of asthma should be guided by a veterinarian well versed in the respiratory care of horses. Management decisions are often based on reducing inhalable dust and molds, which includes careful selection of bedding and forages.

Aside from forage type (haylage versus dry hay) or treatment (soaking versus high-temperature steaming), another nutritional consideration is the use of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, particularly docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). In a consensus statement from the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine, experts recommend the use of omega-3 fatty acids as a way to control airway inflammation.° The most potent sources of omega-3 fatty acids available for horses are marine-derived oils, such as EO-3.

*Monki, J., M. Sasstamoinen, N. Karikoski, M. Rajamaki, M. Roaekallio, J. Junnila, S. Sarkjarvi, M. Norring, A. Valros, S. Oranen Ben Fatma, and A. Mykkanen. 2021. Effects of bedding material on equine lower airway inflammation: A crossover study comparing peat and wood shavings. Frontiers in Veterinary Science 8:656814.

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Reprinted courtesy of Kentucky Equine Research. Visit ker.com for the latest in equine nutrition and management, and subscribe to Equinews to receive these articles directly.

The post Peat Moss Or Wood Shavings: Bedding For Asthmatic Horses appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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