Chronic inflammatory airway disease in horses can be triggered by the fine airborne particles from hay, dust, and mould spores. Supplementing the animals with omega-3 fatty acids can help.
Airway disease can develop when horses are sensitive to these fine particles and are exposed to high concentrations of these contaminants. "The most successful treatment for airway inflammation is to turn horses out to pasture instead of keeping them in stalls where they are in constant contact with airborne dust", explains equine nutritionist Kathleen Crandell of Kentucky Equine Research (KER).
If turnout is not possible or practical there are various management measures that can be taken to reduce the level of dust exposure.
- Using a low-dust bedding material such as newspaper
- Dampening or soaking hay before feeding
- Providing excellent ventilation throughout the stable.
Effect of supplement
Also feed supplements can be beneficial. Researchers from Purdue University found that improvements were seen when horses were supplemented with omega-3 fatty acids in the pelleted feed. Supplemented horses showed a 60% improvement in cough scores, a 48% decrease in respiratory effort, and a decrease from 23% before treatment to 9% after treatment in the level of neutrophils in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. These horses were not given hay, only pelleted feed.
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