Preparing thoroughbred yearlings for the sales

Preparing thoroughbred yearlings for the sales

Preparing thoroughbred yearlings for the sales

Renae Dorney

 

How can Digestive RP help your yearlings stand out at the sale?

So… you’ve developed a good program for Yearling Prep and you have a reputation for turning out impressive drafts. But… are you still always on the lookout for those one percenters, or how mitigate problems en route to the parade ring – especially when it comes to supporting your more problematic horses?

We’re talking about the fillies who stop eating, the colts who are above themselves, and those tricky yearlings who travel poorly or just seem to lack the sort of topline and coat shine you aspire to.

The answer could lie in supporting their gut health.

One of the most stressful times in the lifecyle of a thoroughbred is yearling preparation. Great demands are placed on yearlings in their preparation for the sales and thereafter in their training to become a racehorse. The success of yearling preparation can have a huge impact on their value and your bottomline.

During yearling preparation, there are a number of differing types of stress experienced, such as moving from a paddock to a stable or yard, a change in type of feeds (more often a high grain diet), separation from the herd, increased handling, transportation and training, all of which impact on the gut.

Then when they arrive at the sales, they have travelled , there is potential heat stress, ongoing handling, inspections, parading, noise  and many other horses in a confined environment are all additional stressors during this period. As a result, gut bacterial populations can shift. Horses may eat less. They often stop drinking. Muscles dehydrate and fatigue. Energy levels and the eye catching presence suffers and leaky gut can develop creating anxiety and highly strung, oftentimes dangerous horses.

When a horse is psychologically stressed, the activation of their immune system uses up their incoming resources to activate the inflammatory cascade leaving less left to add condition, build lean muscle, or fuel the nerve junctions which result in peak focus and performance, growth and impact on behaviour and appetite.

Psychological stresses can lead to leaky gut. Leaky gut allows bacteria to leak from the gut into the body. This sets up an inflammatory response, which in turn, activates the immune system. The immune system is energy hungry and it will chew up energy in the form of glucose, reducing the reserves of this valuable energy supply that would otherwise be used to fuel growth and performance.

Historically, many studs have turned to strategic use of Omeprazole based products for this stressful period, to minimise the risk of gastric ulceration.  Using Omeprazole in horses also reduces the absorption of Calcium and so for growing horses, where Calcium is so important for their growth and skeletal development, we want to avoid long term use of Omeprazole to avoid possible negative effects. Whilst there is still a role for short term use of these medications for existing ulceration, the ideal is to try and reduce the risk of ulceration through proper feeding and nutrition management.

Which is where our Digestive RP gut supplement comes in.

 

How does it work?

Stomach Buffers

Digestive RP provides next-level gut support for your yearlings. It contains powerful dual buffers to help maintain normal stomach pH and reduce the incidence of squamous gastric ulcers which can cause loss of appetite, poor topline and a rough coat.

Amino acids for gut lining and muscle building

Digestive RP also contains the amino acids glutamine, threonine, proline, serine and leucine – which are building blocks of mucin – a protective substance the stomach secretes to reduce its susceptibility to lesions. In fact, the entire gut lining is constantly regenerating and repairing, and these amino acids are crucial for its integrity. An added bonus is that leucine (found in Digestive RP) is the only amino acid that switches on the muscle building process. Hence, increasing the amount of leucine in your yearlings’ diets may help them build more muscle.

Carbohydrate enzymes to help digest grain safely

Digestive RP contains a blend of carbohydrate enzymes to help your yearlings digest grain-based feeds effectively – this means achieving desired body condition easily without having to feed the bucket loads of grain you have in the past. For your yearlings, consuming carbohydrate enzymes should help limit the amount of starch entering the hindgut. This helps them maintain optimal hindgut health, gleam from the inside out, eat their breakfast and dinner, and stay calm for parades.

Postbiotics for better fibre fermentation

Fibre is the mainstay of any yearling’s diet, so if they can ferment it better, you’ll likely notice a whole range of benefits. The unique postbiotic in Digestive RP supports optimal hindgut health by promoting increased fibre fermentation. With increased fibre fermentation in the hindgut, you’ll likely see improved health overall including maintenance of appetite, increased immunity, good topline, enviable coat shine and improved demeanour.

Also, research on the postbiotic contained in Digestive RP has shown that post-exercise, supplemented horses had reduced whole-body stress as indicated by lower cortisol and serum amyloid A levels, and lower inflammatory markers (Prostaglandin E2) in their joints.

Check out this before and after:

 

5 diet tips to maximise the benefits of Digestive RP in your yearlings

1. Reduce grain intake.

Grain-based feed can be helpful when you’re trying to increase body condition, but too much grain can cause gut issues and have the opposite effect – weight loss (not to mention a whole host of other negative side effects). Digestive RP can negate some of the problems associated with large, starchy grain meals because it buffers the stomach and also provides enzymes to help break down starch (so it doesn’t enter the hindgut). But the point to note is that if your yearlings’ hindguts are working well AND if you’re feeding enough forage, you shouldn’t need to feed large meals of grain in order to get the body condition and topline you want. (Cutting out large grain meals will also help yearlings stay calmer and more manageable.)

Most commercial yearling feeds contain 30-40% starch. For optimal digestion these should not be fed at more than 1.1-1.5kg per meal (and ideally not more than 2 meals per day).

In addition, always ensure that grain-based feed is heat processed (ie. extruded, micronised or steam rolled). This is because uncooked grains are poorly digested and result in starch entering the hindgut, where it causes acidity and a decrease in ‘good’ bacteria (ie. fibre fermenting microbes) which in turn reduces the hindgut’s ability to produce energy, vitamins and other important metabolites.

2. Feed high-energy fibre

If you’re feeding the maximum amount of grain-based feed and still need more condition, try feeding high-energy fibre sources such as sugar beet pulp. Beet pulp provides a similar amount of energy (by weight) to oats. Beet pulp is also especially good at promoting the proliferation of ‘good bacteria’ (fibre fermenting microbes) in the hindgut. Try feeding it at a rate of 500g per meal (dry weight) in addition to your usual chaff.

3. Use cold-pressed linseed or canola oil for conditioning

Like fibre, oil is a great way to safely increase the energy in your yearling’s diet, to achieve desired body condition. Good quality oils such as cold-pressed linseed or canola oil, supply important omega fatty acids to your yearling for healthy skin and coat shine. The feeding rate can be adjusted based on the individual yearling’s condition, but generally around half a cup (125ml) per day – in addition to forage, concentrate and high-energy fibre – is recommended.

4. Provide plenty of good quality grass hay

Grass hay should form the foundation of your yearling diets. Feeding 5-7kg (1-1.5% of body weight) is essential for gut health. Chewing and consequent saliva production is critical for reducing the risk of squamous gastric ulcers. This amount of hay also provides important gut fill to assist in preventing colic.

Good quality hay also supplies the ‘good bacteria’ in the hindgut with the food they need to produce energy, vitamins and other essential metabolites – which help your yearlings stay calm and in good condition. Chewing hay is also good for your yearlings’ mental health – it helps minimise boredom and keeps them healthy from the inside out.

Feeding a leafy grass hay instead of 100% lucerne hay, helps keep the protein content of the diet down. While good quality protein is essential for growth, sound bones, muscle gain, hoof and coat health etc., you don’t want to give them too much. Excess protein in yearling diets makes expensive urine and it can contribute to respiratory irritation due to ammonia in bedding.

When the horse’s body breaks down excess protein, heat is produced. Hence, too much protein in the diet can contribute to your yearlings being hot, causing them to sweat under rugs, which in turn causes bleached coats (because the salt in sweat bleaches coats) and may contribute to them becoming cast in boxes – as they are too hot and itchy.

5. Ensure your yearling’s diets are balanced for essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals

Providing a diet that supplies adequate vitamins and minerals is essential for your growing yearlings. A balanced diet is critical for sound bones, building topline and muscle, immunity, strong hooves, healthy skin and coat. Knowing if your yearling’s diet is balanced can be tricky, but our free Feed Assist program can help.

FAQ’s What is an example of a good diet for my yearlings?

Forage (amount per day)
5kg leafy grass hay
2kg lucerne hay

Feeds (divide amounts in half for AM & PM feed amounts)
0.5-1kg oaten/lucerne chaff
1kg sugar beet pulp
1.5kg extruded barley
1kg extruded lupins
200g extruded full fat soybean
125ml cold pressed linseed oil

Supplements (divide amounts in half for AM & PM feed amounts)
80g Digestive VM (supplies essential minerals and vitamins)
130g Digestive RP
Free access to salt lick

Commercial Feed Example

Forage (amount per day)
5kg leafy grass hay
2kg lucerne hay

Feeds (divide amounts in half for AM & PM feed amounts)
0.5-1kg oaten/lucerne chaff
1kg sugar beet pulp
2.5kg Pryde’s Easifeed EasiPrep
125ml cold pressed linseed oil

Supplements (divide amounts in half for AM & PM feed amounts)
80g Digestive VM (supplies essential minerals and vitamins)
130g Digestive RP
Free access to salt lick

What can I do for a filly who has gone off her feed?

Horses can go off their feed for many reasons, however, with a good diet and by using Digestive RP twice daily, you’re already minimising the likelihood of this happening. If for some reason, you notice a horse is off their feed, Poseidon’s Stress Paste can be a fantastic option.

Stress Paste can minimise any setback by encouraging the horse to eat and drink again. Stress Paste contains ingredients to buffer and protect the stomach while feed intake is reduced, it contains a yeast derived prebiotic to feed the hindgut microbes and offset the reduced fibre intake, and it also contains B-Vitamins which help to maintain appetite.

What do I feed the ‘fat’ yearling?

Fat yearlings need their dietary energy intake reduced. This usually involves reducing the amount of grain-based feed and reducing oil back to a bare minimum (30-60ml per day for coat shine) – but make sure that adequate vitamins and minerals are still being supplied. For yearlings that have a ‘fat’ bellied appearance, it is not recommended that hay is reduced below 1% of body weight. Using good quality, leafy hay instead of more mature, stalky hay can help prevent the ‘fat’ bellied appearance. Beet pulp can also be used to replace some of the mature, stalky hay if sourcing better quality (leafy) hay is tricky. Exercises which strengthen topline and utilise abdominal muscles can also assist with minimising the ‘fat’ bellied appearance.

How can I ensure my yearlings arrive at the sales complex in top condition?

Travel can negatively impact gut health by: increasing the risk of squamous gastric ulcers, changing the hindgut microbiome, and increasing the risk of colic. Travel-related changes such as decreased feed (especially forage) and water intake have major impacts on gut health, but even just the stress of travel alone can cause changes in the hindgut microbiome.

Poseidon’s Stress Paste can be given to yearlings prior to travel to help minimise its impact on gut health, and ensure they arrive at the complex and lick their feed bins clean. Stress Paste contains ingredients to buffer and protect the stomach while feed intake is reduced, yeast derived prebiotic to feed the hindgut microbes to offset the reduced fibre intake, and B-Vitamins which help to maintain appetite.

Additional ingredients in Stress Paste include betaine, vitamin C, and vitamin E, to assist in keeping your yearlings well, hydrated, and calm during transport and on arrival to the sales complex.