Fescue and pregnant mares

Discussion in 'Horse Health' started by skysthelimit, Mar 28, 2010.

  1. skysthelimit

    skysthelimit Senior Member+

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    I went ahead and decided to switch Jessie from the fescue we've been feeding to a timothy/alfalfa mix (per vet orders). It's got a pretty decent amount of alfalfa in it, too.....I'm not sure how quickly I can wean her.....I gave her 50/50 tonight; do you think that's ok? How slowly should I transition her? We are guessing she's got about one more month left before she foals, so....

    And what are the chances of her having any actual problems from the fescue? I've heard different things, but never a true "story" until the feed store guy told me about a mare he didn't know was pregnant when they bought her and her placenta was so thick the baby couldn't get out.:eek2: Does it really do that? Does ALL fescue hay have the mold/fungus that causes that?

    And is it just on hay? We plant fescue grass in our pasture, and it's super lush this year...will it be ok for her to start having that? We usually start letting them graze in April....

    And can she go back on the fescue hay after the baby is born?

    Thanks!
     






  2. WashingtonBay

    WashingtonBay Senior Member+

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    No, not all fescue is infected, and in all likelihood any seed planted in the last several years is endophite-free seed. Won't keep it from becoming infected if the pasture is, but most hay sellers who are worth anything would be on top of it, I'd hope.

    On hay, I think you can be fairly abrupt about switching, I wouldn't worry about mixing it for more than a few days. I think most horses are more flexible than we give them credit for, we just always have to plan around the worst and the most sensitive.
     
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  3. skysthelimit

    skysthelimit Senior Member+

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    You're my hero:D.

    I'd figured that in recent years it hasn't been a problem, but I was advised to switch her anyway.....lol. Ah, well...the new hay is a lot more rich and has some extra protein; something she could really use anyway.

    I have a feeling our pasture isn't infected....lol. Thanks again!!!!
     
  4. WashingtonBay

    WashingtonBay Senior Member+

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    To be on the safe side, I'd probably keep her off the grass until she foals.... only another month. At least make sure it's a small portion of her daily diet.

    From what I understand, they can be on it as soon as the foal is on the ground, it's only prior to foaling the real issues come up.

    I wonder if you can test it so you know.... I haven't bred anyone so I've never bothered to find that out. I do think the problem is regional too... I've been around a lot of farms with babies being born my whole life, and never heard of anyone keeping mommas off grass till I got on the internet and starting hearing from folks from other parts.
     
  5. JBandRio

    JBandRio Senior Member+

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    Depends on who's been seeding the pasture. E-free fescue is NOT cheap. The last I knew, and hopefully it's come down, Max Q was $4/pound :eek:

    And, unless the pasture was killed, tilled, and re-seeded with non-fescue and/or e-free fescue, it IS in the pasture.

    Existing e-free fescue doesn't become infected - it's the infected stuff which makes its way in.

    I don't know the changes of any given mare having problems. My neighbor never pulls her TWH mares off the grass totally, but does stick them in her round pen the last month or so with nubs of grass, feeding orchardgrass hay, and has never had an issue. Other mares can't even so much as look at infected fescue without having problems.

    I would not be a bad idea to have domperidone on hand, for sure something to talk to your vet about. Or Equine-Repro here :)

    Yes, the thickened placenta is a common problem. So it a prolonged gestation, resulting in a too-large foal. So is a lack of milk. I don't know offhand if the dom does anything besides help with the milk production - need to check that.

    It definitely points to wanting to be there for the birth just in case ;)
     
  6. texasreb

    texasreb Senior Member

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    This is what happened to a friend of mine's mare and foal about 10-15 years ago. Their vet had to cut the foal out in pieces as he was too large. He was also in distress and was unlikely to survive. They opted to try to save their beloved mare. It was horrible. The babe was a well bred pinto Fox Trotter. The mare survived, but her recovery was long and expensive. It was devastating to the owners both financially and emotionally. They had no idea the hay they were feeding was the cause of so much grief.
     
  7. skysthelimit

    skysthelimit Senior Member+

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    Great, now I'm scared.:rolleyes::eek: Thanks guys.:p

    Actually, in all honesty....she was a $500 horse with crooked conformation I bought 2 months ago. While she's sweet and perfect for my program and I love her...if I lose her....I lose her. I'll be able to move on.

    My students, however, would all be devastated. that's the scary part.:(

    So.....because Mr. Tuttle is the one who seeds the pasture and fertalizes it....I have no IDEA what the heck he's planting. Lol. Just know it's fescue. So, I guess that brings me to my answer: stay off the grass for now.:)

    She seems to like her new hay. I gave her a TON of hay last night and asked Mr. Tuttle (he lives on the property and throws hay to the horses every morning before he goes about his work. He's great) to throw her a flake of each kind this morning. I guess she was full because she didn't finish it this morning....lol.

    I figure I will have her completely on the new hay in the next day or so. Waht do you think the chances are of us having issues even though we've switched? Do you think she'll be fine? This is so stressful....I did NOT sign up for this garbage....ugh!
     
  8. JBandRio

    JBandRio Senior Member+

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    I would just keep a very close eye on her, that's really all you can do. Some mares never have trouble with the endophyte, some can't even have a nibble. I would make sure to have some domperidone available as even if she foals normally, she may not have milk. Have a source of colostrum available too. If all that happens is the thick placenta, you'll want to make absolutely sure you're there, and have a very sharp knife on hand.
     
  9. skysthelimit

    skysthelimit Senior Member+

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    Thanks! I will get all of these soon. Where can I purchase domperidone? I know where to get a colostrum supplement. I'll be sure to talk to my vet about this as well. Thanks!
     
  10. nicz2cu

    nicz2cu Senior Member+

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    I think the last trimester is recommeneded for taking them off of fescue, don't hold me to it.

    I have a friend that lost a foal and nearly lost his mare because of feeding fescue.... didn't know any better :( . This was a couple years ago.
     






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