small intestine). While these colics
don’t usually require surgery, they
routinely require medical treatment
with large volumes of intravenous
fluids and sedation and often take a
day to resolve.
“Compare the cost of coastal hay
with ‘ABC’ hay (anything but coastal),
and factor in that a colic visit from the
vet can range anywhere from a couple
hundred dollars to several thousand,
and it makes sense to change if you’re
feeding coastal,” says Kivett.
With good management and a little
know-how, you can lower your
horse’s chance of colicking.
Colic remains the No. 1 cause of pre- mature death in horses. That’s the bad news. The good news is that horse owners can greatly reduce the incidence of colic through careful management. Consider the following risk factors and adjust your routine accordingly.
Watch that Hay
“One of the most important risk factors is the type of hay you feed,” says Lisa
Coarse, stemmy hay is hard for the horse to digest and should be avoided. Cer-
Kivett, DVM, DACVIM-LA, whose Foundation Equine Mobile Medicine and
Dentistry practice is based in Southern Pines, N.C. “There’s pretty convincing evi-
dence that lower-quality hay is less digestible and much more likely to cause colic.”
Forage is the main part of your horse’s diet; if it’s not high quality, the odds
for colic increase. Dust, mold, weeds and foreign objects (stones, pieces of wood,
debris and even small dead animals) can all cause problems, and these tend to be
more common when feeding round bales.
tain types of hay are also to blame. Coastal Bermuda is popular in many southern
states because of cost and availability, but you may want to rethink that choice.
There is a well-established link between coastal hay and intestinal impaction
colic because the hay gets “wadded up” at the ileum (the last portion of the
BY CYNTHIA McFARLAND