Molds in Horse Feed

Despite our best efforts, sometimes we’re faced with mold issues. Whether it’s hay, pasture, bedding, or bagged feed, we sometimes need to throw feed out, or change what we feed.

Horses are more sensitive to molds than cows or other ruminants because ruminants ferment feed prior to absorption.

Why worry about molds?

Many horses will choose not to eat moldy feed. However, if that’s all they have, they will tend to eat it.

What are the effects of moldy feed? Potentially...

Weight loss. This can occur when the feed is too moldy for the horse to eat.

Colic. Colic can occur with spoiled feeds.

Breathing issues. Horses with moldy feed may experience breathing issues, commonly known as heaves due to the inflammatory reaction within the lungs of inhaled mold spores.

Reproductive issues. Molds may cause foaling difficulties, or poor milk production. In some cases, even foal loss can occur.

Neurological symptoms. When specific types of molds are ingested, it can result in neurological symptoms, with severe cases resulting in blindness or death.

Where do molds lurk?

▶ Molds in bagged feed. This could be caused by the feed becoming moldy, or by the ingredients, such as a corn mycotoxin, being present.

▶ Molds in grass. Endophytes are molds that can be present in tall fescue and rye grass.

▶ Molds in hay. Hay can become moldy with moisture and other adverse conditions. Molds can also occur when there is a lot of moisture between the time the hay is cut and when it’s baled. This results in mold growing on the hay on the ground. Alternatively, hay that is baled too soon, with too high of a moisture content can become moldy.

▶ Molds in bedding. Old bedding in a barn is another source of molds.

How to deal with molds.

➡ If molds are present in the bedding, strip the stall and clean thoroughly.

 Dispose of moldy feeds and don’t feed them. This is easy if you only have one or two bags of feed, but is a challenge when you have suspect hay for the season.

➡ If some parts of the hay are suspect, provide plenty of hay for the horse to pick through.

 Supplement with Integral A+® to bind mycotoxins. While this may help the horse, it is an insufficient substitute for removing the presence of mold.

 Steam hay to kill molds. Although this can kill mold spores, the dead mold spores still are present, which can still cause an inflammatory reaction, especially in the lungs.

Be safe. If you have moldy feeds or bedding. It’s best to throw them out.

Integral A+® is made by Alltech™, a leader in animal nutritional products.

Disclaimer: Statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease or health condition.

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