Flaxseed may not be so bad for horses

The following is the latest Horse News and Views, which is prepared by Dr. Bob Wright, Animal Health and Welfare, OMAFRA, in co-operation with the staff and researchers of the University of Guelph.
The monthly column highlights research topics, extension resources, reminders of common poisonings, disease or production concerns, and coming events.
It is placed on our website at www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/livestock/horses/news.html
A surprising finding in horse pastures this summer was flax with its sparkling blue flowers. The seed is very small for chewing; most of it goes undigested through the horse’s digestive system and is deposited back on the pasture to grow again next year.
The feeding of flax can be a concern since it contains a source of cyanogenic glycosides.
Researchers at the University of Guelph, however, in a study to reduce the effects of the recurrent seasonal pruritus known as “sweet itch” in horses, fed milled (crushed) flaxseed at one pound per 1,000 pounds of body weight per day for 42 days with no negative side effects.
In other news, horse breeds, especially those with feathers (the long hair around the fetlock and pastern areas of the legs), are prone to chorioptic mange. It is caused by a mange mite, Chorioptes equi.
Mites can be identified by applying “scotch tape” to the skin and viewing them under a microscope. Clinical signs include irregular skin lesions, severe itching and sometimes biting of affected skin areas, and decreased feed consumption.
The skin lesions start mainly as an erythematous area (redness of the skin), followed by the development of papules (small swellings) and crust formation.
Horses often traumatize their legs as a result of the severe itchiness.
Consult your veterinarian as to diagnosis and treatment.
For further information, contact Dr. Bob Wright at 1-519-846-3412 or visit www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/

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