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  • Q:

    Based on the advice of my veterinarian, I feed my two horses supplements, all of which are in pill form. To dissolve the pills, I soak them overnight in wet stabilized rice bran. Both of my horses, who otherwise eat a diet of just forage, have recently displayed neurological symptoms. My vet and I thought there might be a toxin issue from soaking the rice bran, which could, in turn, create a fermentative environment and mold growth. Are mycotoxins an issue? Any other diet suggestions?

  • A:

    Neither mixing your horse's supplements with stabilized rice bran nor soaking the mixture overnight should cause any problems. The stabilization process eliminates pathogenic organisms such as bacteria and mycotoxins from rice bran, and reputable manufacturers routinely test for impurities. If, however, you’re worried about the potential for mold growth, especially in hot or humid weather, you could soak the pills separately in water overnight, allowing them to dissolve, and then mix the liquefied pills with dry stabilized rice bran just prior to feeding.

    If you are not providing another source of fortification, a micronutrient supplement or ration balancer pellet will supply vitamins and minerals missing in these horses’ all-forage diet. A ration balancer pellet is a concentrated source of protein, vitamins, and minerals formulated to meet nutritional requirements. Balancer pellets are designed to be fed at only 1-2 lb (0.45-0.9 kg) per day, which is ideal for easy keepers, as the pellets do not contain unnecessary calories. Balancer pellets can be mixed easily into the rice bran mash.

    For horses with neurological problems, we recommend natural-source vitamin E as a highly bioavailable source of antioxidant support. The supplement Nano•E, developed by Kentucky Equine Research (KER), is a liquid natural-source vitamin E that rapidly increases vitamin E levels to improve antioxidant status for neurological horses that can be low in vitamin E. Nano•E can be fed in combination with your current supplements since they do not contain vitamin E.

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