What makes MegaMin Bone Defender so important for horses grazing high oxalate pastures?
MegaMin Bone Defender is formulated to provide enough high quality and bioavailable calcium, phosphorus and magnesium to allow horses to maintain bone strength and to stay healthy and sound when grazing high oxalate subtropical pastures. Left unsupplemented on these pastures, horses are at risk of severe bone demineralization and Bighead Disease.
Can I use MegaMin Bone Defender as a macro mineral top up supplement?
Yes! MegaMin Bone Defender may also be used to supplement calcium, phosphorus and magnesium in diets where levels may be low. E.g. for growing horses, broodmares or for horses on high grain diets.
When used in this manner, feed at ¼ to ¾ of the feeding rates provided on the label.
What makes MegaMin Bone Defender different from other supplements?
MegaMin Bone Defender has been specially formulated in conjunction with a leading Australian Equine Nutritionist to meet the calcium needs of horses with access to diets consisting largely of high oxalate pasture. The supplement has been scientifically balanced and has added vitamin D to help ensure optimum uptake from the digestive system. MegaMin Bone Defender is suitable for horses and ponies in all disciplines. The daily feeding rates are very detailed and based on the latest scientific research. MegaMin Bone Defender is recommended to be used in conjunction with MegaMin Equine Enhancer or as part of a balanced diet in order to eliminate the potential of having excessive trace mineral levels in the situation where significant amounts of supplement is required to counteract the negative effect of high oxalate in pastures such as Buffel Grass and Setaria.
What is the impact of oxalates?
Many subtropical or C4-type pasture species contain higher levels of a compound known as oxalate. The oxalate in the grass binds most of the calcium contained in the plant, making it unavailable for the grazing horse to utilise. In order to maintain blood calcium levels, your horse will start to mobilise calcium from its bones. If this goes on for long enough, your horse's bones will become painful, weak and susceptible to fracture in a condition commonly called 'Bighead Disease'.
Why do we add phosphorus and magnesium?
When supplementing horses that are grazing high oxalate pastures such as Buffel Grass and Setaria it is important to add phosphorus as well as calcium to the diet while maintaining the correct calcium to phosphorus ratio. This ratio MUST be kept above 1 part calcium to 1 part phosphorus for all horses. For mature horses the ideal range is between 1:1 to 6:1 and for young growing horses the ideal range is 1:1 to 3:1. Importantly, enough calcium must be added to keep the calcium to oxalate ratio above 0.5 part calcium to 1 part oxalate to help prevent Bighead disease. Horses suffering from Bighead are also likely to be deficient in magnesium as well due to oxalate blocking magnesium absorption as well. Keep the calcium to magnesium rato less than 3 parts calcium to 1 part magnesium.
What is Bighead?
Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism (NSH) is most commonly referred to by the name "Bighead" and is a condition that develops as a result of a calcium imbalance within the horse's diet. During periods of calcium shortage, horses will mobilise calcium and phosphorus from their bones to keep blood calcium levels normal. When this state of calcium deficiency occurs for a period of time, horses mobilise so much calcium and phosphorus that their bones become fibrous and weak. It is essential that a horse's diet is balanced and the calcium to phosphorus ratio must be kept above one part calcium to one part phosphorus.
What are the causes of Bighead?
Bighead in horses can arise from an incorrect calcium to phosphorus ratio with more phosphorus in the diet than calcium and from grazing pastures containing high levels of oxalate that block calcium absorption.
What are some signs of Bighead?
Clinical signs of Bighead are not always the 'bighead' appearance as this is more common in young horses. Signs can include, but are not limited to the following:
- Shifting lameness, sore bones and joints
- Ligament and tendon injuries
- Noisy breathing, ill-thrift and a harsh coat
- Enlarged/swollen facial bones
- Ridge over nasal bone
- Early tiring and a low tolerance for work.
What are some common grasses that contain high oxalate?
Buffel Grass, Setaria, Kikuyu, Para Grass, Purple Pigeon, Green Panic, Pangola Grass and Signal Grass.