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Understanding Big Head

Grasses containing oxalates include: buffel grass, kikuyu, setaria, para grass, pangola grass, signal grass, guinea grass, and purple pigeon grass. Under rapid growth conditions (i.e. following heavy rainfall), grasses may exceed 6% oxalates which is enough to bind the entire calcium content of the grass.

Symptoms may include:

  • Lameness and stiffness of the joints,
  • Swelling of facial bones,
  • Weight loss,
  • Rough coat,
  • Muscular weakness (preferring to canter than trot),
  • Higher susceptibility to avulsion of ligaments and fracturing,
  • Dirt eating and chewing problems (due to loosening of teeth).

 

While the swelling of the facial bones is a common symptom, it is not found in all cases of big head. It can take 4 to 12 months to re-mineralise bones but the big head appearance may not change.

The treatment for big head aims to correct the calcium: phosphorus imbalance & daily supplementation is the most effective method to avoid and treat big head.

 

Author: Elsie Dodd

Tags: PASTURE HORSES Supplements bighead green feed

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