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Magnesium supplements reduce joint disease in foals – research

foal-mare-stockFeeding a magneisum supplement to foals reduces the incidence of the bone disease osteochondrosis in their leg joints, Dutch research has shown.

Dr Guillaume Counotte, of Animal Health Services in the Netherlands, and his colleagues, Gerrit Kampman, and Vincent Hinnen, carried out two studies in their research, the findings of which have just been published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.

The authors noted that the influence of supplements containing magnesium on the cause of osteochondrosis is unknown, and set about measuring the effects of additional minerals, especially magnesium, on osteochondrosis.

In the first study, carried out across five studs, a total of 64 mares and foals aged 0 to 5 months were equally divided into two groups. Supplementation with minerals and a placebo was used.

Blood samples were taken from the foals at the ages of two, eight and 16 weeks.

At the same time, milk samples were taken from the mare. Bone biomarkers and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium) were measured in blood and the same minerals in the milk of the mares.

At the end of the study, the knee, hock and/or fetlock joints were x-rayed and scored for the presence and grade of osteochondrotic lesions.

In the mineral-supplemented group, 21.9 percent of the foals were diagnosed with osteochondrosis compared with 41.9 percent in the placebo group.

In the second study, conducted across six studs, 54 foals aged 5 to 12 months were equally divided into two groups, with half getting supplementation and the other half getting the placebo.

At the start and end of the study, blood samples were taken and analyzed on the same parameters as in the first study. The same x-ray examinations were carried out.

Counotte and his colleagues found there was no change in osteochondrosis between 5 and 12 months in the placebo group, whereas there was a drop of 14.3 percent in incidence in the supplement group.

The researchers concluded that magnesium supplementation reduced the prevalence of osteochondrosis in foals.

 Feeding Magnesium Supplement to Foals Reduces Osteochondrosis Prevalence
Guillaume Counotte, Gerrit Kampman, and Vincent Hinnen.
doi:10.1016/j.jevs.2013.12.009
The abstract can be read here.

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