Respiratory disease has been well documented as one of the major causes of poor performance in equine athletes. Viral and bacterial infections and poor hygiene can all contribute to respiratory disease.
Research has shown that a significant number of hay samples contain fungal spores, which are released into the air the horse breathes, causing allergic reactions in the horse’ s lungs. (Indeed it has been calculated that 1kg of hay can contain as many spores as there are people on the earth!)
Most hay samples are contaminated with fungal spores – the degree of contamination is largely dependent upon the moisture content at baling. In general, the higher the moisture level the greater the degree of contamination with fungal spores.
Many of these spores are very small (usually 3 – 7 um) and can penetrate deep into the lungs causing allergic reactions resulting in increased mucus production, inflammation and spasms of the airways(bronchiospasms) and other problems. these allergic reactions reduce the horse’s ability to breathe efficiently and to transport the vital oxygen to his muscles to allow him to work.
A 500kg horse at rest needs to breathe 90 litres of air per minute. As the horse begins to work and muscular activity increases, the demand for air increases dramatically, such that, at a steady canter the volume of air required increases to 380 litres per minute. (A standard bucket of water contains 15 litres, so the horse needs to breathe the equivalent of ’25 buckets of air’ per minute in order to meet the oxygen demands of a steady canter!)
A Galloping horse needs to consume oxygen at a rate 20 – 30 times faster that at rest and it must also synchronise its breathing with its stride – as the front legs hit the ground, air is driven from the lungs. So in the horse whose lungs are obstructed by extra mucus and a narrowing of the airways caused by breathing in fungal spores, exhalation (breathing out) cannot keep pace with inhalation (breathing in) and the horse may ‘hold its breath’ – causing it to slow down dramatically – sometimes called ‘blowing up’.
Even if the horse does not ‘blow up’ his speed will be affected, since he will not be able to increase the stride frequency (speed) as his lungs cannot work fast enough.
EuroBale is a mildly fermented grass forage where the fermentation process naturally inhibits fungal growth, resulting in a virtually negligible spore count.
Using EuroBale as part of a dust control management regime cansignificantly reduce the degree of respiratory challenge.