Colostrum supplementation in Mature Horses needing health support
Whilst it is widely known that colostrum is a vital commodity that passes from the mare to the foal and without it in the first few hours after birth the foal is unlikely to survive. The primary cause of foal mortality is due to partial or complete failure of passive transfer (FPT) of immunity contained in the colostrum – in a study involving some 2,092 horses and ponies it was found that some 416 or 20% of these animals suffered from some type of immunological disorder .
However it has now been researched that supplementation of bovine colostrum in mature horses have major benefits, especially in horses in need of assistance to recover from immune lowering events.
Colostrum contains many bio active substances that have been shown to prevent disease and promote overall good health. The bioactive substances in colostrum include antibodies, immune factors, growth factors peptides, bioactive proteins, prebiotics, vitamins , minerals and antioxidants. Antibodies and immune factors fight and destroy disease causing agents.
The gut of the horse is where much of the negative effects of stress, illness, antibiotic administration, exertion and trauma are manifested . Colostrum contains a number of substances which help to optimise gut health :
· Growth factors such as Transforming Growth Factor(TGF) and Epidermal Growth Factor(EGF) .These growth factors stimulate growth and maturation of cells and therefore tissue repair and wound healing, and as such are important in recovery from gastrointestinal damage from NSAIDS. Colostrum’s growth factor IGF helps to maintain normal blood-sugar levels, and also support health of the lining of the gastro intestinal tract. Colostrum also supplies specific growth factors that help muscular-skeletal repair, assist in formation and repair of connective tissue, bone, and cartilage; assist in wound healing, and help repair DNA and RNA.
· Of particular benefit to horses is bovine colostrum’s immune factors, among the principle immune factors identified and studied in bovine colostrum are: Lactoferrin, Transferrin, Cytokines, Proline-Rich polypeptides (PRP,) Lysozymes, Lactoperoxidase, and Transfer Factor. These help to ward off disease – especially helpful for an animal worn down by the health limiting occurrences mentioned above.
Colostrum also contains relatively high amounts of oligosaccharides which act as prebiotics enhancing beneficial bacteria in the gut, and assisting the horse to digest the feed, a necessary process for recovery.
· Immunoglobulins provide a defense against viral infection, bacterial infection, allergies, fungus, and yeast. Colostrum provides five types of immunoglobins: IgA, IgD, IgG, IgE, and IgM., which control and modulate the body’s two principle immune defense systems: humoral and cellular. This ability to modulate and establish homeostasis of the immune systems is very important because the already stimulated immune systems (as in the cases of autoimmune disease, or allergic reactions) do not need more stimulation; likewise a weak immune system needs to be stimulated to fight the antigens. They have been shown to help the body inhibit the binding of pathogenic invaders to the gastrointestinal tract.
· There are 20 specific antibodies in colostrum that target specific pathogens including: rotavirus, cryptosporidium, salmonella, streptococcus, staphylococcus, and E. coli.
Colostrum provides a substantive source of antioxidants- Glutathione being the most significant anti-oxidant with its important role to neutralise the negative effects of free radicals. Unchecked these free radicals cause tissue and cellular damage and potential breakdown of health. In a normal healthy horse these are provided for in the normal diet or one supplemented with Vitamin E, but in the sick or health challenged horse the supplementation of antioxidants is extremely important. Antioxidants are effective in reducing the effects of fatigue .
Colostrum may also have benefits for the healthy performance horse. From studies in humans it has been shown to improve performance in athletes and also in recovery from exertive performance .
Vetpro’s new product Recovery Boost combines all the above benefits of colostrum with additional ingredients to assist the horse to a full and speedy recovery. It has L Glutamine, an amino acid critical for proper functioning of the digestive system, immune system, and skeletal muscle. It has been shown that in times of stress and illness, the levels of L glutamine drop. Other important ingredients are Vitamin C another antioxidant that also helps to create a positive immune response and that is combined with B vitamins whose natural production within the gut is lowered and therefore will limit osmoregulation ( dehydration of cells) and optimal liver function.