Wednesday 7 June 2017

Archie's First Weight Wise Visit

What to expect at your first weight wise visit.

Firstly it is important for those who have received a glucose feed for dynamic insulin resistance testing, that blood is drawn at 2 hours from the feed being consumed. Therefore that was the first step in Archie's visit.

Secondly a body condition score was determined in three sections. We use the Caroll and Huntington scoring system, scoring out of 5. The ideal body condition score being between 2 and 3. We use half scores to allow greater accuracy.

Section 1
Neck, withers and shoulder.
Section 2
Back and ribs
Section 3
Tail head and pelvis
Ewe neck which is slack and narrow at the base. Bone structure easily visible. Individual ribs and vertebrae visible and easily felt. Tissue either side of backbone sunken. Rump is sunken – angular pelvis and tight skin – deep cavity under the tail.
Ewe neck still narrow and slack. Bone structure well defined. Ribs and vertebrae visible. Rump sunken but skin is supple. Hip bones visible. Deep depression under the tail.
Neck narrow and firm blending smoothly ith the body. Withers rounded over the top. Ribs just visible, backbone well covered, vertebrae still felt. Fat around tail head – rump flat either side of backbone – slight cavity under the tail.
Firm neck with some fat deposits, no crest. Some fat behind the shoulder. Ribs covered but still felt, no gutter along back. Fat around the tail, rump rounded, no gutter along backbone.
Wide firm neck with a slight crest. Filling of fat along withers and behind shoulder. Need firm pressure to feel ribs, gutter along the back to the tail. Pelvis only felt with firm pressure, gutter along backbone to tailhead.
Very wide and firm crest, bulging fat over withers and shoulder. Cannot feel the ribs, deep gutter along the back. Cannot feel pelvis, deep gutter along backbone.

Archie was graded as a condition score of 4 in the first section, 3 in the mid section and 4 over his rump.

The next step was to record his body weight with a weight tape. Weight tapes are a useful tool for measuring trends in your horse's weight. They are accurate to within 10% of body weight. On the weight tape Archie was recorded as a body weight of 525kg.

An initial target to work towards was set as 500kg. As this target is approached, Archie's body condition score will be evaluated. Aiming for a score of 2-3 in all sections. On occassion, target's will then need to be adjusted for that individual. Condition scoring is a vital part of weight management and often of more value than a numerical weight measurement.

As a feed intake of 2%-2.5% of bodyweight will maintain a horse at their current weight, in the instance where weight reduction is required then a feed intake of 1.5% can be used under veterinary guidance. Archie will therefore be aiming at a dry weight feed intake of 7.9kg per 24 hour period. This is made up of grazing time, soaked hay and a small amount of fibre based feed.

Grazing time of 8 hours on summer grass equates to approximately 7.5kg dry matter and 76MJ caloric content. With a grazing muzzle used for the duration in a small paddock size this can be reduced by 25% to a dry intake of 5.6kg, leaving Archie with a 2.3kg allowance for the dry weight of his hay and dry weight of his low sugar, high fibre hard feed. Luggage scales work perfectly for weighing hay nets and feed buckets.

Archie's owner, Fran, has already instituted several great methods for helping with weight loss;

  • Grazing muzzle.
  • Using grass that has been previously grazed.
  • Soaking hay for 12 hours, draining and rinsing away sugar water.
  • Bedding on shavings to avoid eating straw.
  • Using a trickle net to make hay last longer when stabled over night.

With the Weight Wise program Archie will receive a veterinary evaluation every 6 to 8 weeks. Archie's owner Fran will body condition score and weigh tape Archie every 2 weeks and the data will be plotted on an electronic Weight Wise graph at his next visit.

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