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Winter Allergies 

Nature has provided animals with incredible systems to repel invading germs and repair damage from injury. These systems need nourishing if they are going to work properly.

Intolerances are caused when the immune system overreacts to an external stimulus. Bizarrely this overreaction is often caused because the immune system is unable to respond normally due to nutritional constraints. Instead of an effective reaction the body goes on and on with an inadequate response.

Fighting infections and repairing damage both require rapid production of new cells (white blood cells for immunity and ‘normal’ cells for repair). Modern diets are designed to provide the energy our horses need but are often quite deficient in the nutrients required for rapid cell production.

We have found that by supporting immune function with the unusual nutrients we use in FightBack, Hypo-Allergenic Essentials and WINNINGEDGE Gold we are able to help produce an efficient but short lived reaction. This is working well for fly, mozzy and midge bites, pollen induced head shaking and dust reactions.

What we particularly like about this approach is that the horse experiences cover 24/7 and gets far less stressed. We also have an excellent product that reduces the irritation externally. This is called Itch Magic and it is simply applied to affected areas. It quickly soothes the irritation and so the horses stop rubbing. So Itch Magic provides the quick fix while Hypo-Allergenic Essentials provides the long term cover.

FightBack puts this right and helps the natural cell replication to proceed as rapidly as possible. It also contains the nutrients required to enable white blood cells to work efficiently (they burn lots of fats). As white blood cells are the ‘Rapid Reaction Force’ of the immune system this is crucially important.

The immune system works against a wide range of different germs – your vet has nothing to help your horse beat a virus – the immune system is really good at it if given the chance.

The quicker you get FightBack into your horse the better so consider buying some and keeping it in the cupboard for a rainy day.

FightBack is a two part product simply because, if we mix all the ingredients together in the same pot, they go hard and sticky. Simply mix similar quantities of the two components together in your horse’s feed. The normal quantity for a 16 hh horse is two level teaspoons of each product twice a day.

Breathing problems are common in stabled horses fed dusty hay and with inadequate ventilation. Some of these problems are reactions to environmental effects. Others require help to maintain free and open airways and facilitate breathing. We have two main products to help here and another one in the case of more serious situations.

Wheeze-Eeze Concentrate is a liquid herbal product that is simply added to food. It has the effect of keeping the airways open to facilitate breathing. It also supports immune function.  Wheeze-Eeze Concentrate can also be diluted in water and sprayed in the stable to freshen the environment. It is available in a ready-to-use spray pack in this pre-diluted form.

 

Calcium in birds – By Malcolm Green of The Birdcare Company

Calcium is one of the most misunderstood nutrients in bird keeping. This article is intended to explain what happens when birds are calcium deficient and how to prevent this problem occurring.  But before we get to that it is worth noting that a recent American survey showed that 98% of pet birds studied were getting less than the recommended levels of calcium in their diet. Calcium deficiency is a real problem!

We will look at the role of this important mineral at three stages of the birds life cycle. Firstly breeding hens. Then growing chicks. And finally in adult birds.

Egg Binding – Prevention and Treatment

There are lots of old wives tales told about egg-binding in cage and aviary birds. Whilst a few cases have medical causes the majority of cases have calcium at their root. This part of the article is intended to explain how calcium is involved in egg-binding and how proper calcium supplementation can prevent its occurrence, increase clutch sizes and improve hen health.

When a hen manufactures an egg she draws calcium from her bones to make the eggshell. In a healthy, well-fed bird the bones contain about three eggs worth of calcium. A number of problems can stop the bones from providing enough calcium to make the shell and when this happens the hen has three options. In reality most birds will select a combination of these three:

1. Stop laying – calcium deficient hens lay smaller clutches. The reverse of this is that diets rich in bio-available calcium enable hens to lay larger clutches.

2. Produce thin or soft shelled eggs – these eggs cannot control their moisture content so most dehydrate and a few (in humid conditions) may water log. Whichever happens – they die!

3. Steal calcium from other organs – when this happens the calcium is removed from nerves and muscles. These organs need calcium to work properly. So when the calcium is removed they stop working properly. The hen is partially paralysed and cannot expel the egg. This is egg-binding.

Generally egg bound hens are found on the floor of the cage, struggling to fly well and with their legs well apart. All of these symptoms are caused by poorly functioning nerves and muscles. However these symptoms are not always present. I know of conures in particular who have been flying around perfectly well. But their owners have expected more eggs and sure enough, after an oral dose of bio-available calcium, they have laid an egg within a couple of hours!

The traditional veterinary treatment for this egg-binding is an injection of calcium. This works very well though it is expensive, risky and invasive. Oral treatment, with a highly bio-available liquid calcium/magnesium/vitaminD3 supplement, works equally effectively but is far cheaper and less stressful for the bird. Old-fashioned remedies like applying oil to the vent and holding the bird over a hot kettle do not address the fundamental problem. They are risky and unreliable.

As usual prevention is better than cure. This is achieved by addressing two factors:

1. Ensuring the bones are full of calcium – this simply involves a weekly dose of bio-available calcium to all non-breeding birds. For Eclectus and African Greys we recommend twice weekly administration.

2. Exercising the bones’ ability to quickly pump calcium into the blood – the above regime ensures this is achieved. By feeding both high and low calcium levels in the diet the bones are regularly forced to move calcium in both directions. This ensures that the hormonal functions involved in this process are working optimally.

Strangely, providing good quality calcium every day can actually have the reverse result to that you desire. If all the birds’ maintenance calcium requirements are satisfied from the gut then the bones slowly lose the ability to quickly pump calcium back into the blood. Egg-binding can result from this over supplementation.

When the hen starts to lay, she needs to replace the calcium removed from the bones so we increase the of calcium administration to five days a week. This keeps the bones topped up. We continue this frequency until the chicks have reached full size.

It is easy to see why this technique increases clutch sizes as the hen always has plenty of calcium and she is storing it and releasing it very efficiently.

Splayed Legs – Prevention and Treatment

This is another area were lots of theories are banded about by well meaning bird keepers.. Whilst a few instances have medical or environmental causes the majority of splayed leg cases have calcium at their root.

We are all aware of the role of calcium in bone formation. In the rapidly growing chick the bones are consuming large quantities of calcium. If the diet is deficient in calcium, or vitamin D3, there may not be enough calcium to go round the whole body. If the nerves and muscles go short of calcium they stop working properly. For nestlings this means that the leg muscles are unable to hold the legs together and support the chick’s weight.

For larger birds like ostriches, uneven muscle function tends to cause the leg to twist outwards at the hips until the toes point out sideways.

Leg rotations are virtually impossible to treat. Though proper bio-available calcium supplementation will stop the problem getting any worse but is unlikely to reverse the deformity. For splayed legs setting the legs into an appropriate splint and simultaneously treating with calcium will normally return the legs to their normal condition if caught early enough. Sibylle Faye’s web site has some information on splinting amongst its huge amount of bird keeping data (www.avianweb.com).

As usual prevention is better than cure. The same regime described for egg-binding prevention will also prevent splayed legs.

Young birds can also suffer from other calcium related problems. Rickets (soft and bent bones) often accompany splayed legs. Slightly later in life young birds go through a period of hardening the bones up by increasing the calcium density. This is just the same in human children. If they are not getting enough calcium at this time the bones get all the calcium available and nerves and muscles again get starved. Birds will be weak, struggle to fly and perch, and, in extreme cases they may be so paralysed they can’t stand up. In many finches and canaries these birds are found on their backs. Again they respond quite quickly to oral supplementation.

Adult Birds –Nervousness and Aggression

All sorts of issues can be involved in aggressive or nervous behaviour in our birds. Perhaps the most underrated issue is also the most common – you guessed it calcium again.

Calcium is very important for nerve function. Without it the nervous system (including the brain) doesn’t work properly. People, animals and birds without enough calcium in their bodies will be frightened, chronically stressed and are potentially aggressive. Given a good calcium supplement regularly will restore good nerve function and calm the animal.

An excellent example of this is given in our story about a rescued Cockatoo whose diet was so poor that calcium deficiency was only one of its problems. This bird had been at the rescue centre for twelve months and they still could not put a hand in its cage safely! Just a week of vitamin and calcium therapy and this bird was being handled for the first time. This is an article well worth reading from our web site: (www.BirdcareCo.com/Pet_Birds/Nervous_Birds/nervous_birds.html)

The problem can also occur in birds whose diet may seem to be quite adequate. We recently had a call from a zebra finch breeder whose show team was far more nervous than the rest of his collection. The only difference between the two groups of birds was that the show birds were getting vitamins and minerals and the rest were not. We postulated that they were calcium deficient and recommended a regular dose of calcium. Within days the problem was fixed!

Of course the whole flock was actually calcium deficient. The vitamins were simply giving the show team more energy and vitality so they showed the symptoms more clearly. So, if you have any birds whose behaviour contains fear or aggression, try calcium supplementation first!

Why is calcium difficult to supplement?

All bird keepers have grown up with being told that all they need to do is give cuttlefish bone and grit to satisfy their birds’ calcium requirements. Unfortunately this is dangerous advice. Solid forms of calcium are very difficult to dissolve in water. And if it isn’t dissolved it can’t be absorbed into the bloodstream. This problem is made worse if vitamin D levels are also low or other minerals are present in the diet.

Very efficient calcium supplementation can be achieved with pre-dissolved liquid products which also contain vitamin D3 and magnesium (for muscle function). The products available do vary considerably in strength depending on the supplier. In the UK we have some products with just 5,000 mgs per litre right up to CalciBoost with 33,000mgs per litre! CalciBoost (or Calcivet as we call it in Europe) was the first product of its type in the European market and it is still the strongest more than five years after its introduction.

Performance – it’s all in the (horse’s) mind

This title is, of course, an exaggeration. Getting the best performance from your horse involves a whole range of different things. Up to now nutritional inputs to performance have mostly dealt with preventing or treating physical problems – like poor joint or muscle function and/or supplying protein and energy in the best possible forms. Such issues are very real, but, up to now, the most important organ in the body – the brain – has been largely ignored.

Nutritional brain support has leaned towards dampening down perceived problems with calming nutrients like tryptophan, magnesium and calming herbs. Where diets are deficient in these nutrients products like these work well – though they can be overdone and effectively sedate the horse.

Recent work now strongly suggests that inadequate calcium is actually three times more common than magnesium deficiency and impacts strongly on brain function. Strangely it even seems to occur with horses grazing calcium rich soils like limestone, which says something about the poor bio-availability of calcium carbonate. In fact trials indicate that only a tiny number of horses fed calcium carbonate supplements show improved behaviour and those probably all have acidity related digestive problems.

Chelated calcium is far more effective and can have a profound, positive influence on brain function. These effects do not sedate and only help the horse’s brain to work as nature intended. The result is horses that are less distracted and less tense in dressage. In the show jumping phase they make split second judgments better so helping them to adjust stride length – and they listen to their riders better so maintain rhythm instead of speeding up and flattening. Across country better judgment brings improved safety with horses more likely to respect their rider as well as coping better deciding exactly how to negotiate an obstacle. Finally, horses with adequate bio-available calcium in their diets are far more receptive to schooling so can progress faster and further up the levels.

Sceptics may say that the level of calcium a horse needs is well understood. But actually the science is primarily based on rickets prevention (not brain function) and used calcium sources with low bio-availability such as limestone. Chelated calcium sources seem to be profoundly beneficial to behaviour and performance and should have the added bonus of improved skeletal strength.

The role of calcium in the brain is well understood (see box) but its effect on horse behaviour has not been well studied until recently. Early trials and market place experience suggest that somewhere between 75 and 90% of competition horses could benefit.

Our products can really change your animals lives for the better.  Read how our products can help common problems…

Birds:

Feather Plucking: A very common problem found in the parrot species.  Feather plucking is generally due to nutritional deficiencies such as Calcium and stress.

Early symptoms are over preening and cleaning and can escalate quickly.

We recommend: Feather-Up, Calcivet & Potent Brew

Egg Binding: Egg binding is the inability of a hen to pass a developed or partially developed egg. A partially developed egg can have either a soft shell or no shell. Many cases of egg binding occur when a hen is trying to pass what appears to be a “normal” egg. The inability to pass the egg quickly results in the death of the hen.

We believe egg binding can occur as a result of a calcium deficiency.

We recommend: Calcivet – up the dosage during the run up to the breeding season.

Breeding Problems: Common problems would include infertile or clear eggs.  Also some parents stop feeding or abandon their chicks and in some circumstances, eating their young.

We recommend: EasyBird SuperBreeder

Feather Fluffing: Commonly cause by the bird feeling a little poorly. Birds fluff their feathers to keep themselves warm.

We recommend: Guardian Angel

Mites: Mites can be brought in with new birds, bedding and even certain feeds.

We recommend: Ivermectin, Birdy-Finect & Blast-off Anti-Mite

Laboured Breathing: Cause typically by Air sac Mites or due to a respiratory infection

We recommend: Ivermectin, Wheeze-Eeze & Guardian Angel (to boost the immune system).

For more information on common bird complains visit our Birdcare website:  www.BirdcareCo.com or call our helpline for advice and product information: 0845 1308600

Dogs & small animals:

 Joints: injury and age are the root of a lot of joint complaints. 

We recommend: Easy MoverEasy Mover is liquid feedingstuff that not only maintains joint integrity, but also helps the soft tissues (ligaments, tendons and muscles) that support the joints, reducing the risk and severity of injury.

Coats: Sometimes, animals coats become dull and flaky.

We recommend: Coat Magic

Allergies: Animals also suffer from hey fever and allergies. 

We recommend: Guardian Angel

Horses:

Behaviour: This is one of our most common enquiries.  There are a number of causes and symptoms to behavioural disorders, however, many can be treated efficiently.  Below are just some of the regular symptoms we hear about:

  • Spooking easily
  • Nervous, anxious temperament
  • Dislike of grooming
  • Laminitis
  • Insulin resistance
  • Excessive swaying in hot weather & shivering in warm
  • Stiff, braced posture
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Restlessness and an inability to focus on the rider
  • Sudden shying at familiar objects
  • Grass belly
  • Bucking
  • Front feet placed far back under body when resting
  • Violent pulling-back when led
  • Aggression towards owners or herd-mates
  • Separation anxiety
  • Poor hoof quality, footsore without shoes or boots on hard or rough ground
  • Sweet-Itch

Through extensive testing, client feedback and years of experience in the supplement industry, we are able to develop new, innovative technology.  All of the symptoms shown above are all symptoms of mineral deficiencies such as chelated calcium and magnesium.  We have a number of products that have over a 70% success rate.

We recommend:  Cool, Calm & Collected, Sensible Essentials or any of our WinningEdge range.  Why not give us a call 0845 2301086 and we can advise you on the most appropriate and effective product for your horse.

Joints: We get a number of clients concerned over injury recovery and old age.  Joint stiffness and muscle damage can be problomatic for horse owners.

We reccomend: Easy Mover – Easy Mover is liquid feedingstuff that not only maintains joint integrity, but also helps the soft tissues (ligaments, tendons and muscles) that support the joints, reducing the risk and severity of injury.

Need more help? visist our website: www.equifeast.com or call out helpline on: 0845 2301086

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