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  • Author or Editor: Carolyn L. Stull x
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To examine metabolic responses of chronically starved horses to refeeding with 3 isoenergetic diets.


Uncontrolled clinical trial.


22 mature mixed-breed horses that were emaciated but otherwise clinically normal.


Horses were fed 1 of 3 diets: alfalfa hay, oat hay, or a combination diet of half oat hay and half commercially prepared ration. Digestible energy of diets was gradually increased throughout the refeeding period. One pre- and 4 postprandial blood samples were obtained daily, and analyses included RBC count, Hct, and determination of hemoglobin, glucose, insulin, free fatty acid, total bilirubin, 2,3-diphosphoglyceric acid, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium concentrations. Body weight, fecal output, and feed and water consumption were measured and recorded daily. Repeated-measures ANOVA was used to examine dietary and temporal (day) effects of the 3 dietary regimens during 10-day trials.


19 horses survived. Three horses (2 fed alfalfa diet, 1 fed combination diet) died of metabolic or gastrointestinal problems. Increasing temporal effects in serum concentrations of glucose, insulin, magnesium, calcium, and sodium; decreasing temporal effects in serum concentrations of free fatty acid, 2,3- diphosphoglyceric acid, and phosphorus; and dietary effects in serum concentrations of glucose, insulin, magnesium, and potassium were detected in the 19 surviving horses. Serum phosphorus and free fatty acid concentrations decreased dramatically during the first 5 days of refeeding with all 3 diets. Serum magnesium concentrations increased in horses fed the alfalfa hay diet, whereas improvement was not evident in horses fed oat hay or combination diets. Horses receiving the alfalfa and oat hay diets had lower postprandial glucose and insulin concentrations than horses receiving the combination diet. Horses fed oat hay alone ate 92% of feed offered, compared with 98% feed consumption for horses fed alfalfa hay or combination diets.

Clinical Implications

Clinically normal emaciated horses can be successfully rehabilitated by gradual refeeding with a high forage diet. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 1998; 212:691-696)

Free access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


Observations were made on development of diarrhea in special - fed calves (n = 460) on 8 commercial facilities during 2 successive 16-week production cycles at weeks 0, 2, 4, 8, 12, and 16. A total of 23% were affected, with peak number of calves with diarrhea observed at week 0. Suspected enteropathogens were identified in 86 % of these calves, most commonly cryptosporidia, coronavirus, and rotavirus. Identified potential zoonotic pathogens included Giardia and Salmonella spp and verotoxigenic Escherichia coli. Noncytopathic bovine viral diarrhea virus was isolated from 6 calves that had repeated bouts of illness. Only 22% of calves entering the veal facilities had adequate transfer of passive immunity. At week 0, serum IgG concentration in calves that subsequently died or had diarrhea was lower (P < 0.001) than that in healthy calves. All calves that died (n = 6) during the first 4 weeks of production had complete failure of transfer of passive immunity.

Free access
in American Journal of Veterinary Research


Objective—To assess changes in body weight, carcass quality, and fecal pathogen shedding in cull dairy cows fed a high-energy ration for 28 or 56 days prior to slaughter.

Design—Randomized clinical trial.

Animals—31 adult Holstein dairy cows.

Procedures—Cows were randomly assigned to a control (immediate slaughter) group or a 28-day or 56-day feeding group. Cows in the feeding groups received a high-energy feed and were weighed every 7 days. Carcasses were evaluated by USDA employees. Fecal and blood samples were collected at the start and end of the feeding periods.

Results—Body condition score and adjusted preliminary yield grade were significantly increased in both feeding groups, compared with values for the control group; body weight, hot carcass weight, dressing percentage, and ribeye area were significantly increased after 56 days, but not after 28 days, compared with values for the control group. Average daily gain and marbling score were significantly lower after feeding for 28 days versus after 56 days. Prevalence of Escherichia coli O157:H7 shedding in feces decreased from 14% to 5.6%, but this difference was not significant. Cows seropositive for antibodies against bovine leukemia virus that had signs of lymphoma and lame cows had a low average daily gain. Net loss was $71.32/cow and $112.80/cow for the 28-day and 56-day feeding groups, respectively.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Feeding market dairy cows improved body condition and carcass quality. Cows seropositive for antibodies against bovine leukemia virus that have signs of lymphoma and lame cows might be poor candidates for reconditioning.

Full access
in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association