|2. Inadequate building blocks for red blood cell and haemoglobin formation|
Iron, copper, cobalt and zinc are the important trace minerals required for red blood cell formation and metabolism. Vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid are essential vitamins in the process. Many trainers think that iron is the only nutrient required for blood cell production, however a deficiency of any of the other minerals and vitamins mentioned above can reduce red blood cell and haemoglobin formation regardless of how much iron is available to the horse.
It is general practice to supply horses with supplementation of some or all of the nutrients mentioned above. Iron is often given by injection, as is Vitamin B12 and folic acid. The use of iron injections is not recommended as it is not uncommon for a horse to suffer a fatal allergic reaction to the injections. Horses also do not have the ability to get rid of excess iron once it has been injected and there is a risk of iron overload that may affect liver function. It is preferable to administer iron in the form of feed supplements – the horse’s digestive tract can then regulate the iron uptake from the gut.
A short course of Blud®/FBC Bloodfood® is an excellent way to supplement blood-building nutrients. In addition to containing a highly concentrated form of iron (known as Iron carbonyl which is 98% iron) the supplement also contains copper and cobalt and a range of B-Complex vitamins including vitamin B6, B12 and folic acid, eliminating the need to give any of these nutrients by injection. It is recommended that a 3-week course of Blud®/FBC Bloodfood® be given at key times during training to help boost red cell and haemoglobin production.
Suggested times when a horse may require extra nutrients is:
- At the start of a preparation after the horse has been wormed out
- At the start of fast work when the body is stimulated to produce extra red cells to carry the oxygen needed for sprint exercise
- Prior to first race or trial
- At times when the horse may be training off
- After blood loss whether it be a planned “bleed” or an injury or surgical procedure
Blud®/FBC Bloodfood® is supplied in individual sachets for addition to feed. It is also commonly added to pre-race saline drenches. Although it is unlikely to generate new red blood cells that quickly, administration of iron and B-Vitamins 48 hours pre-racing seems to improve performance in many horses.