Feeding Magnesium Supplement to Foals Reduces Osteochondrosis Prevalence

Guillaume Counotte, Gerrit Kampman, Vincent Hinnen
May 2014
Journal of Equine Veterinary Science

The influence of supplements containing magnesium on the etiology of osteochondrosis (OC) is unknown. We did two studies to measure the effect of additional minerals (especially magnesium) on OC. In study 1 (five studs, in total 64 mares and foals aged 0 to 5 months, equally divided into two groups), supplementation with minerals and placebo was used. Blood samples were taken from foals at age of 2, 8, and 16 weeks. At the same time, milk samples were taken from the mare. Bone biomarkers (osteocalcin and C-terminal telopeptide [CTx] of type I [CTx-1] collagen) and minerals (calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium) were measured in blood and the same minerals in milk of the mare. At the end of the study, the femoropatellar (knee), tarsocrural (hock), and metacarpophalangeal and/or metatarsophalangeal (fetlock) were radiographed and scored for the presence and grade of osteochondrotic lesions. In study 2 (six studs, 54 foals aged 5 to 12 months, equally divided into two groups), the same was repeated. At the start and end of the study, again blood samples were taken and analyzed on the same parameters as in study 1. Also, the same radiography was done. In study 1 in the mineral supplemented group, 21.9% were diagnosed with osteochondrosis compared with 41.9% in the placebo group. In study 2, there was no change in OC between 5 and 12 months in the placebo group whereas there was a drop of 14.3% in incidence in the supplement group. We concluded that magnesium supplementation reduced OC prevalence.