Let's Talk Big Head & Calcium Deficiencies!
The condition 'bighead' was first diagnosed in Australian horses grazing subtropical pastures in 1974. Since then it has been widely recognised in horses grazing buffel, pangola, setaria, kikuyu, green panic, guinea and signal grass. These tropical grasses, planted along the seaboards of Australia, contain oxalate - a chemical that significantly interferes with mineral utilisation by horses.
In bighead-producing grasses the major portion of calcium is present as crystalline calcium-oxalate which is insoluble, making the calcium unavailable for absorption in the gut. Grasses with more than 0.5% oxalate are capable of inducing bighead.
There are three clinical manifestations of the bighead described in Australia: ill-thrift, lameness, and swelling of the facial bones in the skull. Horses suffering ill-thrift have harsh coats and lose condition, even while grazing adequate pasture.
The most severe changes occur in the skull bones - notably the jaws, maxilla, mandible and nasal bones - which often swell, giving the disease the expressive name of 'bighead'.
Affected animals can only be treated by correcting the imbalance of calcium and phosphorous, however the good news is that even severe lesions throughout the horse’s body may disappear with correct treatment. It can take 4 to12 months to remineralise the bones, but there is always the possibility that the ‘big head’ appearance may remain unchanged.
The information above is provided by Dr Jennifer Stewart, a highly regarded Equine Veterinarian and Nutritionist and also the brains behind Jenquine, whose Bone Formula Supplement is considered one of the best scientific based products on the market for helping prevent and treat calcium deficiencies.