What to do for Mud-Fever
Firstly, eliminate rye, clover and Lucerne (Alfalfa) from the diet!
Apply Medical Grade Active Manuka honey to all the scabs. They don't seem to mind this being done!
3. Smother the honey all over the affected areas.
4. Then cover gamgee bandages with honey also and wrap the whole fetlock.
5. After 36 hours, remove the bandage, the scabs will have softened and come off with the bandage - just look how much cleaner and healthier the area looks already!
6. Repeat the process for any residual scabs. Never pick them off.
This was one of our rescue horses (Ben) who was suffering terribly from 'Mud Fever' when he first arrived.
Because there is no clover in his diet the mud-fever has not returned.
Ben is now a stunning, lovely natured, healthy horse who thoroughly enjoys life in our herd.
Rachel’s 8 year old Welsh Cob ‘Neptune’ was itchy to the point of rubbing himself raw....
“He's not been on any supplements up until now but has got very itchy patches, he's rubbed all the hair off on his back - there's no oozing or swelling. Lots of the horses have been itchy this year so maybe a grass thing?
Can you tell me which products I should start him on please? It would be great to stick with one range of products and I've heard great things about CHH".
We recommended a month of high dose SOS and Alleviate Gold (approx. 80gms/day of each) mixed into plain feeds.
Rachel contacted us on Saturday to say “his itching has cleared up and his hair has grown back.”
Rachel can reduce the high doses to maintenance amounts now and the introduction of Premium MVA to his feed will keep up the good work!
"He is a gorgeous Purebred Welsh Cob I'm wanting to show him so I'm pleased is skin is clearing up!"
3 months later we received another update...
3 months now with your supplements and he’s looking incredible! Hasn’t had a bath since January, this is just natural shine...
‘Mud Fever & Sunburn’
It is so easy to misunderstand these two conditions.
The names give the impression that they are caused by external factors such as ‘mud’ or ‘sun’. In actual fact the real name for both of these conditions is ‘Photosensitisation’ caused by the horse consuming plants high in ‘photodynamic’ (or fluorescing) pigments.
There are two types: primary and secondary.
Primary occurs due to the ingestion of lush, dark green plants which are high in photodynamic pigments, such as Clovers, Lucerne (alfalfa) rye-grass, St John's Wort or even blue-green algae like spirulina. Via digestion, these pigments enter the bloodstream and eventually reach the un-pigmented skin of white faces and white socks where they are exposed to UV rays which damage the skin.
Serum often oozes through the sores to form the crusty edges. Then, the damaged skin sloughs off leaving ulcerated areas that are susceptible to secondary bacterial infections, especially in muddy conditions, hence the name 'mud fever'. This is how horses can develop ‘mud fever’ even when there is no mud in sight.
Secondary occurs when the normal breakdown of chlorophyll is disrupted and liver dysfunction leads to its accumulation in the blood and body tissues. In the skin this allows excessive absorption of UV light, resulting in the inflammation and sun-burn-like lesions.
The offending ‘photodynamic’ pigments are found in all sorts of dark green plants especially legumes such as clover (of any variety) and Lucerne (Alfalfa). Dark green grasses like Rye Grass are also high in fluorescing pigments as is blue green algae (eg Spirulina), St John’s Wort and Buttercup.
One summer we learned the hard way. Before we understood about these things we bought and fed to our horses, some freshly made hay that was full of clover. Big mistake! Within 24 hours our horses white legs flared up, swelling to the point of almost splitting the skin, followed closely by the appearance of the oozy sores.
The more ‘bluey green’ the plant, the higher in the ‘photodynamic pigments’ they are.
Paddocks of brand new grass/clover mixes are particularly dangerous to all livestock especially those with large areas of unpigmented skin like coloured horses.
While it is necessary to treat existing ‘mud-fever’ topically (there are many topical treatments that work well) what you really need to do is remove the cause which means being meticulous about pasture management and being aware of what plants are in your horse’s hay. Particularly avoid clover and lucerne if your horse has trouble with either ‘mud-fever’ or ‘sun-burn.
Then you will never have to worry about your white-faced, white socked horses again.
In the case of Albinos, Cremellos, Paints and Appaloosas – some individuals have very sensitive skin and little protection from hair around their eyes and muzzles and are consequently susceptible to real sunburn and therefore do need protection from the UV rays. There are excellent masks available which are designed for the purpose.
- taking steps to ensure plants like clovers, plantain, cat’s ear, capeweed and ragwort don’t become predominant as part of pasture management and be very mindful of what is in your hay
- making sure you feed a high spec multi vitamin and mineral which contains the organic forms of copper and zinc along with all the other minerals necessary for optimal health of the whole horse - Premium NZ Horse Minerals, Premium MVA or Supreme Vit & Min (Australia).
Two of our white faced horses, no need to wear mask or sunburn cream, they simply don't get 'sun burn'.
"My poor boy suffered badly from this when I first got him (6years ago). He had paddock boots every summer for years to avoid the sun. I’ve since been educated and am grass aware! We own our own property now and have almost eradicated the “bad” grasses! He is also on GE, ToxAll, Minerals & XtraCal and is now doing Suuuuuperb! He’s not a crazy, soooky horse anymore either. He’s now a total doddle!"
(Formally the racehorse Stradivarius) came to me (Cathy one of the Calm Healthy Horses team) in April 2021.
Outwardly he didn't look too bad but he had a bundle of issues that surfaced within the first few months.
Apart from the fact he was a cribber and chewed through a couple of wooden posts in the first 6 weeks until the addition of salt in his diet put paid to it, he was a chronic windsucker - interestingly this became less and less over 3-4 months and a year on he has totally stopped all signs of wind sucking, and hasn't done this for at least 4 months!)
More concerning at the time, a few weeks after he arrived, in May, he started to develop bald patches on his body. These rapidly spread and became weepy and itchy.
The vet suggested they could possibly be a delayed stress reaction and certainly this appears to be the case as after a couple of months on his diet, the hair grew back and you would now never know he had these patches!
Here is a photo series...
BELOW - Marshall a few weeks after arrival, his coat is a little patchy but not bad. He is still on high alert...
To my horror these ugly patches began to appear all over his body and face! They would start out small and gradually expand becoming itchy and weepy.
Marshall's beautiful face a year later ...
Marshall this summer (2022) in his beautiful new gleaming coat enjoying playing with his 'bestie' Zephyr...