Stampede spotlight: Fresh 'nutritional therapy' approaches back horse welfare and performance
As equine sports and western events take the spotlight around Calgary Stampede and other leading equine shows and competitions, a new concept is gaining ground to support the welfare and performance of horses.
The new approach rising in adoption is called nutritional therapy — and its use with horses mirrors approaches used with human athletes to support ongoing optimal health and recovery. A pioneering company in the use of nutritional therapy for horses and livestock is DeStress Nutritional Technology, based in Alberta, Canada.
“The response we’re seeing is real positive,” says Chance Butterfield, a professional steer wrestler from Ponoka and a sales representative for DeStress Nutritional Technology. “It seems the time is right for nutritional therapy as we get more sophisticated in understanding the needs of the animals and how we can provide optimal support. We recognize this in humans and really the same principles hold true in horses and livestock. Nutritional therapy has benefits for any type of horses, whether they are elite performance animals or working horses.”
A growing number of horses at leading western events are benefitting from this approach as a new way to support both the welfare and performance of the animals. The science foundation underlying DeStress technology comes from many years of research on stress impacts in livestock and horses led by veteran agriculture research scientist Dr. Al Schaefer, based in Lacombe, Alta., Canada.
Based on strong response from an initial market introduction phase, and rising demand for animal welfare innovations, DeStress Nutritional Technology recently increased its manufacturing and distribution capacity. This now allows much wider availability of the DeStress-Equine formulation in Canada, the U.S. and more broadly internationally. DeStress Nutritonal Technology also offers formulations for use with swine and cattle. The product is a feed supplement added to the animal diets.
“What DeStress and nutritional therapy are about is the application of nutrition science to promote health, welfare and peak performance with the animals,” says Schaefer. “DeStress-Equine is an extensively researched tool that gives horse owners and everyone involved with horse care a new option to make sure the animals have the best support possible, to optimize their overall well being and protect against the negative impacts of stress.”
Nutrition components custom tailored in the bio-based DeStress formulations include energy sources, electrolytes and amino acids. Formulations are designed to support, maintain and replenish critical nutritional needs in the face of stress, while also triggering additional positive and “calming” physiological responses.
“With the performance horses, one of the areas where we’re seeing a real strong benefit is in allowing the animals to maintain top conditioning during transport in between events,” says Schaefer. “We’re seeing a substantial difference between the treated and non-treated animals. For one example, the treated animals have a full degree or more lower body temperature in transport, which translates to energy expenditure and represents a major difference especially over the course of a full season.”
More trial data and commercial results are emerging regularly with expanded use and advancement of the product, says Schaefer. More information is available at www.destress-nutrition.com. Follow DeStress Equine on Twitter (@destress_equine) for latest updates.
Posted on July 8, 2016 by Brad Brinkworth