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My horse is losing his black colour

I am looking for something to give my black horse, his coat is fading to a motley grey. My horse was a lovely black during the winter but now that he is out on grass, his coat is loosing colour. I have seen there are supplements available in America that say they will return the horse to a rich black colour.

Is there anything like that in the UK? Or can you recommend herbs that I could fed to my horse to make his coat grow through blacker?

Jo G

Answer

The loss of colour especially in grey and black horses is often due to a copper deficency, as a result of depigmentation of the coat. Other symptoms of copper deficency are anaemia, weak bones particularly in foals, poor wound healing and frquent infections. Adequate copper is very important for the repair and maintenance of bones, joints, hooves and tendons.

Acid Rainfall or Soil to Blame? You don't indicate your location. Your soil type and poor mix of herbage could be to blame.

Peat & acid soils - Copper is deficient in peaty and acid soils such as moorland in Yorkshire, the lower levels of the Pennines, the Lake District, Scottish 'grouse' and 'heather' land and many areas of Ireland. Indicative of moorland is vegetation such as heather, wild bilberries, calluna, birch, rowan and pine.

Acid rainfall the fallout of industrial pollution from furnaces or over head flight paths. Living close to an industrial area subjects your land to rain with a heavy sulphur content. High sulphur levels in herbage suppress the uptake of copper from the soil.

Lime soils with little topsoil or heavy liming of soils increase the availabilty of molybdenum several fold. High levels of molybdenum interfere with the utilsation of copper in the body.

Pasture Herbs

The problem may also be that the herbage in your grazing consists of copper poor plants. Grasses are generally poor in copper, the wild grass Cocksfoot being the richest in copper and is generally included in pasture mixes. Legumes contain far more copper than grass, Red Clover being the legume of choice for copper. Yarrow found in pasture mixes is rich in copper, as is Chickweed and Dandelion root. Re seeding your pasture with a mix that includes Yarrow, Red Clover and Cocksfoot will help increase the levels of copper available to your horse.

Dried Herb Supplementation

A mix of equal parts by weight of dried Yarrow, Chickweed, powdered Dandelion root and Rose hips. (Rose hips to provide Vitamin C as an anti-oxidant and to aid iron absorption necessary for the utilisation of copper)

Feed 10 grams per 100 kilos body weight per day.

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