Skin Problems

Hives – Protein Bumps – Urticaria – Nettle Rash – Severe Itching 

  • Small bumps appearing on the skin, on the front and/or flanks may be due to sensitivity to barley. Protein levels per se are not thought to be directly involved. A reaction is occurring to a specific protein or other antigen.
  • Severe itching and/or hair loss – If parasites are not apparent, the cause may be sensitivity to barley or another feed ingredient or antigen, as above. The sugar in molasses has been suggested as a possible cause but to date, no conclusive evidence is available. N.B. barley straw in the bed has been known to cause a reaction. Special Diets free of barley and molasses can be formulated for your horse.

One customer reported this problem ceasing on withdrawing an electrolyte supplement. Another reported a reaction to chemical crop spray drift. It may be necessary to experiment by withdrawing one feed ingredient or grooming aid at a time, until the cause is identified.

Filled Legs/Oedema

Causes may be mechanical (due to injury, possibly leading to lymphangitis) or may also be a sensitivity reaction as described above. There is currently no conclusive research as to the causes. Fluid reaching the leg tissues is normally returned via the blood and lymphatic systems. This mechanism can be impeded through lack of exercise when horses are kept in, and also by a sensitivity reaction to one or more allergenic components in the diet and/or environment. These can include barley straw bedding, pollen, etc. It is suggested that two or more allergens may combine to act as a trigger, but have no effect individually. Extra soluble carbohydrate in hay or haylage combined with starch from cereals in feed may set off a reaction – reduce one or the other and the problem may subside. If in doubt, CONSULT YOUR VET!

For individual advice,  please telephone or use the contact form here