Faecal Water Syndrome as it is now known has become common in the last two years.
Initially it was particularly associated with horses who were subjected to extreme and continuing rainfall and flooding, and who were forced to eat waterlogged grasses and poor quality hay.
Contamination of this fodder with disease causing bacteria, fungi and other microbes was very likely, with scours as well as FWS a common result.
The two conditions are different, with scours the manure is very sloppy (in severe cases projectile) whereas with FWS, manure coloured water is passed before and/or after manure and also as gassy farts when manure is not being passed. Horses with FWS usually don’t have any other obvious health problems.
One of my own horses was affected with FWS starting in March 2020 during very wet weather, and since then many horse owners have been in touch for help in healing this unpleasant problem.
I have to say it has been difficult to fix with a lot of trial and error work, both with my own and clients’ horses, also with the condition starting to occur in horses which had not been subjected to the really wet conditions outlined above.
Initially my treatments included Slippery Elm Bark Powder, Activated Charcoal, Oil of Peppermint, Probiotics, Zeolite and prescriptions of demulcent, astringent and anti-microbial herbal medicines.
What I found was there was a good response for varying times followed by a relapse, although not as severe.
My next port of call with my own horse was fresh herbs from the garden, Comfrey leaf and Calendula flowers. These were readily accepted and had a much longer positive affect.
Whilst the severity of the condition was hugely reduced there were still a few episodes for no apparent reason.
Clearly the bacterial balance of the whole digestive system is disturbed in this condition, and especially the hindgut where most of the water is removed from the ingesta, so it is essential to maintain a good quality probiotic. I use and recommend a herbal fermented probiotic made in Australia which is inexpensive and effective. It contains Lactobillus casei, Lactobillus plantarum & Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
The most common mycotoxin binders used in animal health are inorganic toxin binders. These are mainly mineral clays including aluminosilicates, bentonite, montmorillonites and zeolite which bind polar mycotoxins due to their electromagnetic charges and non-polar toxins due to the porous physical structure of the molecule.
After research I chose human food grade Zeolite, as it is an Australian product, readily available, not expensive and acceptable to horses.
I am not in favour of toxin binders being a permanent addition to the diet, but Zeolite should be included for susceptible horses especially in wet weather.
The solution finally presented itself (light bulb moment, better late than never) – enzymes in the form of honey, and one unique liver herb Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria).
Australian Manuka Honey (High Strength MGO 400+) has to be used to start with – a big teaspoon diluted in warm water and used to dampen the feed, or orally syringed. Once results are achieved raw floral honey can be substituted and maintained in the feed.
Agrimony is a unique liver herb as it regulates the speed of digestion, by balancing peristalsis. It has a tonic effect on the pancreas, spleen and kidneys, it’s astringent action tones the g-i tract, removes toxins and the blood supply to the g-i tract is improved through hepatic, renal arteries and portal vein. It is also useful for treating scours.
So I am now successfully using Agrimony as part of a holistic prescription of liquid herbal extracts to suit the individual horse together with zeolite and herbal probiotic as part of a customized VF Natural Diet.
It is extremely important that no laxative feeds are given to susceptible horses or those with FWS. Linseeds fed as part of a porridge and as a cold pressed oil are an important part of the VF Natural Diet but they are laxative and therefore contra-indicated for FWS horses.