Kayleigh de Villiers (MSc student)

Kayleigh obtained her BSc in Animal Science from the University of Pretoria. She is focusing her attention on the nutritional value and properties of pasture to more efficiently feed animals in agriculture, more specifically in equines. This led her to pursue a masters in Pasture Science.

Laminitis is one of the most common metabolic disorders in equines and can often occur due to an increased accumulation of carbohydrates in pasture, commonly known as pasture associated laminitis. It is difficult to diagnose the initial source of lameness in equine and pasture is often overlooked. Majority of an equines diet consists of pasture and might be the main source of lameness. Studies have shown that carbohydrates, mainly oligo-fructose, can induce laminitis within 24 hours. This study aims to isolate fructose and oligo-fructose, main trigger factors of laminitis, in pasture commonly used in the equine industry. The pasture will be analysed in both normal and water stressed conditions. The study will also look at the different physiological stages used for cutting hay specifically, boot stage and mature stage, which allows us to determine which harvest stage would have the highest concentration of fructose and allows us to which management practices would be most beneficial for the equine industry. This study will provide information on the isolated high-risk pastures and will therefore allow us to focus on pasture species with lower risk factors which are still of good nutritive value under proper management practices