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Did the brown, stemmy, overmature hay you thought was perfect for your easy keepers make them even fatter? Are increased sugar concentrations in your pasture causing your pony’s recent bouts of laminitis, or increased muscle soreness in your equine polysaccharide storage myopathy (EPSM)-afflicted horse? Could high fructan levels caused by recent frosty nights be the reason why several of your pastured horses experienced gas colic or diarrhea recently?
Rocky Mountain Research and Consulting has conducted a good deal of research on carbohydrates in forage, primarily focusing on levels of nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC). As defined by plant scientists, this fraction includes sugar, starch and fructan–those carbohydrates found inside plant cells. These are high-energy, easily digestible carbohydrates that have been implicated to exacerbate some equine diseases such as laminitis and equine polysaccharide storage myopathy. However, nutritionists and forage analysis laboratories are moving away from using the term "NSC" to evaluate carbohydrates because they might define the term differently than plant scientists do. To avoid confusion, there is a new trend in favor of breaking this dietary component into more specific measures of water-soluble carbohydrates (WSC) and ethanol-soluble carbohydrates (ESC; for mor
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