Low-NSC Horse Feeds: What Kind Does My Horse Need?
Q. My horse was recently diagnosed with a metabolic condition and now must consume a low-starch, low-sugar diet. I currently feed a regular performance feed, because he’s in moderate to hard work and not the easiest of keepers. I have been looking for a different feed and have found a number with words like “low-starch,” “lite,” “low-carb,” and “safe” in their name. Would one of these be appropriate for my horse?
A. It’s generally recommended that horses with conditions such as insulin resistance (IR), equine metabolic syndrome (EMS), and polysaccharide storage myopathy (PSSM) consume diets low in starch and sugar.
Most horse owners are familiar with the fact that traditional grains such as oats and corn contain high levels of starch (40 to 60%), as do some commercial performance feeds. It’s tempting to focus on the grain in the diet; however, don’t to forget about the forage in the ration. Selecting an appropriate commercial feed won’t have as much an effect in managing the condition if the forage in the diet provides far too much starch or sugar. Ideally, have your forage tested to ensure it’s low in starch and sugar; if you can’t have it tested, consider soaking to lower the sugar
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