Eleanor Kellon, VMD

--- In EquineCushings@..., Judy <ymemags@...> wrote:

Dr. Kellon,
       I am new to the group so if I ask questions that have been answered before please forgive me. What do you recommend as a "safe" level of starch/sugar in the feed and /or hay of an IR horse. My vet recommends less than 10% but you are saying even 8% is too much.
I'm comfortable with less than 10% in hay for most horses, but most of that is sugars, not starch. Hay sugar in most types of hay is at least 50% sucrose. Sucrose is half glucose, half fructose. Plain fructose and glucose make up the rest.

Starch on the other hand is digested completely to glucose. It has the potential to produce almost twice as high a glucose spike as hay sugar.

Not all starch is created equal though. Oat starch is highly digestible in horses while the starch in dried peas is high in "resistant starch" that is not digestible (but ferments in the hind gut). Processing also changes the digestibility of various starches.
Pelleting and even size of the pellets can make a difference too.

Because of all these factors, it's difficult to make an across the board statement about feeds. The 8% I referred to applies only to whatever feed was tested in that report.

Eleanor in PA
EC Co-owner
Feb 2001

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