need advice for cutting hay

Judy and Bugsy

We are getting close to our one and only hay cutting season.  We grow our own hay and since we live where we live, we only have 1 hay crop/year and I want to do as much as I can to ensure low ESC +starch. The hay that we cut last year came out 7.9 ESC + 2.21 Starch = 10.11.  Since 10.11 is right at the cusp of acceptable/not acceptable I have been soaking for 1 hour for about 3 months.  Soaking in the winter is not sustainable so I need to get hay cutting right this year.  The hay field that we are going to use for horses does NOT have alfalfa in it  I believe the hay field is primarily bromegrass. We do not have irrigation so we rely on mother nature.  So far, we have only had 2 inches of rain this entire spring and we live in one of the sunniest areas in Canada.  

So from what I read we need to:
- cut hay following a cloudy day if possible
- cut hay early in the morning (before 10:00 am) 
--rained on hay will have some sugars leached out, but then you have to make sure hay is dry enough so doesn't get moldy when baled. 

Questions I have that I haven't been able to find the answers to or I've found conflicting information are:
1. Once the grass is cut, don't the cells continue to make sugar for a little while after cutting?  If so, then shouldn't the grass be baled on a cloudy day? 
2. At what stage of maturity should the grass be cut to keep sugars low? (i.e. grass seed heads just emerging, seed heads are mature or seed heads have dropped or empty)
3. If the swath is left out longer to cure before being baled, are sugars lowered? If so, how do you balance leaving the swath out longer but not too long that the grass disintegrates (is too dry) when being baled. 
4. Does temperature of when the hay is cut or when hay is baled play any role in sugars? (I'm referencing summer temperatures here like 10 night-30 day temperatures degrees Celcius). 
4. How does one reduce the amount of starch in grass? 
5. I was planning on continuing soaking the hay I presently have to use it up.  I can continue soaking for another 2 months before I head back to work.  The hay is balanced and I'm feeding a custom mineral blend.  Is there any problem in using my current hay for the next 2 months if I soak it for 1 hour prior to each feeding? 

I have read the information on, but most of the information there refers to NSC numbers rather than ESC + starch.  

Thanks in advance and I'm looking forward to the responses.  



Judy and Bugsy

Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada

Feb. 25, 2020


Re: Liz & Onyx - New Results

LJ Friedman

Just a reminder that these ideal weight calculations for example at 2% are based on a horse that’s not doing any work. My work equals more food
LJ Friedman  Nov 2014 Vista,   Northern  San Diego, CA

Jesse and majestic ‘s Case History 
Jesse's Photos


Re: Liz & Onyx - New Results

Sherry Morse

Hi Elizabeth,

To avoid the effects of the seasonal rise you want to run an ACTH sooner rather than later as we'll start seeing the effects of the seasonal rise by August and if his ACTH is elevated now you'll find yourself chasing the seasonal rise.  If his ideal weight is now 1000lbs. you're pretty close to that target and the fact that the hay has been balanced is good.  You could try lowering the amount of hay and either make up the difference in beet pulp (still staying at no more than 20lbs a day TOTAL intake as that's 2% of his ideal weight) or just lower the amount of hay by a bit and see if that helps get the last bit of extra weight off but it may not help get his glucose number down.  Obviously you don't want him to end up too skinny, but it is a bit of a balancing act making sure you're feeding 'just enough' and not 'too much' with an IR horse. 

Uncompensated has to do with his Insulin and Glucose numbers, not necessarily his ACTH number - although elevated ACTH can lead to an increase in insulin.  The metformin plus the pergolide keeping the ACTH in check will help bring the insulin down and while it could be lower it's well under our alarm level.  I'd like to see his glucose number lower but with everything as tight as you already have it I'm not sure where you can make an adjustment that would necessarily target just that.

I'm hoping Dr. Kellon or one of the other members with more experience on elevated glucose numbers can take a look at your CH and see if there's something I'm missing that may help.

Re: Standlee Teff Hay Pellets Analysis

Sherry Morse

Hello Cheri,

Welcome to the group! Since you don't have a specific question I'll just share the basic welcome message for you.  If you have a specific question please let us know, but thank you for getting your signature and case history set up already.

The ECIR Group provides the best, most up to date information on Cushing's (PPID) and Insulin Resistance (IR). Please explore our website where you'll find tons of great information that will help you to quickly understand the main things you need to know to start helping your horse. Also open any of the links below (in blue font) for more information/instructions that will save you time.

Orienting information, such as how the different ECIR sections relate to each other, message etiquettewhat goes where and many how-to pages are in the Wiki. There is also an FAQs on our website that will help answer the most common and important questions new members have. 

Below is a general summary of our DDT/E philosophy which is short for Diagnosis, Diet, Trim and Exercise.


DIAGNOSIS: There are two conditions dealt with here: Cushings (PPID) and Insulin Resistance (IR). These are two separate issues that share some overlapping symptoms. An equine may be either PPID or IR, neither or both. While increasing age is the greatest risk factor for developing PPID, IR can appear at any age and may have a genetic component. Blood work is used for diagnosis as well as monitoring the level of control of each.

PPID is diagnosed using the Endogenous ACTH test, while IR is diagnosed by testing non-fasting insulin, glucose and Leptin. Leptin is the hormone that says "stop eating". Knowing this helps to differentiate if a horse is IR "at baseline" or if an elevated ACTH is "driving" the insulin up. 

*Before calling your vet to draw blood for tests, we suggest saving time and wasted money by reading these details and then sharing them with your vet so that everyone is on the same page regarding correct testing and protocols.

*Please remember to request copies of the results of all the tests done rather than just relying on verbal information. Your vet should be able to email these to you. If you have previous test results, please include those as well. All should go in your CH, but if you are having any trouble with the CH, just post in the messages for now. 

Treatment: IR is a metabolic type - not a disease - that is managed with a low sugar+starch diet and exercise (as able). The super-efficient easy keeper type breeds such as minis, ponies, Morgans, Arabs, Rockies are some of the classic examples. PPID is a progressive disease that is treated with the medication pergolide. Some, but not all, individuals may experience a temporary loss of appetite, lethargy and/or depression when first starting the medication. To avoid this "pergolide veil" (scroll down for side effects), we recommend weaning onto the drug slowly and the use of the product APF. The best long term results are seen when the ACTH is maintained in the middle of the normal range at all times, including during the annual seasonal rise. To accomplish this, the amount of medication may need to increase over time. Neither condition is ever "cured", only properly controlled for the remainder of the equine's life. If your partner is both PPID and IR then both medication and diet management will be needed. 

DIET: Almost all commercial feeds are not suitable - no matter what it says on the bag. Please see the International Safe Feeds List for the safest suggestions.

No hay is "safe" until proven so by chemical analysis. The diet that works for IR is:

  • low carb (less than 10% sugar+starch)
  • low fat (4% or less) 
  • mineral balanced  

We use grass hay, tested to be under 10% ESC + starch, with minerals added to balance the excesses and deficiencies in the hay, plus salt, and to replace the fragile ingredients that are lost when grass is cured into hay, we add ground flax seed and Vitamin E. This diet is crucial for an IR horse, but also supports the delicate immune system of a PPID horse. 

*Until you can get your hay tested and balanced we recommend that you soak your hay and use the emergency diet (scroll down for it).  The emergency diet is not intended for long term use, but addresses some of the most common major deficiencies. Testing your hay and getting the minerals balanced to its excesses and deficiencies is the best way to feed any equine. If you absolutely cannot test your hay and balance the minerals to it, or would like to use a "stop gap" product until you get your hay balanced, here's a list of "acceptable" ration balancers

There is a lot of helpful information in the start here folder so it is important you read all the documents found there. The emergency diet involves soaking your untested hay for an hour in cold water or 30 minutes in hot water. This removes up to 30% of the sugar content, but no starch. Starch is worse than sugar since it converts 100% to glucose while sugar only converts 50%, so starch causes a bigger insulin spike. Make sure you dump the soaking water where the equine(s) can't get to it. 

What you don't feed on the IR diet is every bit as, if not more important than, what you do feed! No grass. No grain. No sugary treats, including apples and carrots. No brown/red salt blocks which contain iron (and sometimes molasses) which interferes with mineral balancing, so white salt blocks only. 

No products containing molasses. No bagged feeds with a combined sugar and starch of over 10% or starch over about 4%, or fat over about 4%. Unfortunately, even bagged feeds that say they are designed for IR and/or PPID equines are usually too high in sugar, starch and/or fat. It’s really important to know the actual analysis and not be fooled by a name that says it is suitable for IR/PPID individuals.

We do not recommend feeding alfalfa hay to IR/PPID equines as it makes many of them laminitic. Although it tends to be low in sugar, many times the starch is higher and does not soak out. Additionally, protein and calcium are quite high, which can contribute to sore footedness and make mineral balancing very difficult.

TRIM: A proper trim is toes backed and heels lowered so that the hoof capsule closely hugs and supports the internal structures of the foot. Though important for all equines, it's essential for IR and/or PPID equines to have a proper trim in place since they are at increased risk for laminitis. After any potential triggers are removed from the diet, and in PPID individuals, the ACTH is under control, the realigning trim is often the missing link in getting a laminitic equine comfortable. In general, laminitic hooves require more frequent trim adjustments to maintain the proper alignment so we recommend the use of padded boots rather than fixed appliances (i.e. shoes, clogs), at least during the initial phases of treatment.

Sometimes subclinical laminitis can be misdiagnosed as arthritis, navicular, or a host of other problems as the animal attempts to compensate for sore feet. 

You are encouraged to make an album and post hoof pictures and any radiographs you might have so we can to look to see if you have an optimal trim in place. Read this section of the wiki for how to get a hoof evaluation, what photos are needed, and how to get the best hoof shots and radiographs.

EXERCISEThe best IR buster there is, but only if the equine is comfortable and non-laminitic. An individual that has had laminitis needs 6-9 months of correct realigning trims before any serious exercise can begin. Once the equine is moving around comfortably at liberty, hand walking can begin in long straight lines with no tight turns. Do not force a laminitic individual to move, or allow its other companions to do so. It will begin to move once the pain begins to subside. Resting its fragile feet is needed for healing to take place so if the animal wants to lay down, do not encourage it to get up. Place feed and water where it can be reached easily without having to move any more than necessary. Be extremely careful about movement while using NSAIDs (bute, banamine, previcox, etc.) as it masks pain and encourages more movement than these fragile feet are actually able to withstand. Additionally, NSAIDs (and icing) do not work on metabolic laminitis and long term NSAID use interferes with healing. Therefore, we recommend tapering off NSAIDs after the first week or so of use. If after a week's time your equine's comfort level has not increased, then the cause of the laminitis has not been removed and keeping up the NSAIDs isn't the answer - you need to address the underlying cause.


There is lots more information in our files and archived messages and also on our website. It is a lot of information, so take some time to go over it and feel free to ask any questions. If you are feeling overwhelmed, don't worry, you will catch on, and we are always here to help you! Once you have your case history uploaded, we can help you help your equine partner even better.

If you have any technical difficulties, please let us know so we can help you. 

Re: Standlee Teff Hay Pellets Analysis

Cheri Tillman-Anderson

I would also like to see the analysis and appreciate you sharing it.  I use soaked Teff pellets (Standlee) as a carrier for my horses' supplements.   
May 2020 New Mexico

Re: Karo Light Test Results

Eleanor Kellon, VMD


Your vet is correct. High insulin was not the cause of your horse's problem.

Eleanor in PA 
EC Owner 2001

Re: Jack-Heaves


Re: Flax seed

Patricia Evans

If you have access to Triple Crown, their golden flax has a shelf life of two years. I don't remember exactly, but it is processed differently than straight grinding that makes it last longer.


North central Florida

July 7 2018


Karo Light Test Results


Trying to establish what might have been the cause of my horse, Tom, having severe laminitis May 2019.  Currently sound but still in recovery.

My vet says the Karo Light test is the best simulation to see whether grass might be causing suspected hyperinsulinemia.

We've just had our latest Karo Light test results back - 2020-06-18
Non-fasting.  Last meal at 9am.  Easy to eat haynet at 9am (probably finished 11am-12pm). Trickle net for rest of time.  
45ml per 100kg bodyweight (200ml) karo syrup given at 4.05pm.
Bloods taken at 4.15pm

Insulin: 12.4 uIU/ml
Baseline hay: equivocal = 0-15 uIU/ml, positive >15 uIU/ml
Glucose: 5.4 mmol/l (Interval 3.2-6.2)
Triglycerides: 0.28 mmol/l (Interval 0-0.5)

Vet says this all looks normal and that grass sugars are unlikely to be the cause of any problems.  Is that correct?

We also had a Karo Light test done last year (2020-09-25) and these are the results.
Tom weighed approx. 450-500kg.
This was fasting. Fed at 8am. Hay would probably have gone by midnight.  No hard feed.
I made an error with measurement and horse received 400ml karo syrup (instead of 45ml per 100kg bodyweight)
Insulin: <2.00 uIU/ml
Baseline fasted insulin: equivocal 0-5 uIU/ml, positive >5 uIU/ml
Glucose: 4.9 mmol/l  (Interval 3.2-6.2)

Many thanks


Emma M in East Sussex, UK 2020
Case History for Tom: and Tom
Photo Album for Tom:

Re: Standlee Teff Hay Pellets Analysis


Rebecca, if you are interested in adding a copy of the analysis to Files (with all your identifying information removed), let me know by private reply. The Folder of analyses of various feeds is: You'll find a sub-folder for Standlee products. 

Keep in mind that an analysis of one bag is just an analysis of one bag. Each bag is stamped with the milling date followed by a bag number. IME, the bags within one run are quite consistent. But because Standlee doesn't supply guaranteed analyses of its products, there is no guarantee that every bag of Teff Hay Pellets from different milling dates has a similar analysis. When I fed analyzed Standlee Timothy Pellets, I tried to buy a supply of bags from the same run.
Cass, Sonoma Co., CA 2012
ECIR Group Moderator
Cayuse and Diamond Case History Folder                
Cayuse Photos                Diamond Photos 

Re: Before and after photo of copper/zinc deficiency

ferne fedeli

Great article, Dawn!


Ferne Fedeli  Magic & Jack   2007

No. California
Case History



Re: Standlee Teff Hay Pellets Analysis


I'm very interested in the results of you don't mind sharing!

On Thu, Jul 2, 2020 at 5:29 PM, Rebecca Reddicliffe Bigelow
<rrbigelow@...> wrote:
I recently bought a bag of the new Standlee Teff Hay Pellets and sent some off to Equi Analytical for a trainers package analysis. If anyone is interested in it I'd be happy to share. I'm thinking of starting my horse with high insulin on it in addition to LMF Low Carb Complete. 
July 2009, Sacramento, California
Case History,  .
Dutch Photos,  .

Re: Liz & Onyx - New Results

Elizabeth Kuzma

Hi Sherry,
So I was able to update and upload a new case history.  When is it too late to do an ACTH level?  He is no longer on Thyrol -L and no longer on the smart packs.   He is being hand-walked and ridden by a 9 year old boy once a week at a walk.  His hand-walking is for 20 - 30 minutes about 4-5 times a week.  I was guesstimating his ideal weight to be 1000, though on the limited hay he had lost a lot of weight during the winter and ribs and spine were showing a lot more closer to a 3 on the body scale.  So I increased his hay and  took him off the beet pulp since he seemed to be always hungry on the limited hay.  His hay is always tested and balanced with a Vermont blend and he does get a tight trim every 4 weeks.   I can lower the hay back down to 18 pounds and see if he maintains his weight, and adding the beet pulp back in at 1 lb.

What does it really mean that he is uncompensated?  Is that mean that he is not regulated under the 2 mg, or without an ACTH level test I wouldn't know?
Aug. 2019, Patchogue, NY
Case History:
Onyx's Photo Album:
Hay analysis:

Re: Standlee Teff Hay Pellets Analysis


I’d love to know more about it. I just saw it at my tractor supply and was curious if it was a good choice for my cushings/IR/hypothyroid donkey 
Kelsey Hovi from PA 2020

Standlee Teff Hay Pellets Analysis

Rebecca Reddicliffe Bigelow

I recently bought a bag of the new Standlee Teff Hay Pellets and sent some off to Equi Analytical for a trainers package analysis. If anyone is interested in it I'd be happy to share. I'm thinking of starting my horse with high insulin on it in addition to LMF Low Carb Complete. 
July 2009, Sacramento, California
Case History,  .
Dutch Photos,  .

Re: Donkey!!!


I have an update everyone! 

Vet believes we’re have a laminitic event which causes bilateral front abscesses (donk has a history of this).

the front left blew, now we are working on the front right, but he’s getting around a lot better!

i did pick up some standlee beet pulp shreds.
whats the best way/ amount to feed him.

hes a large standard, 13 hands. He’s 700ish lbs. But very obese.
thank you to those who recommended a little beet pulp to give him his medications, rather than the senior feet. Which has a 10% fat. Meanwhile the beet pulp is a 2.5.

what are the best treats to feed a fat IR cushings donk? He eats celery but he pouts lol.

This  we start presend And an increase in thyroid meds. So hopefully that all starts to help soon.

I will be sure to get his case study complete as soon as I have the blood work numbers from the vet.

thanks everyone!!!

Kelsey Hovi from PA 2020

Re: DSLD in 27 PPID Morgan gelding


Hi, Cathie.
Sorry to hear your Chief is suffering.  In addition to getting control of his PPID, join the DSLD group on for more DSLD-specific information, including appropriate supplements. 
Cass, Sonoma Co., CA 2012
ECIR Group Moderator
Cayuse and Diamond Case History Folder                
Cayuse Photos                Diamond Photos 

Re: DSLD in 27 PPID Morgan gelding


Hi Cathie,

It seems to have been awhile since you last tested his ACTH.  PPID is a progressive disease and needs to be monitored.  I would try to get him tested fairly soon so that you will be able to increase his pergolide dose, should he need it, before seeing the effects of the seasonal rise.  One of the side effects of PPID can be a general laxity of the skeletal support system.  Mostly it’s seen on the back but everything can be affected.  This can happen to any aging horse but it’s more pronounced in horses with PPID.
Martha in Vermont
ECIR Group Primary Response
July 2012 
Logo (dec. 7/20/19), Tobit(EC) and Pumpkin, Handy and Silver (EC/IR)

Martha and Logo


Re: DSLD in 27 PPID Morgan gelding

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

Your vet is correct and making sure the PPID is controlled is very important. Beyond that, I have formulated a supplement that was just recently released, TendonEQ . There is a standing 5% discount for  ECIR  on all Uckele products but there is an Independence Day sale on right now that will give you 20% off - coupon code JULY2020.
Eleanor in PA 
EC Owner 2001

Cornell Insulin Greater than 200 #poll-notice

Eleanor Kellon, VMD

If you have ever received a Cornell insulin result greater than 200, what was the earliest year you got that result


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