Tuesday, May 06, 2014

NSC for All Seasons: Carbohydrate Levels in Horse Pastures

Equinews.com - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · April 7, 2014

Grass is a natural food for horses, and many equines get along well with unrestricted pasture access at any time of the year. For certain horses with health problems like metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance, free-choice consumption of grass can lead to bouts of laminitis, an intensely painful and sometimes fatal inflammation of the structures within the hoof. For these horses that are highly sensitive to the nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC, including starches and sugars) in grass, grazing must be avoided or at least restricted to times when foliage energy level is at a very low level.

Most horse owners know that NSC can be abundant when grass is actively growing during the spring, summer, and early fall months. However, considering the sugar that’s stored in plant foliage and the spikes in photosynthesis that can occur on sunny days during late fall and early spring, even grass that looks dormant may not be safe for some horses to graze. Having grass samples tested is the only way to determine the NSC level in pasture foliage...

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