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Sugar and Horses

 Sugar and horses

Facts about sugar From Our friends at dengie Horse Feeds

 A lot of myths and misinformation circulate about sugar.

Read on to distinguish fact from fiction!...

  • Grass is the greatest source of sugar in most horse’s rations – fresh pasture can contain 25% sugar of the dry matter.  
  • Most fibrous materials including straw will contain some sugar – feeds are rarely sugar free
  • No added sugar is a more accurate term – with chopped fibre feeds it means the fibre either has no coating added at all or an oil coating has been used which doesn’t contribute any sugar
  • If a company declares a sugar level this should refer to the simple sugars and would not include storage sugars such as fructan
  • Water soluble carbohydrates (WSC) includes storage sugars such as fructan and so will be a higher value than simple sugars
  • Sugar levels declared by a company are a typical value – there will be some variation in levels for every product no matter who produces it. A difference of 1 or 2% in declared levels between products makes very little difference as the actual level in the bag could easily vary that much between batches 
  • It is important to consider how much fibre feeds weigh to know how much sugar they are going to supply your horse – a whole Stubbs scoop is only 300-500grams of most fibre based chops or chaffs. If that feed is 10% sugar it supplies 30-50grams of sugar. A section of hay (approx. 2kgs) containing 12% sugar provides 240grams of sugar. You could feed 5 to 8 scoops of the fibre feed and provide the same amount of sugar as one section of hay. 
  • How much sugar is safe for your horse depends on your horse’s condition and physiological status. It is recommended that horses that are overweight, suffering with insulin dysregulation, prone to laminitis or with PPID should be fed less than 12% non structural carbohydrate (NSC) in the total diet. NSC refers to sugar, WSC and starch. This would effectively mean very little if any pasture can be consumed and a mature, highly fibrous forage be used. 

Source Details

Dengie Horse Feeds

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