Last Updated: | By Sarah Braithwaite, Author & Horse Health Expert
If your horse is sensitive to sugar and starch levels Forageplus™ can answer your questions about how a nutritional forage analysis can help you manage horses and ponies prone to laminitis.
Carrying out a nutritional analysis can be a crucial factor in helping manage horses which are sensitive to sugar and starch levels in their diet.
A Forageplus™ nutritional report will tell you what the combined levels of Ethanol Soluble Carbohydrate (ESC) and starch in dry hay/haylage are. This information, given to you in a detailed and helpful report, will tell you whether your forage is suitable to feed or will trigger raised insulin levels due to high sugar and starch levels.
Testing dry hay or haylage and getting a nutritional report will also enable you to know whether you definitely need to rinse and soak the hay or haylage to lower the sugar level for your horse. Many types of hay or haylage are too high in carbohydrate for horses sensitive to sugar and so must be washed to lower the sugar levels. However rinsing and soaking hay is not always desirable because the process of washing the hay will wash soluble nutrients like sodium and B vitamins out of the forage. If you can determine whether rinsing and soaking is necessary then you can avoid soaking your forage unnecessarily. This will also make it easier to feed your horse especially in very hot or very cold weather. Not soaking hay or haylage is also very time saving and the forage will be more nutritious.
It is your choice whether you test your hay dry or soaked or test a sample of both. Many people start with a dry sample to obtain the ESC and starch level. If the report comes back with a very high level of sugar then for peace of mind or for horses and ponies who need special care then a further test of a soaked sample can check that the forage has indeed had the sugars lowered enough after rinsing for it to be safe to feed to a horse or pony prone to laminitis.
An analysis of soaked forage will tell you whether you have been able to rinse enough sugar out of the hay/haylage to reduce levels of sugar. Dr Eleanor Kellon VMD and the ECIR Yahoo Group have found that the health of horses susceptible and sensitive to sugar/starch levels are best maintained when combined ESC and starch levels are below 10%.
It is extremely important when testing hay for horses and ponies sensitive to sugar that both ESC and starch is tested. Just testing sugar or total water soluble carbohydrates or non structural carbohydrates will not give you the correct information to accurately measures the carbohydrate levels in forage which affect horses and ponies sensitive to sugar and prone to laminitis.