Nutritional Articles

A review of factors affecting carbohydrate levels in forage

Published: 2004-04-15

A review of factors affecting carbohydrate levels in forage
There has been considerable interest recently in equine illnesses that are associated with high levels of carbohydrates (sugars and starch) in equine diets. The illnesses of concern include laminitis, equine polysacheride storage myopathy and equine metabolic syndrome. Recently, the possible role of fructans (a carbohydrate comprised of fructose) in equine laminitis has been proposed which is generally found in cool season grasses. The authors propose that the concept of minimizing specific carbohydrate fractions in the diet may help to manage laminitis in horses. The article describes factors affecting carbohydrate concentration in forage, discusses “rules of thump” and strategies for managing grazing for high-risk equines and how to choose hay low in carbohydrates. The take home message of this review was that carbohydrate concentration of forage should be taken into account when formulating rations for carbohydrate intolerant equines. Carbohydrate content of pasture is highly variable, and subject to many factors. The article is easy-readable and practicle. More information regarding this topic can also be found on the authors website

Watts, K.A. and Chatterton, N.J. 2004. A review of factors affecting carbohydrate levels in forage. J. Eq. Vet. Sci. 24: 84-86.

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