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ARE YOU FEEDING A LOW-STARCH HORSE FEED?
 

In the past, before added-fat horse rations became universally accepted, horse-feed concentrates were selected for low fiber content in order to provide the highest possible amount of digestible energy (DE) in the total ration (Table 1).  These low-fiber feeds also contained large amounts of starches and sugars compared to forages.  However, the selection of low-fiber/high-starch feeds was based on two erroneous assumptions:

  • Fiber is not necessary in horse concentrates

  • Starch in large quantities is not harmful to horses 

Table 1. Protein, Fat, Fiber, and NSC Carbohydrate Values for Horse Feeds and Forages (DM Basis)

Feedstuff

Protein

(%)

Fat

(%)

Crude

Fiber

(%)

NSC

(%)

Estimated Digestible Energy

(Mcal/lb)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Corn

 7.5

4.0

2.0

73.1

1.5 (1.3ɸ)

Barley

11.0

2.0

5.0

60.0

1.6 (1.3ɸ)

Molasses

 6.6

0

0

62.0

1.3

Oats

12.5

6.0

9.5

51.0

1.3

Dehydrated Alfalfa

18.0

2.6

25.0

9.7

1.1

Timothy Hay

10.0

2.5

31.0

12.9

0.8

Soybean Hulls

13.8

3.2

34.0

5.0

0.9

Wheat Midds

18.0

6.0

9.5

25.0

0.77

Beet Pulp

9.4

1.3

19.0

11.0

1.3

Rice Bran

14.5

18.0

8.5

25.0

1.6

Flax Meal

34.0

42

24

10.0

1.7

Example grain Pellet

12.0

6.0

8.0

60.0

1.5 (1.3ɸ)

GROSTRONG®

Ultra-FiberTM1

13.0

6.0

20.0

16.2

1.5

ɸ Actual value in horses, due to low pre-cecal starch digestibility.

1ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. Quincy, IL

 

Research has shown that those assumptions are not correct.  It is now know that the unique equine digestive tract requires fiber, not just in the forage, but in the concentrate as well, in order to function properly.  Large amounts of low-fiber, high-starch feed, fed in meals, have no opportunity to mix with the high-fiber hay fed earlier or later.  These types of feeds exceed the starch-digesting capability of the foregut. 

 

Non-structural carbohydrates, like starch and sugar, have numerous adverse effects on horses.  Starch, from corn and barley, has a low foregut digestibility, leading to its fermentation in the hindgut, acidosis and a high risk of colic and founder.  Starch fermented in the stomach contributes to ulcers.  Growing horses fed high-starch rations are at greater risk for developmental orthopedic diseases.  And, easily digestible starch and sugar from oats and molasses contribute to increased blood glucose and hyperactivity following meals.  High-forage rations are desirable, because they contain much less starch and sugar.  But, how can horses on high-forage rations get enough energy for maximum performance? 

 

Fortunately, high-energy, low-starch options are now available.  GROSTRONG Ultra-Fiber, just one of ADM's limited starch feeds, contains 6% fat from soybean oil.  It provides substantial energy to horses in a highly digestible form with minimal starch.  The benefits of low-starch rations in elite performance horses in all disciplines and in broodmares, stallions, senior horses and growing horses are being consistently reported in scientific literature.  Take time to evaluate the fiber, energy and starch in your horse's ration. 

 

Comparing Feeds for Starch and Fiber Content
When comparing feeds for starch and fiber content (Tables 2, 3), look for these high-quality, easily digestible (low starch) fiber sources in the ingredient lists:  soybean hulls, beet pulp and dehydrated alfalfa.  Wheat middlings are a low-starch feed (about 20% starch).  However, they are also relatively low in crude fiber at 9%.  High-starch feeds include corn, milo, barley, other cereal grains and the collective term "grain products"  If ingredients are listed in order of inclusion*, forage (roughage) products will be listed below grain ingredients in low-starch feeds. 

*Note: Most states do not require ingredients to be listed in order of inclusion on horse feeds tags, even though many companies do list them in order.

 

 

Table 2. Comparison of High-Starch (ingredients listed) and Low-Starch Horse Feeds

Nutrient

Example grain pellet

GROSTRONG? Ultra-Fiber1

Protein, % min

14

13

Fat, % min

6

6

Crude Fiber, % max

8

20

Estimated Starch & Sugar, %

60

16

Calcium, % min-max

0.6-0.9

0.8 - 1.3

Phosphorus, % min

0.6

0.45

Copper, ppm

55

45

Zinc, ppm

220

149

Selenium, ppm

0.06

0.65

Vitamin A, IU/lb

3,000

5,000

Ingredients*

Wheat Middlings, Ground Corn, Dehulled Soybean Meal, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Molasses, Soybean Oil, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Lignin Sufonate, Salt, Calcium Propionate (a preservative), Anis, Fenugreek flavor, Vitamin E Supplement, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Riboflavin Supplement, Ferrous Carbonate,  Niacin Supplement, dl-Methionine, Lysine, Choline Chloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Magnesium Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate, Sodium Selenite

Soybean Hulls, Wheat Middlings, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Corn Germ Meal, Vegetable Oil Refinery Lipid, Cane Molasses, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Lignin Sulfonate, Vegetable Oil, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dehulled Soybean Meal, L-Lysine, Extracted Citric Acid Presscake, Magnesium Oxide, Sodium Propionate (A Preservative), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Monocalcium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Defluorinated Phosphate, Ferrous Sulfate, Mineral Oil, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Niacin Supplement, d-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Source of Vitamin E),  Vitamin E Supplement, Cholecalciferol (Source of Vitamin D3), Cobalt Carbonate, Sodium Selenite, Sodium Bentonite, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity).

*Note: Most states do not require ingredients to be listed in order of inclusion on horse feeds tags, even though many companies do list them in order.

 

Many companies use a least-cost method to formulate horse feeds.  With this method, ingredient amounts change with every batch of feed produced.  Since horses digest ingredients differently, least-cost formulations can result in digestive disorders in horses and are not recommended by the nutritionists at ADM Alliance Nutrition.  Contact your feed company to find out if they least-cost their horse formulas. 

 

Table 3. Comparison of High-Starch (collective terms) and Low-Starch Horse Feeds

Nutrient

Example grain pellet

GROSTRONG Ultra-Fiber

Protein, % min

12

13

Fat, % min

6

6

Crude Fiber, % max

8

20

Estimated Starch & Sugar, %

60

16

Calcium, % min-max

0.4-0.8

0.8 - 1.3

Phosphorus, % min

0.8

0.45

Copper, ppm

55

45

Zinc, ppm

220

149

Selenium, ppm

0.06

0.65

Vitamin A, IU/lb

3,000

5,000

Ingredients*

Processed Grain By-products, Grain Products, Forage Products, Molasses products, Soybean Oil, Plant Protein Products, Calcium Lignin Sufonate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Roughage Products, Salt, Lysine, Sodium Propionate (a preservative), Vitamin E Supplement, Anis, Fenugreek Flavor, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Ferrous Carbonate, Niacin Supplement, dl-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Vitamin A Supplement, Manganous Oxide, Zinc Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Magnesium Oxide, Calcium Iodate, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Cobalt Carbonate, Sodium Selenite.

Soybean Hulls, Wheat Middlings, Dehydrated Alfalfa Meal, Corn Germ Meal, Vegetable Oil Refinery Lipid, Cane Molasses, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Lignin Sulfonate, Vegetable Oil, Brewers Dried Yeast, Dehulled Soybean Meal, L-Lysine, Extracted Citric Acid Presscake, Magnesium Oxide, Sodium Propionate (A Preservative), Natural and Artificial Flavors, Monocalcium Phosphate, Dicalcium Phosphate, Zinc Oxide, Manganous Oxide, Copper Sulfate, Defluorinated Phosphate, Ferrous Sulfate, Mineral Oil, Vitamin A Acetate, Calcium Pantothenate, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin Supplement, Niacin Supplement, d-alpha Tocopheryl Acetate (Source of Vitamin E),  Vitamin E Supplement, Cholecalciferol (Source of Vitamin D3), Cobalt Carbonate, Sodium Selenite, Sodium Bentonite, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Menadione Sodium Bisulfite Complex (Source of Vitamin K Activity).

*Note: Most states do not require ingredients to be listed in order of inclusion on horse feeds tags, even though many companies do list them in order.

 

 

Many ADM FORAGE FIRST® rations contain minimal starch, so they are less likely to cause metabolic disorders like colic, founder, tying-up, developmental orthopedic disorders, ulcers and increased blood glucose and hyperactivity following meals.  High-energy products, like HEALTHY GLOTM , MOORGLO®, GROSTRONG Ultra-Fiber and others (Table 4), provide substantial energy to horses with minimal starch.  By utilizing small amounts of these high-energy products, horses can be fed high-forage rations.  And, high-starch cereal grains, which often result in digestive and metabolic disorders, can be reduced or eliminated from horse rations.

 

Table 4. Protein, Fat, Fiber, and Carbohydrate Values for ADM Equine Products (as-fed values)

Product

Prod

Num

Type of Horse

Protein

(% min)

Fat

(% min)

Crude

Fiber

(% max)

Feeding

Rate

(lb/day)

WSC

(%)

ESC

(%)

Starch

(%)

NSC

(%)

JUNIORGLOTM

80895

Growing

19

6

20

4-6

10.3

6.7

7.1

17.4

PRIMEGLOTM

81578

Adult

14

8

20

2-4

10.7

7.8

5.9

16.6

POWERGLO®

120

Adult

13

12

20

6

9.1

6.7

12.1

21.2

SENIORGLO®

10130

Adult/Senior

14

8

20

6

7.8

4.6

9.1

16.9

GROSTRONG®

Ultra-Fiber

 

558

 

Adult

 

13

 

6

 

20

 

6

 

7.8

 

4.3

 

8.4

 

16.2

Patriot?

Performance

16P Junior

 

80022

 

Growing

 

16

 

6

 

14

 

6

 

8.4

 

5.7

 

9.6

 

18.0

 

Patriot

Performance

14P

 

80021

 

Adult

 

 

14

 

 

6

 

20

 

6

 

8.6

 

5.5

 

12.8

 

21.4

Patriot

Senior

80029

Senior

14

7

20

6

7.6

7.0

7.2

14.8

Supplements

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOORGLO®

11083

Premium Energy

 

14

 

18

 

14

 

1-2

 

8.7

 

6.3

 

8.7

 

17.4

HEALTHY GLOTM

Nuggets

 

81064

Premium Energy

 

14

 

20

 

8

 

1

 

7.8

 

6.5

 

15.9

 

23.7

HEALTHY GLOTM

Meal

 

81086

Premium Energy

 

14

 

25

 

8

 

0.75

 

8.1

 

5.6

 

12.6

 

20.7

StaySTRONGTM

80935

Vit/Min/

Digestive

10

2

20

1

4.5

2.3

7.2

11.7

Analysis determined by Equi-Analytical Laboratories, Ithaca, NY, reported on as-fed basis.   Water Soluble Carbohydrates (WSC), Ethanol Soluble Carbohydrates (ESC), Non-Structural Carbohydrates (NSC)=Starch + WSC.   Horse with metabolic disorders like Equine Metabolic Syndrome, Cushings, Tying-up disease (EPSM, PSSM,RER) and to prevent Developmental Orthopedic Diseases (DOD) need to have feeds and forages with low Starch + ESC values.  Also forages with high NSC Values (fructans) are more likely to cause laminitis.  

 

 

 

 

 

ADM Alliance Nutrition, Inc. , a wholly owned subsidiary of the Archer Daniels Midland Company