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J Nutr. 2006 Jul;136(7 Suppl):2099S-2102S.

Pasture nonstructural carbohydrates and equine laminitis.

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IGER, Aberystwyth, Wales, UK.


Fresh forages constitute a majority of the diet for many horses and ponies that graze on pastures during the growing season in many parts of the world. Grasses generally predominate in such pastures, with varying proportions of legumes. Nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC) (simple sugars, starch, and fructan) can induce laminitis experimentally, and NSC can accumulate to >400 g/kg of dry matter (DM) in pasture grasses. In this article we discuss the environmental factors affecting NSC accumulation in pastures and estimate the potential daily intakes of pasture NSC by grazing horses. We also discuss strategies for both reducing the NSC content of pastures and management practices that can help reduce intakes of pasture NSC by equines at risk of developing laminitis. This study reveals the importance of accurate forage analysis in the development of feeding regimens for equines at risk of laminitis.

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