How to tell if your horse feed is low starch

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Text-only version of “3 easy steps to determine if a horse feed is “low starch“:”

Check the NSC (nonstructural carbohydrates)value of the feed.

  • NSC is a combination of WSC (water-soluble carbohydrates, aka sugars) plus starch.
  • The NSC level recommended for insulin-resistant horses is 10%.
  • The following guidelines are used by feed manufacturers:
NSC Score Starch Level
35% or above high starch
20% to 35% relatively low starch
20% or less low starch
  • A horse feed can be labeled “low starch” and still not be appropriate for a horse with metabolic syndrome.

Look for fat and ­fiber ingredients at the top of the ingredient list.

  • When high-starch cereal grains are removed, fat and ­fiber are used to replace needed calories.
  • Common sources of ­fiber:
    • Soybean hulls
    • Beet pulp
    • Alfalfa meal
  • Common sources of fat:
    • Rice bran
    • Soybean oil
    • Soybean meal
    • Ground flax

Make sure any cereal grains and molasses are only present in small amounts.

  • It’s okay for a low-starch feed to contain some cereal grains, and even molasses, if they are included in small amounts and the NSC level remains at or below 10%.
  • Cereal grains and molasses should be listed at the end of major ingredients, but before the list of vitamins and minerals.

Does your horse need an additional vitamin and mineral supplement?

If you feed less than the manufacturer’s minimum recommended amount of a commercial low-starch feed then you need to supplement with an additional vitamin and mineral pellet. Micro-Phase™ was developed to provide your sugar-sensitive horse with the nutrients needed to stay healthy.

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