10% or total grams fed? - PART 2

10% or total grams fed?

PART 2 of our "Understanding Sugar" Series

If you need to concentrate on lowering the NSC (sugar and starch) levels in your pony/horse's diet, grazing is BY FAR the largest contributor.

Look to restrict here where possible with strip grazing, stable time, muzzle or track system.

As you can see from the image below, removing a balancer from your horses diet has very little impact on reducing daily NSC levels, and leaves your horse with an unbalanced diet.


Forage should always form the main portion of your ponies/horse's diet. This can come from hay, grass, chaff, or even alternative fibre sources if there are dental issues. Forage supports healthy digestion through the production of saliva which buffers stomach acid. This is not always as easy as it sounds when you need to restrict grazing, but muzzles, strip grazing and track systems can help by reducing intake by up to 80% (with a muzzle)!

The minimum ANY horse should eat to maintain a healthy digestive system is 1.5% of their body weight in forage dry matter per day.

Soaking hay is a valid process in reducing starch and sugar in the diet, BUT also depletes nutrients. It is imperative to feed a balancer when soaking hay.

When calculating the sums below, it's important to remember step one AND two, this is often how people become confused over the difference between dry matter and total forage fed.

Hay has an approximate moisture content of 15% (leaving 85% dry matter), so the figure at the end of step 1 needs to be divided by 0.85 to achieve the total weight value you need to feed per day.


- A 250kg pony needs 3.75kg dry matter per day, divide this by 0.85 to achieve the final feeding forage weight of 4.4kg per day.

- A 500kg small horse needs 7.5kg dry matter per day, divide this by 0.85 to achieve the final feeding forage weight of 8.8kg per day.

- A 700kg large horse needs 10.5kg dry matter per day, divide this by 0.85 to achieve the final feeding forage weight of 12.4kg per day.

We understand the difficulties in calculating total grams fed, %’s and feeding for a low sugar/starch diet, BUT we are here to help.


Most ponies and horses are adequately supported in their diet by forage AND a feed balancer, no more.

All feed balancers provide a low value of total grams of NSC to the diet, especially those from our super concentrated range. We always advise to consider the supporting ingredients also. Ponies and horses prone to Laminitis may need additional supporting ingredients from a balancer such as Lami Light. We are happy to chat to make sure we choose the very best option for your ponies/horse's individual needs.  

Whether choosing a 15kg or 3kg feed balancer, all have a small daily feeding rate, with the super concentrated range even suitable to feed from the hand. 

When the starch and sugar % value combined reads higher than 10% you should also consider the daily feeding rate. You may discount a potentially perfect balancer if concentrating on % alone. We can help you find out the total grams, don't worry on your own.


3kg of fibre nuts = 300g of NSC's/day

With approximately 10% starch and sugar combined (they are often higher than this) fibre nuts can provide 300g of NSC's/day. Your horses diet is also likely to be unbalanced. p.s. that's 287g MORE than a typical super concentrated balancer!

OR ...

100g of super concentrated balancer = 13g of NSC's/day

With approximately 13% starch and sugar combined (each product varies) a super concentrated balancer can provide 13g OR LESS of NSC's/day (that's AT LEAST 287g LESS than a typical fibre nut!) Feeding a balancer also offers key benefits to your pony/horse from supporting ingredients and a well balanced diet for long term health.

Any more questions? We will be revisiting this subject regularly throughout the grazing season.


We are always here to help, call us, email or chat on social.
Call: 0114 266 6200
Email: info@bluechipfeed.com
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