Understanding Sugar - PART 1

Understanding Sugar in your pony/horse's diet

 PART 1 of our "Understanding Sugar" Series 

Sugar is not dangerous for horses, though it can cause issues for some IF overfed. Sugar is necessary in your horse’s diet, providing energy to fuel daily needs, function and exercise, HOWEVER too much sugar can cause:

  • Excess weight gain
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Joint issues
  • Metabolic problems
  • Digestive sensitivities
  • and more

Grass and grass-based forages are the greatest source of sugar in most horse’s diets, and should always be the first part of the diet to address when looking at limiting calorie and sugar intake.

Avoid or limit grazing and turnout when the sugars are at their highest levels (spring and autumn grass, late morning to mid-afternoon). Limitations can include strip grazing, restricted turnout, the use of a grazing muzzle or introduction of a track system.

Forage SHOULD be the base of all equine diets, look to feed a low calorie or low sugar option if your pony or horse needs to limit sugar intake.

ALWAYS FEED 1.5-2% OF YOUR HORSES BODYWEIGHT IN FORAGE DRY MATTER (unless lower under supervision of the vet)

e.g. 500kg horse is fed 7.5-10kg dry matter/day

Research has shown that soaking hay can reduce sugar concentration. Sugar levels of hay will vary according to a number of variables including weather, time of day, diversity in the field and more.

Sugar FREE feeds do not exist, as all fibre (which is essential to the horse's digestive and overall health) contains sugar.

Low sugar diets will provide most horses with the correct energy levels for work. Forage provision and a suitable feed balancer is often all most horses will need. Sugar is an important energy source for horses in harder work.

Always feed according to need, condition and workload. For example, don't just feed more because it's winter. If your horse is stabled for longer hours, and in less work, you may end up overfeeding by accident.

Blue Chip's range of Super Concentrated feed balancers are all INCREDIBLY LOW in both starch and sugar, coupled with a small daily feeding rate, which allows you to provide a balanced diet with minimal levels of starch and sugar.

Blue Chip Lami Light feed balancer is a suitable low calorie option for those prone to Laminitis. It contains elevated levels of highly digestible fibre alongside specific ingredients to target the individual needs of those needing weight management.


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