Sugar and Starch

Horses are herbivores; their diet is made up of 100% plant material. In the wild, horses will spend up to 16 hours a day grazing, and evolutionary have a digestive system made to cope with small, frequent meals, rather than larger, less frequent meals. In today’s management methods, most horses are fed 3-4 larger meals, and often fed larger quantities of hard feed. Hard feeds are often high in starch and sugars, which can be detrimental to some horses. Diets high in starch and sugars are linked to numerous health issues, such as laminitis, obesity, colic and ulcers. A horse on a low starch diet should have approximately 1g starch per kg bodyweight daily, meaning an average 500 kg horse should ideally have less than 500g starch daily.

Focusing on the sugar and starch content of your horse’s diet is especially important if your horse is prone to laminitis or other metabolic disorders, or if your horse tends to get very fizzy or high-strung. There are two types of energy in feeds – slow release and fast release. Fast release energy results in a rapid increase of energy, which burns out quickly. This type of energy comes from starches and sugars. Slow-release energy results in a gradual and stable release of energy, lasting longer. This type of energy normally comes from oils and fats.

Top tips:

  • High starch and sugar feeds can cause health problems for your horse, including laminitis, obesity, and behavioural problems
  • The horse’s digestive system is not designed to deal with large quantities of food over short periods of time – always feed little and often, preferably ad lib forage
  • All Blue Chip feeds are designed to be low in starch and sugar – we don’t use whole grains or molasses
  • Our super concentrated balancers contain up to 4x less starch and sugar compared to other feeds on the market