Summer is a time to get outside and enjoy the blooming flowers and luscious green grass. But for horses, summer pasture can be dangerous, especially for those suffering from laminitis and metabolic diseases.
While grass is a natural food source for equines, nonstructural carbohydrates (starches and sugars) are abundant in summer pasture and horses with metabolic concerns need to have restricted grazing—by using muzzles to reduce consumption or managing turn out in dry lots for horses that are highly sensitive.
To better understand carbohydrate content of summer grasses, environmental conditions need to be considered. Young, rapidly growing grass, under ideal conditions, tends to be lower in carbohydrates than grasses that are under stress due to frost, drought, hot temperatures and over grazing.
Likewise, sugars, produced by photosynthesis, accumulate during daylight hours and are generally depleted through the nighttime hours. Therefore, at-risk horses should be limited to one or two hours of turnout, preferably at night (after 10 p.m.) and removed from the pasture by mid-morning. However, horses prone to laminitis should avoid lush grass, be kept in a dry lot and fed hay that has been analyzed for nonstructural carbohydrates (NSC).
Triple Crown addresses high sugar and starch concerns by testing the hay used in its forage products, in particular Safe Starch Fortified Forage.
Safe Starch Forage is a chopped hay that is low in NSC (less than 10%) and includes EquiMix in every bale. Feeding Safe Starch Forage can help take the worry away from unsafe sugars in summer pasture.