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Discussion on Low starch, high fat, high fiber feed

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Kamla Utz
Username: Kamla

Post Number: 6
Registered: 4-2002
Posted on Friday, Jan 28, 2005 - 11:05 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Dr. O,

The past year or so I have been hearing alot about low starch, high fat, high fiber feed for horses. Examples would be Acco's Safe and Sound and Nutrena's Safe Choice. These feeds are touted to be safer to feed because the low starch, high fiber formulations cause less digestive upsets and incidents of laminitis, due to reduced glycemic levels than traditional concentrates. They are also recommended to be fed to growing foals for the same reason claiming to reduce incidents of DOD.

The other day I was listening to a talk given by Dr. Amy Gill addressing these feeds. She stated that horses are grazing animals by nature. Because of the way horses are used and cared for today (confinement,large energy needs, advanced age) the 2X a day feeding of high starch concentrates to provide the extra calories needed causes big problems with sugar loads and insulin intolorance. Dr. Gill indicated feeding these low starch feeds alleviates trouble in all classes of horses from growing foals, lactating mares, to athletes and seniors. She stated that you could feed much larger amounts of these feeds with a greater safety margin than you could feed traditional concentrates. What she said made sense.

What is your opinion about these feeds? Do you find in your practice that the majority of horses are insulin intolerant? Is there one feed that can provide proper nutrition to all classes of horses?

I have attached excerpts from a feed tag for your review.

Controlled starch formula: with its controlled starch, highly digestible fiber formula, aids in balancing the energy from these multiple sources in the diet. Controlled starch diets are widely recommended for use in horses that are prone to metabolic disturbances related to high starch intake.
High quality, balanced nutrition: Calorie-rich fats from vegetable oil, controlled starch levels, guaranteed amino acid levels, vitamins and minerals have been scientifically balanced and formulated for every life stage. Formulated with organic trace mineral complexes, added yeast culture and Direct Fed Microbials.
Enhanced processing: Pelleted to enhance the digestibility of the nutrients critical to a horse's health and performance.

Guaranteed Analysis (min. amounts except where noted)
Crude Protein 14.0%
Lysine 0.80%
Methionine 0.30%
Threonine min. 0.50%
Crude Fat 7.0%
Crude Fiber max. 15.0%
Calcium min. 0.90%-max. 1.20%
Phosphorus 0.75%
Copper 50 ppm
Zinc 160 ppm
Selenium 0.6 ppm
Vitamin A 3,500 IU/lb
Vitamin D 350 IU/lb
Vitamin E 100 IU/lb
Biotin .45 mg/lb

Has anyone else had any experiences with this feed? Any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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Cheryl Hohler
Username: Chohler

Post Number: 37
Registered: 8-2004
Posted on Friday, Jan 28, 2005 - 12:05 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Kamala I use safe choice out here and I love it.

I have a lot of sand and decided I would try the feed about 4 months ago as we were having a lot of sand colic with the change in weather. I believe it has physillium in it. I'm pretty sure I spelt that wrong. Also because of the low starch I can feed my mustangs some grain now when they need extra food. I couldn't before because they get really high on grains, and become jerks.

A lot of people don't believe me that the grain did that to my mustangs but I have tried and tried and it really was the grain. Now they are calm with their Safe Choice.

I have stuck with it, all my horses love it, young and old. And on top of that it is less money out here than complete or vitality. And if I need more fat i mix 1 bag of senior with 2 bags of safe choice.
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Cheryl Hohler
Username: Chohler

Post Number: 38
Registered: 8-2004
Posted on Friday, Jan 28, 2005 - 12:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Of course I have no scientific basis. But I love it, I feed it to my weanlings and my 16 yr old rescue who was eating senior.

None of them have lost ground. The babies are gaining and my rescue hasn't lost the weight I finally got him to put on.

Before the safe choice my vet started me feeding physillium pellets to my horse as the sand/mud has been out of controll with all the moisture this year. I had to feed a lot for 10 horses. But with this new feed they get it in their grain.

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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Username: Dro

Post Number: 11926
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Jan 28, 2005 - 4:26 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Kamala,
We actually have been writing quite a bit in the few years about the benefits and problems of substituting fats for starch in the horses diet. I believe insulin resistance is common in some of the very easy keeping horse breeds. In the past these were often the horses labeled "hypothyroid". I don't think we really should view this as a disease so much as the inherent metabolism of very easy keeping horses. For more on fats in the diet of normal and insulin resistant horses let me refer you to these topics:
  • Care for Horses Nutrition Equine Nutrition an Overview of Feeding Horses
  • Care for Horses Nutrition Fats and Oils in the Diet of Horses
  • Equine Diseases Endocrine Disorders Equine Metabolic Syndrome (Peripheral Cushings)
  • Equine Diseases Lameness Muscle & Tendon Diseases Tying Up, Rhabdomyolysis, and Shivers (EPSM)

A note about glycemic index and causation of disease. Currently there seem to be lots of folks who talk about it like there is a confirmed relationship when in truth we are just begining to explore these questions. There are many other proposed and in some ways better understood mechanisms which include obesity, too rapid growth, release of bacterial toxins and harmful enzymes, and abnormal forms of glycogen storage. One should not look upon the glycemic index alone as a simple explanation for the ability to produce disease.
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