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Reducing Starch In Your Horse's Diet


It’s great when new research comes out about how we should be feeding and managing our horses, but it isn’t always easy to see how to put that research into practice.

Cereal and starch intake has been associated with an increased risk of EGUS in horses. Exceeding 2g/kg bodyweight (BW) of starch intake per day was associated with a two fold increase in the likelihood of EGUS and feeding more than 1g/kg BW of starch per meal was associated with a 2.6 fold increase in the likelihood of EGUS

Find out the starch level in your horses feed using the equation below:


(Feed in grams/100) x Starch % of feed indicated on the label

Starch per day for RE-LEVE®-Mix when fed at 2kg/2000g (the recommended intake for a 500kg horse)

(2000 / 100) x 8 =160g of starch per day

It is recommended for 500kg horse with ulcers not to have more than 500g of starch per meal and no more than 1,000g per day

Feedscoop enduro performance

Top tips for reducing the starch level of your horse’s diet:

  • It is not a legal requirement to declare the starch value of a horse feed on the label, so most companies don’t. A lot of feed companies will declare starch on their website but if not give them a call or send an e-mail to ask.
  • If you can’t see a starch level look at the ingredients list. This is in order of inclusion so if you are seeing cereals such as oats, barley or maize in the first few ingredients the feed is likely to have a higher starch level than a feed with these ingredients further down the list (or not in there at all!)
  • Remember to consider the feeding rate as well as the starch content. For example, a feed with a feeding rate of 500g per day and a starch level of 20% will supply the same amount of starch in grams as a feed with a feeding rate of 2kg per day and a starch level of 5%. Both will supply 50g of starch per day.
  • Consider all aspects of your horse’s diet, not just the mix, cube or balancer you are feeding.
  • Even if you are reducing your horse’s starch intake it is impossible to feed a complete starch free (or sugar-free) diet. All feedstuffs will have some starch inclusion, even hay.
  • Remember that not all horses need a low starch diet, and in fact, some horses perform much better with a moderate level of starch in the diet!