Non-Structural Carbohydrate (NSC)

Performance Horse Nutrition

This carbohydrate fraction originates from the cell contents and includes the simple sugars, glucose, fructose, sucrose, and storage carbohydrates such as starch and fructan. The NSC levels in plants are in constant change, such factors as light intensity, temperature, soil fertility and water status have profound effects on forage NSC content. There is a diurnal pattern in concentration of NSC in pasture with increasing concentrations throughout the day peaking in late afternoon (4-5pm) and declining throughout the evening (Byrd, et al., 2007). In general, conditions that decrease photosynthesis (cloud cover) and increase plant growth (warm, moist fertile soils) result in lowered accumulation of NSC. Conditions that enhance photosynthesis and decrease plant growth (bright sunshine and cool temperatures or drought) results in high levels of accumulated NSC. Horses suffering from a range of metabolic disorders including, Obesity, Insulin Resistance, PSSM and Laminitis should not be given access to feeds and forages containing high amounts of NSC as this has been shown to exacerbate these conditions.

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