A hot topic in equine nutrition has been the evaluation of non structural carbohydrates in the diet and their relationship with a condition in horses that is similar to diabetes in people. When insulin does not function properly, blood levels of glucose become elevated which may predispose the animal to various metabolic disorders. The Morgan breed has a relatively high incidence of these disorders which makes them a great model to evaluate diets which will help minimize swings in blood glucose levels.
Miner Institute’s herd of Morgan horses, qualified staff and outstanding facilities has attracted research collaborations with leaders in this field of study at Virginia Tech, University of Limerick, Penn State and Cornell University. Horse diets with varying levels of non structural carbohydrates in the forages (hay or pasture) are carefully monitored and blood parameters are measured to determine the impact of diet on the horse’s glycemic response or the measure of the feed’s ability to elevate blood glucose.
Future studies will utilize the forage laboratory at Miner Institute to determine which individual sugars in the forages may be responsible for elevated blood glucose. Characterization of these forages may prove to be a valuable tool for horse owners managing horses with equine metabolic diseases.