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December 13, 2013

The dangers of bagged hay for horses

by DePaolo Equine Concepts

Many people, especially ones that haul to competitions are turning to bagged alfalfa hay.  Although these 50 lb sacks are convenient, they are detrimental to your horses health.  This is mainly for one reason…

The inclusion of molasses!  This simple sugar makes it look, smell and taste more appetizing.  Unfortunately, when we feed simple sugars to our horses it is not without negative side-effects.  Feeding of sugars causes the pancreas to secrete insulin.  This hormone is normally used by the cell membrane to process sugar and force it into the cell.  With time and saturation of the cell with glucose (sugar used as an energy source by the cell), a condition can occur that is called Insulin Resistance (IR).  This is when the cell will no longer respond to the un-naturally high levels of insulin which results in a high blood sugar situation.  This condition is one step away from Diabetes.  We believe that chronic IR can lead to more devastating diseases such as Hypothyroidism and Cushings (a disease that can lead to founder).

The very best way to evaluate whether or not we should be feeding a certain type of feed is the “Glycemic Index” (GI).  The GI is a measurement of the amount of sugar in a certain food or feed.  When the GI was first established the formulators of the index gave Glucose (a sugar) an arbitrary number of 100.  So, anything with a GI of greater than 100 is digested and used as MORE PURE than Glucose and anything with a GI of less than 100 is digested and absorbed and metabolized as LESS PURE than glucose.  Molasses has a GI of 55.

To learn more about proper nutrition, please visit our Health Library article on the subject.

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