Laminitis is a leading cause of death in horses and makes a significant financial and emotional impact on the horse industry. This RIRDC report explains how environmental conditions can trigger three-fold increases in the sugar, starch and fructan (collectively called non-structural carbohydrates or NSC) content in pasture plants and hay. Horses and ponies consuming pasture excessively rich in NSC can develop laminitis. Strategies are provided to prevent laminitis based on principles of plant science: growing grass that is under less stress to reduce NSC concentration, limiting access to pasture for high risk animals by use of a sacrificial area and preservation and re-introduction of native grass pastures that are inherently lower in NSC. This report is targeted at the owners of horses and ponies so that they can make informed decisions about pasture management and to more safely feed animals prone to laminitis or obesity.
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