Sugar - horses

The type of sugar analysed within the Equi Feed analysis are ethanol soluble carbohydrates (ESC). Sugar consist of glucose produced within the plant with the help of photosynthesis. For grasses, glucose is saved within the seed or the stem of the plant as fructans. For crops, glucose is saved within the seed or the roots of the plant as starch. Therefore, fresh grass does not contain starch. Sugar is rapidly broken down by enzymes within the small intestine. Too much sugar will cause the sugars to flow into the large intestine where it will be broken down by intestinal bacteria while the feed only spends a certain amount of time in the small intestine in which the enzymes are able to digest the feed. Since the intestinal bacteria in the large intestine are mostly prepared to break down fibres, the bacterial population will change. This can be the start of serious health issues such as laminitis which is why it is very important to know the amount of sugars in the forage.

Water soluble carbohydrates  

Water soluble carbohydrates (WSC) are a summary of the ESC (sugars) and fructans causing the WSC content of the hay always be higher relative to the amount of sugar analysed within the hay. When hay is soaked in water, part of the WSC can be soaked out of the hay. This is why it is important to know the sugars as well as the WSC within the forage to know how much of the carbohydrates can be soaked out of the hay.


Fructans are part of the WSC. Fructans are sugars made within the plant with the help of sunlight during photosynthesis to use the sugars as a source of energy to grow. Factors affecting the plant to grow are for example lack of water, lack of fertilization or a temperature below 10oC in combination with lots of sun causing stress for the plant. When a plant is in distress, the plant produces higher amount of fructans to store. The fructans will be used as a source of energy when the circumstances are favourable for the plant. Research

Fructans and WSC are currently only analysed in hay.

Equi Feed