Kentucky Performance Products: Is Your Feed ‘Low Starch’

Here’s what you need to know if you’ve ever wondered what constitutes a low starch feed.

Here are three easy steps to determine if a feed is “low starch” enough for your insulin resistant (IR) horse:

1) Check the NSC (nonstructural carbohydrates) value of the feed. NSC is a combination of WSC (water-soluble carbohydrates, aka sugars) plus starch. WSC + Starch = NSC.

The following guidelines are used by feed manufacturers:

NSC of 35% or above = high starch
NSC of 35% to 20% = relatively low starch
NSC of 20% or less = low starch

The NSC level recommended for insulin-resistant horses is 10%. A horse feed can be labeled “low starch” and still not be appropriate for a horse with metabolic syndrome. Look for a feed that guarantees an NSC of 10% or less. You may have to call the manufacturer to find out this information.

2) When high-starch cereal grains are removed, fiber and fat are used to replace needed calories. Look for fat and fiber ingredients at the top of the ingredient list.

Common sources of fiber:

  • Soybean hulls
  • Beet pulp
  • Alfalfa meal

Common sources of fat:

  • Rice bran
  • Soybean oil
  • Soybean meal
  • Ground flax

3) It is okay for a low-starch feed to contain some cereal grains and even molasses if they are included in small amounts and the NSC level remains at or below 10%. Check the ingredients list on the tag or bag. Cereal grains or molasses found in small amounts will be listed at the end of major ingredients, but before the list of vitamins and minerals.

Always read and follow the feeding directions carefully. If you feed less than the manufacturer’s minimum recommended amount (usually 3 to 6 lbs depending on the feed) then you may need to supplement with a vitamin and mineral pellet to make sure your horse is getting all the nutrients they require.

About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC: 

Fight back against damaging inflammation.

Horses evolved to exist on a grass-based diet high in omega-3 fatty acids and low in omega-6 fatty acids. Modern diets tend to include ingredients that are high in omega-6 and low in omega-3 fatty acids, throwing the critical 6 to 3 ratio out of whack and leading to health problems related to runaway inflammation. Supplementing with the high-quality omega-3 fatty acids in ContributeTM brings that ratio back into balance and supports reduced levels of damaging inflammation.

Contribute offers you an affordable way to include both beneficial plant (alpha-linolenic acid) and marine sources (EPA and DHA) of omega-3 fatty acids into the diet. The horse that matters to you matters to us®.

Not sure which horse supplement best meets your horse’s needs? We are here to help. Contact Kentucky Performance Products, LLC at 859-873-2974 or visit our website at