Is Your Feed Actually Low Starch? Presented by Kentucky Performance Products

Many horses require low-starch feed for health reasons. Some owners prefer to feed it no matter what. But how can you tell if your feed really is low starch? Read on to find out:


For horses with metabolic issues such as PPID (commonly known as Cushing’s) or EMS (Equine Metabolic Syndrome), low starch feeds are recommended. Many in the horse industry are working to provide low starch feeds even to their horses without metabolic concerns. But how do you actually know if your feed is low starch?

Here are three easy steps:

Check the NSC (nonstructural carbohydrates) value of the feed.

  • NSC is a combination of WSC (water-soluble carbohydrates, aka sugars) plus starch.
  • The NSC level recommended for insulin-resistant horses is 10%.
  • The following guidelines are used by feed manufacturers:
NSC Score Starch Level
35% or above high starch
20% to 35% relatively low starch
20% or less low starch
  • A horse feed can be labeled “low starch” and still not be appropriate for a horse with metabolic syndrome.

Look for fat and ­fiber ingredients at the top of the ingredient list.

  • When high-starch cereal grains are removed, fat and ­fiber are used to replace needed calories.
  • Common sources of ­fiber:
    – Soybean hulls
    – Beet pulp
    – Alfalfa meal
  • Common sources of fat:
    – Rice bran
    – Soybean oil
    – Soybean meal
    – Ground flax

Make sure any cereal grains and molasses are only present in small amounts.

  • It’s 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%.
  • Cereal grains and molasses should be listed at the end of major ingredients, but before the list of vitamins and minerals.

You can download a printable version of this infographic here

Does your horse need an additional vitamin and mineral supplement?

If you feed less than the manufacturer’s minimum recommended amount of a commercial low-starch feed then you need to supplement with an additional vitamin and mineral pellet. Micro-Phase™ was developed to provide your sugar-sensitive horse with the nutrients needed to stay healthy.

About Kentucky Performance Products, LLC:


Omega-3 fatty acids have been proven to reduce skin inflammation and mitigate allergic response. Contribute delivers both plant and marine sources of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. Feed one to two ounces per day, depending on severity of the allergy.

Need tips on how to manage allergies? Check out this KPP infographic: Got Allergies?

The horse that matters to you matters to us®.