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TEFF GRASS PELLETS TO THE RESCUE

Dr. Stephen Duren, Performance Horse Nutrition and Standlee Premium Western Forage® Nutritional Consultant

This paper discusses Teff Grass forage and it’s ability to work as a “rescue forage” for horses with nutritional disorders including Insulin Resistance, Cushing’s Disease and Tying-Up Syndrome, as well as benefits of feeding it to overweight or senior horses.

Why all the excitement for a commercially available Teff Grass Pellet? Teff Grass is a very unique grass, originating in Africa. It is a fine stemmed, fast growing, high yielding, summer annual grass. But what really makes Teff Grass unique and exciting, is its nutrient content. Teff is a “C4 Warm Season” grass with a moderate protein and calorie content, but with a low sugar/starch content. This nutrient profile makes it a “Rescue Forage” for horses with certain conditions, diseases or sensitivities.

Teff Grass – The Game Changer

The availability of Standlee Premium Western Forage® Teff Grass Pellets is a game changer for horse owners. The following is a partial list of horses that would benefit from the inclusion of Teff Grass Pellets in their diet.

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Insulin Resistance

Many horse owners have a horse, or several horses, that may suffer from Insulin Resistance (IR). These horses are able to produce insulin, but the tissues of the body are resistant to the ability of insulin to assist with sugar storage. They benefit from a diet that is low in sugar and starch. Unfortunately, cool-season grasses, the predominate grasses fed to horses, are high in sugar content. Feeding these grasses as pasture or hay can make the disease worse. Teff Grass Pellets are a safe, easy solution to help sensitive horses meet their daily fiber needs, while appropriately managing their insulin levels.

Cushing’s Disease

Equine Cushing’s Disease is more correctly known as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction, or PPID. It involves damage to the pituitary gland such that there is an excessive production of the normal hormones from the pituitary.

Classic clinical signs include:

  • Increased coat length
  • Delayed shedding of winter coat
  • Laminitis
  • Dull behavior
  • Increased sweating
  • Excessive drinking and urination
  • Either weight loss or weight gain

The disease is treated with medication, but dietary management is critical. The damage to the pituitary gland produces an overproduction of the hormone cortisol. Excessive production of cortisol will increase blood sugar. As a response to increased blood sugar, the body will produce insulin to store away the glucose. Unfortunately, chronically high levels of insulin have been implicated in the development of laminitis. To nutritionally manage horses with Cushing’s Disease, we want to avoid feeds that are high in sugar and starch. Since much of the sugar and starch intake of a horse originates from forage (pasture or hay), feeding a low sugar and starch hay is critical. Teff Grass Pellets from Standlee Premium Western Forage offer horses owners the first commercially available solution for providing quality forage to these horses.

Tying-Up Syndrome

Simply stated, Tying-Up Syndrome is a broad description of a horse with muscle damage influencing gait, and thus performance. Horses with Tying-Up Syndrome become stiff, sweat excessively and are reluctant to move.

There are many causes for this syndrome including:

  • Genetics
  • Excessive exercise
  • Electrolyte deficiency
  • Accumulation of glycogen and abnormal sugar in the muscle
  • Abnormality in calcium regulation in muscle tissue

Treatment of horses with Tying-Up Syndrome revolves around giving the horse an alternative source of energy, such as fat and fiber rather than sugar. The first step in accomplishing this goal is always the elimination, or at least the reduction, of grain concentrates that contain a high amount of sugar. The other critical factor is to control the amount of sugar and starch the horse receives from the forage (pasture or hay) component of the diet. Again, Teff Grass Pellets, because of its low sugar and starch content, is a rescue forage for horses with this disease condition.

Overweight Horses

Many horse owners struggle with certain horses to control their body weight and body condition. Obesity in horses has been associated with several diseases including insulin resistance and laminitis. Teff Grass is a high fiber forage forage with low sugar and starch. This forage provides the horse with plenty of fiber, making the horse satisfied and full; but because of the low sugar and starch content, it does not fuel weight gain like many other forages may. Teff Grass Pellets are an ideal feed source, unlike the calorie rich feeds commonly fed to horses.

Senior Horses

As horses advance in age, they often have chewing difficulty as a result of worn or missing teeth. The pelleted physical form of Teff Grass Pellets offers a great method to get critical fiber into aged horses. Simply soaking Teff Grass Pellets in water will dissolve the pellet and provide easy to swallow fiber for senior horses. Another advantage of Teff Grass Pellets is the low sugar and starch content. As horses age, they naturally have less muscle mass and more adipose tissue (fat). Unfortunately, this predisposes these horses to sugar sensitivity since there is simply less muscle to take up sugar that is absorbed from the digestive system. The natural low sugar and starch content of Teff Grass Pellets is a perfect fiber source for senior horses.

Summary

Teff Grass Pellets offer a solution to many problems that plague our modern horses. The high fiber, low sugar and starch content make this a rescue feed for horses suffering from many, and some debilitating, disease conditions. Since Teff Grass Pellets will now be commercially available from Standlee Premium Western Forage®, horse owners will not need to scour the internet, struggling to find a low sugar forage for their sensitive horse. You’ve asked, we’ve listened and it’s here! Additionally, for horse owners who struggle to find the time to soak their forage to reduce the sugar content for sensitive horses, Teff Grass Pellets will eliminate that chore. Teff Grass Pellets to the rescue!