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Glucose and insulin responses to different dietary energy sources in Thoroughbred broodmares grazing cool season pasture

Livestock Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.livsci.2007.01.148
  • Equine
  • Pasture
  • Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Nutrition


Abstract The objectives of this study were to characterize the glycemic and insulinemic responses of Thoroughbred broodmares fed late spring pasture only or a mixture of pasture and a high starch or low starch feed and to test hypotheses about differences in the glycemic and insulinemic effects of these dietary regimes. A group of 15 mares were divided into three treatment groups; pasture and high starch feed (PHS), pasture and low starch feed (PLS), and pasture only (PO) and maintained in these groups for 4.5 months prior to this study. These groups were maintained on a single pasture that was temporarily divided into three sections. The study protocol was conducted over two days. On day 1 the mares were fed their respective treatments and on day 2 all mares were allowed access to pasture only. On both days plasma glucose and insulin were measured in samples taken over a 7.5 h period. Baseline measurements for glucose and insulin were not different between any of the treatment groups on either day ( P > 0.05). The baseline insulin concentrations of these pasture-kept mares (26.7 ± 8.3 mIU/L) were high compared to those reported from stall-kept horses. Plasma glucose and insulin on day 1 were influenced by treatment group, sample time, and an interaction between treatment and time ( P < 0.05). On day 2 there was no significant influence of treatment group ( P > 0.05). Glucose and insulin rose to higher ( P < 0.01) peak concentrations in the PHS group on day 1 when compared to the PLS and PO groups, with no difference ( P > 0.05) detected between the PLS and PO groups. These results are reflected in greater areas under the concentration-time curves for glucose and insulin in the PHS group on day 1 ( P < 0.05). On day 2 there were no differences in any of the glucose and insulin characteristics for any of the treatment groups ( P > 0.05). These results indicate a clear difference in the glycemic and insulinemic effect of the PHS feed compared to the PLS and PO groups. Of further interest are the glucose and insulin characteristics of these pasture-kept mares that indicate a low insulin sensitivity and high insulin secretory response. This study provides further information on factors influencing glycemic and insulinemic responses in horses.

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