Our GALLOP pasture blends of Australian native grasses are a great low sugar, low GI alternative to conventional hay and pasture blends. Native grass pasture is known to be extremely resilient to environmental stresses and has been found to produce forage of high quality on poor quality soil. Native grass pastures are also easy to maintain as they require little fertiliser.
In most warm season grasses, both native and introducted, excess carbohydrate is stored as starch. In all the introduced cool season grasses excess carbohydrate is stored as simple sugars such as fructose and glucose. In native Australian cool season grasses carbohydrate is stored as starch which is digested by horse in a non-harmful way. An elevated content of non-structural carbohydrates such as fructose in pasture grasses is found to be one of the main causes of laminitis / founder in horses and ponies. The harmful sugars such as fructose can be found in high levels in introduced species like Wimmera ryegrass (Lolium rigidum), Barley grass (Hordeum leporinum), Barley forage (Hordeum vulgare), Wild oats(Avena fatua), Perennial ryegrass (Lolium perenne), Cocksfoot (Dactylis glomerata) and Yorkshire Fog (Holcus lanatus).
The most important reason for choosing native Australian grasses for your horse pasture is that they are very low in fructose and other NSC’s. The two grasses examined in the most detail are Wallaby grass (Austrodanthonia spp.) and Weeping grass (Microlaena stipoides). When compared to the generally recognised threshold levels of concern for horses for NSC sugars (such as Fructose and Glucose and total sugars) these two native grasses come out very well. The recommended thresholds to avoid equine laminitis are to keep NSC’s below 10 g/100g of the fodder. These two grasses easily fall under this threshold having contents for Fructose of less than 0.2, Glucose of less than 0.2 and total sugars of less than 1.0 g/100g. In comparison, the latest test results from the Dairy One website which amalgamates pasture tests across all of North America gives the content of NSC’s in ryegrass at 15.9, the water soluble carbohydrates at 13.2 and the simple sugars at 10.9. While these are not exactly the same measures they tell the story of high NSC’s being produced by ryegrass.
The authors of this report to the RIRDC gave the evidence that our native grasses are very well suited to horse consumption with next to no risk of serious conditions such as laminitis.