Reduction of the hyperinsulinaemic response to feeding is central to the management of insulin dysregulation (ID). The aim of this study was to compare insulinaemic and glycaemic responses to soaked hay, dry hay and haylage in ponies. Twelve ponies of mixed breeds were maintained under identical management conditions. A randomised four-way crossover trial was conducted, in which fasted animals were fed a meal of 0.25% body weight as dry matter intake soaked hay, dry hay or haylage, or administered an oral glucose test (OGT). Blood glucose and serum insulin concentrations were measured before and at 2 h following OGT, and regularly for 5 h following forage meals. Median and interquartile range (IQR) area under the curve (AUC) for insulin (AUCi) was greater for haylage (median 6495; IQR 17352) vs. dry hay (2932; IQR 5937; P = 0.019) and soaked hay (1066; IQR 1753; P = 0.002), and greater for dry hay vs. soaked hay (P = 0.002). The AUC for glucose (AUCg) was lower for soaked hay (1021; IQR 99) vs. dry hay (1075; IQR 105; P = 0.002) and haylage (1107; IQR 221; P = 0.003). Six ponies were classified as having ID based on the OGT. AUCi was greater in ID vs. non-ID ponies after all forages. In contrast, there was no detectable effect of ID status on AUCg. On an equivalent dry matter basis, soaked hay produced the lowest insulinaemic and glycaemic responses to feeding, while haylage produced the highest responses. The insulinaemic effects of all forages were greater in ponies with ID. These data support the practice of soaking hay with water to reduce postprandial insulinaemic responses in ponies.
- Soaked hay