High glycemic and insulinemic responses to meals affect plasma growth hormone secretory characteristics in Quarter Horse weanlings.
The metabolic effects of short-term feed restriction and dietary calorie source were studied in horses receiving high-roughage or high-concentrate diets. Four Thoroughbred geldings were assigned to four treatment groups in a 4 x 4 Latin square experiment. The four treatments were 1) a nutritionally adequate high-roughage ration (70% roughage, 30% concentrate; AHR), 2) a nutritionally adequate high-concentrate ration (40% roughage, 60% concentrate; AHC), 3) 70% of the intake of the AHR diet (RHR), and 4) 70% of the intake of the AHC diet (RHC). Diets AHR and AHC were designed to meet the caloric need of horses undergoing moderately intense work. Blood samples were taken on the first 7 d of each period for analysis of serum T4 and T3 concentrations. On d 9 of each feeding period, each horse was fed 1.0 kg of oats as the morning meal. Jugular blood was sampled before and immediately after, as well as at 30 min after, completion of the meal and subsequently every hour for 7 h. Daily serum T4 and T3 concentrations were not affected by day, feeding level, or diet composition. Meal feeding produced an increase (P < 0.01) in T4 and T3 concentrations when horses were adapted to the AHR and AHC diets but not the RHR or RHC diets. Thyroxine concentrations were lowest (P < 0.05) when horses were adapted to the AHC diet. Glucose (P < 0.05), insulin (P < 0.01), and NEFA (P < 0.01) concentrations were higher in response to the meal when horses received RHR than for the other diets. These results indicate that nutrient restriction alters responses to meal feeding in horses and that this response may also be affected by the dietary roughage:concentrate ratio.