Recent and ongoing research suggests a relationship between the glycemic nature of feed and the incidence of skeletal disorders, such as osteochondritis dissecans (OCD) in young horses. High-glycemic feeds are those that produce a large blood glucose response post feeding, such as cereal grains and molasses. It appears that the normal bone formation processes in young horses are being disrupted by the elevated blood insulin concentrations post-feeding following the consumption of a diet rich in starch and sugars. Glucose is necessary for the life function of a horse. Horses in the wild eat high-forage diets that contain very little sugar. When horses eat forage, the bacteria in the large intestines break down the plant cell walls and produce volatile fatty acids as a by-product of this fermentation. These volatile fatty acids produce glucose. Horses make glucose from fibre fermentation, but it is a more steady production of glucose that does not cause large fluctuations in their bloodstream. However, due to smaller pastures and higher athletic expectations, today's young thoroughbreds are often fed concentrate feeds that are high in starch and sugars. It is not the glucose by itself that causes the potential problems, but the resulting insulin. Glucose increases the production of insulin, which is an anabolic hormone that sends the glucose to the muscles and liver to be stored as glycogen. In foals, hyperinsulinemia may affect chondrocyte maturation, leading to altered matrix metabolism and faulty mineralisation of bone. OCD lesions occur on the articular cartilage, which is the cartilage at the end of the bones that protects the joints. The skeleton starts as cartilage, so if there is a problem in the maturation of that cartilage, it can set the stage for lesions to develop. Not all young horses are affected, but some are more sensitive to high levels of glucose and insulin than others. In a study carried out by Kentucky Equine Research in 2001, a high glucose and insulin response to a concentrate meal was associated with an increased incidence of OCD. Glycemic responses measured in the weanlings in this study were highly correlated with the glycemic index of the feed, but the bodyweight and condition of the weanling and the mare were also considered to be possible factors. Based on those results, it would be prudent to feed foals concentrates that produce a low-glycemic response. There are thought to be four basic causes of OCD, and affected horses usually have a combination of these: Genetic predisposition. Rapid growth. Nutrition and environment. Trauma, and the role of exercise and overload. Nutrition is one area that can be manipulated, so Level-Grow• has been formulated with this in mind. Designed to be fed like a conventional stud feed, it is available in a mix or cube form, and uses carefully selected ingredients like alfalfa, soya hulls and sugar beet that produce only a minimal glycemic response following digestion.. By using this breakthrough in research, high levels of soluble carbohydrates have been replaced by fats and 'super-fibres' as alternative energy sources, and consequently, post weaning, Level-Grow• would be the sole source of concentrate feed given to weanlings to carry them through to their yearling year until growth rates start to level off.