Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Feeding Fallacies

KER.equinews.com - Full Article

By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · November 8, 2001

One hundred years ago most people would not have dreamed that horses would be drinking electrolyte-tinged water, devouring rations spiked with beet pulp, corn oil, and animal fat, or scarfing down sundry supplements. For most horses, even the ones that earned their keep by plowing the family fields, transporting the town physician from house to house, or carrying the leisure class from one societal function to the next, a steady diet of hay or pasture and perhaps some oats or corn kept them in adequate body condition. With the advent of the automobile and the transition of the horse from the ranks of necessity to the ranks of recreation, horses were asked to perform more athletic endeavors. The need to jump higher, gallop faster, and trot further became paramount to equestrians, and research in equine nutrition escalated as the level of competitiveness rose. As research refined nutrient requirements, scientists sought ways to efficiently deliver maximal nutrients. In recent years, researchers have turned to new feedstuffs in an effort to find magic fuels. Despite continued efforts, there is reliance upon the time-honored feeding methods of years ago.

Whether horsemen are feeding long-adored or newfangled feedstuffs, lore surrounds some of the offerings. Unraveling the mysteries and fallacies of common feed ingredients is not as difficult as one may believe.

Oats: Oats are a favorite feed among horses and horsemen alike. In preference tests, horses consistently choose oats over many other feeds, including cracked or whole corn, alfalfa hay, wheat, barley, rye, and soybean meal. Oats are used extensively in the creation of commercially prepared feeds, with some containing over 30% oats. Much of their popularity as a feed for horses may be due to habit as much as tradition. Ask any non-horseman what horses eat and invariably oats and hay, and maybe grass, will come up. Peace of mind may also induce owners to feed oats as they are the safest of all cereal grains for horses, being relatively high in fiber and low in digestible energy...

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