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By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · February 22, 2013
One of the most traditional feed grains for horses is oats. Because oats contain sufficient protein, calcium, and phosphorus to meet the requirements of mature horses, this grain has historically been an important ingredient in feeds for all types of equines. In fact, at one time oats made up almost one-third of all equine feed consumed.
Oats have a number of qualities that make them appealing to horses, owners, and feed manufacturers. They are extremely palatable to horses and are easy to chew, even for older equines whose teeth may not be in perfect condition. They are more easily digested in comparison with heavier whole grains like wheat and corn. Oats are somewhat less susceptible to mold than corn or wheat, and unprocessed oats retain their quality well when properly stored. Shelf life is reduced after oats have been processed.
Starch content of oats ranges from 43 to 61%, averaging around 53%. This starch is readily digested in the small intestine, reducing the risk of digestive upset caused by undigested starch from other feeds that may spill over into the hindgut and impact pH balance. Thus, oats have developed a reputation as a “safe” grain for horses...
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