Feeding Horses – Energy Sources Matter
Dietary energy dictates body condition in healthy horses. Too little energy and the horse loses weight; too much energy and the horse gains weight. Typical diets of pasture, hay, and concentrate often do not supply sufficient dietary energy to horses that have increased calorie needs. Such horses include hardworking performance horses, lactating mares, and aged horses.
The fat in rice bran contains more calories per mouthful than pasture, hay, or concentrates. Horses consume more dietary energy when fat-rich heat-stabilized rice bran is included in the diet without a proportionate increase in food intake.
Horsemen are also turning to heat-stabilized rice bran because of its minimal starch content. Diets containing conventional concentrates are typically rich in starch, which causes problems in some horses. In particular, high-starch diets are believed to cause growth problems in young horses and muscle problems in performance horses. Horses with laminitis, Cushing’s disease, and insulin resistance are often prescribed low-starch diets. By replacing a portion of the grain allotment with heat-stabilized rice bran, horsemen limit starch intake and avoid these risks.
Overview of the benefits of heat-stabilized rice bran as a feed ingredient for horses:
- Adds calories to the diet without increasing the volume of feed consumed
- Reduces size of grain meals in colic-prone horses and finicky eaters
- Benefits horses with low-starch requirements by providing energy from fat
- Decreases lactic acid accumulation and boosts stamina
- Lowers heart rate during exercise
- Keeps horses calm and focused on work