The Equine Feed Oat Project has researched a number of commonly asked questions about oats and horse feed. We welcome questions or comments you may have. Contact us through the Contact Us page.
1. Are oats better than corn or barley?
Oats have been found to be superior to corn and barley for a variety of reasons. Oats are more nutritionally dense, more easily digested and have a lower chance of mycotoxin contamination than other grains.
2. Do oats make horses excitable?
There is no link between grain and excitability.
3. How do oats compare to corn and barley in terms of starch?
Although starch is the primary energy source in all cereal grains, it has been found that the starch in oats creates more valuable energy when compared to the starch of corn and barley. This is because the starch in oats is primarily digested in the small intestine, thus creating glucose. Starch from corn and barley is less likely to be digested in the small intestine, thus moving on to the large intestine which produces volatile fatty acids. Volatile fatty acids can be used by the horse for energy, but this source of energy is not as useful to the horse as glucose.
4. Which grain is best to feed my horse to prevent colic?
It is possible that feeding oats instead of corn or barley may reduce the chance of colic because the starch in oats is more easily digested in the small intestine. Colic can develop when large amounts of starch reach the large intestine, thus creating a large amount of acidic build up in the large intestine.
5. Which types of grain are more susceptible to mycotoxins?
Mycotoxins can occur in a variety of grains, but oats are not usually found to be contaminated with the mycotoxin most harmful to horses.
6. How much should I feed my horse?
A horse’s diet should be specifically tailored to the horse’s age, weight, activity level and various other factors. Typically the total weight of feed (forage + concentrate) per day should be 1.5% - 3.0% of the horse’s body weight. Concentrates can make up 20 to 50% of the feed ration of performance horses, depending on their activity level.
7. Will oats make my horse fat?
Eating too many calories from any type of feed will make a horse fat. Therefore, every horse should have its own diet based on age, weight and activity level.