Corn in the Equine Diet

Happy Horse Healthy Planet_CornWhat is it and where does it come from?

Corn, or maize as it’s known in many parts of the world, is a large grain plant domesticated by indigenous peoples in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times.  It constitutes more than 80% of the grain fed to animals in North America and, when fed correctly, it is a good-quality and nutritious grain for horses. Corn is grown in almost all states in America and is readily available to horse owners.

The leafy stalk produces ears which contain the grain, which are seeds called kernels. Because Corn is a hull-less grain, however, it is very high in starches.

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Corn grain is a major feed grain and a standard component of livestock diets where it is used as a source of energy. Some of the by-products of Corn processing for flour (hominy feed, bran, germs, oil meal), starch (Corn gluten feed, Corn gluten meal) and alcohol/biofuel industries (distillers’ dried grains and solubles) can be fed to horses.

Corn quality is judged by the moisture content and percentage of well-formed kernels. When checking for quality the presence of damaged kernels should be accounted for.  

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Concentrates in Horse Diet

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In equine nutrition solid feeds fall into three categories: forages (such as hay and grass), Concentrates (including grain or pelleted rations), and supplements (such as prepared vitamin or mineral pellets).  Basically any whole grain, formulated feed (sweet or pellet) or other non-forage, non-vitamin/mineral supplement is referred to as a Concentrate.

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Pelleted Concentrate

The average horse should be able to get what it needs for maintenance from a diet of good quality forage.  Therefore, Concentrates should be considered only if certain nutrients are missing from the forage to meet the needs of the horse.

Depositphotos_4844621_mIn general, a mature horse does not require the energy that would be provided by Concentrate type feeds unless the horse is used for more than light work, in production such as a lactating mare or a breeding stallion, or if the horse is growing.

Free yong brown foal in mountainsIt’s important that horse owners understand the importance of a balanced the ration where the proper amount and ratios of minerals, vitamins, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, etc., are maintained for correct growth and maintenance. Too many times horses are over fed rather than underfed Concentrates.

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Complete Feeds For Horses

HappyHorseHealthyPlanet.ENN_Complete Feeds CoverWhat are they?

A Complete feed is a fortified grain/forage mix that is formulated with high quality fiber sources.  This means that the feed contains enough fiber (in addition to minerals and vitamins) that a horse can live on that diet without supplemental hay or pasture.

Most Complete feeds have a fiber content of 15% or more and use good digestible fiber sources such as alfalfa, beet pulp, and soy hulls.  They have both the grain and roughage in them and are designed to (at least) partially replace the forage (hay and/or pasture) in your horse’s diet.

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Cuckoo For Coconuts; Coconut Meal & Oil in Your Horse’s Diet

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While I believe that following fads in equine nutrition is all too common and sometimes risky, every once in a while, something comes along that has the potential to really add to value. Coconut meal and oil is such a product.

What is it and where does it come from?

Copra meal, or Coconut meal, is a feed ingredient that is the by-product of the oil extraction from dried Coconut kernels.  It comes from the white part of the Coconut, not the shell or husk.  The nut is split and the kernel is removed and dried to below 6% moisture.

The dried Coconut is ground, flaked and cooked until moisture is brought down to 3%. The oil is mechanically extracted from the flakes using an expeller machine, resulting in low-colored oil and a copra cake containing about 7% oil.

Coconut oil for alternative therapy

Coconut meal is rarely a main ingredient in horse feed. Currently it seems to be fed primarily as a supplement in regions where Coconuts are grown and processed or where the product is easily available.

Coconut meal can be pelletized and used as a feed or be used as a protein supplement for grass-fed animals, either alone or in combination with other protein sources.

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Carbohydrates in the Equine Diet

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You know we can’t discuss equine nutrition without covering Carbs.  Especially since Carbohydrates pretty much make up your horse’s entire diet including forages, grains, and by-products of forage and grain.  

sugary-grain-n-treats2.jpg                                                                                                                                                                              I want to keep it simple so you finish with a good understanding of what all the fuss is about regarding Carbohydrates.  Carbohydrate (CHO) is the collective term for starches, sugars and fiber in your horse’s diet.  If you are feeding correctly, this diet should be composed mostly of forage, as in grass, hay, haylage, beet pulp, etc.  Forages provide the structural CHOs a horse can ferment well.  Forages also provide a horse with some simple Carbs such as starch and sugar.

There are two kinds of Carbohydrates; Structural and Non-Structural. Continue reading