Corn is tasty, readily accepted and has a high energy content. This sounds ideal for a concentrated feed.
But compared to oats and barley, corn scores significantly lower in terms of minerals and essential fatty acids.
Is it still a suitable feed for horses? We answer these and more questions below.
In this article, you will learn when the supplementation of corn can be useful, in what form and quantity it may be done and what alternatives there are.
Are horses allowed to eat corn?
Yes, because it is neither toxic nor incompatible for the animals. However, when feeding, attention must be paid to the amount and the way it is presented.
Corn is a fattening food that contains comparatively few minerals and thus does not contribute much to a healthy diet other than calories.
100 grams of dried corn contains about 368 kilocalories. These come mainly from carbohydrates and fat.
Fiber, vitamins and minerals, on the other hand, are only present in small quantities. The protein content is also low.
For this reason, corn is used, among other things, to compensate for an excessively high protein content in grain feed or muesli.
When does supplementary feeding with corn make sense?
Due to its high starch content, corn is particularly suitable
for very thin horses
for older animals
in case of a high energy requirement due to sport, stress or extremely low temperatures
So, as a restorative feed, it can be used in small amounts when your horse needs a little more energy or weight. However, you should pay attention to proper preparation.
How can you feed your horse corn?
For one thing, the high starch content coupled with low essential fatty acids and minerals means that the starch must be broken down before feeding.
Suitable methods are:
This makes the starch easier for horses to digest.
Secondly, you should add minerals and oils if your horse ingests large amounts of corn.
Even then, however, there are potential risks.
What are the dangers of feeding corn?
Feeding too much corn can have a negative impact on your horse’s health.
In addition to obesity, which increases the risk of diabetes and puts stress on the musculoskeletal system, the pH of the intestinal flora can shift.
This causes an unfavorable chain reaction to occur that negatively affects digestion. Complaints such as diarrhea and colic are possible.
In addition, laminitis can occur. If a horse is fed too much corn, it also tends to become over-acidic, may sweat more quickly and its condition may be reduced.
Corn continues to be suspected as a trigger for allergies. However, there is no scientific evidence for this.
How much corn can horses eat?
A problematic amount is more than 350 grams of corn per 100 kilograms of your horse’s body weight.
If your horse is sensitive or already has digestive problems, you should feed significantly less.
In general, the animal must first get used to the starchy feed. Therefore, start feeding by adding a handful to the muesli or mesh every day.
Corn meal, corn cobs or corn germ are suitable for this purpose. You can also offer cooked corn.
Also remember that mineralization is important. This is especially true if you increase the amount gradually.
If there are negative effects, you should reduce it again.
What are the alternatives to corn for horses?
Since corn is used as a concentrated feed, it is good in a mixture. Horse muesli with corn, barley and oats is usually well accepted by the animals.
Spelt is another possible alternative.
Rye and wheat, on the other hand, should be avoided in concentrated feed. If you want grain-free, you can choose potatoes and ready-made mixtures.
Rice products can also be used. Rice bran is one of the products you can use. Just like corn, you can also cook it for a long time and add it to the mesh.
Conclusion: Horses and corn
In small amounts, properly prepared corn can give your horse an extra portion of strength and energy.
Especially in winter, with underweight or heavily stressed animals, the addition of corn is useful, if you follow the mentioned instructions.
This also applies, for example, to pregnant mares in the last trimester, when strength is needed for the birth.
Never forget that the digestion must first adjust to the feed. Therefore, gradually introduce corn into the diet and pay attention to its compatibility.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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