Bran mash...is it ok in light moderation? - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 9 Old 04-19-2017, 12:19 AM Thread Starter
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Question Bran mash...is it ok in light moderation?

A little bit about my old man, his name is Ghost (I'll let you guess what color he is) and he's 28, my childhood best friend who I've had for 12 years now, and also has lost quite a few teeth over the years with his old age.

His typical diet is Purina senior, beet pulp and/or hay squares, mixed together with warm water (we usually even leave it to soak overnight and during the day after breakfast, he has to eat twice otherwise he starts slimming down because he can hardly eat hay due to his dental issues). He has pasture turnout in the day and at night he stays shut in the gated area by our barn with the rest of our horses. I was at dinner with my family and we were talking about his diet, because we just had a bit of a scare this Easter weekend when he had a colic episode. We actually all feared we'd have to put him down and I was nearly heartbroken, but after a visit from the vet and some of that mineral oil in his system he bounced back, but we're being especially cautious about what he eats and how much he eats in one sitting now.

Long backstory I know, but I'm trying to be detailed here so that I can get an informed response. While we were at dinner I recalled this bran mash mix I used to feed him as a kid from time to time that maybe some of you heard of, Equine Edibles Candy Cane Recipe bran mash (they have other flavors but this was his mash of choice). Unfortunately they're not operating business right now so I was looking into other companies that sold bran mash mixes and home recipes, etc. and also came across the hundreds of articles and threads about how bran isn't something horses need/doesn't help their health/etc. etc. So naturally my paranoid self is trying to cross check all the articles and sources and see who's telling the truth and who isn't, because I don't want him to eat anything to further deteriorate his health or give him another episode like we just had.

I definitely wouldn't be feeding him bran mash daily, once a week at most if not once every few weeks with some chopped up carrots/apples/etc., just as a special soft treat for him since he's my spoiled old man. He can be quite a piggy if it's soft enough for him to eat and loves treats, he can't eat much of the hard nugget treats the rest of our horses enjoy unless I find REALLY small ones in the bucket, so I'm trying to find something to whip up just for him. If kept in LIGHT moderation like that, is a bran mash mix that detrimental to his health?
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post #2 of 9 Old 04-19-2017, 01:08 AM
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You could discuss this with your Vet. I do not think a bran mash would hurt him.
You can get Stabilized Rice Bran or wheat bran if you feed alfalfa. You just add water let it sit a minute or so, and if you need it mushier just add more water.
You should ask your Vet about a digest aid or probiotic.
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post #3 of 9 Old 04-19-2017, 11:52 AM
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I agree to talk with your vet first.

Bran to much to often can clean out the bacteria you need to help the digestion of food in the entire intestinal tract.
I would be looking to add "flora and fauna", bacteria to the diet myself to help the older digestive tract that doesn't always work efficiently.

For treats why not think about applesauce, cooked carrots and maybe a soft cookie or two in his favorite flavor?
Soft and easily consumed....

Maybe something like this he would benefit from.
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post #4 of 9 Old 04-19-2017, 02:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddiejay View Post
A little bit about my old man, his name is Ghost (I'll let you guess what color he is) and he's 28, my childhood best friend who I've had for 12 years now, and also has lost quite a few teeth over the years with his old age.

His typical diet is Purina senior, beet pulp and/or hay squares, mixed together with warm water (we usually even leave it to soak overnight and during the day after breakfast, he has to eat twice otherwise he starts slimming down because he can hardly eat hay due to his dental issues). He has pasture turnout in the day and at night he stays shut in the gated area by our barn with the rest of our horses. I was at dinner with my family and we were talking about his diet, because we just had a bit of a scare this Easter weekend when he had a colic episode. We actually all feared we'd have to put him down and I was nearly heartbroken, but after a visit from the vet and some of that mineral oil in his system he bounced back, but we're being especially cautious about what he eats and how much he eats in one sitting now.

Long backstory I know, but I'm trying to be detailed here so that I can get an informed response. While we were at dinner I recalled this bran mash mix I used to feed him as a kid from time to time that maybe some of you heard of, Equine Edibles Candy Cane Recipe bran mash (they have other flavors but this was his mash of choice). Unfortunately they're not operating business right now so I was looking into other companies that sold bran mash mixes and home recipes, etc. and also came across the hundreds of articles and threads about how bran isn't something horses need/doesn't help their health/etc. etc. So naturally my paranoid self is trying to cross check all the articles and sources and see who's telling the truth and who isn't, because I don't want him to eat anything to further deteriorate his health or give him another episode like we just had.

I definitely wouldn't be feeding him bran mash daily, once a week at most if not once every few weeks with some chopped up carrots/apples/etc., just as a special soft treat for him since he's my spoiled old man. He can be quite a piggy if it's soft enough for him to eat and loves treats, he can't eat much of the hard nugget treats the rest of our horses enjoy unless I find REALLY small ones in the bucket, so I'm trying to find something to whip up just for him. If kept in LIGHT moderation like that, is a bran mash mix that detrimental to his health?
I'm missing WHY you want to give him the mash? Just as a treat?

I just want to point out that half the reason it's recommended not to use bran mash is that you spend so much time adjusting a horses diet to perfect and NOT making any changes to turn around and add something completely different. I would not do it... if it's a treat you can find a better one and there's no other reason to. If you do do it I'd just give him a handful but where he just colicked why do you suddenly want to change things up??

There are better and easier treats.

I don't know what type of colic he had but you can add some oil to his feed. If he can't eat any hay he really needs to be fed minimum 3 times a day not 2, that could definitely be part of it.
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post #5 of 9 Old 04-20-2017, 03:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maddiejay View Post
His typical diet is Purina senior, beet pulp and/or hay squares, mixed together with warm water (we usually even leave it to soak overnight and during the day after breakfast, he has to eat twice otherwise he starts slimming down because he can hardly eat hay due to his dental issues). He has pasture turnout in the day
Hi, do you mean he is hard fed only twice daily? I'm sure your vet would have mentioned all this already, but I imagine that is at least part of the reason for his colic. Especially over night, if he can't eat hay, you need to either leave him on that pasture if he's managing that OK, or feed him something which will keep him going all night if stabled. Horses aren't built to go hungry for long, have an empty stomach. They also need little & often feeding of rich feeds, as too large &/or infrequent feeds are problematic.

Quote:
So naturally my paranoid self is trying to cross check all the articles and sources and see
That is far from 'paranoid'. It is RATIONAL behaviour! Unfortunately, many marketing, traditional or otherwise stories abound & are taken as fact by those who don't bother to analyse it. There are many differences of opinions, outdated ideas, etc. Even by supposed 'experts'. So don't take anything on blind faith, but do your own homework, to make the most informed decisions you can on stuff.

Quote:
I definitely wouldn't be feeding him bran mash daily, once a week at most if not once every few weeks with some chopped up carrots/apples/etc., just as a special soft treat for him
Yes, if you're giving it just as a small treat, a handful of bran mash irregularly is not likely to cause further issues. But if you're planning on feeding more than that, or feeding for other reasons, then you need to feed it little & often, as with other food. Over at least a few meals daily is best. And if just feeding for a treat, and you feed him carrot & apple anyway, why bother with one more treat? Stick to the fruit & veg!

The old idea about bran mashes were that they were good for relieving constipation, and feeding regularly/weekly was often as a preventative for this. However, it's the horse's system being upset by strange feed it's not used to that causes gut problems, often leading also to 'loose stools'. In addition, bran(esp wheat) is very high in phosphorus, which can unbalance the diet dangerously, if not considered as part of well balanced nutrition.
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post #6 of 9 Old 04-21-2017, 01:48 AM
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If you are feeding alfalfa hay, wheat bran should not put the phos balance off.
Do not feed a pound a day, A small amt should not hurt.
My sick mare gets powder antibiotics and the only way she eats them is when it is added to a little bran mash. She will starve instead of eat the senior feed if it has meds in it. She will go walk to the back of the pen and will not eat the feed or pellets.
I agree to to make sure that the horse has forage in front of him 24/7 Give him hay to pick out the leaf, and if possible give his senior feed into 2 or 3 feedings.
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post #7 of 9 Old 04-21-2017, 03:33 AM
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I have never found bran to be detrimental to horses health.
In racing they get a bran mash twice a week. One horse that won several races would only eat a mash.

The thing that stands out is that you soak his hard feed for several hours, this, in hot weather might well turn it sour. I would rather feed it to him 'sloppy' as in very wet than have it soak for a long time.

Bran mash should be 'cooked' as in the bran moistened with hot water and then covered and left for an hour to cook. You can add cooked linseed, cooked barley or oats to it.
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post #8 of 9 Old 04-22-2017, 07:37 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Foxhunter View Post
I have never found bran to be detrimental to horses health.
In racing they get a bran mash twice a week. One horse that won several races would only eat a mash.

The thing that stands out is that you soak his hard feed for several hours, this, in hot weather might well turn it sour. I would rather feed it to him 'sloppy' as in very wet than have it soak for a long time.

Bran mash should be 'cooked' as in the bran moistened with hot water and then covered and left for an hour to cook. You can add cooked linseed, cooked barley or oats to it.
This was tradition with me for years, you cooked the horse a bran mash on Christmas morning. Added some cut up apples and carrots to it, the recipe was in an old Western Horseman magazine. Just reminded me, I have not done this tradition in about 10 years.
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post #9 of 9 Old 04-22-2017, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by horselovinguy View Post
I agree to talk with your vet first.

Bran to much to often can clean out the bacteria you need to help the digestion of food in the entire intestinal tract.
I would be looking to add "flora and fauna", bacteria to the diet myself to help the older digestive tract that doesn't always work efficiently.

For treats why not think about applesauce, cooked carrots and maybe a soft cookie or two in his favorite flavor?
Soft and easily consumed....

Maybe something like this he would benefit from.
...

I was thinking EXACTLY what horselovinguy said, cooked carrots, apple sauce. No chunks of carrots or apples, maybe shredded instead even. If he cannot chew hay, he cannot eat raw carrots or apples. I only gave my old guys bran mash in the winter when it was REALLY freezing and maybe they weren't drinking as much as they should. I just lost my old man in September, he was 36, when he was about 28 or 29 he could not chew hay. He'd chew it up then spit it out, had rolled up hay all over the place, but he enjoyed it, and did not attempt to swallow it, so I'd give him a handful at each meal.. He got 3 quarts alfalfa pellets, that I'd soak overnight, or over day, in a gallon of water, then I'd add 2 quarts of Equine Senior and add another 1/2 gallon or so. At various times he'd also get All-In-One, soaked also with his pellets, it would depend on what we could get our hands on. When he had colic, the day before we euthanized him, our vet was not in town, so a vet from the neighboring county came out. That vet was amazed at how good my horse looked at 36, and noted that my horse did not have any cheek muscles. We never did figure out what made him colic, but the vet also told us that it's hard to tell with the old horses. Good luck, he may live to be 36 or more.
P.S. He got that 2x's a day, in the summer I did not start soaking it till an hour before he would eat it, as it could get sour if left to soak all day, in the summer heat.

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