Should I avoid bran?
I know bran used to be pretty popular and people are always making their horses hot bran mashes. I've read a few articles saying the calcium/phospurus ratio was lopsided and that it should be given sparingly-never. Is this true? And are rice bran,wheat bran, and oat bran any better or worse than each other?
Wheat bran is the worst for Ca:P ratio. I never feed it. I don't know about oat bran, never had any experience with it. You can buy Rice Bran that is fortified with extra calcium, to balance Ca:P ratio. I believe Equi-Jewel's rice bran is fortified. I have fed rice bran in the past, but as a fat supplement for horses that needed more weight or more calories in their diet.
When I want to make a "treat" for my horses, I mix hot water with alfalfa pellets, cut up carrots, and a handful of peppermints or some crumbled up old granola bars. I use just enough water to make a thick "stew", not too soupy.
I feed rice bran to my boy :)
Wow he's beautiful!
Do you know if the bran is calcium fortified?
I feed him Natural Glo Rice Bran Powder which is "stabalized" already. I think the nuggets have extra sugar/stuff added to it but the powder is really nice!
Rice bran is good, wheat bran is not.
What ever you do, make sure your feeding regime is normalized from day-to-day. A hot bran mash once a week can do a lot more harm than good because the horse is not used to it and the extra whatever can upset the horse's digestive system.
I've actually heard a little differently- that rice bran is highest in phosphorous, and wheat bran is slightly lower. I actually feed both (but not in the same day). But sometimes I will give my horses about a cup of rice bran, and other days I will make them a wet mash with some wheat bran (doesn't even need to be hot, cold water works well too).
Wheat bran makes good mashes, and rice bran is more of a fat supplement with very little fiber to it. I don't think the term "stabilized" has anything to do with the calcium to phosphorous ratio (I don't think anyway). I think stabilized means they did something to it so it doesn't go rancid, because apparently with the high fat content of rice bran it can go rancid.
I actually started feeding brans to ADD phosphorous to my horse's diet, because I feed straight alfalfa hay. I was aware there was an imbalance with the alfalfa, but I really didn't take it seriously until I found out my mare was in foal, and when I asked my vet about her diet, he said to give her a couple pounds of grain a day to give her some phosphorous since I was feeding straight alfalfa and it is too high in calcium. So I guess I have the opposite problem than people who have pasture or grass hay as the main diet.
So I do give her a few pounds of grain, but also a small amount of bran a day, like a cup or so. And my other horses hardly get any grain at all, so I give them a little bran (of either variety) each day too.
Does this sound sort of okay? I hope so. Broodmare nutrition (and horse nutrition in general) can really make me neurotic about what I feed. I think the feed store people roll their eyes when I come walking in, because they know I will take about 1/2 hour to figure out what I am going to buy there! :lol:
It is also for this reason that (if I were you) I would start mixing in grass hay with my alfalfa and feeding simply a nutritional supplement to support the extra needs of a pregnant/nursing mare. Straight alfalfa has a high sugar content which can end up stressing the horse's front gut and lead to Insulin Resistance (diabetes) and Cushing's Syndrome in later years.
Horses are designed to eat fairly low nutritional value food for most of their day, and have a very consistent day to day eating routine. Switching up feeds without a very gradual change can have a detrimental effect on their health as well.
I always heard that grass hay was much higher in sugar than alfalfa. Maybe not bermuda grass, but pretty much all other grasses. Alfalfa is high in protein and calcium, but I don't believe it is high in sugar.
I don't know about all the hindgut vs. front gut stuff, so I'll take your word on it.
I do agree that I should be feeding grass hay along with the alfalfa in an ideal world. Grass hay is super expensive out here (Arizona). About the best I can do is bermuda, which my vet doesn't think much of nutritionally. Sometimes someone gets in some two wire bales of grass from Colorado, but that is $11 for 60 lbs. :shock: So for now I am feeding alfalfa which is around $10 for 110 lbs.
I don't think switching up a cups' worth of bran here and there will hurt them. I don't even know if a cups worth of bran does much for them nutritionally, but everywhere on the internet you hear about how bran has too much phosphorous, so I am afraid to feed more than that. Although there was an article on an endurance site somewhere that says not to feed more than a couple pounds of rice bran without also supplementing calcium. But I am not feeding anywhere near that amount. I am trying to boost the phosphorous without tipping the scales the other direction.
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