Horse and Feed: Which bran is right for my horse?


Rough is the most important part of a horse’s ration. Do you know how much and what kind of roughage your horse is fed? And what should you pay attention to when buying bran?

Not every horse needs the same roughage. From the horse’s point of view, you are looking at the type and quality of roughage you want to feed. It’s always hard to find the same quality bristle. Every year is different and every crop is different. Grass is available in many varieties and the nutrient composition of the soil is constantly changing. Given all these differences, roughage is definitely not a standard product, and roughage from different locations are not equivalent in nutritional value. Finding suitable bran is first about knowing what your horse needs and also knowing how to translate that into criteria you can use when choosing a particular bran.

Coarse evaluation

You judge roughness by smell, look and feel. If the roughage is made from young grass, it will be leafy and will not have stiff stems. feel soft. As the grass grows, the stem will become taller and sturdier. It feels less soft and hurts your palm. You see fewer leaves and more stems.

If the grass blooms during mowing, you will see many inflorescences in the forage, similar to spikes and columns. By feeling and looking you get the impression of a lawn mowing stage. If it feels smooth to the touch and you see lots of leaves, few stems and no spines or plumes, the roughage is of a rich quality. It is easily digestible and provides a lot of energy and protein.

If the roughage is hard and crunchy with many inflorescences in it, it will have relatively low digestibility and will provide your horse with less energy and protein. Stem bran from ancient grass contains a lot of fiber, but not all of it is easily digestible. Harder stems contain more wood dust than softer stems. Wood dust is indigestible, as well as in the large intestine. The rough-leaved automatically contains more protein than the bran of the lower-leaved, but fertilizing the ground also makes a distinct difference in protein content. Sometimes leaf bran is somewhat low in protein. You need a lab analysis to find out. However, you can ask if the pasture has been fertilized. What you also need to analyze for is the sugar content of the bran. This is particularly important for horses with insulin resistance or a history of laminitis.

Finally, always put your nose in the rough. The smell basically says something about preservation or spoilage that may have occurred during storage. Fresh coarse smells fresh and aromatic or slightly sour (silage). A musty smell indicates mold growth that can turn into a musty, musty stench, although this is sometimes difficult to assess using silage. Silage can be hot and warm, and the smell is often sweet. The effect reduces the energy and protein value of the feed, but does not harm digestion. However, you have to be very careful because shredded silage gets moldy very quickly. Smelly silage is never good, and you will usually also see mold growth in it.

bran degrees

In order not to make it unnecessarily complicated, you can divide roughness into three categories: fine, medium, and coarse. in Good bran You see more leaves than stems, no thorns or spines, and feel little or no tingling in the palm of your hand. in Medium bran The ratio between leaves and stems is about fifty, and there are flowers, but not much. It feels fairly solid, but it doesn’t press your palm too hard. in coarse bran; You mainly see stems, spikes, columns, and a few leaves. The shins prick your palms.

What is appropriate?

Thin and fine bran provides more energy and protein than coarse and hard bran. A horse needs less roughage to get the same amount of energy from poor quality roughage. Because eating plenty of roughage is good for health and well-being, it is a good idea to choose quality that your horse can eat as much as possible without becoming too fat. Eating unlimited bran is not possible in many cases, not even for coarse bran, unless the horses work a lot.

Each horse must receive at least a certain amount of roughage. This criterion is based on the weight of the horse and can be calculated from 1 to 1.25 percent of body weight. A 500 kg horse needs at least 5 to 6.25 kg of dry matter bran per day. Converted into fresh product, this amounts to about 6-7.5 kg of hay or 7-9 kg of forage per day, depending on the dry matter content. If you give a sober horse with a low energy requirement rich, high-quality bran, he may actually get plenty of energy with the minimum necessary amount in the day. The horse gets enough roughage, but gets very fat. It would be necessary to give less roughage to lose weight, but then lead to other complaints because the fiber intake is so low. Therefore, the solution is to search for a different quality of coarse. Many horses need more energy than minimal roughness. More coarseness is the better solution. The maximum intake for coarse is 2 percent of body weight in dry matter. With unlimited roughage, the energy intake may actually be more than needed to rest the horses, for example. Without work, this easily causes the horse to gain weight. Balance should be sought in the optimum supply of roughness and in controlling the degree of body condition.

the more the better

The more roughage a horse can eat without becoming fat, the better. If your horse requires high energy and/or a relatively short time to eat, you choose a richer quality. In addition, rough, smooth and soft provide more protein, which, for example, young growing horses or mares with foals need greatly. For horses with bad teeth, the rough grind leads to problems with absorption and weight loss. Then you have to look for a softer type of hay. However, the majority of horses benefit from somewhat coarse roughage. They chew longer, produce more saliva and grind the teeth more evenly. Choose the roughness quality that best suits your horse and try to assume as much roughness as possible. You can rate this quality for both silage and hay. Horse silage is relatively dry, but slightly moister than hay. At the similar shear stage, silage can be less hard and prickly. So also take a good look at the stem / leaf ratio and the number of inflorescences.

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