Rice bran has been a very popular choice for horse feed because of its high nutritional value. Moreover, since it has been proven that a nutritious and healthy diet is important for maintaining the horses' health and to keep the health problems at bay, rice bran has become an even more important ingredient to add to the horses' diet. In the following article, we will see why feeding rice bran to horses is important and what is the right way of doing it.
What is Rice Bran?
During the milling process, the outer layer of the rice kernel is removed. This outer layer which is the hard, brown husk is rice bran. Rice bran is one of the most nutritious parts of the rice. And is, in fact, a very healthy choice for horses.
Rice bran contains niacin, iron, thiamin, vitamin B-6, potassium, fiber, phosphorus, and magnesium. And with a suffusion of so many minerals, it is no surprise that rice bran is an excellent source of nutrition.
However, it is very important to understand that raw rice bran (that which has not gone through the stabilization process) cannot be fed to the horses. This is because unstabilized rice bran leads to digestive problems. Neither is raw rice bran palatable and nor is it easy for the horse to digest. It is only after the stabilization process that rice bran can be consumed as a healthy and nutritious feed.
Stabilized Rice Bran
The reason for rice bran to undergo the stabilization process before it can be consumed is due to the ingredients it contains. Rice bran has a very high content of oil (among other minerals) and it is due to this that it needs to undergo the stabilization process. Rice bran oil can prove to be harmful because it also contains a portion of potent lipase, and therefore it might become rancid in a short span of time. Spoiled rice bran adds to the digestive problems for horses. Not only does the stabilization process completely break down the lipase activity, but it does not destroy the nutritional value of the bran as well.
Advantages of Stabilized Rice Bran
- It has a whopping 20% content of fat.
- It is highly palatable and digestible.
- With rice bran feed, horses get an additional supplement of fiber. The advantage of which is that it prevents the horse from having any digestive problems.
- It also contains Gamma Orynzol which helps to build and repair muscles and also increase lean muscle mass of the horses.
- It improves the body condition of the horses.
- It contains vitamin B and several other minerals like thiamin, niacin etc (mentioned above) which take part in several chemical reactions and help to generate energy for the body.
- It eliminates the problems of digestion caused by mere grain feeding which contains high levels of carbohydrates.
- It provides for fat without having to add it as an extra ingredient.
- It increases the energy density in the body.
- It works as a potential ingredient in the therapeutic diets which are given to horses who have the danger of tying up.
Rice bran has known to work well for performance horses (who are used for professional horse racing) and for horses that are young and growing. With the many advantages that rice bran provides, it is no surprise that the consumption and popularity of this supplement has been increasing manifold. However, it is important to understand that rice bran is only an addition and supplement to the horse's diet. It should not replace the entire diet. The vitamin and mineral supplement needs to be provided for separately. But all in all, rice bran has proved to be a boon for all horse owners.