If you walk through a riding stable and take a closer look, you will notice that most horses are fed muesli and pellets in addition to roughage.
Why are oats banned from the feed plan?
Many horse owners are afraid that their horse will literally be stung by oats and that they will no longer be able to tame it under the saddle. As a result, they often go without oats and switch to muesli or pellets.
In addition, there is the "muesli movement" that has spilled over from human nutrition into horse feeding. Variety on the plate with "a little here, a little there" makes eating an experience and that's how it should be for the four-legged partner too.
It should not be forgotten that the majority of horses actually need only little or no concentrated feed. But you don't want your horse to be left without anything when all the others are chewing contentedly with their mouths in the manger. Especially as many horses then start banging against the walls of the stall or disturbing the neighbour while he is eating.
Oats - the concentrate feed par excellence for horses!
In its composition, oats are unique among all cereals. Due to the comparatively high husk content, oats have a high crude fibre content, which means that the horse has to chew more intensively and thus insalivate the feed better. The mucilages that the salvia contains protect the mucous membranes of the stomach and intestines. This has a positive effect on the digestive tract.
The high fat content (5-7 %) makes oats a good source of energy. The two and several times unsaturated fatty acids have a positive effect on the horse's health. With a protein content of about 9-11 %, there is no danger of feeding a diet too rich in protein. The high proportion of essential amino acids is positive too. Also worth mentioning is the high content of bulk elements, trace elements and vitamins. However, the comparatively low calcium content compared to phosphorus should be noted, which makes supplementation with a calcium-rich mineral feed indispensable.
Whole or crushed oats?
Oats can be fed whole or crushed. If oats are fed whole it is not abnormal that a few whole oat grains to be excreted in the faeces, as the digestibility of oats is not 100%, but about 85%. However, this is no reason to panic. There is no need to immediately check the horse's teeth or to feed crushed oats. As long as the horse has no problems with its teeth or digestion or is already older, it is able to digest whole oats.
If oats are fed crushed, this should be done immediately after crushing due to the short shelf life. Oxygen reaches the unsaturated fatty acids in the oats that are enclosed in the grain during crushing, causing them to oxidise, i.e. become rancid. This not only affects the taste, it is also unhealthy for the horse.
Green, black, white or golden oats?
There are different types of oats - green, black, white and golden. These are often advertised differently on the market and sometimes have enormous price differences. However, what only a few people know is that the essential distinguishing feature is only the colour. The composition of the oats is almost identical.
It all comes down to quality
While the differences between the various types of oats are small, there can be huge differences in the quality of the oats. A rough rule of thumb is a hectolitre weight of at least 45-55 kg/hl, with the weight increasing as the quality increases.
A simple way to test the quality of the oats yourself is the water glass method, where you put a handful of oats into a glass filled with tap water. The more grains that sink to the bottom, the heavier the oats and therefore the better the quality. A strong turbidity of the water is an indication that many dirt particles and mite faeces adhere to the oats.
Conclusion / Summary
In summary, it can be said that oats are the horse grain par excellence due to their good properties. With appropriate mineral feed supplementation oats are suitable without any problems as the sole concentrate for almost every horse that cannot cover its needs exclusively through roughage.
You are not sure if horse suffers from a gastric ulcer? Read in this blogarticle Grade 1 to 4: Stomach ulcers in horses easily explained all about it.