Midwest Horse Welfare Foundation, Inc. ----Discussion Forum

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Does anyone have an opinion out there of the oats vs. corn feed.

I always thought oats made a horse hyper but lately I have been told that the corn is worse.  I used to feed a mixture of purina with corn mixed in.  Right now the boys are only getting purina.  I would love to add a grain supplement to make the pellet feed last longer.   Neither one have a problem with weight and have wonderful coats.  Any ideas?

Wendy W - WI

Shannon here are a couple sites I checked out.   I feed my boys oats with a smidge of sweet feed.  






Hope this helps.

Sharon Potter
If you're already using a balanced fed like Purina Strategy, don't mess with it.....all you'll do is throw the ratio off kilter.  Adding oats or corn doesn't do anything but unbalance the ration. Purina spends millions on research and balancing feeds for you...if it ain't broke, don't fix it. 

As for oats vs. corn...traditionally, oats are fed with timothy hay and corn is fed with alfalfa.  It has to do with keeping a good calcium/phosphorus ratio...the type of grain fed balances the type of hay.  Corn is higer in phosphorus, while oats have more calcium.


Thank you Wendy for the web sites.  It helped clear up alot.  It seems both corn and oats can make a horse hot.  The one web site mentions that if the horse is healthy (like Sharon mentions) there is no need to supplement the pellet feed.  My daughters pony Chance is chubby so he certainly needs no extra help in the weight department.  Thanks again.  I knew the people at this forum would come up with great advice and information.

Wendy W - WI

Shannon I haven't seen a horse that got hot on oats, but I haven't seen every horse in the world either.    My horses do not get hot on oats whatsoever.   My vet in fact told me a few years back to take Buck off of grain and switch him to oats so he wouldn't gain any extra weight.  It's a treat for them and while they eat I brush and love them. 


Yikes!  Am I okay with my babies on just hay and pasture (well, in the Upper Peninsula that is almost gone now) with some sweet feed for an occasional treat?  My horses are all at good weight but are they getting enough nutrients in the hay?  I was told by a trainer a few years ago that if the hay is good enough quality it is enough.  Is there any way to test hay for nutritional quality?




Sharon Potter
You can send a sample of your hay in to be tested.  You'll ideally need what's called a "core sampler", which is basically a drill type thing that you crank into the bale to get the best quality sample you can.  You do this with several different bales, to get a well rounded sampling, then put it in a ziploc bag, stuff into a big envelope with the form and payment, and in a couple of days, you get the results back via email and mail.  Here's the link: 


Thank you!  I thought there was probably something available but had no idea where to look. 


Purina as well as Nutrena have spent lots of money and time researching their feeds and they are all balanced and formulated for the specific age of horse that you are feeding; so if you are feeding one of their bag mixes then stick with it and don't change it.  Corn is a very high starch feed and is better off being fed to cattle than horses; the high starch is bad for joints and does not help balance a diet. Body heat is not produced by corn but by hay; feed good quality hay; that is very important! 

As for feeding babies don't just feed hay!  Until they are a yearling they need a protein feed that is 16%; a yearling until a 2 year old needs 14% protein.  Mares that have a nursing foal at their side need 16% protein and maintenance horses and racehorses/performance horses need 12% protein.   Babies have a high requirement for vitamins and minerals and you won't get that with just hay.  Oats are basically a filler feed; it can be part of a mix just not a complete feed.  My yearlings are on SafeChoice with a little  Vitality 16% for the chewy texture; our babies are on Youth with a little Vitality 16% and our racehorses are on Legacy with some Vitality 12% or we use Ultium feed for those that have ulcers.  The broodmares are on a 12% sweet feed that is mixed with half Vitality 16% sweet feed.  Also, the broodmares receive one scoop of the Free Balance mineral/vitamin supplement daily.  We have fed this way for over a year now and this years babies came out perfectly straight and big and strong. We have a 7month old filly that already measures 14hands!  You are what you eat and the same goes for horses!

Anne H. White

Good morning...according to Science and Nutrition Oats are superior to Corn; here's why...


Corn is very low in Tyrptophan.


Tyrptophan is a necessary precursor for Niacin Vit. B3


With low levels of Tryptophan the Horse has low Niacin. This is how Corn fed diets reduce Niacin B3.


Oats; on the other hand are high in Magnesium.


Magneisum is an Essential Mineral; mandatory for Horses. So I conclude Oats are better than Corn.


The worst type of Corn is refined Corn.


If you could get dried whole Corn and Soak that would be ok.


It is the refining of the Corn looses the Tryptophan.


Any Grain that has been "refined looses Nutrients. A.


I know the discusion was on oats vs. corn, but  I was wondering what people thought about the new findings AQHA published about oats being too high in starch and sugar.  There are new studies out by Purina and Buckeye promoting more fiber and less sugar and starch.  I was looking at Purina Strategy and the new Buckeye Safe 'n Easy.  Purina has about 8% fiber and I could not find how much sugar and starch was in it and Buckeye has 20% fiber, 13.7% actual starch and 2.4% actual sugar.  I know it is all about moderation, but how much sugar and starch does a horse need to maintain optimal energy and how much fiber do they really need?  I am sceptical on new studies because as in humans, they always change their minds.  What do you guys think?

Cindy G

I've fed my old horse equine senior and similar feeds the last few years. Last spring I was worried we were going to have to put him down, he was not keeping wieght on despite everything the vet and I tried.

This fall I changed his diet to 1 rolled oats and 1/2 cracked corn (ratio). I did start lower on the corn and have upped it. He seemes to be keeping on the weight.  No fancy diet here.

Oats are high in fiber, from what I remember from animal nutrition classes. And corn is high in calories, lower in fiber.

I wonder how much Truth is behind some of the animal feed info. Esp when put out by a major brand.  Look at all the dog/cat foods out there. What works for one animal may or may not work on the next. I know we have played around with different food for our cats and dogs.

I was wondering about all the molasses too, in alot of those mixed feeds.

Laurie L.

I think you are so right about being careful who we're listening to about what's the best nutrition for our pets - - the companies making the feeds?  That's sort of like listening to pharmaceutical companies when it comes to medications.  Not a wise move.  Horses in the wild eat - - grass!  Naturally they'll end up with some other vegetative substances, some oats here and there, maybe some corn (I know mine love riding through a corn field and trying to snatch an ear).  But primarily they eat grass. 


Dogs in the wild, on the other hand, eat meat.  They don't eat grains or vegetables.  They eat meat.  But when you look at the primary ingredient in the dog food, it's grains, corn, etc.  And many, many dogs nowadays get skin allergies, are overweight, have breathing problems, etc. etc.  Even people who give their dogs meat have a belief that they also have to give the dog carrots and things like that - - nope, dogs eat meat.  Our old dog Henry was having all kinds of health problems 3 years ago and we switched him over to a non-grain diet and at 13 he is like a 6 year old again.


Because many pastures are over-grazed, you do sometimes have to supplement with some type of feed.  But without sending in a sample of your hay or your grass, you really don't know if you even need to feed any grain at all.  We feed no grain in the summer whatsoever, because our pasture provides all the nutrients necessary for our horses.  The hay that we purchase, however, isn't the absolute best so we do utilize a little bit of grain in the winter months to supplement, and I do use glucosamine with my one oldest gelding.   When we were first into horses we just thought oh!  We have to grain everyone, because that's just what you do.  But we had an equine nutritionist come out and sample our pasture and hay and found out that it was really unnecessary for the most part. 


bringing to the top


Have read all the thoughts with great interest, nutrition intrigues me.


In the event someone is a reader and likes to grab new books the book entitled "Natural Horse Care" by Pat Coleby copyright 2001 ISBN:0-911311-65-3


Chapters include: CH.1 Soil Deficiencies, CH.2 Analyzing Soils CH.3 Improving and Maintaining Pastures CH.4 Minerals CH.5 Vitamins - Minerals come first CH.6 Non-Invasive and Natural Remedies CH.7 Basic Feeding Practice CH.8 Ailments CH.9 General Feeding and Care of breeding horses CH.10 Blood Analysis CH.11 Conditioning Horses


Book is 165 pages long and easy to read in the sense it is in lay-mans terms and is put out by AcresUSA in Austin, TX.  BUT in light of the recent discussion may find it resourceful checking it out at the library. I know we have really learned lots from the pages and often reference it with questions of our own, among other sources




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