Feeding grains

We feed grains to horses for energy; energy to work, grow and reproduce. Energy in grains is in the form of starch, which is the white stuff you see in the middle of a grain like corn or barley. Starch is simply a long chain of glucose molecules.

The problem with grain

For a horse to extract the energy from grains, it needs to be able to digest this starch. Problem is, grains are a seed, and seeds are very good at protecting themselves from digestion.

The starch in cereal grains is physically protected by a seed coat and the aleurone layer. It is also packaged within endosperm cells and surrounded by tightly packed protein. To top it off, the starch itself is also rolled up into largely impenetrable balls.

When grain is fed to a horse, the enzymes in the horse's small intestine need to cut the starch up into individual glucose molecules that can be easily absorbed, but with all the seed 'packaging' protecting the starch, the horse can only digest a small portion of the starch available.

The rest of the starch then travels undigested to the horse's hindgut where it is rapidly fermented by the bacteria that live there. This rapid fermentation of grain starch can lead to many problems including:

  • Reduced digestion of pasture, hay and chaff

  • Loss of appetite

  • Changes in behaviour

  • Vitamin deficiency

  • Hindgut acidosis

  • Colic

  • Laminitis

Put simply, horses cannot properly digest uncookedgrains, feeding them reduces the digestion of foragesAND they can cause disease.

Extrusion to the rescue!

To overcome these problems, we need to make thestarch within grains easy to digest, and to do that,  they have to be cooked. Pryde's EasiFeed use extrusion technology to cook grains for your horses, making thestarch super digestible. Extrusion works like this:

When extruded grains are fed to a horse, the enzymes in the small intestine are able to easily access and cut the starch up into glucose. This means nearly all of the starch from extruded grain is digested in the small intestine, so your horse gets full benefit from the grain AND is not put at risk of all the problems associated with feeding uncooked grains.

Extrusion is best

Research has shown that extrusion is one of the most effective methods of cooking grains for horses. The graph compares the digestion of starch from uncooked corn, micronised corn and Pryde's EasiFeed extruded corn in a simulated small intestine.

The extruded corn was 60% more digested than uncooked corn and 40% more digested than micronised corn (Richards 2003). Seventy four percent of the starch from extruded corn was digested is just 15 minutes!