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Grain Processing for Horses: How Much Difference Does It Make?By Kentucky Equine Research Staff · December 3, 2014

Horses can be fed various grains in whole or processed forms. Evidence suggests that with oats, barley, corn, and wheat, the use of a processing method such as dry rolling or crimping may not result in significant improvements in nutrient utilization.

In order to improve starch availability in corn, grinding and the addition of heat are effective in increasing starch digestion prececally, while only cracking the grain does not. This may also be true for barley in that a greater disruption of the starch by using a heat processing method may be required for improved digestion.

The use of rolled, crimped or steam-flaked grain will continue in feeding horses, even though the reasons for its use may not reflect significant advantages in nutrient availability. There will be the continued concern by horse owners when whole grains, particularly oats, are included in the concentrate mixture, because hulls will be visible in the manure. It is important to remember that most of these visible hulls are just that, only hulls which are poorly digested. Even with rolled or crimped oats, hulls are in the manure; however, they are not easily distinguished from the rest of the manure.