Last Updated on March 18, 2022 by Allison Price
Oats can be considered a cereal crop that is grown for its seed/grain. Oat grains are a staple food for livestock and have been used for centuries to provide energy for horses. Oats have a high amount of starch and fiber. Horses can eat and digest them easily but many don’t because they are too high in starch. As a cereal crop, Oat plants produce a seed/grain when they mature. The starch and energy stored in the plant is transferred to the grain as it grows. The remaining plant is harvested and oat straw is made. This has little nutritional value and high levels of non-digestible fiber.
Oat grains can be harmful to horses, but oat grass is a different story. Oat grass hay was specifically grown to be a forage crop, similar to timothy and orchard grass. It is harvested at an immature stage to maximize digestibility. Oat grass hay has a low starch content because the seed head is still developing. If oat grass hay has been properly managed with optimal fertilization programs, it can increase fiber digestion, growth, and minimize water soluble carbohydrates (Malik, et al. 2011, 2011).
Oat grass hay has a lower crude protein content and lower digestible energy than alfalfa. Oat grass hay is often grown with legumes like alfalfa to improve its protein quality. This helps to increase the essential amino acids like lysine and further decrease the non-structural carbohydrates in the final product (Bagg, et al. 2013, 2013).
Standlee Premium Western Forage has Premium Alfalfa/Oat Grasses Forage Cubes available in a 40 lb bag. These are made by grinding Standlee Premium Alfalfa and Standlee Premium Oat Grass coarsely and then forcing it through a large sieve with heat, steam, and natural bentonite. This blend of forages contains high levels of fiber and moderate protein, as well as low non-structural carbohydrate.
This product is suitable for horses that are growing moderately to rapidly, horses with sensitive to carbohydrates, horses suffering from gastric ulcers, and performance horses. It can also be used to grow late-in-pregnancy and lactating mares, stallions, and senior horses.
It is important to note that oats grown for their fodder and cereal grain crops have completely different management methods and nutritional outcomes. To find the best forage for your horse depending on their age, activity level, and any special requirements (e.g., overweight or carbohydrate sensitive), visit our Standlee Feed Finder(r). To help balance your horse’s diet, use the Standlee Food Calculator(r).. This calculator will determine how much hay, oil, or beet pulp is being given to them.