Ask The Experts Topics of the Month: All About Oats
Oat Hay and Grain
Q. Our local feed stores are selling oat hay in place of coastal bermuda due to the shortage. I was told this hay is commonly fed to cattle, but is it suitable for horses?
A. Yes, oat hay is an excellent hay for horses. Like any other hay its nutrient content depends on the timing of the harvest. If it is partially green in color and the seed heads are not fully developed it will be very palatable and nutritional. Oat hay has been used for many years for horses. In the North, many farms that did not grow their own hay crops would set aside part of the oat field for horse hay for the winter. It was the hay of choice before farms started including grass/alfalfa mixtures into their crop rotation program.
Q. My trainer advised me to mix my feed with oats – will this affect the nutritional balance of the feed? Should I add any supplements to the blend?
A. Mixing oats, or any grains with feed, changes the concentration and ratio of nutrients that are formulated to meet the needs of horses. Additionally, adding oats provides no real benefit to the horse. “I’ve heard it explained like this” states Larry Mack, equine nutritionist, “mixing grain with balanced feed usually makes the ‘person’ feel good but it does not necessarily do anything for the good of the horse.”
If you do decide to mix oats with your feed you will need to rebalance the mixture with a mixing concentrate like Seminole Equalizer. How much Equalizer you will need to use will vary depending upon the amount of oats that are used. Generally speaking the rule is to add ½ pound of Equalizer for every 4 pounds of oat.