What’s up with rice bran? Should I be feeding my horse rice bran?
Many horse owners turn to brans for various reasons - and in many horses this is a good idea. Keep in mind that wheat brans are different than rice brans and are therefore not interchangeable. For more on wheat bran, read this doozie of an article.
What is rice bran? Well, rice is covered with an outer layer, the kernel. When white rice is processed for us to eat, the kernel that remains creates the bran. You need to be sure to feed stabilized rice bran. Unstabalized rice bran easily becomes rancid and therefore potentially dangerous for your horse to eat. The stabilization process adds shelf life to the rice bran and makes it safe for horses to eat.
Rice bran is “famous” for being loaded with calories, due to the added fats in rice bran. It’s also filled with B vitamins, but absent are many other vitamins and minerals. Additional vitamin and mineral supplementation is needed. Rice bran is also higher in phosphorus than calcium, which can create problems with a grass hay diet.
The calories and actions of the B vitamins (which are part of the energy creation process) can give many horses a boost in terms of performance and weight gain. The fat content also creates a lovely shine on horses.
Lots of benefits, one being that rice bran is super palatable.
There are a few things to think about here. Some of us learned that a bran mash is great to give a colicky horse, but if that’s not already in his diet, he might get even more colicky from the addition of a new food. If you choose to feed rice bran, be sure to make sure his calcium and phosphorus are balanced across his diet with proper hay and additional supplements, if necessary.
Your Equine Nutritionist and/or Veterinarian can help you navigate the very confusing world of equine nutrition!