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The Advantages of Cooked Feed

The lore of the advantages of cooked feed has been around for more than 25 years. Those who would see horses thusly fed would comment on their sleek appearance and endurance, even during the hardest exercises.

Yet very often horse aficionados have a hard time believing that something as simple as cooked feed could have any effect on the animals. Perhaps it is the fact dieticians concerned with human nutrition have informed us time and again that it is the raw fruits and vegetables as well as the uncooked grains that pack the greatest punch when it comes to containing minerals, vitamins, and fiber. To take food stuff such as grains and then cook it for horses seems to be a bit at odds with everything that horse owners know.

To further explore this issue, it is imperative to understand what exactly cooked feed really is. While some may consider the addition of boiling water to a measure of grains a cooking process, the true meaning of the word implies the actual cooking of the grains for about ten hours. Proponents of cooked feed are quick to point out that you do not have to offer it breakfast, lunch and dinner, but instead simply limit it to one meal a day, leaving the other ones to be uncooked. Horse owners usually like to make the evening meal the cooked one, simply because grains can be left to simmer for the duration of the day and will be good and ready at the end of the day. Whenever you pass the simmering feed, take a moment to stir it and perhaps also add a bit of water if the feed appears to be getting too hot. As a way of precaution, do not add bran to your cooking feed until just before you are ready to turn it out into the food bowl; failure to do so will result in a rather unappetizing clump of inedible feed.

When feeding time arrives, it is best to first drain the feed prior to giving it to the animals simply for the fact that horses are ill equipped to slurp up soupy feed, and thus the water needs to be drained. While the results of this altered mode of feeding are clearly visible, the reasons for this are not as readily visible or explainable. Some believe that the water used to soften up the grains adds to their goodness and palatability, since this will also result in a greater water intake for the horse. In winter this may be a crucial component to keeping horses healthy when they otherwise would not ingest enough liquids. Furthermore, it is alleged that the process of cooking the feed alters the starches to such an extent that the horse’s digestive system is able to metabolize them more efficiently. Experts who follow this line of reasoning advice that this may also well be the case why humans prefer their morning oatmeal to be cooked rather than eating it raw. Of course, the full advantages of cooking feed will not be realized unless it is left to cook at a properly high temperature, and many a naysayer is quick to point out that a healthy horse does not need cooked feed to perform better or look healthier.

Read the next horse nutrition article on Feed alternatives.
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