Feeding Rice Bran To Horses [Pros + Cons]

Rice bran is a fairly new addition to horse feeding, and many horse owners have questions about the wisdom of feeding it. In this article, we discuss the difference between raw rice bran and stabilized rice bran (SRB). We also provide good advice on feeding rice bran to horses. Read on to learn more.

Why Feed Rice Bran?

Why Feed Rice Bran

The main reason for feeding rice bran is to add calories and fat to your horse’s diet without adding dangerous sugars and simple carbohydrates.

Rice bran has a high fat content but very low carbohydrate content, is very easy on your horse’s digestive tract and will not subject your horse to starch overload.

As horses age, it can be very difficult for them to maintain their weight and good body condition. Adding SRB to their regular diet can help them attain and maintain ideal weight.

Horses who work for a living or performance horses who expend a lot of calories also need a boost in fat and nutrition.

The high calorie and fat content of rice bran provides them with the nourishment they need without adding dangerous starches.

Underweight horses and horses who are recovering from an abusive situation can get added calories and fat with little danger of developing refeeding syndrome (when fed correctly).

A component called Gamma Oryzanol helps with the rebuilding and repair of muscle. This is especially important to performance horses and also to horses who have become underweight and need to regain healthy muscle.

In addition to promoting healthy weight gain in horses who need to gain weight, SRB is a good supplement for horses who need extra conditioning of coat, mane and tail.

The added fat content helps maintain a healthy skin, a glossy coat and strong, breakage resistant mane and tail.

Is SRB A Good Choice For “Hot” Horses?

This supplement is an excellent product for horses who tend to be hot. Hyperactivity in horses (as in people) is often a result of excessive sugar and starch intake.

SRB has very low amounts of sugar and starch when compared with other types of feed. For this reason, it is unlikely to cause your horse to be hyperactive.

Why Is A High Fat Diet Valuable For Horses?

Why Is A High Fat Diet Valuable For Horses

High-fat diets can effectively help horses gain weight and have ample energy without adding dangerous sugars and starch to the diet.

The fat and SRB adds healthy calories that help to improve your horses coat and give them plenty of energy while maintaining healthy weight.

Fat is a very energy dense nutrient, and SRB contains about 15% or more healthy fat than standard horse feeds.

Similar to protein, the healthy fat found in SRB provides your horse with a steady source of cool energy rather than hyperactive bursts and spikes.

Omega-3 fatty acids along with Omega 6 and 9 fatty acids are absolutely essential for optimum health in horses. SRB is an abundant source of these essential fatty acids.

Adding essential fatty acids to your horse’s diet helps improve cell integrity as well as coat condition.

SRB also contains a great deal of vitamin E which is an excellent antioxidant. For this reason, it can help to improve your horse’s immune health both by helping maintain good gut health and by adding antioxidants to the diet.

SRB is an excellent source of dietary fiber that helps your horse maintain great gut health.

How Do You Incorporate SRB In Your Horse’s Diet?

Usually, this supplement is simply added to help horses gain weight. For this reason, adjusting the basic ration is not usually necessary. Just add the rice bran to what your horse is already getting.

If you’ve been in the habit of feeding too much grain to try to get your horse to gain weight, it is a good idea to switch out part of the grain for rice bran. Generally speaking, this can be done on a pound for pound basis.

Should Other Supplements Be Adjusted?

Pros And Cons Of Feeding rice bran

If you’re already giving your horse a weight gain supplement or oil for the purpose of weight gain, you can eliminate those and replace them with SRB .

How Are SRB and Raw Rice Bran Different?

Raw rice bran has not been put through the process that stabilizes the fats in the SRB . You can find raw rice bran at many feed stores, and it’s very inexpensive, but it is a very poor choice.

Without stabilization the fat in the product deteriorates quickly and becomes rancid. This not only spoils the flavor of the rice bran, it also makes it unhealthy. Rancid oil is a carcinogen.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Feeding SRB ?

Unlike many supplements, the pros and cons of feeding SRB are very heavy on the pros. There are few negatives to feeding this nutritious, safe supplement.

It’s a great supplement for older horses, horses who are underweight or most horses during the winter months when there is no access to turn out.

On the downside, SRB is not a good supplement to feed to horses who are already overweight or to some easy keepers.

Frequently Asked Questions

feeding rice bran to horses Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is it alright to soak stabilized rice bran?

The process of stabilization does away with potentially pathogenic elements, such as mycotoxins and bacteria. For this reason, it is safe to soak stabilized rice bran for an hour or so for horses who might have trouble eating it otherwise.

2. Is beet pulp better than rice bran?

Beet pulp is different than rice bran, and it requires soaking. If you are planning to use beet pulp to add fiber and some nutrients (especially calcium) to your horse’s diet, you must count on soaking it for at least an hour before feeding time.

3. If you use hay cubes or hay pellets to provide fiber, should you soak them?

It is usually not necessary to soak hay pellets. Most horses will eat them readily. Hay cubes are another matter. Many horses will have nothing to do with them unless they are soaked. In this case, soaking is fine, but don’t leave it too long. Any time you soak any feed, hay, pulp or bran in water, you are opening the door for bacteria and fungus to enter the mixture. This is even true with stabilized products (e.g. stabilized rice bran). Soaking for an hour before feeding time should be ample softening up time for any fiber supplement.

4. If your horse has Cushing’s disease, will rice bran help?

Rice bran and other sources of fat are good for providing more calories with fewer carbohydrates, so rice bran can be a very good option for horses with Cushing’s. Other calorie adding alternatives include high quality vegetable oil. Generally speaking, you can add a half or full cup to your horse’s feed daily. Discuss exact amounts with your vet.

5. What fiber supplements are most often used for horses?

Soy hulls and beet pulp tend to be the most popular choices as fiber additives for horses these days. These supplements are more easily digested than traditional fiber sources, such as hay. They are also easier for older horses who may have dental problems, to chew and swallow.

4 thoughts on “Feeding Rice Bran To Horses [Pros + Cons]”

  1. I have fed bran mash to my horses for decades with no problems
    I do add calcium and phosphorus. I also cook barley with omega oil and molasses add it together and mix
    The bran will not have a laxative effect if it is dry crumbly. My horses have lived into their 30s. Right now I have a 27 yo OTTB who is in great physical condition

    • When I was growing up, we always fed bran to older horses as a dry addition to their feed. These days, people seem to be alarmed by this and tend to think that bran is only good as a laxative. This isn’t true, though. It does, indeed, add calories and fat and nourishment for older horses. Soy hulls or beet pulp can make up 50% of a horse’s fiber intake. The other half should be in the form of grass and/or hay.


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