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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition

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Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Dear Dr. Getty:

Can you please explain to me (in easy to understand terms) the nutritional value of the different grains - oats, barley, corn, flaxseed meal, beet pulp. Have I missed any? I want to feed my horse the most natural way but I need something that will be low in fat. He gets lots of turnout with lush grass and plenty of grass hay. Thanks.


Where are you from? Florida

How did you locate this forum? Surfing


Hi Sue,

The most natural way to feed your horse would be to combine grass and legume hays or pastures. So, along with the grass hay, add some alfalfa hay to the mix. This will boost the overall quality of the protein in his diet.

If he is exercised intensely, you can add some grain, but no more than 2 pounds per day. Grains – oats, barley, corn, etc., are high in starch. Corn is the worst in terms of its digestibility and therefore, I do not like feeding corn to horses. Too much grain can lead to laminitis and hormonal imbalances.

Flaxseed meal is high in the right kind of fat. But, if he is overweight, you certainly want to reduce the amount of flaxseed meal he gets. So, to keep him healthy, provide him with a small amount each day. Flaxseed meal is high in the omega 3 fatty acids which boost the health of his joints, his immune system, his heart, and all internal organs, as well as produce strong hoofs and healthy hair coat.

Beet pulp is a good source of calories that is safe to feed. It is often fed as a way to add calories to the diet when a horse needs to gain weight or is working hard.

Hope this helps clarify things.

All the best,

Dr. Getty