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

   Welcome to my forum. 

Here you will find more than 6 years of questions and my answers. It is searchable and offers a great deal of information. 

Currently, I am discontinuing new questions. This may change in the future, but in the meantime, please know that It has been a true pleasure serving you. 

Take a look at my Nutrition Library and Tips of the Month for a variety of answers on selected topics. Be sure to sign up for my monthly e-newsletter, Forage for Thought

I also have a growing number of recordings on "Teleseminars on Nutrition Topics that Concern You" as well as the new, Spotlight on Equine Nutrition Series -- printed versions of favorite teleseminars.

And finally, look for my articles in a variety of local publications and online newsletters, as well as the Horse Journal, where I am the Contributing Nutrition Editor.  


All the best,

 Dr. Getty 


Ask the Nutritionist: Dr. Getty's Forum for Equine Nutrition
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Feeding bread to horses

I do not practice this, but some of my dear friends are in a debate on whether it is safe to feed horses bread? I mean "out of date",commercially available, human consumption bread, purchased from bakeries and outlets by the truck load. It is being supplemented with grass, grain, hay, etc... to save on feed expenses. Could this practice be relevant in any way to lack of fertility in mares? Credible information on this subject will be greatly appreciated... I've heard too many "old timer" opinions on this one - not that they aren't good sometimes!

Where are you from? Central Arkansas

How did you locate this forum? Google search

Re: Feeding bread to horses

Hi Sherry,

Yes, I have heard of this practice, more as a treat, rather than to save money (horses are expensive and we cannot cut corners with their health if we plan on keeping them).

OK -- I'll get off my soapbox and address the issue.

Most bread is made from white flour. It has no fiber to speak of, lots of perservatives, and is basically pure starch. Starch, when digested, results in the formation of sugar. So, ask your friends if they would put a bowl of sugar in front of their horses. That is exactly what they are doing when feeding bread.

As far as fertility issues are concerned, there is no direct relationship with feeding starch. However, in many mares, too much body fat can reduce fertility. And, too much sugar (and the resulting insulin response), can lead to excess fat storage. So, indirectly, it can lead to infertility problems in some mares.

So, I am so, so glad that you brought up this important issue. Certainly giving your horse a small piece of bread now and then is not going to hurt him any more than giving him an occasional sugar cube will. (Of course, the horse that should not be eating starch and sugar, should not have this as a treat.)

I do hope this will help with your discussion.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Re: Feeding bread to horses

I also have a friend that feeds bread solely to his bucking stock cows and his working horses. They are gorgeous! I have recently fallen into a Pepperidge Farm distributor deal....he gives me all his expired bread. Now, this is not your white bread - it is honey flax, oat, wheat, pumpernickel - all the white stuff sells out. Would you still feel the same way about it if it is all whole wheat stuff?

Where are you from? Texas

How did you locate this forum? internet search

Re: Feeding bread to horses

Hi Jenifer,

A whole grain bread as you described can be fed as a treat -- there is still white flour in it -- look on the list of ingredients and if it says "enriched wheat flour" that is white flour. It will likely be close to the top of the list of ingredients, meaning that is it high in concentration.

As a treat, a whole wheat slice of bread for a horse that has no weight, insulin, or cushing problems, is fine. But, not as a meal.

All the best,

Dr. Getty

Where are you from? Bayfield, CO