Bran is a by product of wheat flour milling. For centuries it has been popular as a laxative feed for stabled horses. The fibre in bran holds water in the hindgut, which in large amounts produces softer more moist droppings. There are no significant laxative effects when fed in small amounts (up to 1 ltr per 1000 kg in body weight).
Bran is made from the fibrous coating on wheat grain. It is available in fine or course varieties (flaky bran).
- Crude Fibre 8 – 11 %
- Fat 4 %
- Crude Proteins 14 – 16%
- Useful levels of vitamins and minerals including Vitamin B, magnesium, copper and zinc and niacin
- Very palatable
- Good for older horses with poor teeth
- It is very rich in essential fatty acids and contains significant quantities of starch, protein, vitamins, dietary minerals.
- High phosphorous content is often mentioned as a draw back but if the grass, hay or haylage a horse is eating is very high in calcium or you are feeding your horse an Lucerne or beet pulp (both high in calcium) heavy diet then you might need that valuable phosphorous.
- The mineral phosphorous supplements are not very palatable. So if you need to feed phosphorous supplements to a calcium heavy diet, bran is a palatable alternative
- Averages over 17% protein so if you need to boost protein in the diet again in can be a useful addition.
- The calorie level of wheat bran is equal to oats but where oats have a starch level of around 40% wheat bran comes in at less than half that. For a starch sensitive horse in hard work or a horse needing to gain weight then using a proportion of bran can be a useful strategy.
- Very low amounts of Calcium. Large amounts of bran can lead to calcium defiency, which can lead to an induced calcium defiency known as Millers Disease. It is called this because flour milling companies would over feed bran.
- Binds up calcium, zinc and iron supplements in the small intestine and less will be absorbed.
- Suddenly changing the diet to feed a bran mash to a sick horse can do more harm then good
- Due to a high starch content (13-18%) it is not suitable to be fed to horses and ponies prone to laminitis.
- Will not warm a horse in the bitter cold. That job is most effectively achieved by meting out appropriate amounts of forages, as more body heat is generated through the digestion of hay and other roughages than any grain or grain by-product.
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Feeding Horses in Australia