Can Horses Eat Barley?

Can Horses Eat Barley?

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Given that barley's nutritional benefits are between those of corn and oats, it can be a fantastic supplement to your horse's diet. Oats have a lower proportion of nutrients than barley, but corn has a higher percentage. The ability of barley to give the horse extra digestible calories makes it a more popular choice of feed than oats. Although it is not the best diet for horses, barley is suitable for certain conditions.

A lot of pre-mixed horse feeds use barley as a key ingredient. Barley is widely grown throughout the world, and the grain regions of the world have an abundance of it. Whether barley is a necessary part of the horses' diet depends on how much of it is available in the pasture.

However, due to the lack of vitamins A and D in barley, horse owners must locate additional feed containing these nutrients to complement the diet. Also, due to the extremely low quantities of phosphorus and calcium in barley, the horse owner must add other sources of these two elements to the horse's diet.

Can Horses Eat Barley?

Yes, horses can eat barley. For horses, barley is a tasty and beneficial grain crop. It is a common cereal for equine consumption. Barley can be fed in a variety of ways instead of whole-cracked, rolled, sliced, heat flaked, cooked, or micronized. Barley is regarded as an "in-between" grain since it has more fibre than corn while being more energy-dense than oats. Barley that has been ground into a fine powder improves digestion and has more energy than raw barley.

In the past, barley has been fed to horses to help them gain weight. Micronized barley is a vital ingredient in horse feeds, and its advantages are recognised. However, the mix and balance of the entire composition are more crucial. This mixture is essential for creating a reliable means of getting barley to your horse.



In the grass family Poaceae, barley (Hordeum vulgare) is a cereal plant with a nutritious grain. Barley is the fourth-largest grain crop worldwide, after wheat, rice, and maize. It is cultivated in a range of conditions. While barley is frequently used in bread, soups, stews, and health foods, it is primarily farmed as animal feed and as a source of malt for alcoholic drinks, particularly beer.

Barley has a nutty taste and is rich in carbohydrates. It also contains a modest quantity of protein, fibre, phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin B complex. Additionally, thiamine, pyridoxine, and niacin are among the B vitamins abundant in barley. Additionally, it includes beta-glucans, a form of fibre with numerous health advantages, according to scientists.

With its low cholesterol and high folic acid, other vitamin B6 content, potassium, and iron, barley supports cardiovascular activities. The immune system's performance and the process of cell formation, such as transferring oxygen via the bloodstream, are all improved by thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, folic acid, magnesium, selenium, and iron. Barley is an excellent source of each of these nutrients. By lowering cholesterol levels and blood pressure, fibre seems to improve heart health.

The Benefit of Barley for Horses


It is an excellent source of energy.

Barley is a good source of carbohydrates, which provides horses with energy. About 3300 to 3600 calories are contained in one kilogram of barley.

Although energy itself is not a nutrient, it is necessary for the horse's upkeep in order to move, breathe, maintain overall condition, digest food, circulate blood, and perform numerous other biological tasks. Some types of horses, such as breastfeeding or late-gestation mares or horses engaged in strenuous activity, require more energy.

Good fibre content

Barley's fibre content can help other grains be digested. Furthermore, by serving as a natural barrier to the stomach's acidic substances, it provides the body with the nutrients needed to fight microbial growth in the intestines and safeguards the gastrointestinal lining.

It is a good source of protein.

Barley has a crude protein content ranging from 8 to 14 percent, which is quite high for a feed grain.The body uses this protein for a variety of purposes. The first things that usually spring to mind are certainly muscle growth and development. In addition to being enzymes, several hormones are also proteins. Several metabolic processes are controlled by these enzymes, which are also utilized in digestion. In addition to controlling growth and reproductive activities, protein-based hormones have a wide range of other uses.

It is a good source of B-Complex vitamins.

Barley contains several vitamins of the B-complex group, such as niacin, thiamine, folic acid, pyridoxine, and riboflavin.

Niacin helps to maintain good blood flow and improve circulation, while thiamine, pyridoxine, and riboflavin are required for the proper metabolic processes in horses. Folic acid helps to increase haemoglobin levels since they are important for healthy red blood cells, which will assist the muscles' adequate oxygenation during exercise in horses.

It has some mineral elements in it.

Though present in a negligible amount, barley contains certain mineral elements required by horses. Such mineral elements include phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, selenium, and iron.

Phosphorus and calcium are essential minerals for bone growth and skeletal health in horses. Aside from being required for proper nerve function, magnesium also joins selenium in maintaining adequate function. Iron is required for the transport of oxygen in red blood cells and is consequently an essential component of haemoglobin.

Set-Backs in Feeding Barley to Horses

Feeding Barley To Horse

Although barley is regarded as a decent feed for getting a horse into good condition, it is by no means the ideal meal. Its phosphorus to calcium ratio is unsatisfactory. Horse owners will need to find other supplies because it also lacks vitamins A and D.

Additionally, the extremely hard barley grains must be smashed, rolled, or boiled before feeding. If not, the outcome can be a mushy lump of food that might get overpacked in a horse's stomach and trigger a colic crisis.

Finally, like several other grains, it clearly lacks the forage-based diet's bulk, which is essential for a horse's digestive system to operate normally.

Final Words

Horses enjoy eating barley because it is tasty, filling, and healthy. It is a common cereal used in horse diets. However, horses shouldn't be given whole grains of barley. It is necessary to boil, knead, or crack the barley before feeding it to the horses because improperly fed grain can build up in their stomach and cause colic. Additionally, in order for the horse's digestive system to function normally, it needs certain nutrition, which is mostly included in forage diets but is absents from barley.

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