Fresh, sweet corn on the cob is unquestionably one of our favourite summertime treats. You could also feel the desire to share some wonderful corn on the cob, just like when you crunch into an apple and want to give your horse buddy a nibble. But you could pause and think, like with any new food: Can horses eat corn?
Corn is a common ingredient in horse feed and is generally an excellent feed. To promote digestibility, corn is frequently cracked or rolled in mixed meals. However, some people feed corn straight from the field, which is typically not a wise decision without checking because corn can harbour toxins like fumonisin.
It's essential to refrain from overfeeding horses while using corn, especially if you're replacing it with oats because flaking grain before feeding them simplifies the process for them to digest.
Can Horses Eat Corn?
A range of essential vitamin B, vitamin C, folic acid, and Carotene, a precursor to Vitamin A—may all be present in corn, according to the type. Besides being high in calcium and potassium, corn is also a good source of iron, zinc, magnesium, selenium, manganese, phosphorus, and copper. Corn, despite being low in saturated fat and sodium (salt), is a great source of nutritional fibre and proteins.
The crop maize (Zea mays), sometimes known as corn, is one of the most frequently farmed in the world and is the most abundant grain produced annually. With corn output now outpacing that of rice or wheat globally, it has established itself as a basic diet.
Aside from being actively consumed by people, corn is also utilized to make biofuels, animal feed, and some other maize-based goods like corn syrup and starch.
The only grain to have significant levels of carotene, which horses utilize to make vitamin Awhich is crucial for eyesight and tissue growth, corn has a unique claim to popularity despite having little protein and few necessary amino acids.
In addition, corn is a cereal high in calories with a large volume weight while having less fibre and more starch than some other grains like oats. This roughly suggests that horses can obtain twice as many calories from the same quantity of maize as they would from the same quantity of oats.
The Benefits of Feeding Corn to Horses
The following are some of the health benefits of feeding corn to horses.
Corn has a considerable amount of dietary fibre in it. Whether a horse is kept as a pet or used for competition, fibre is crucial to its health. Fibre promotes a healthy digestive tract, sufficient energy, stronger immunity, and other advantages.
Although corn offers several benefits for horses, it is usually included in feeds as a source of energy. With a staggering 1.54 Mcal of digestible energy (DE) for every kilogram, which is greater than two times as much as oats, it ranks among the diets with the highest energy density.
Corn does indeed have a heavy weight-to-energy ratio and a significant weight-to-volume ratio. Consuming corn instead of oats will therefore provide two to three times the energy to a horse. So, while feeding corn, weight must be taken into consideration.
Horses' bodies use vitamin A in all important ways, including as a potent antioxidant. In addition to supporting their immune systems, the vitamin also supports their reproduction and eyesight.
Vitamin C supports the integrity of connective tissues, reduces the risk of free radical damage, and aids in the renewal of other antioxidants like Vitamin E in horses. The production of hormones and collagen, the hardening of bones, and the conversion of vitamin D3 to calcitriol all need vitamin C. Lysine, proline, and tryptophan are three essential amino acids for the synthesis of proteins in horses and need vitamin C to do so.
Folate has a crucial role in maintaining healthy red blood cells. It can enhance general health and haemoglobin levels.
Horses need magnesium in order to maintain healthy neuronal and muscle function. Magnesium serves as an electrolyte, aids in protein synthesis, and participates in a number of metabolic procedures in the body of the horse. For horses who are growing and getting a lot of exercise, it is particularly essential.
Potassium is crucial for healthy muscle relaxation and contraction. Additionally, it manages high osmotic pressure.
Risks of Feeding Corn to Horses
Numerous moulds may grow on corn and create mycotoxins, which harm equine health. Unfortunately, because the mycotoxin fumonisin does not affect the corn's flavour and texture, horses will readily consume maize that has been affected.
Equine leukoencephalomalacia (ELEM), often known as mouldy corn disease, is a neurological illness brought on by fumonisin.
ELEM results in the white matter of a horse's brain degrading, which causes blindness, poor balance, and death.
An easy-to-chew, highly digested supply of nutrients is required to preserve the health and soundness of an aged horse or horse with dental problems. Their digestion is more difficult for them.
It will be challenging for these horses to consume entire grains. Additionally, having trouble chewing and swallowing effectively can affect the remainder of the digestive process, frequently leading to weight loss.
High starch content
When a horse overeats certain starchy foods such as maize that are normally processed within the small intestine, they might instead pass undigested into the large intestine. It will disturb the healthy bacterial balance in the large intestine, which is responsible for digesting fibre. Laminitis, colic, and other gastrointestinal disorders might result from it.
How to Feed Corn to Horses
Corn can be added to a combination before feeding by steaming it into flakes, cracks, or rolls. Because of its high starch content, it is not advised to feed horses only corn. To balance the quantity of starch your horse consumes, combine the corn with some other grains.
The quantity of digested starch in a horse's intestines may be efficiently decreased by processing. This does, however, change the nature of starch, increasing its susceptibility to intestinal digestion enzymes.
When moderately fed to your horse, corn may be an excellent food. To reduce choking and promote speedy digestion, horses should be fed processed commercial meals.
The use of corn is also increased by processing it, but sadly, this makes the corn more susceptible to fungi that produce mycotoxins. It's crucial to remember that out of all the feeds provided to horses, maize is the only one that is usually contaminated.