Grains for Horses: Cooked or Uncooked?

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By Rachel

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To cook or not to cook? That is the question when it comes to feeding grains to horses. Cooked grains are easier to digest and reduce the risk of choke, but they can be time-consuming and may lack nutrients. Uncooked grains are cheaper and more natural, but can be tough to digest and increase the risk of choke. Ultimately, the decision depends on your horse’s needs and preferences. Let’s dive in and explore this hotly debated topic.

Grains for Horses: Cooked or Uncooked?

As a horse enthusiast, one of the most important things to consider when taking care of your equine companion is their diet. Horses are herbivores, and their diet primarily consists of hay and grains. However, when it comes to grains, there is a debate on whether they should be cooked or uncooked. In this article, we will explore the benefits and drawbacks of both options.

Cooked Grains

Cooking grains for horses involves boiling or steaming them until they are soft and easily digestible. The most commonly cooked grains for horses are oats, barley, and corn. Here are some of the benefits of feeding your horse cooked grains:

  • Easier Digestion: Cooking grains makes them easier for horses to digest, which can be especially beneficial for older horses or those with digestive issues.
  • Increased Nutrient Absorption: Cooking grains can increase the bioavailability of certain nutrients, making them easier for horses to absorb and utilize.
  • Reduced Risk of Choke: Choke is a condition where food becomes lodged in a horse’s esophagus. Cooking grains can help reduce the risk of choke, as the grains are softer and less likely to become stuck.

While there are certainly benefits to feeding your horse cooked grains, there are also some drawbacks to consider:

  • Time-Consuming: Cooking grains can be a time-consuming process, especially if you have multiple horses to feed.
  • Increased Cost: Cooking grains requires more resources and energy, which can increase the cost of feeding your horse.
  • Potential Nutrient Loss: Cooking grains can cause some nutrients to be lost in the cooking process, which may reduce the overall nutritional value of the grain.

Uncooked Grains

Feeding your horse uncooked grains involves giving them raw, whole grains such as oats, barley, or corn. Here are some of the benefits of feeding your horse uncooked grains:

  • Natural: Uncooked grains are a more natural option for horses, as they are not processed or altered in any way.
  • Cost-Effective: Uncooked grains are generally less expensive than cooked grains, as they require fewer resources to produce.
  • No Nutrient Loss: Uncooked grains do not undergo any cooking process, which means that all of the nutrients are retained.

However, there are also some drawbacks to feeding your horse uncooked grains:

  • Difficult Digestion: Uncooked grains can be difficult for horses to digest, which can lead to digestive issues such as colic or diarrhea.
  • Potential Choke Risk: Uncooked grains are harder and more likely to become stuck in a horse’s esophagus, which can lead to choke.
  • Reduced Nutrient Absorption: Some horses may have difficulty absorbing nutrients from uncooked grains, which can reduce the overall nutritional value of the grain.


So, which is better for your horse: cooked or uncooked grains? The answer ultimately depends on your horse’s individual needs and preferences. If your horse has digestive issues or is older, cooked grains may be a better option. However, if your horse is healthy and has no issues digesting uncooked grains, they may be a more natural and cost-effective option. Regardless of which option you choose, it’s important to monitor your horse’s health and adjust their diet as needed.

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Remember, your horse’s health and nutrition are crucial to their overall well-being. By providing them with a balanced and nutritious diet, you can help ensure that they live a happy and healthy life.

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