Advantage 1: Boosts In Energy Density Rice bran is a concentrated source of energy, which makes it ideal for horses that require additional calories to maintain body condition. The primary energy source in rice bran is fat, which is considered “cool” energy when compared to starch, known to make some horses hot. While many horses perform optimally while consuming diets with normal levels of starch, others do best on low-starch rations, and rice bran can be an integral part of a low-starch strategy.
How does rice bran add caloric value to the diet? Take this example: A mature gelding consumes 5.7 kg of grass hay and 2.3 kg of sweet feed per day for a daily energy consumption of 16.86 megacalories (Mcal) (10.16 Mcal for the hay and 6.7 Mcal for the sweet feed = 16.86 Mcal). Rice bran adds 1.6 Mcal per pound fed. Less than half a kilogram (0.45 kg) of rice bran can therefore add nearly 10% more energy to a diet (1.6 Mcal/16.86 Mcal = 0.095 or 9.5%). With rice bran, a little goes a long way. Typically, rice bran is supplemented at a rate of 0.45-0.9 kg per day.
Rice bran is naturally higher in phosphorus than calcium, so manufacturers of high-quality rice bran will add calcium, thus not affecting the calcium and phosphorus balance of the base ration.
Advantage 2: Improve Skin and Coat Health Because of its high fat content, rice bran provides alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3) and linoleic acid (omega-6), essential fatty acids that must be supplied by the diet. In other animals fed diets deficient in essential fatty acids, skin and hair problems developed, including dry or scaly skin, dry coat, and hair loss, so essential fatty acids are thought to be integral to the health of these tissues. The fat content makes rice bran an exceptional supplement for sales and show horses, which are expected to have healthy, high-bloom coats and dapples.
Advantage 3: Ease of Use A third benefit of feeding rice bran involves its ease of use. Compared to other high-fat supplements, especially vegetable oils, rice bran is clean and easy to mix into either textured or pelleted concentrates. Rice bran is typically sold as a meal or pelleted, and horses find the feedstuff palatable.
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