Featured Horse Food Ingredient of the Month: Rice Bran
In the small brown layer of a rice seed contains a bran that, when stabilized and fed in a balanced diet fortified with vitamins, minerals and amino acids, can provide a great many benefits to your horse.
This dietary additive has been extremely prevalent for west coast performance horses. However both rice bran and bran oil also popular among a variety of different horse types and are known as a source of added fat and healthy calories.
Below is a look at where it comes from and how a balanced diet supplemented with rice bran can improve the health of your horse.
Rice Bran in the Making
Rice bran has three total stages all used to make various types of rice. The seed is harvested, then the hull is used to make brown rice. This outermost layer is where rice bran is derived. The second part of the kernel gets turned into white rice during the milling process, and is eventually used for human consumption.
The small bran layer of the kernel accounts for more than 60% its nutrients. Impressive since it’s only 8-10% of the total weight. Another 20% of the kernel registers as fat. This high fat content is perfect for performance horses and equine in need of extra calories to increase their body weight.
As impressive as this nutrient-rich kernel is, its small size means huge quantities of rice must be milled to see any return. In fact, it’s estimated that every 1000 pounds of rice yields just 50-pounds of rice bran.
Why does Rice Bran need to be stabilized?
The high fat content in rice bran can cause it to break down and rot within a matter of weeks. This rancidity can occur even quicker in warm and humid climates. Stabilizing it preserves the rice bran, and is accomplished with the addition vitamin E or other tocopherols.
Rice Bran Benefits for Horses
In addition to its role as a palatable fat source, rice bran has several grams of fiber as its partner in crime, making it more digestible than other more starchy fibers. It also helps horse owners increase the lean muscle mass in their steeds.
Top benefits of rice bran over include it being:
• A good source of cool calories
• High in B vitamins
• Extremely digestible
• Rich in essential fatty acids which help coat quality and body condition
• Enriched with gamma oryzanol which studies show to help develop lean muscle
• Calorie dense which helps reduce the amount of feed needed to provide optimal energy.
Younger horses are also great candidates for rice bran because it helps balance out insulin fluctuations that often occur post-feeding and has been thought to guard against developmental orthopedic issues.
In short, this ideal fat source can provide numerous benefits when added as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Understanding what this nutrient-rich grain brings to the table can help you make the decision about whether or not a stabilized rice bran can help your horse achieve optimal health and performance.