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Exploring Feed Grains for Horses: Corn

A common feed choice among horse owners, corn is slightly less palatable to horses when compared to oats, but more palatable than other types of grains. Nonetheless, excessive amounts of corn used as a feed should be avoided.

Potential Corn Issues

While corn is a tasty feed option for horses, it is more prone to mold than other grain options. In addition, corn lacks the safety margin against over-consumption that oat grain has to offer. In fact, when corn is fed, it does lead to an increased risk of cecal acidosis resulting in diarrhea, laminitis, founder and colic when compared to other grains. It is also important to note that only 41 percent of corn’s gross energy is given off as heat as compared to 66 percent with oats. Similarly, approximately 98 percent of starch from oat grain is absorbed in the small intestine while only 70 percent is absorbed from corn. 

Health Benefits of Corn

While corn is lower in fiber when compared to oats, it is higher in energy and density than oats. If an equal amount of energy is fed, however, corn does not have a greater tendency to lead to obesity in horses when compared to other grains. It also is not any more like to make a horse “high” than other grains.

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