Barley

Barley is a cereal grain derived from the annual grass Hordeum vulgare. Barley grain is very hard and needs to be crushed or rolled, or cooked before feeding. Barley is the primary grain used in brewing industry and brewers’ dried grains are often incorporated into animal feeds.

Description:

Barley is a cereal grain derived from the annual grass Hordeum vulgare. Barley grain is very hard and needs to be crushed or rolled, or cooked before feeding. Barley is the primary grain used in brewing industry and brewers’ dried grains are often incorporated into animal feeds.

Properties:

Barley provides more digestible energy and total available nutrients than oats, but it doesn’t quite reach the levels of maize. The crude proteins, starch and lysine content in barley is intermediate to oats and corn. It has a poor phosphorous/calcium ratio (maize and oats aren’t great either, but barley is the worst of the three). All cereals require a balancer as the extra phosphorus reduces the ability to absorb calcium. It also lacks vitamins A and D. Like many grains, it simply does not have the bulk that a forage diet provides and this is critical to the normal function of a horse’s digestive tract. Barley is lower in fiber than oats and is classified as a «heavy» feed. The answer is to mix the barley with a bulkier feed such as sugar beet pulp, chopped hay or wheat bran, lucerne chaff, even rolled oats, ensuring the bulkier feed comprises 15 to 25 per cent of the mix. Brewers’ dried grains tend to be higher in protein, higher in fiber, and lower in starch than whole grain.The ileal (proximal small intestine) digestibility of barley is approximately 21% compared to 85% for oats. In addition, small intestine barley starch digestion is lower than oat starch. Consequently, more of barley starch passes through the foregut to the hindgut, which may increase the risk of colic or laminitis. Some horses dislike the taste of barley. It will generally be more palatable when cooked, or by adding molasses.

Possible uses:​

It’s considered a good feed for putting condition on a horse, but it’s certainly not the perfect feed. It is less likely to trigger «hot» behaviour than oats, that’s why sometimes owners prefer to use barley. Anyway, barley is not a complete feed at all and has to be mixed with complementary feeds to make a well-balanced diet.

 

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