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Feeding Whole Corn To Horses


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#1 tandy girl

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 03:17 PM

I need some input on feeding horses and ponies whole corn. I want to hear your opinion on this. It seems everyone has a different idea about it. But that is what is nice about the world of horses! I don't feed corn, whole or cracked to my horse. But a friend of mine does. Now her horse is choking. This horse has had a history of choking, so I don't think that is a smart idea to feed a horse with a history of choke whole corn. The horse doesn't get alot of hay, the hay is doled out to them in small amounts because she doesn't have enough hay to last the winter for the horse and the pony. So the horse ends up very hungry and then dives into the corn and now she's choking. What are your views on this? Myself, I'm very angry, and want to tell her what is going on, I don't think she is aware that she is the cause of the choke. But it will probably end the friendship.
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#2 Blazn

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 03:21 PM

Bolting feed of any kind can definitely choke a horse. Also one who has a history of choke is more prone to it due to scar tissue narrowing the esophagus.

Whole corn cobs, especially dry, are very hard to chew. If a horse does not chew it properly, it could certainly cause a choke - and a bad one, b/c a cob cannot just be "washed down" like a wad of pelleted feed.

While I am certain that some horses have been able to eat corn cobs without any problems, I certainly would not feed it to THIS horse.
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#3 codysmom

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 03:38 PM

Blazn - I don't think the OP is talking about whole corn cobs, just the kernals (OP correct me if I am wrong). Your friend is not doing this horsethat has a history of choke any favors by feeding whole corn. She/he is also not doing them any good by cutting back on forage (i.e. hay). A horse requires 1-2% of thier body weight a day in forage (more if it is very cold or the horse needs to put weight on). in order to keep thier gut moving properly. Forage should not be replaced with hard feed.

Your friend is asking for either a fatal choke or a very bad/fatal colic.
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#4 BuddyRoo

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 03:51 PM

Well, of primary concern to me is the fact that the horse isn't getting sufficient forage. Simply making up calories with feed (be it corn or other grains) is a recipe for problems. Horses need sufficient long fiber to keep their digestive system healthy and moving along.

Corn isn't inherently "bad" per se....wouldn't be my first choice. And if the horse is choking, it's possible that it's a bolting issue...but even more likely IMHO is a dentition issue.

Your friend really should try to find more hay.

And get this horse checked out.

If she can't find hay but can afford a complete feed, those will have a more appropriate nutritional balance than this corn thing.


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#5 StopDropRollChic

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 04:13 PM

Just replying to add that Corn alone is VERY bad for a horse. A "vet" recommended feeding just corn to my ex bf's horses because they were "back yard" pets. The unfortunate thing is that the amount of sugars, caused one of is horses to founder badly. Please tell them to use a complete feed rather than corn!


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#6 Cheri Wolfe

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 05:10 PM

Nothing is inherently wrong with feeding whole corn to a horse. A horse does not founder because it is being fed whole or cracked shelled corn. They founder because they have been fed TOO MUCH corn or any other feed and have been allowed to get TOO FAT. Feeds high in sugars and starches are safe for any healthy horse. And most unhealthy ones get that way from too much feed, too little exercise and just plain bad management.

I agree that this horse's biggest problem is management in the form of too little forage. This is very dangerous in that it leads to many problems like ulcers, digestive upsets like bloat and colic and can certainly lead to founder if corn makes up a very big share of their diet.

If this person does not have enough hay they should either buy more hay or supplement the hay they have with another high fiber roughage like soaked beet pulp or soaked alfalfa cubes or pelleted soybean hulls. Corn is the poorest choice. It is very high in nutrients and very low in fiber. It is the wrong way to go.

#7 Smilie

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 10:34 PM

I agree with Cheri on most of her post, except there are horses that are not over weight, are truly IR, and cannot be fed any feed high in NSC, no mattter the amount
But perhaps' these IR horses, that are perfectly healthy as long as good management is used, are not what Cheri considers truly Healthy ,since they have a metabolic problem
Forage has to be the number one source of nutrients for horses-they were designed that way. Only once the forage requirements have been met,, does one even consider what grains, if any to add to the diet.
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#8 cvm2002

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Posted 02 February 2009 - 11:14 PM

As the others have pointed out, far better choices available, with hay being the most obvious. The other thing to consider is that horses are very susceptible to moldy corn disease (Leukoencephalomalacia) which often times is fatal.

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#9 Cheri Wolfe

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 12:28 AM

In my book, any horse with a metabolic disorder is not healthy. This includes horses with PSSM, HYPP, IR as well as horses that have been previously foundered, etc.

Corn is so nutrient dense that it requires more and better management than grains like oats that are high in fiber and much less nutrient dense. In other words, a fraction of the amout of feed required if oats is being used would be needed if corn was being used. Generally speaking, a pound of corn will replace 2 1/2 pounds of oats in a ration. That is why it is so much more cost effective to include corn in any horse ration.

And yes, corn, like anything a horse is fed should be mold free. (Some molds cannot be seen with the eye.) But, molds and fungi that produce mycotoxins can be present in corn as well as some other feeds. Any corn purchased from a feed store or mill should have been checked for aflitoxins and other dangerous toxins. But, we know from all of the dogs that died a few years back that ingredients do not always get properly checked. There are more of these toxins that get into corn as it grows than into other grains. This is most often seen in years and areas where corn crops are severely drouth stressed. This should not be a problem if you are not buying corn by the semi load directly from the farm. It should always be tested first.

#10 G-spin

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 12:30 AM

Corn alone is VERY bad for a horse

#11 Margoddess

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 01:00 AM

If you can afford a bag of whole corn-@ $8.00 some relatively good fescue hay is @ $4.00 a bale -A horse's natural food is forage not grain. Crimped oats would be a better choice than whole corn kernels.
Corn has a lot of sugar and a lot of carb-some horses get "hot" when fed extra corn. A lot of your cheaper feeds have corn fodder which is corn cobs, ground up and grain by-products

It is better to feed good hay and a handful of feed for the vitamins and minerals than to feed a lot of grain and not enough hay.
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#12 Cheri Wolfe

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 08:15 AM

A horse MUST have hay or pasture for roughage, but corn is not bad for healthy horses. Our own custom made feed is 35% corn and I feed it to every horse here except for one IR horse.

I have known many breeders that fed nothing other than grass hay and corn to horses. They had it delivered by the semi load or grew it themselves and never had a sick horse. The only thing I would see was some of the kernals would pass through whole (just like many horses pass whole oats through) becase the horse did not chew it good. I would suspect they had issues with their teeth.

I knew 2 big cutting breeders (one had 300 horses with a 60 horse training barn) that never bought any grain other than whole shelled corn. So don't try to mis-inform everyone that corn is bad. It is perfectly acceptable for HEALTHY horses. The main reason people feed corn is that it is calorie dense. So you can cut as much as 75% of a grain bill and keep horses looking very good.

#13 Smilie

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 12:53 PM

Yes, corn is calorie dense, and therefore there are other grains that are more 'safe' to feed to horses, such as oats
I agree that IR horses , having a metabolic problem are not perfectly 'normal' On the other hand, IR is very similar to human type 2 diabetis and is on the rise. Both conditions are not the same as primary juvinile diatetis, but are largely due to life style and diet. IR horses are usually first identified once they have had laminitis and have foundered, so one is never sure which horses will develope IR
Why then feed horses with this potencial future outcome, anymore than letting humans develope heart disease eating Trans fats. Some people can eat trans fats all their life, but never get cardiovascular problems, but trans fats have been proven to cause heart disease.
NSC are implicated for the rise of IR in our domestic horses , so why feed them grains with high NSC , playing Russian roulette as to whether the horse will develope IR?
My thought then is why not compliment natural lifestyle and hoof care with feed that is also more condusive to long time horse health?
Horses in heavy training needing extra Calories probably do great on corn, but the average horse does not need to be fed like a cow. Oats are a safer grain suppliment to forage, so that would be my recommendation if one need to add energy beyond that provided by high quality forage.
Studies have also shown that adding fats (omega 3s ) to the diet, is a much safer choice for adding energy than NSC
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#14 manesntails

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Posted 03 February 2009 - 03:10 PM

I feed whole corn only to young horses who are shedding their caps. I give them a couple handfulls to gnaw on. The pressure they have to exert on the corn in chewing it up helps loosen the caps and relieve some of the pressure.








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#15 tandy girl

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Posted 29 March 2009 - 09:59 PM

I am finally able to get back to you! Thank you for all of the great input on this subject. Yes she was feeding whole corn without the cob. The horse ended up having a bad case of the strangles, not choke. But the horse has choked in the past. The horse is finally getting over the strangles with no vet care at all. If it had been my horse, the vet would of been called. But they dont have any money. All of the animals suffer that they own. She fed two ponies all winter on 20 bales of hay. No pasture. She doles out a little each day and that is all they get. The pony lost alot of weight from the strangles and now she has her on a suppliment to help her with her corn! Small bits of hay and corn. She said she is worried she will get too fat. The pony is always fat. She is lucky the pony is an easy keeper. The pony is a welsh/arab mix, big enough for her to ride. The horse has been thro **** and back for the 20 years that she has owned her. She even had to fight off a coyote and stomped it to death when it tried to attack her. Poor pony.
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#16 Bumper

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 10:28 AM

QUOTE (tandy girl @ Mar 29 2009, 08:59 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I am finally able to get back to you! Thank you for all of the great input on this subject. Yes she was feeding whole corn without the cob. The horse ended up having a bad case of the strangles, not choke. But the horse has choked in the past. The horse is finally getting over the strangles with no vet care at all. If it had been my horse, the vet would of been called. But they dont have any money. All of the animals suffer that they own. She fed two ponies all winter on 20 bales of hay. No pasture. She doles out a little each day and that is all they get. The pony lost alot of weight from the strangles and now she has her on a suppliment to help her with her corn! Small bits of hay and corn. She said she is worried she will get too fat. The pony is always fat. She is lucky the pony is an easy keeper. The pony is a welsh/arab mix, big enough for her to ride. The horse has been thro **** and back for the 20 years that she has owned her. She even had to fight off a coyote and stomped it to death when it tried to attack her. Poor pony.


And...Animal Control hasn't been called??? After a winter of basically NO hay those horses would be walking skeletons.

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#17 SST

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 12:07 PM

My step daughter left about 40 lbs of corn ,whole or cracked , cant recall right now. Would it be a problem to add this to his pellets ,reduce the pellet volume, till it runs out? Or feed it to the birds?
He coliced yesterday ,pretty sure it's gas and it's funny a cold front moved through at the same time.
He's ok today. So I know his system isnt bullet proof.


#18 Bayfilly13

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 03:50 PM

I think it should be mentioned that any feed should be fed on a "by weight" basis.

A "scoop" or a "coffee can" of corn has WAY more bio-available energy than a matching volume of oats. That's why it pays to weigh. The key to feeding horses is forage first and balancing nutrient requirements after. Feeding on a "per scoop" basis can be an expensive and inaccurate method of feeding a horse.

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#19 RixKatToy

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Posted 30 March 2009 - 04:40 PM

My barn is in a fairly Ag area and during corn season you regularly see trailers of corn, stalks & husks in people pastures that their animals (horses included) chow down on.

Not something I'd do or recommend but it seems to work for them.
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#20 jla

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Posted 01 April 2009 - 08:11 PM

QUOTE (tandy girl @ Feb 2 2009, 08:17 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I need some input on feeding horses and ponies whole corn. I want to hear your opinion on this. It seems everyone has a different idea about it. But that is what is nice about the world of horses! I don't feed corn, whole or cracked to my horse. But a friend of mine does. Now her horse is choking. This horse has had a history of choking, so I don't think that is a smart idea to feed a horse with a history of choke whole corn. The horse doesn't get alot of hay, the hay is doled out to them in small amounts because she doesn't have enough hay to last the winter for the horse and the pony. So the horse ends up very hungry and then dives into the corn and now she's choking. What are your views on this? Myself, I'm very angry, and want to tell her what is going on, I don't think she is aware that she is the cause of the choke. But it will probably end the friendship.


Small frequent meals, soak feed prior to feeding, large smooth rocks in bucket, ideally increase hay amount. She *may* consider feeding hay cubes which *may* also cause choke. Sounds like this horse is a vacuum with his feed, so she would want to soak the cubes prior. This would give the horse the fill and the hay will give him the chew time. When in doubt, water added can't hurt.
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