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Horses - Diet and Nutrition/soaking oats in water


QUESTION: hello ma'am. my trainer kept a rule that when the boys come to work at 3pm in the afternoon, they should pore 30 litres of fresh water in 50kg oats. at 6pm, when the trainer provides the feed it should be wet. the boy told me that oats when soaked in water for 3 hours become soft and horses can easily chew. is he right?

ANSWER: Hello Rohit,

Thank you for your question.  Generally oats do not need to be watered down to help horses chew or digest them and are traditionally fed dry.  Oats are the most digestible cereal grain and require the least amount of processing in order to be effectively used in a horse's diet.  

I don't see an immediate harm in soaking oats but I would caution not to allow them to sit in the heat and water for too long for fear that, should enough bacteria be present, they begin to ferment.  


---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thanks for the answer ma'am. but, i heard that feed dry oats may lead to colic. am i right?

Hello Rohit,

Dry oats in and of themselves will not cause colic if you manage how they are fed.  Likewise, pretty much any feed ingredient could pose a risk of causing colic if not managed correctly.  The colic risk with oats is not based on the level of wetness or dryness when fed, but more likely the amount of oats fed at any one time.  You need to manage how much and how often you feed an ingredient in a way the aligns with how that feed is digested.

Thanks, Corlena  

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Corlena Patterson


I can help with any of your horse nutrition questions and concerns. I have been involved with horses for closing on 40 years, with a B.Sc in Animal Science and currently working on an M.Sc in Equine Science with the University of Edinburgh. I have owned my own feed store, consulted professionally as an equine nutritionist, and lectured in the fields of equine and dairy nutrition at the University level for 5 years. I have developed and currently market 'Ration-X', a ration formulation program for horses...designed for the everyday horse owner. I am happy to help in any way I can.


Experienced in developing and implementing feed programs for horses of all disciplines, creating custom horse supplements and managing inter-disciplinary equine facilities. Specialize in equine nutrition consulting.

The American Society of Equine Appraisers

'Stable Management' Handbook, Equine Canada.

M.Sc (Equine Science-current), B.Sc(Agr) Animal Science, Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification, Farrier Certification, Equine Consultant Certification, Certified Equine Appraiser, Certified in Emergency Equine Rescue.

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