For most of man’s long association with and dependence upon the horse, there was only one supplementary food to grass and hay: oats.
They were fed varying proportions of oats and hay depending on their level of work and the choice was either whole or rolled oats. Oats were available and, most importantly, were best suited to a horse’s digestive system.
They have been considered the "safest" grain to feed horses because their starch is more easily digested in the horse's small intestine than the starches in maize or barley. This minimizes the potential for undigested starches to reach the horse's hind gut, where they can cause colic.
Oat digestibility can be particularly critical for performance sport horses and racehorses in training. In these cases, daily grain ration may approach 50% (by weight) of their total diet. They have the highest fibre content (13%) and lowest energy of all the grains, making them the safest to feed. This means oats have more bulk per nutrient content, and horses have to eat more to satisfy their nutrient requirements. Bulk makes it more difficult for the horse to overeat and get colic.
Less susceptible to mould
Oats are also less susceptible to contamination by moulds producing mycotoxins than other whole grains. This means horse owners can buy, feed, and store them with greater confidence. Compared to processed grains or processed mixed feeds, whole, unprocessed oats can maintain their nutritional value almost indefinitely when stored under proper conditions.
Horses like oats and oats are easier to chew than other grains. This palatability makes oats the grain of choice for fussy eaters, performance horses such as racehorses, polo ponies, eventers, or other competition horses. Horses that chew well do not need the feed to be crushed etc., but should not be fed in isolation. They are best fed with some mixer like chaff or alfafa. It's a commonly held belief that oats send all horses sky-high. In fact, as with any concentrates, if they are fed in proportion to the level of work actually being done, rather than anticipated, oats rarely cause a problem but a few who are sensitive will react.
Oats contain more soluble fibre than any other grain, resulting in slower digestion. Highclere Castle Horse Feeds has invested in a modern plant with latest handling technology to process and, when required, bag the oats.
These are as they come from the field, complete with the husks (the outer casing). This means they have the highest fibre level of all oats and grains. However, very young horses or veterans with teeth problems may have difficulty chewing these, so will not get the full nutritional benefit. The oats are “bruised” which means the husk of the oat is broken to allow access to the nutrients. If the ends are “clipped” it gives a neat final product.
Rolling oats has a greater impact then bruising them. Traditionally, horsemen would buy whole oats and roll them on an ad hoc basis to maximise storage time.
New Grain Bagging Plant: Investment at Crux Easton.
State of the art processing equipment has been installed at our plant at Crux Easton. This includes a large cleaner/upgrader, cyclofan dust extraction, a new bruising roller, coupled to traditional Scottish built clipping and polishing machines.
Recently, an ABB Robotic Palletiser which will load 6-8 bags per minute of both 20KG or 25KG has been installed on the bagging line which has doubled the bagging throughput at this site.
Highclere Castle Horse Feeds (H.C.H.F.) Oat Products which you can buy:
There are six H.C.H.F. Oat Products to choose from, comprising combinations of quality, processing and packing. Firstly, you need to decide which quality of oats you would like to buy: “Superior” or “Standard”. Then, you choose whether they are to be whole, bruised or rolled. Lastly, the oats can be bought in bulk, or bagged if the customer prefers (20KG bags).
They are clipped, polished and graded. Only the largest oats are used and we guarantee a minimum 60KG/hl bushel weight. (Human milling oats standard is only 50). Because all the oat grains are sorted, they are mostly of one size. This means that all of the oats are bruised. Where oats are not sorted, the largest ones will be bruised but the smaller grains will slip through and therefore not be bruised nor so well digested by your horses. These are primarily sold to horses in training although some are sold for event and show jumpers.
H.C.H.F. sells “Superior Oats” to customers either Whole, Bruised or Rolled.
1. Customers tend to buy whole oats in bulk and then bruise them when required.
2. Many customers buy lightly bruised oats in 20KG bags, although some buy in bulk.
3. Lastly other customers prefer the oats not just bruised but rolled (sometimes called crushed) as well.
H.C.H.F. sells Standard Grade Oats to customers either as Whole, Bruised or Rolled. They are also clipped polished and graded. They are often sold mainly for polo ponies, and into farm shops where they are rolled for other horses. Each bag of oats weighs 20KG and can be ordered from the Farm Office, please email or telephone, or we can supply the oats in bulk by the tonne or on 1 tonne pallets containing 50 x 20KG bags.
Some wholesalers will “crush” the rolled oats which involves breaking both the husk and the kernel of the oat. This makes them slightly more digestible, but they suffer from a slightly shorter shelf life.
Oats can be delivered in bulk in an 18 tonne blower lorry.
Bagged Oats are bagged in 20KG bags, 1 tonne palletised and stretch wrapped. Or, smaller quantities can be delivered along with haylage. Lastly, you can make an appointment to collect the bagged oats from the Farm.