Feed Materials In Focus – Wheat Bran


Also known as: Fine wheat bran, Coarse wheat bran, Coarse wheat feed, Wheatfeed. Similar to Wheat middlings (millfeed, wheat mill run, or wheat midds).

Wheat bran is a by-product of the dry milling of common wheat (Triticum aestivum L.) into flour.

Wheat bran can be given to horses at up to 2kg per day (Göhl, 1982). Horses find it palatable and enjoy eating feeds containing up to 10% bran (DM basis). Though it has long been popular as a laxative feed for stabled horses, this laxative effect is not significant as horses consume other sources of fibre.

Large amounts of bran can induce calcium deficiency in horses (due to the high phosphorus to calcium ratio (~11:1) and high phytate content) known as Nutritional Secondary Hyperparathyroidism, and also as “big head disease”, “bran disease” or “Millers disease”, because milling companies often fed their horses rations containing large amounts of bran (McDowell 2003, Luthersson et al. 2005).

Calcium, zinc and iron supplements should not be mixed into large amounts of bran, as they may become bound to the phytate in the small intestine, which will lower their absorption rate (Kohnke et al., 1999).

Typical analysis (dry matter):
⦿ Protein 17%
⦿ Oil 4%
⦿ Starch 23%
⦿ Sugar 7%
⦿ Calcium 1 g/kg
⦿ Phosphorus 11 g/kg
⦿ Iron 155 mg/kg
⦿ Total Energy 19 MJ/kg

➡️ Cheap
➡️ Palatable
➡️ Can be used as a carrier for supplements, etc

➡️ High phosphorus/low calcium
➡️ Need to add limestone to balance Ca:P to at least 2:1
➡️ Mashes fed occasionally upset the hindgut microbiome
➡️ Low-quality protein source
➡️ Potentially a GI irritant in some horses and ponies
➡️ Not-suitable for laminitis prone horses or ponies (especially if fed as the occasional mash)
➡️ High starch and sugar
➡️ Relatively high iron content


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