During the frosty, bone-chilling days of winter, you retreat to the comfort of your cozy fireside chair and experience the inner warmth that only a mug of hot chocolate can afford. With each delicious sip, you wonder if you could provide something as equally fulfilling for you horse…something warm and delightful.

There is a special treat that your equine counterpart will enjoy on a cold, winter day, and it is simple to prepare. A little bran, warm water, and molasses are all it takes to create a mouth-watering mash fit for horse utopia. But before you don your chef’s hat and apron, let’s have a peek at some of the benefits and downsides of this flavorful feed. In this article we will have experts discuss the nutrient, roughage, and hydration aspects of bran mashes.

Nutrient Content

Wheat bran is a fluffy, low-density feed that is similar in nutrient content to oats, but contains slightly more protein and three to four times more phosphorus. Wheat bran’s density is one-half that of whole oats and one-fourth that of corn or wheat, so for the same volume fed, it provides that much less digestible energy (if one quart of oats provides 1.4 Mcal/quart of digestible energy, bran provides 0.7 Mcal/ quart digestible energy).

Wheat bran is relatively high in folate, niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin compared to other feeds, but is much lower in B vitamins. It’s palatable for horses, but it’s generally expensive for the nutrients provided, so it should only be fed as a treat and not as a staple in the diet.


Eric Wiles, DVM, of Windsor Veterin