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Five Reasons to Feed Stabilized Rice Bran to Horses

Kentucky Equine Research Staff  | Published on 9/11/2017
Have you ever considered feeding your horse stabilized rice bran but weren’t sure what it is, how to introduce it, or—perhaps most importantly—how to use it properly? Equine nutrition experts agree that stabilized rice bran is a valuable feed additive for some horses but, like any change in diet, must be added slowly and properly to avoid gastrointestinal problems.

In a nutshell, “Stabilized rice bran is produced by harvesting the thin, brown layer of individual rice kernels located underneath the hull or outer shell and stabilizing that brown layer—or bran—to inhibit the enzyme lipase from breaking down the fat in the bran and stopping the rice bran from going rancid,” explained Clarissa Brown-Douglas, Ph.D., equine nutritionist for Kentucky Equine Research (Australia).

Five of the top reasons that horse owners and managers offer stabilized rice bran include:

Putting or keeping weight on horses (e.g., hard keepers, horses involved in heavy exercise);
Altering the diet of horses with PSSM and endocrine disorders, such as Cushing’s disease and metabolic syndrome (because replacing starch with fat as an energy source is advocated by nutrition experts);
Managing gastric ulcers;
Providing a fat source to optimize coat health; and
Helping modify some behavioral concerns (fat provides a cool, slow-release energy).
Ready to try your hand at feeding stabilized rice bran? Consider these suggestions when planning an introduction:

Be certain to purchase stabilized rice bran. Unstabilized rice bran is available but will go rancid quickly and cannot be stored for longer than 5–7 days, depending on heat and humidity. It is also important to not confuse stabilized rice bran with other rice products available for equine consumption, such as broken rice.
Ensure the rice bran is fortified. Unstabilized rice bran is naturally high in phosphorus and low in calcium, which is considered an inverted calcium-to-phosphorus ratio. Calcium is therefore added to quality products to remedy the problem.
Choose a formulation (meal, pellet) that your horse accepts. Stabilized rice bran is generally palatable and easily accepted. Start feeding a small amount to a maximum of 4 lb (1.8 kg) per day.
Consider consulting an equine nutritionist prior to instituting any dietary change, and discuss all components of the diet, including supplements, to ensure you are not double dipping.