Can oats help prevent colic in horses?

by Susanne Risse [Hidden Trails] 01/11/2012

This article was first published by Thoroughbred Times

Oats have historically played a major role in the equine diet, but very few people understand the nutritional benefits oats have over many other cereal grains. One of those benefits may include preventing colic. Oats: The Horse-Healthy Grain, written by Dr. Laurie Lawrence of the University of Kentucky, discusses the positive effect oats can have on colic risk. The Prairie Oat Growers Association commissioned the research study, a summary of more than 260 published research documents, to assess past research surrounding the nutritional benefits of oats.

Of the many topics discussed in the study, colic is one that resonates with most horse owners.   Referring to a research study conducted in 2009 , Dr. Lawrence reports, “The incomplete digestion of starch in the small intestine is an important link between increased colic risk and diet.”  It has been suggested that colic risk is heightened when large amounts of starch reach the large intestine, where it is then rapidly fermented. Oats have higher small intestinal digestibility than most other grains, including corn. This means when feeding oats, less starch is reaching the large intestine. Several other research studies have been conducted to test starch digestibility, but none currently proves that oats can reduce the risk of colic.

“One of the largest topics surrounding grains is the issue of colic in horses,” said Randy Strychar, Project Director of the Equine Feed Oat Project, “Dr. Lawrence’s study has sparked an extreme interest in colic for the Equine Feed Oat Project.  If we can prove that oats reduce the likelihood of colic in horses, then we want to pursue that endeavor.”

As the Equine Feed Oat Project continues to commission research, the effect of oats on colic risk will definitely be considered.  To show support for the prevention and treatment of colic, the Equine Feed Oat Project recently attended and sponsored the 10th International Equine Colic Research Symposium in Indianapolis, Indiana hosted by the American Association of Equine Practitioners.

A summary of Dr. Lawrence's study may be downloaded at  If you are interested in reading Dr. Lawrence’s completed study, contact

The Equine Feed Oat Project (EFOP) is an initiative of the Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA), a volunteer farmer organization representing 20,000 hard-working Canadian oat growers. The EFOP was created in 2009 to research, educate and communicate information about oats to the equine industry.


10/26/2017 8:33:54 AM #

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