Can horses eat barley straw?

Jane&Ziggy

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Apr 30, 2010
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#1
I've tried and tried but I can't get oat straw anywhere. Barley straw seems a bit easier to find. Can horses eat it? I want to put a bale in Ziggy's micro paddock so he has something low sugar and low calorie to nom.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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#2
They can but its more likely to cause problems, oat is the better of the 3. I found somewhere that did packaged oat straw (like haylage size bags), I'll see if I can find it again .
 

Trewsers

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Oct 13, 2004
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#4
I think Chloe sometimes nibbles straw. But it isn't oat straw, I tried getting it years ago for madam on the vets say so but never managed to source any.
 

Pete's Mum

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Jun 4, 2014
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#6
Pete eats it no problem - I personally don't want him eating oat straw as he turns loopy (well, loopier ...!).

@Trewsers I think some of the issues are because straw is coarser than hay, there are more risks of it causing blockages. My vet is always fairly happy to feed straw as part of their forage, as these days they always have access to water.
 
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Mary Poppins

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Oct 10, 2004
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#7
After Ben had colic I will never have him anywhere near straw again. It is too dry and not digestible. I don’t know the difference between barley and oat straw but to me it doesn’t matter. Soaked hay is all Ben Will ever have!
 

domane

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Jul 31, 2005
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#8
Bought some straw and forgot to check it was wheat straw. It wasn't, it was barley. Albi and Jack munched through their beds every night. Lesson learned!! :p
 

chunky monkey

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May 2, 2007
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#10
Barley straw is usually much softer than wheat so more digestable, not sure in comparison to oat straw though.
When we had the goats we would put barley straw it in the hay racks as part of there evening feed and they would go mad for it.
 

Kite_Rider

Cantering cabbage!
May 18, 2009
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#11
@Jane&Ziggy maybe phone your vet and ask them?
It was my vet who suggested straw as a partial forage for Belle, oat she said is best but barley if also ok if oat is difficult to get hold of.
As I said Belle has been eating it for six years with no issues at all.
 

Kite_Rider

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May 18, 2009
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#12
Bought some straw and forgot to check it was wheat straw. It wasn't, it was barley. Albi and Jack munched through their beds every night. Lesson learned!! :p
The reason I took Belle off a straw bed. That was wheat straw but it didn’t stop her eating half of it through the night.
 

Star the Fell

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Jun 14, 2015
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#13
My vet said it’s fine as long as pleanty of water is provided and as long as it’s fed alongside hay/haylage and less than 50% in volume of hay.
 

Jessey

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Dec 20, 2004
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#14
Is it associated with more problems because of digestability? Ie, too coarse?? Just curious if anyone knows?
As I understand it, there is two aspects, straw is much higher fiber content and coarser, so can cause impaction colic if they a) aren't used to eating lots of it and b) if they don't drink enough with it. From memory any straw should be mixed 50/50 with hay at the max to help prevent it. The other aspect is the seed heads, barley and wheat have spikey bits on the seed head and these can often end up in the straw after threshing, these are readily eaten and passed unless the stick into the lining of the throat or gut and can get infected etc. Oats don't have the same spikey bits the other do.
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Prjsmk

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Dec 1, 2017
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#15
The rescue place here feeds theres barley straw when they need low cal and the donkeys have the barley straw in there sand paddock
 

Jessey

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#16
Donks have a completely different digestive system, designed to manage things with the fibre content of straw, so I wouldn't base what a horse can have on that alone.
 

Cortrasna

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Aug 5, 2009
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#17
I fed Barley or oat straw for many years when I lived in the Uk if we couldnt get decent hay. Never, ever had a single problem with it and nor did my many associates in the horse world who also fed it in preference to mouldy and poor quality hay and as far back as my childhood it would be used when hay was scarce without any issues. I am not too sure where all this comes from about the danger of feeding straw to be honest? Or maybe myself and those I know off who do the same have just been incredibly lucky lol!