Understanding bran

  • Making a bran mash


    3lbs bran

    1 generous handful salt

    Boiling water

    Molasses to taste

    Put the bran into a bucket and add the salt.

    Pour in the boiling water – as much as the bran absorbs. Don’t overdo it – a mash should be crumbly, not sloppy.

    Add some molasses to make the mash extra tasty. (Some people prefer to add a level scoop of oats to the mixture.)

    Stir well and cover.

    When cooled slightly, but still warm (usually after 15-20mins), serve up.

    People either love or hate bran. Mothers and daughters have fallen out over whether to use bran. Who’s right? Well, both.

    Bran is a by-product of the flour milling process, and consists of the outer fibrous layer of wheat.

    Old boys bemoan the passing of the “broad bran” of 20 years ago, which is almost impossible to get today because of changes in the flour milling process. Modern bran sometimes goes under the derogatory description of sawdust.

    But, one thing is sure, bran consists of a lot more than sawdust.

    Fibre content

    At 12% fibre, bran contains less roughage than hay or grass, but more than hard feed. It has an energy content similar to working or competition feeds and a protein content of 14%, although the quality of this protein is somewhat lacking.

    Energy supplyThis fibre and energy supply is what has made bran so popular as a feed for days off and after hunting – in feeding it, youup the fibre supply, cut the starch and maintain a similar amount of energy in the diet. In fact, it could be said that bran is the original superfibre feed.

    Lightweight,it’s light in weight – a full scoop only weighs about half a pound – soyou can add it at low levels to bulk out a diet without compromising the nutrient supply.

    TemptingIT is also tasty – great for tempting tired or fussy eaters – and, if you’re struggling to administer medicines, hide them in bran mash.

    But there’s a downside. . .

    Before rushing off to buy bran, there are downsides. Like other cereals, it contains a high level of phosphorus and almost no calcium.

    This is not good: horses need a ratio of twice as much calcium to phosphorus in their rations, otherwise the absorption of calcium within the body is affected.

    It is not advisable to feed a great weight of bran to any horse, particularly those in work or growing, as calcium is vital for bone growth and muscle function. Always feed a calcium supplement if you are feeding more than 3lb of bran.

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