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Thread: Feed Spent Grains to Horses?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Posts
    5

    Feed Spent Grains to Horses?

    Hi, I know you can feed spent grains to chickens, pigs, cows, but can you feed the grains to horses?
    Horses tend to have sensitive digestive systems and if I were to make them sick, my wife would kill me!
    Other than that, can I compost them, or would that just turn into a smelly mess?
    Thanks for any info.
    Andy

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Sydney
    Posts
    73
    I know of cows that climb into the back of the farm ute (pick-up) and have smashed the headlights trying to get at spent grains.

    Scotty
    Head Brewer Rocks Brewing Co.
    Sydney, Aust
    scotty@rocksbrewing.com

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2002
    Location
    Palmdale, CA
    Posts
    16

    Spent Grains high in extract

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Bishop
    Hi, I know you can feed spent grains to chickens, pigs, cows, but can you feed the grains to horses?
    Horses tend to have sensitive digestive systems and if I were to make them sick, my wife would kill me!
    Other than that, can I compost them, or would that just turn into a smelly mess?
    Thanks for any info.
    Andy
    Do not feed any spent grains to cattle or pigs the is high in extract.
    Years back a Falstaff brewery fed cattle spent grains that contained first wort 18Plato. The next day the cattle were down with their legs up,bloated and dead. Very costly for the brewery.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2006
    Location
    Copenhagen
    Posts
    269

    a horse of course

    Our ex head Chef used to occasionaly swing by the brewery to get a bucket of spent grain for his horse. Claimed the horse loved it, especially the Weizen (maybe because it had less hops?)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Homer, Alaska
    Posts
    93

    give it to Santa

    Reindeer supposedly are among the few animals that can efficiently digest spent grain. Just because something likes to eat it doesn't mean it is good for it or the environment. Spent grain gives cows bad gas and besides stink it might add to our air/atmosphere polution issues. Pigs have been known to overindulge on spent grain piles and go teats up. Reindeer (and I wonder about the moose that have gotten into some of my spent grain compost piles!) have the enzymes to break down the stuff and can live on it alone.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Location
    Berlin, Maryland, USA
    Posts
    351
    We've had dairy farmers, pig farmers, sheep farmers and horse folks all take our spent grain. The horse folks said that the horses weren't anywhere near as thrilled as the other livestock, but would eat it mixed in with their oats (and of course it was free, so their cost to feed the horses went down!).

    As for concerns about harming the animals, apparently the key is to not make it a large part of their diet, but rather a nice treat (at least for the cows, etc, who love the taste so much!).

    Cheers, Tim

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Sorrento, BC, Canada
    Posts
    44

    grain only as part of diet

    Ruminants (cows, sheep, goats) can certainly digest grain, and do a much better job of it than single-stomached critters like horses. Nevertheless, none of these animals should be fed high concentrations of grain - their systems were designed for large amounts of low-protein (relatively speaking) roughage, which they digest efficiently and which, incidentally, doesn't give them anywhere near as much gas. The idea is to give them some, which improves weight gain, milk production and short-term energy, but not a lot, which results in bloat and other digestive issues, including death.

    Pigs, whose system very closely resembles our own, can eat masses of grain. However, they must still have supplements (whey works really well, as well as pasture) for micronutrients and protein.

    Our dog seems to like the spent grain too, proving that dogs are omnivores (sort of).
    Rebecca Kneen
    Crannóg Ales
    Canada's Certified Organic, on-farm microbrewery
    www.crannogales.com

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    46

    Animal Rations

    Cattle can digest brewers and distillers grains just fine if used as a small percentage of they're ration. I can tell you that when we used to raise pigs we did experience a higher death loss when we added even a small amount of distillers grain. I'm not an expert on horses but I would suggest contacting a livestock specialist at a co-op or a large animal vet. if the farmer is concerned.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Sorrento, BC, Canada
    Posts
    44

    distillers grains

    Just a further note on the content of grains: brewers grains containing barley and/or wheat are relatively easy to digest. The issues start to arise with distillers grains from making ethanol or high-gravity beers. Corn, rice, soy etc. have a whole bunch of issues, including some by-products which are apparently difficult to digest. One might also note that all three are, unless they are certified organic (and possibly even then) contaminated with genetically engineered stock. GE corn, rice and soy have all been shown to cause digestive problems in various creatures. This may well be part of the problems currently arising in the feeding of distillers grains to feedlot cattle.

    We raise pigs on a high percentage of spent grains containing only barley and a bit of wheat, and have never had a death. Mind you, our pigs are also fed whey, garden waste and are on pasture, so they have very lively digestive systems!
    Rebecca Kneen
    Crannóg Ales
    Canada's Certified Organic, on-farm microbrewery
    www.crannogales.com

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Sorrento, BC, Canada
    Posts
    44

    compost

    Oh yeah, and of course you can compost spent grains. However, it has been my experience that they do best if mixed with grass, hay, leaves, weeds and so on - green matter with fibre. But they make great compost quickly, especially if you add warm grains to a cold compost in the winter: it heats things up again quickly.
    Rebecca Kneen
    Crannóg Ales
    Canada's Certified Organic, on-farm microbrewery
    www.crannogales.com

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    12

    Grain - harmful? Why would it be?

    I bring spent grains to cattle and pig farmers in town regularly. The grain:

    - has had the sugar rinsed out during the sparge (doesn't matter what kind of beer you are making - high grav or low)
    - contains no hops (those are not added during the mash)
    - is almost entirely barley (maybe some wheat or oats from time to time)

    These grains should be able to be used like supplementary grains are already used with animals: not the primary staple of the diet but a (potentially significant) contributor.

    I don't see how this barley would be dangerous to horses, cattle, or pigs. And definitely don't understand how spent grains from a brewery (grains that were rinsed) caused cows to go hooves up. What made that happen? Cattle eat windfallen, fermented apples all the time...and a little extra sugar on the grain shouldn't cause death!!!

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
    Posts
    807
    Ruminants, like cows, should have no problem with spent grain as an ad libitum feed supplement. Perhaps the grains were rotten or something else was wrong with the ration to cause such bloat.

    I would be cautious with monogastrics like pigs and horses. It's been my experience that horses don't like it much.

    Pax.

    liam
    Liam McKenna
    www.yellowbellybrewery.com

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    23
    I started raising pigs as a way to dispose of my spent grain. I brew 3 times a week and have avg 800# spent grain each time. The problem is the quantity, as it really has to be consumed in 2 or 3 days as it goes rancid fast. I started with 3 pigs and am now up to 10 and planning on raising pigs to sell at market weight. They are on pasture and woods and their primary grain is spent barley. Never have I had any issues. They do grow a little slower on barley than corn but they are very healthy. Also, they eat it better if a scoop of cracked corn is mixed in. I also feed it to chickens and as a treat to our family cow. What a great cottage industry for a brewer!!! Our pastured pork is free, And we are able to sell to friends at prices they can afford. We have a horse, but I am very careful to only give him small amounts at a time.
    Steve Purdie, Brewer
    The Terminal BrewHouse
    Chattanooga Tn

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    14
    10 pigs are eating 2400lbs of grain a week?!

    Any update on this?
    -------Reformation Brewery---------
    redeeming beer for the community
    a 15bbl dream hoping to brew in 2013
    www.reformationbrewery.com

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Apr 2010
    Location
    Novato, CA.
    Posts
    10

    spent grain and acidic pH

    The pig farmer who takes my spent grain says that the acidic pH (5.4 approx) is fine for her pigs but not for the ground the grain is dumped on. She says that the grass does not grow back. Pigs destroy the bins that she puts the grain in and prefers to have it dumped on her grass. Any suggestions to change the pH or any reason why?

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