Corn is a food that horses would never naturally eat, yet exist in nearly every horse feed that is made. How did that come to be?
Well…during WWII, corn was being produced in greater amounts than was being consumed by people. Farmers had to decide what should be done with the excess corn. That is when corn began to be used by the agricultural industry in animal feed.
Corn is a product that is available in excess, it is cheap and is high in fat, which can help an animal put on weight in a hurry. The only problem is horses did not evolve on corn and were not designed to utilize it as a feed.
A horse’s natural diet consists of mainly an assortment of grasses and some herbs. These foods create a nearly neutral stomach pH, but corn on the other hand creates an extremely acidic stomach pH. When you change the pH of the stomach you change the types of bacteria that are able to survive in that climate. The beneficial bacteria that horses have evolved with and work together with the horse to break down grasses live in a neutral pH environment. When the pH becomes more acidic the beneficial bacteria start to die off and the pathogenic bacteria begin to take over. These pathogenic bacteria wreak havoc in the body creating illness and inflammation.
Additionally, corn is rich in omega 6’s which promote inflammation in the body. Horses require a 2:1 ratio of omega 3’s to omega 6’s. When allowed to graze on fresh pasture they are able to achieve this desired ratio. Corn on the other hand has a omega 3 to 6 ratio of as high as 1:58. Yikes!
Summary of facts about corn:
- Corn is high in Omega 6’s
- Omega 6’s are inflammatory, Omega 3’s are anti-inflammatory
- Eating corn promotes inflammation in the body
- Corn creates and acidic stomach pH
- Acidic pH creates a more hostile environment for the beneficial or “good” bacteria and a good environment for the pathogenic or “bad” bacteria
- Horses did not evolve on corn
- Don’t feed corn to your horses!
Here are some great articles on corn for animals: