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RE: [DonkeyMuleInfo] Re: Another question - re: grain for youngsters 
Lori wrote:

A horse person once told me the best thing he gives his horses
are steamed oats and that I should try giving that to my donkeys. Anyone
know anything about that?


Oats are the groat (seed) of cereal grass. They are the closest I have
found in fiber, protein, calories, phosphorus, zinc, iron, copper, and
magnesium to an equine's natural diet of forage grass. Since oats are the
seed of plant they are a concentrated nutrition. The volume of 2 parts oats
to 1 part shredded beet pulp provides a combination that is the best "grain"
I have found for a managed Feeding For Health feeding program and it is
simple to adjust the amounts according to the nutritional needs. Lactation
has the highest nutritional demand, then growing is next highest, then
pregnancy, then illness or injury, then riding, driving, and packing.

Most adult donkeys, and adults are donkeys who have a full set of adult
teeth which can be miniatures and standards 4 1/2 to 5 years and older, and
large standards and mammoths 6 1/2 to 7 years old and older, do fine on
pasture grass or hay with fresh water, a pan of loose white salt and a pan
of loose mineral, and may only need the addition of a daily vitamin-mineral
supplement such as Manna Pro Sho-Glo or Moorman Gro-Strong (no I don't get a kickback from Manna Pro or Moorman for recommending their products. I recommend them because they are good.) The maintenance level for an adult donkey who does not have special needs (young stock who are still growing, pregnancy, lactation, or the physical demands of recovering from an illness or injury, or heavy use for riding, driving, or packing) is a dab of whole oats and beet pulp only as a way to mix in their daily vitamin-mineral
supplement. Or you can fold the vitamin-mineral into a slice of bread and
they think they are getting a daily treat. A slice of bread (white or
whole wheat) a day is not going to harm a healthy donkey.

Steamed oats are just whole oats that have been processed by steaming to
loosen the groat. I did a quick price check for my area and 50 pounds of
steamed whole oats costs $9.28. That's .1856 cents per pound. At the same
feed store 64 pounds (2 bushels) of double cleaned whole oats that have not
been steamed, crimped, or rolled is $7.99. That's .1248 cents per pound so
you are paying .06 a pound for them to run the oats through the steam
process to plump the groat. When I measured the volume of 1 pound of whole
oats it was about 4 cups. When I measured the volume of 1 pound of steamed
oats it was 2 2/3 cups. So yes, the volume of processed oats is more
compact and if all you can get is steamed oats then just make sure you
reduce the volume. The same for rolled oats or crimped oats. To know how
much you are actually feeding put 1 cupful on a scale (a baby scale or
postal scale works fine) to see how much it weighs.

Now, something else about processed oats is when I visited Cargil, which is
one of the larger feed manufacturers, I spent the entire morning in the
Quality Assurance area watching oats being inspected and graded. The oats
that were of lesser grade were the ones they assigned to be processed by
steaming, crimping, or rolling. The higher grade oats were not processed.
They were cleaned and bagged because when someone opens a bag of oats the higher grade oats look, smell, and feel like good oats. The lesser quality
oats were processed to disguise their appearance, smell, and texture.
Steaming plumps the groat so a lesser grade of oat looks more like the
better quality oat. The poorest quality oats that had machine damage,
insect damage, shattered groats, discoloration, or where on the edge of the
musty smell were used in sweet feeds and extruded pellet feeds.

You can throw fistfuls of dollars at your donkey buying packaged feeds but
dollars spent does not assure your donkey is getting what he needs to meet
his nutritional needs. The foundation of setting up your own Feeding For
Health feeding plan is:
1. good quality grass hay (if alfalfa is the only thing you can find, try to
get an alfalfa-grass mixture).
2. a stock tank you can dump and clean regularly so your donkey always has
clean, fresh water to drink.
3. loose white salt and loose mineral. Don't rely on "block" salt and
"block" mineral.
4. a daily vitamin-mineral supplement.

If a donkey does have additional nutritional needs such as it is a young
donkey, or a pregnant, lactating, ill or injured, or a heavy workload of
riding, driving, or packing then the combination of whole oats and soaked
beet pulp can provide them with the nutritional boost they need.

I am not anti-feed manufacturer. There is a time and place for those types
of feeds but for donkeys and even for most healthy horses and mules, the
convenience of packaged feeds can do more harm to their health than good.
Equines (horses, donkeys, and mules) are forage animals. The bulk of their
diet should be Forage either from pasture browsing or from hay. Grain,
whether it is oats or a packaged feed blend should be used cautiously and in
only the amount that the equine needs. Grain is not a substitute for
forage. Grain is not a miracle cure-all that will promote good health.
Good health begins with forage. Grain is only a concentrated nutritional
boost and if not used wisely as to what it is or how much is fed or even the
time of day it is fed, can trigger all sorts of diet-related health
problems. I enjoy a hot fudge sundae or a candy bar, but those
calorie-packed treats can not be the foundation of my diet or my health
would be horrible. Health comes from a common sense diet that provides
nutrition and it is no different for our donkeys. Start with the foundation
of forage, water, salt, mineral, vitamins, preventative deworming program,
dental care, farrier care, and inoculations. The use of grain products is
only to provide them with a concentrated form of nutritional boost to help
them meet their nutritional needs when they are not able to fulfill the need
by forage alone.

Of course this is all only my opinion based on my own experiences.


© Vicki Knotts Abbott 2006

Source/Link to full thread on this topic:  "Another question - re: grain for youngsters"


Special Thanks to Vicki Knotts Abbott for granting permission to Shadow Ridge to reprint her informative posts and articles.

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