I remember being at an old barn where the sick horses got cooked oats. I'd completely forgotten but then I lucked out on the practical horseman book, where there are several recipes for different cooked grains. I am very, very limited in what I can feed (beet pulp, barley, alfalfa hay, wheat products) so when they mentioned boiled barley as an excellent way to fatten up a show horse, I was obviously intrigued. Does anyone still do this? Do you use a crock pot or some other cooking method? How about the boiled flax? That seems to be a little more common. I know my guy shouldn't be getting flax, but I'm curious as to who makes it.
I've cooked flax in a crock pot... it makes glop that has the texture of snot and sticks to everything that it touches like glue. (plan to dedicate the crock pot, the spoon and any serving impliments to nothing but flax.) It does put a wonderful glow on your horses... however I think it would be completely impractical to do for one horse.
I have steamed grain for an old toothless horse. That is fairly simple to do. Add boiling water to grain (enough to cover the grain), cover bucket with a towel, or a grain bag, or whatever and let it sit for about 10 minutes. You might try that with the barley.
A friend of ours from Ireland cooked an oats/barely mix on a hot plate for her hunting horses. (it cooked for a long time) She has since left the area, but, I remember the horses loved it, and my husband was always asking her what she was cooking, as he loved the aroma of it cooking. Her horses always looked well, and had a wonderful shine to their coats. I know she put the "broth" on the feed of horses not in work to use it up, and all the horses cleaned everything up in their feed pans.
I love cooking oats. You can do it in the barn instead of the kitchen - it is how all it is done at the track. Get a small galvanized aluminum trash can and seal the seams with silicone. This is your pot. We use one of these to heat the water. Then put in the oats and cook them!
Hint - use whole oats, uncrimped and absolutely NOT rolled oats. If you cook rolled oats you end up with spackle....don't ask how I know.
Also - add the oats to the water, not the other way around if using the above heater. Otherwise you can burn the oats.
I have put lots of stuff in to cook including whole corn, carrots (toward the end so they are not mushy), barley, flax, brewer's grains and bran (this you mix in when it is hot).
We used to do this where I was in Europe. Cook whole oats and barley for several hours, then you can add some bran at the end for the tastiest cereal your horse has ever had! Great for cold, winter days.
The idea, I believe, is that it is more easily digested when cooked. Obviously not going to make it majikally different. I don't know whether the grain really is or is not easier to digest, which is why I asked.
Boiling barley also has a marked benefit over raw grain in that the digestibility factor rises double (to about 50%) that of the raw unprocessed gram. However, the boiling process is not controlled in our own kitchens, and lot of the natural vitamin content is damaged or ‘cooked out’, and is then not available for uptake, plus, it is a time consuming job, although personally I do not find it a problem.
Boiled barley, an easily digested meal more popular in the United Kingdom than here in North America, traditionally has been fed to horses after a hard day of foxhunting, to aged horses with dental problems, and to foals in stressful situations. The cooking process softens the small, hard barley grains and helps break down some of the starches, increasing both palatability and digestibility. Furthermore, cooked grains are less likely to ferment during digestion. Be warned, however--cooking can reduce the vitamin content of the grain, and it's a time-consuming and messy process.
This is great information, OrangeOne. I am going to try boiling barley for my old guy. I already make him oatmeal and mung-dal (indian yellow split lentil) for the cold days-he does significantly better on this than anything else-he is NOT into cold weather and I am in CO, but it definately helps him deal-just perkier and does not get cold as easilly.