Sprouts for Horses

What seed should I use?

Barley sprouts very well and has a good nutritional profile for equine.  Protein levels are generally between 16% and 18%.  Digestibility is high, as well as the moisture content.  For high performance horses there are some that like to add a little sunflower seed for increased protein, but it's generally not necessary.

How much do I feed?

Approximately 2% of body weight is a good starting point.  If you have a 1,000lb horse, that's 20lbs.  Remember that fodder is not intended to be a complete feed.  You will still need some dry roughage (a minimum of 1%) in your horse's diet.

What do I feed with fodder?

Now you know you need roughage, but what is best?  Research has shown that fodder sprouts digest very quickly.  As a result, hays that are high in fiber and slow to digest compliment the sprouts.  By slowing down the digestion the horse can retain more of the beneficial nutrients and enzymes in the sprouts.  This means that grain hays and grass hays will actually work better in a fodder diet than alfalfa.

Will it cause colic?

Surely you’re thinking this lush green grass is going to cause colic.  The key thing here is that it’s not a grass – yet.  A sprout at 6 days is dramatically different from both dry grains and green grass.  Grains are not in a form that can be easily digested.  As grains sprout hydrolytic enzymes breakdown compounds into simpler, more digestible forms.  What you end up with is an increase in available vitamins and minerals.  It’s a high protein, high energy, digestible (over 70%), wet feed.  Horses maintain better hydration during training, events, or racing.  The digestibility means there’s not an excess of non-structural carbohydrates (i.e., NSC, sugars) to move on and ferment in the cecum.  This fermenting could eventually increase acidity, kill good bacteria, and cause body-wide inflammation (particularly in the lamina of the feet = laminitis).  Since the excess sugars are not present, fodder will not cause colic.  If anything, it can actually help prevent it.

What are the health benefits?

Wes Leckner and Tracy Underwood, co-owners of the Santa Rosa Equestrian Facility, board between 90 and 100 horses at their training facility in northern California.  Tracy reports, “The health benefits of the fodder are amazing!  We had Clair Thunes, a PhD in nutrition from UC Davis, do an in-depth analysis of our fodder.  Basically, the fodder provides an energy dense, live feed source that has a consistent nutritional content in addition to greater amounts of lysine, vitamin E and omega -3 fatty acids than hay.   Many benefits that we have observed but don’t necessarily appear in the written analysis include shinier coats and an improvement in attitude and energy, especially in the older ponies at our European Pony School.  Our barn vet, John Kaufman, DVM, attributes this to the seniors (some lacking teeth) being able to eat, digest and therefore, get the nutritional benefit of the food…”  In early July of 2015, a small sprouting system will be delivered to Colorado State University.  They will be performing research on the effects during pre and post op equine surgeries.  With the known health benefits, it will be interesting to see the recovery time.  The university learned about sprouts through a local dude ranch using fodder.  They could see improved health in the horses and asked what they were doing different. 

Which system do I need for my horses?

There is some variance in the type of horse, activity level, etc, but this is a basic guideline for choosing a system based on the number of horses you have:

 Horses System


ECO 110 / F110




ECO 220 / F220











100+ Contact us to determine what system is the best fit.  We offer both manually operated multi-ton systems, and fully automated machines.
My question wasn't answered, what do I do now?

Please contact us! We'd be happy to answer any questions you have. (530) 615-0565 / info@simplycountry.net