Feeding horses can be difficult when particularly bad weather has caused smaller harvests and more expensive horse feed. While a varied diet of high-quality grain, grass and hay is optimal for horses, occasionally horse owners need to experiment with alternative feed sources to keep their horses well fed. One such alternative feed is corn stalks, which if fed correctly and with care can make a sufficient source of food when combined with other quality feed.
Things You'll Need
- Round bales of corn stalks
- Sweet feed or oats
- Round bale feeder
Purchase high-quality corn stalks. According to Kevin H. Kline, a professor of Animal Sciences at the University of Illinois, corn stalks are generally sold by the bale but are often not baled to be used as a food source. This means that they have not necessarily gone through the proper drying techniques to ensure that they are free from bacteria. When purchasing corn stalks from a farmer or a feed store, be sure to ask if they are baled for animal consumption.
Check corn bales for mold and dust. If the bales were not properly dried or if they have been sitting for a while, it is possible that they have accumulated dust or mold. According to the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky, if horses ingest this mold or dust, it can cause illness.
Mix corn stalks with another high-quality grain source. According to the College of Agriculture at the University of Kentucky, corn stalks are an alternative source of fiber, which means it may be necessary to mix the stalks with whole sweet corn feed, oats or another source of nutrition. You may also need to shred the corn stalks to make them palatable and appetizing to horses.
Place the mixed feed in a round bale feeder. A round bale feeder is not only the easiest way to make the food accessible, but it is also worth the investment to prevent wasted feed and money, according to the University of Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service. The feeder will keep the food off the ground, and it should be in the horse's pasture or corral.
Clean up any excess corn stalks that drop on the ground. Once a horse drops the feed on the ground, it is likely that it will be mixed with waste and will be inedible. Cleaning this up on a regular basis promotes horse health and pasture cleanliness.
Monitor your horse's weight. Corn stalks are not a whole source of proper nutrition, so you should ensure that your horse is maintaining a healthy weight. Measure your horse regularly and watch for signs of malnutrition each time you feed.