not all grain fed is the same

I watch a great deal of conversation on the web about agriculture and food. I see a lot of criticism of cattle being fed grain – even charges it’s akin to feeding them poison! It’s wasteful – cows should graze. While I personally agree on pastured animals I can see some merits in some situations of feeding a small amount of grain. However there’s another realm I never hear criticized.

I hear much on the waste of feeding grain to livestock. I balance that with an appeal for money I got this morning on email from a horse rescue place listing typical costs of caring for an animal. It listed a bag of feed every 2-3 days. Let that sink in – a 50 pound bag of feed every 2-3 days is 15-25 pounds of grain *per day* – these are not hard working animals but even that…is a lot of grain! Rescue horses, if starved or doing without, do need to gain weight but high amounts of grain can cause metabolic issues from founder to colic.

Yet I don’t recall critics ever mention feeding grain to horses even at much higher levels than is fed to cattle or hogs. I wonder why that is. Horses, being an animal designed by nature to eat most of the time, are a pasture based creature (or hay) if there was a model for one. Yet the same people not wanting to put 50 cows on an acre think nothing of 50 horses per acre! They think nothing of denying the horse access to pasture and those large amounts of grain. But one can’t criticize horses – we don’t eat them so it’s ok? Moderation in all things is important!!