Feeding Straight Corn: Can Horses Eat Corn on The Cob Safely?

By Zunnun Ahmed •  Updated: 09/10/22 •  7 min read

Do you think twice when sharing an apple with a pet horse?

I guess no one does this.

It’s a common summertime treat that most horses can easily enjoy. But when it comes to sharing corn on the cob, you might wonder, “Can horses eat corn on the cob safely?”

Yes, horses can eat corn on the cob safely. It is not harmful to horses directly. Adding cracked corn to pelleted feeds provides them with energy in the form of starch. Although corn on the cob is not toxic to horses, if the old is obese or old, specific guidelines must be followed when feeding it to them.

Corn kernels affect a horse’s digestive system differently, so you must take care of the preparation. This article covers whether it is OK for horses to eat corn on the cob and what happens if a horse eats corn. So, let’s get started!

So……is it ok to feed corn to horses? will corn on the cob hurt horses?

It is OK for horses to eat corn on the cob; however, you must be aware of several things before considering feeding it to your horse. 


You want to give your horse something easy to chew and digest. 

Corn on the cob can especially be harmful to obese or aged horses. Older horses will find it difficult to chew corn on the cob. 

Besides this, horses with teething issues should avoid eating corn on the cob. Chewing kernels poorly can lead to digestion problems. It may also lead to weight loss and cause choking.

Corn is rich in starch, so you should not feed it to an obese horse because it can contribute to weight gain. Starch elevates blood sugar levels which can be dangerous for horses with insulin resistance.

Corn on the cob is rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant required to keep horses healthy under stressful circumstances. ~ Plus Vital

Related: Curious about horses and pickles? Uncover the fascinating facts and statistics behind this unusual combination. Don’t miss out!

Is raw corn ok for horses?

Feeding horses corn straight from the field is not recommended.

Here is why:

Raw corn contains toxins that can be damaging to horses.

An example is fumonisin, a toxin that infects corn kernels right before harvesting. A strain of fungus produces it and, when consumed in large amounts, can cause moldy corn disease in horses. The disease causes the white matter of the horse’s brain to degrade, leading to coordination issues, blindness, and even death.

Besides these, raw corn is high in sugar and carbohydrates, leading to behavior issues such as hyperactivity. 

The result?

Horses may also suffer from colic, laminitis, or diarrhea if their digestive systems are overloaded with starch.

So, if you’re thinking of feeding raw corn to your horse, there is no harm in feeding it occasionally, but provided if….

The preparation process can aid digestion in horses, although corn is not easily digestible.

Related: Learn why soaked hay is a game-changer for your horse’s diet. Find out if feeding rained-on hay is a viable option to ensure proper nutrition and digestive wellness.

What about cooked? Can horses eat cooked corn cobs?

Yes, horses can eat cooked corn cobs. Horses are usually fed corn cobs that are rolled, steam-flaked, or cracked. But corn on the cob can be difficult to chew for horses.

Cooked corn cobs are high in fiber, hence take time to digest. 

As they’re difficult to digest, it’s best to feed cooked, rolled, or flaked corn kernels to horses. It’s best to cook the grains in water until they’re soft and easily squishable between your thumb and finger. Cooking them until they are soft like this is recommended for digestibility.

Fun fact…….

Horse owners often use these to slow down horses that eat their grains too fast.

Related: Wondering if sunflower seeds are horse-friendly? Delve into the world of equine nutrition and explore the potential benefits of adding these crunchy snacks to their diet.

How much corn can you feed a horse?

Only 20% of a horse’s diet should consist of corn due to the risk of moldy corn. The recommended intake of cracked corn is about 3.5 lbs per serving.

Research suggests that horses can digest 80 to 90% of the starch present in oats. This is because oats contain starch that is easy to digest.

However, the digestibility of corn is only 20%. Hence, FDA recommends no more than a 20% portion of corn in a horse’s diet. ~ Horses Extension Org

Most nutritionists recommend consuming 1-2 g of starch per kg of body weight.

Related: Worried about dallisgrass affecting your horses? Get the facts and protect your equine friends from this potentially harmful weed.

What happens if a horse eats corn?

Feeding a certain amount of corn to a horse provides two or three times more energy compared to the same volume of oats. 

Corn is a common ingredient found in many high-quality horse feeds. But because it is rich in energy, corn can cause certain digestive problems when fed to horses.

Corn is known for its low digestibility. So, when it is fed to a horse, undigested corn may pass through the small intestine without being digested. It increases the risk of grain overload and colic in horses. ~ PubMed.gov

So, a large amount of corn can overwhelm the digestive system of horses, and high starch levels modify the equine gastrointestinal microbial community in horses. Corn also increases the chances of weight gain in horses because of its high starch levels.

Related: Discover the benefits of feeding bluestem hay to your horses. Find out why it’s a great choice for their overall health and well-being.

Does corn make horses hot?

It’s a common misconception that corn makes horses hot

In fact, most horse owners only feed this grain to their four-legged pals during the winter season. 

It’s known as the “heating feed” among old-timers.

People think corn makes horses hot because of its high energy content. However, oats produce 3 times more heat in horses than corn because oats contain less fiber than corn. Plus, heat production depends on the microbial fermentation of fiber.

Related: Are you curious if horses can eat pine needles? Find out the answer here, plus learn more about the nutritional benefits.

In a nutshell………

At the end of the day, corn is a cheaper grain compared to oats and can be fed to horses safely. But the risk of moldy corn disease means corn must be fed to horses in restricted amounts. 

So, before you feed it to your horse, the corn must be tested for contamination.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

How much-cracked corn to feed the horse?

You can safely feed your horse about 3.5 lbs of cracked corn per serving, but ensure that it doesn’t exceed 20% of the horse’s total diet. Always consult with your vet or a horse nutritionist for the most appropriate feeding regimen for your horse.

Can you feed whole corn to horses?

Whole corn can be challenging for some horses to chew and digest. It is recommended to be ground before feeding to aid digestion and prevent the risk of choking.

Can horses have corn on the cob?

Horses can have corn on the cob, but obese or elderly horses or those with teething issues might face challenges. While it’s not harmful, the cob can be hard for some horses to chew, leading to potential digestion problems or choking.

Zunnun Ahmed

We are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.

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