Bran is constantly used in horse provender in mixture with oats and chaff. It is extremely rich in nitrogenous matter, and contains also a considerable quantity of carbohydrates and fatty matter. Formerly it was used as a food for horses in some parts of the country much more extensively than it is at present. It is stated that, as an exclusive food for horses, it is absolutely useless; but the writer remembers one establishment where all the cart-horses were fed upon bran alone, of course in unlimited quantity. The animals were all of them fat, and had remarkably glossy coats. Whether or not they would have borne an average amount of work cannot be stated, as the owner of the horses was a conspicuous member of the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and took great pride in treating his horses with the greatest consideration. They were never consequently called upon to do any hard work, but of the fact that they lived exclusively upon bran and looked remarkably well there is no doubt.
For practical purposes, bran can only be used with advantage to a limited extent in mixture with other food, as has already been pointed out. It is largely used in the sick stable in the form of mash, which is made by pouring over it a small quantity of boiling water, and allowing it to remain until it is cool. It is also the custom in many stables to give horses a bran mash once or twice a week, and the practice has very much to recommend it. It has already been suggested that a handful or two mixed with the regular rations has the effect of inducing an animal to masticate the whole of the food with which it is mixed, and is, therefore, particularly desirable as an adjunct to the rations of the horses which are known as gross feeders. If the digestive organs of grain- and herb-feeding animals were adapted for the digestion of bran, it would be a most valuable article of diet for horses, as the following table will indicate: .
Bran is not now regarded as a food material in the same light as it used to be. This is partly in consequence of recent feeding experiments, and partly owing to the improved flour-mill machinery. In the first place it has been shown that a considerable portion of the nitrogenous constituents of bran is indigestible, and in the next that the im-proved machines, by more effectually separating the more nutritive constituents from bran, have actually lessened its value.
Many sick horses with fickle appetites will eat bran while refusing all other food, and for this purpose it is most valuable. A very useful custom for working horses is to give a bran-and-linseed mash each week, and a good one may be formed with 3 lbs. bran and 1 lb. boiled linseed.
Bran should be clean, and have a sweet smell. It should not be kept in bulk, as it is liable to heat, especially when it is made from new grain. Heated wetted bran soon becomes sour and unfit for use.
Nitrogenous matter ...
Fatty matter ...
It will be seen that the results of analyses by different authorities are given, showing certain variations in the amount of nitrogenous matter, cellulose, and carbohydrates, but they all agree sufficiently to show that bran, chemically speaking, contains all the requisites for nutrition. The nitrogenous ratio varies from 1: 2.8 to 1: 4.3. Among the total salts are represented potash, soda, magnesia, lime, phosphoric acid, and silica.