Oats are generally looked upon as the best horse-corn, and in the light of long practical experience there is, on the whole, just grounds for that belief. No other kind of grain alone is found so well adapted for horse food under all circumstances. Whether the horse is young, or growing, or fully matured, whether he is a cart-horse or a race-horse, at work or at rest, oats can be relied upon to provide a suitable food. An explanation of this well-established fact is furnished by the chemical analysis of oats, which shows they contain the food constituents in better-balanced proportions for the horse's requirements than any other grain used for feeding purposes.
But although oats are superior to any individual grain in this respect, they are not superior to many grain mixtures, several of which may be made having the requisite feeding - constituents in better proportions than oats, and possessing the additional advantage of being cheaper. That oats form a perfect food, or for that matter any other single grain, no one will contend; even their most powerful advocates recognize that as a food for hunters and other horses during severe weather they are improved by the addition of beans. The oats on the market comprise an immense variety, of which our home supply constitutes a small pro-portion, the major portion being imported.
Owing to the bright appearance of many samples of damaged oats, which have been more or less successfully treated for the purpose of giving them the semblance of good ones, and to the difficulty in accurately assessing the proportion of husk to kernel in many samples, and for various kindred reasons, much skill and experience are necessary in making a good selection. Indeed, no other horse-corn demands an equally skilled judgment in buying.
It is of very little moment whether they are black or white if they are their natural colour, thin - skinned, uniform, bright, sweet, clean, heavy, in good hard condition and thoroughly matured. All damaged oats, however mixed, bleached, or otherwise disguised, and all discoloured, musty, or dirty oats, should be avoided.