Sprouted Seeds for Horses
The following is a guest post written by Rachel Kelly, an Equine Herbalist based in Kildare, Ireland. To learn more about Rachel and what she does, please visit her website.
Sprouted seeds are nothing more than germinated seeds which are feed raw.
By soaking seed in water, it will change the composition of the seed in numerous beneficial ways including increasing vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and oxygen.
Why go to the bother of soaking or sprouting a seed?
Grains and seeds contain anti-nutrients which keep the seed dormant (asleep). Phytic acid is an anti-nutrient contained in all dormant seeds which is used as a strategy by the seed to prevent it from sprouting before the ideal conditions are present. Phytic acid impairs absorption of minerals (zinc, magnesium, copper) in the gut before they are absorbed and influences/inhibits digestive enzymes which our horse needs for digestion, including pepsin for protein breakdown and amylase for breaking down starch.
We can neutralise phytic acid because mother nature is very smart– she gave us an enzyme called phytase which co-exists in plant foods, seeds, & nuts that contain phytic acid. Phytase is one of the many essential enzymes necessary for the digestive process and a key enzyme for bone health. Commonly found in plant material, phytase is a natural enzyme used for breaking down and increasing the nutritional quality of grains. The very best way to jump start this neutralising enzyme phytase is by soaking seeds and sprouting them.
What about the theory of cooked equine feed being easier for horses to digest? Phytase is destroyed by heat in ten minutes or less so all extruded wholegrain cereals are very high in phytic acid thus contributing to mineral deficiencies. This may not be a major problem for humans as most of us have a varied diet and we don’t live exclusively on (cooked) cereals but for some of our equine friends, it is their staple diet.
So taking into account the above information, “natures law”, is it really a big deal?
It could be, when you are feeding horses that are already hard pressed to get all their nutrients they need. Phytic acid can make already low nutrient bioavailability and minerals deficiency worse.
Sprouting seeds and antioxidants
Certain vitamins and minerals are classified as antioxidants, and sprouted seeds have a generous supply of vitamins & minerals. In fact, some vitamins can be increased from 100% up to 2000% in the few days of sprouting the seed. The sprouting seed produces massive amounts of vitamin C, B, E and the mineral content will be enriched and develop in a chelated form which the body can easily use.
Sprouted seeds are also abundant in live enzymes for healthy digestion and the absorption of nutrients. Additionally, they contain high levels of oxygen, which is important for healthy cells. Nobel prize winner Dr Otto Warburg found the growth of cancer, viruses, and bacteria cannot survive in an oxygen rich environment.
Benefits of sprouted seeds
- Excellent Nutrition & digestibility.
- High Antioxidant content.
- They contain real, bioavailable minerals.
- They contain enzymes which help with digestion.
- They offer a great variety of amino acids.
- Grown in your kitchen, with little effort.
- Reduce your dependency on processed feed.
- Non GMO, buy organic.
- Your secret weapon against disease-they contain large amounts of phytochemicals (antioxidants).
- Dried seeds store for years.
- No soil, no weeds, no bugs, no pests.
- The seeds do the growing–you just have to water them which takes about one minute per day.
- Doesn’t matter where you live, Alaska or Florida, you can grow them.
- 5 table spoons of seed yields about 1 pound of sprouts; value for money.
Where to start:
Always start small, with something easy- some simple seeds to start sprouting are things like
- Quinoa- which is a lovely alkalizing grain, full of minerals and rich in important amino acids.
- Black sesame seeds- rich in calcium & other minerals, excellent for the nervous system.
- Amaranth- minerals rich, strong antioxidant properties.
- Fenugreek- excellent for helping to cleanse the lymphatic system & support the immune system.
- Millet- excellent for bone cartilage, joints and connective tissue.
- Whole oats- nourishing the nervous & endocrine system.
- Hemp seeds- ideal protein, anti-inflammatory, slow release energy.
All the above seeds have super benefits but must be soaked overnight in water to get the full nutritional wonders. They will be ready after first initial soak or can be kept for 1 or 2 days once you rinse and drain daily. Each of these seeds can be feed at a rate of half a cup per day. They can be added to your original feed as a “superfood boost”.
How to sprout:
Place your seed of choice in clean jar start with 3-4 tbsp. of seed. Then completely cover the seeds with water leaving a space about an inch from the top. Leave the seeds to soak in the water overnight. The next day, they will be slightly swollen. The lid of your jar can be made from net curtain, cheesecloth, etc. Place an elastic band around material to secure it. (You can mix seeds together to sprout once they sprout at the same time).
The next day you need to drain your seeds. The seeds mentioned above are actually ready to use now and can be added to your horse’s feed. They will store for 1-2 days in a refrigerator but for best practice use ASAP.
Seeds which need to sprout for longer include:
- Alfalfa- blood builder, tonic sprout, antiseptic ready in 4-6 days- start in a jar then move to a bowl.
- Broccoli- natures MSM, excellent for respiratory system- ready in 4-6 days.
- Mung beans- light & easy to digest full of minerals including zinc. Use hot water to soak seed & sprout in the dark ready in 4-6 days.
- Lentils- good for energy & vitality ready 4-6 days.
- Wheat- wheatgrass grown into fodder ready in 5-7 days (not for beginners)
- Barley – barley grass grown into fodder 5-7 days (not for beginners)
- Chickpeas- excellent protein high antioxidant content ready in 2-4 days
- Pea- peas can help control blood sugar levels, high antioxidants and mineral content ready 2-4 days.
Use the same process as above to start your seeds. The only difference is you will be keeping these seeds for a few days longer as they need extra time to sprout correctly. You need to rinse and drain them daily to keep them happy and healthy. I like to let my seeds drain upside down to make sure they are well drained.
Sprouting seeds for your horse can be fun and extremely satisfying. You can use them as a superfood boost, as part of a cleansing plan, or for better digestion or as a supplement. They can make up a small part of your feeding program– just a handful per day or they can play a large part in your feeding program.
For more information on sprouting seeds for your horse, please join me on Facebook or checkout my blog. Also available is my eBook “Seeds to Feed” with a definitive guide to sprouting seeds for your horse.