Prairie Oat Growers Association Awards Second Research Grant

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The Prairie Oat Growers Association (POGA) has announced its second oat research grant. Lori Warren, PhD, PAS, an associate professor at the University of Florida, will receive more than $146,000 in funding for a two-year research project titled “Can beta-glucans improve the responsiveness of the immune system in horses?”

The research project began in June. Warren’s project was recommended for funding by the Equine Oat Research Advisory Board in 2013.

“There is a tremendous need for research on equine nutrition to better understand how we can keep our horses healthy and strong,” said Art Enns, POGA president. “Dr. Warren’s research project presented a great opportunity for us to better understand the internal health needs of horses, allowing us to continue our efforts in building a platform of factual research in equine nutrition.”

Warren’s study will investigate the potential for oat beta-glucan to improve the responsiveness of the immune system in horses. Beta-glucans are a type of dietary fiber, commonly known to benefit the human body by improving heart health. The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved heart healthy labeling for packaging of food products with high beta-glucan levels. Although numerous studies have been conducted on beta-glucan in relation to the human body, the influence of beta-glucans in equids has never been evaluated in depth.

“Oats are a rich source of beta-glucans, whereas appreciable quantities are not found in corn,” said Warren. “This study will investigate the potential for oat beta-glucan to improve the responsiveness of the immune system in horses. If oat beta-glucan can enhance immune function or mediate stress-induced suppression of the immune system, it will greatly improve the value of oats as a main ingredient in equine feeds.”

This is the second research grant made by POGA to studying the nutritional effects of oats on horses. The first was awarded in 2013 to Laurie Lawrence, PhD, of the University of Kentucky for a two-year study.

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