The world of dietetics is very wide in both humans and animals. We are increasingly aware of the importance of food to the well-being of our pets. We not only improve their skin and fur, but also improve their performance. Therefore, if we have or are thinking of getting a horse, it is important to know what horses eat in order to give them a balanced diet and keep them healthy.
As expected, the animal feed industry already offers a wide range of feeds and snacks fit for these majestic mammals. But they also like to eat some fruits and vegetables. But be careful, excess is not good. Apart from this, there are some vegetables which can be harmful for them. If you want to know what horses eat and what foods we should not give them, I suggest you keep reading.
What do horses eat?
To know what horses eat, it is necessary to know a little about their biology. They are herbivores, so their diet is mainly plant-based, with a focus on grazing. These powerful mammals have specialized jaws for chewing on fruits, flowers and herbs. Contrary to what it might seem because of its large size, it has a very small stomach and a very delicate digestive system. Thus, horses are not able to eat large amounts at once. An adult horse requires about 2% to 2,5% of its body weight in food, while its water requirement is about 40 liters per day.
It should be kept in mind that the diet of wild horses differs from that of domesticated horses. The former feed mainly on grasses found in grasslands. In addition, they spend most of the day eating, it is estimated that they spend about 16 hours a day. For this reason we must ration a horse’s food in several small meals spread throughout the day, to prevent him from suffering from colic. After each meal, horses need at least one hour of rest to be able to digest properly. This means not feeding them, riding them, or forcing them to do heavy work.
Captive equines generally have a more varied diet than those in the wild. This includes specific feed for horses and other foods such as alfalfa, oats, corn, apples, zucchini and carrots. However, the basis of your diet should include the following:
- Herbs: This provides most of the nutrients needed to maintain horse health.
- Hay: This is usually a substitute for hay for household items. The most common hays are alfalfa, chrome and timothy. This is the best option for horses that cannot graze. Before we give it to you, we must ensure that it is free from moisture, mold and dust.
- Grains: The diet of these mammals can be supplemented with certain grains such as oats, barley or corn.
Commercial Foods and Supplements
Now that we know what horses eat, it is important to note that they require certain salts and minerals to supplement their diet. When exercising, sodium and chloride are lost through sweat. To change this, they need a small dose of salt, which we can offer in the form of loose or block. In the event that they have a vitamin deficiency, they will have to be administered as a dietary supplement, but only if the vet tells us.
As for commercial feeds, there are many types of feeds that provide all the essential nutrients for a balanced horse diet. It is important to ensure that it is of good quality and that the contribution of fiber, protein, minerals, amino acids and vitamins is sufficient.
In any case, if at any time we see that the horse is apathetic, does not want to eat and seems ill, we must call the veterinarian as soon as possible so that any pathology can be diagnosed and treated in time. Can
What fruits and vegetables can horses eat?
In addition to the basic foods that horses eat, we can also give them a variety of fruits and vegetables as a supplement or to reward them when they are trained. They love all these vegetables! But we should be aware that they should eat these foods in moderation. Let’s look below at a list of fruits and vegetables that are suitable for equine consumption:
- They too
- Tomato (fruit only, plant is toxic)
Some fruits are recommended to be given without the core, such as apples. It should also be kept in mind that certain foods, such as bananas or pumpkins, are contraindicated in horses with hyperkalemic periodic paralysis, due to their high potassium content. Remember that even if you like these foods, an excess is always bad.
What should not be fed to a horse?
Just as there are some fruits and vegetables that horses can eat, there are also some foods that can be harmful to horses. Let’s see what they are:
In addition to these foods, it is also recommended to avoid rice and wheat bran, as both can cause mineral imbalances in horses. Also, we should prevent them from eating unknown grass, since we cannot know what chemicals they may have sprayed or if it contains poisonous plants. Nor is it advisable to abuse grain or alfalfa.
As we can see, the diet of horses can be very diverse. It is important to vary the food ration and feed them in small amounts. When supplementing our basic diet with other foods, we must do so in moderation. In the event that we have doubts, the best option is to go to a veterinarian that specializes in horses. Also, if our horse is suffering from any disease or deformity, it is a good idea to consult a veterinarian before giving him any type of supplemental food.