What Can Horses Eat? #1 Is Still The Best Fodder

horse eats an apple

Horses are really important when it comes to managing ranches and farms. In fact, lot of people in the agricultural industry treat them as huge investments. This is basically why in order to keep them healthy, horse owners will try to do their best to provide the horses with proper nutrition.

Giving horses proper nutrition is very important when it comes to making sure that they will be able to live a healthy life. As a matter of fact, if the horse is not given the right food, it can easily die due to the lack of the proper nutrients or because of disease and illnesses.

While we all know that horses are supposed to eat hay, they can actually eat a wide array of fruits, vegetables and even other food items such as breads and even candies. But you should also know that even if they can eat sweets, it does not mean that they should eat them.

#1 High Quality Hay

dry hay

Without a doubt, horse owners should focus only on providing their horses with forages or “roughages”. This is because hay that is composed of grass as well as legumes contain the most necessary nutrients for the horse’s survival. In most cases, the grass can provide them with 100% of their dietary needs.

This however, will depend on the condition of the soil and the weather where the forage was collected as well as the maturity of the grasses. Although the horses can find these nutrients from other food sources, giving them high quality hay is the easiest way for them to be able to thrive and survive.

horses eating hay

Quality hay is basically made up of grass that is still green. It should also contain some seed heads as well as visible young leaves. Some of the grass that you can use are Kentucky bluegrass, coastal Bermuda, brome, timothy and fescue. These are just some of the commonly ones used for forage.

Since high quality hay also needs to contain legumes, you can also add clover or alfalfa in order to make hay more nutritious. Adding legumes can actually help increase the calcium content in the hay. But unlike grasses that can retain nutrients, legumes need warm weather to have enough nutrients.

#2 Grains

grains for horse

Grains is another important type of feed that you can use to help horses increase in weight. It is typically given to horses that need to have a lot of energy because they need to work very hard during the day. Whenever you want to give grains, you will need to decrease the amount of hay for your horse.

Grains are considered concentrated feed. You can use whole grains and crushed grains whenever you want to feed the horse and typically, you can choose to give either oats or corn. Oats is typically given whenever the horse needs more fiber. Corn is chosen if you want less fiber but more energy content.

You can also opt to use barley, but it has to be processed first in order for the horse to digest it properly. You can also combine barley with corn and oats to make a very nutritious feed. When using wheat, you should only use wheat bran. It is typically moistened and used to provide phosphorus to horses.

#3 Beet Pulp

Beet pulp is a byproduct of processing sugar beets. After the sugar has been removed, what is left is material that is mainly composed of fiber. Beet pulp also contains high amounts of energy and protein. Amazingly, it is also low in sugar which makes it very safe for your horses to consume.

#4 Salt And Minerals

horse licking salt block

Although most people think that you can only give hay and other food items to horses, experts know for a fact that you should also give them salt and other minerals. You can mix them when giving fodder to your horses, and you can also use salt blocks or loose salt separately especially during the summer.

Horses can easily lose the minerals in their bodies when the temperatures are too high. But by putting salt blocks near their stalls, the horses themselves can easily have access to it whenever they need it or whenever they have a craving for it. You can also use a free choice of minerals for your horses’ needs.

#5 Fruits And Vegetables

feeding horse with veggie leaf

If you want to give your horses treats, you should only consider giving fruits and vegetables. This is because when they are given in the proper proportions, they will not just make the horse happy, they can also be used to make the horses healthier. Most ranchers will give apples and carrots.

But if you want to change it up a bit so you can reward your horse for a job well done, you can actually opt to give the animal some strawberries, pears and even some celery stalks. These food items are very rich in nutrients. But because they are also high in sugar, you should only give them a pound or two.

#6 Sweet Treats

horse eats sugar cube

In some cases, you can actually give sweet treats to your horses. Some people are known to give sugar cubes and even candies and mints to brighten up their horses’ day. Some will even give their horses breads for as long as it is ordinary bread. There are also those that will even give them hotdogs or eggs.

While you can give horses sweet treats from time to time, I highly discourage you from giving too much since it can cause nutrient imbalance and it can be dangerous to insulin resistant horses. You should never give chocolates to your horse and since they are herbivores, I do not recommend giving meats.


horse eating

Horses are amazing animals and they are also very hardworking. In order for them to serve you properly, you should consider giving them the right types of food so that they will stay strong and healthy. Always try to give high quality hay and grain in the right weight and proportions.

When giving fruits and vegetables to horses, you should try to check what horses can safely eat first. Do not try to give potatoes, tomatoes and even avocados to horses. You should also avoid giving the rhubarb. Horses however, can safely eat apple cores since small amounts of toxins cannot harm them.

If you want to give them nutrients from other food sources, you should try to use fruits and vegetables since they are more nutritious than sweets. If you are not familiar with one food item, you should never try to give it to your horses unless you do your research first.

Another thing that you should also be mindful when feeding horses is that you should try to avoid giving them too much sugar. This is because it can easily give them nutritional imbalances and it can also discourage them from eating properly. Choking is also an important thing to consider during feedings.

Do you own horses? Tell us more about what you let your horses eat and in what quantities you give it to them in the comment section.

About the Author Emily Taylor

My name is Emily Taylor, gardening is my passion and I’m looking forward to sharing it with everyone. I know that there are millions of people out there want their backyard and garden be attractive just like their front yard, so I am here to help you create your own backyard paradise.

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