As a horse owner, you may find yourself concerned about what is and what isn’t safe for your horse to eat. If you are new to this, it is doubtful that you would have too much knowledge about this stuff.
However, it is never too late to start knowing the facts. Now, everyone is aware that horses are herbivores. They only eat plants, but the question is what vegetables can horses eat? Practically, horses eat everything. Nevertheless, not every vegetable is healthy for a horse.
Because not all vegetables are safe for your horse, it is necessary that you have ultimate knowledge about what vegetables to feed your horse. Otherwise, you may risk the well-being of your horse. So, continue scrolling to get all your questions answered.
- Carrots are a popular vegetable that many horses enjoy. They are low in calories, high in fiber and vitamin A, and can help promote healthy teeth and gums.
- Apples are another fruit that horses enjoy and can eat. They are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, and can provide a healthy snack for your horse.
- Celery is a low-calorie vegetable that can be fed to horses in moderation. It is a good source of fiber and can provide some beneficial vitamins and minerals.
- Cabbage and broccoli can also be fed to horses in small quantities. They are low in calories and high in fiber and can provide some additional nutrients to your horse’s diet.
- Potatoes and other starchy vegetables should be avoided, as they can be difficult for horses to digest and can lead to digestive issues.
- Always introduce new vegetables to your horse’s diet slowly, in small quantities, to avoid upsetting their digestive system.
- It is important to remember that while vegetables can be a healthy addition to a horse’s diet, they should not be the main source of their nutrition. The bulk of their diet should consist of hay or grass, with any additional supplements or treats given in moderation.
What vegetables can horses eat?
Generally, horses are programmed to eat small portions of food throughout the day. So, if you keep feeding it all day, it will happily accept it every time. As a horse parent, you may feel thrilled about feeding your horse continuously. However, you should retrain yourself for your horse’s well-being.
It is not safe for horses to keep eating continuously. Thus, it is your responsibility to offer it what is best for it. So, first, let’s take a look at what vegetables a horse can eat.
This category includes lettuce, spinach, kale, swiss chard, and beet greens. Horses can basically eat all of them. But, each of them has different nutritional values and you should be aware of those.
Can horses eat Lettuce
Lettuce is potentially high in water content (almost 96%). However, lettuce, despite all the water content, is quite low in fiber which can be a hassle in digestion.
Therefore, it is important not to go overboard with lettuce. Also, it is low in fats and protein which means it won’t energize your horse. So, lettuce can be used as a regular supplement, but you shouldn’t make it a primary nourishment.
Can horses eat other types of lettuce? It’s important to note that there are about 140 species of lettuce, and not all are appropriate for equines.
Research suggests that Romaine lettuce is the best for horses because they have the highest nutrition.
On the other hand, wild or bitter lettuce has lactucarium and lactucopicrin which can lead to stomach upsets and may sedate your horse. Here are the nutrient elements of lettuce.
- Vitamins A, K, and C
Spinach can be a great treat for your horse because of its high fiber content which makes it easy to digest. Horses generally need a lot of fiber. Otherwise, they may experience constipation, weakness, vitamin deficiencies, etc.
Nutritional values in spinach
- High fiber
- Magnesium (157 mg)
- Vitamins A, C, and K
Kale belongs to the Brassica family and is a cruciferous vegetable that is not healthy for a horse. More straightforwardly, kales are toxic for horses. Large quantities of kale can cause anemia and bloating.
Kale can cause several health hazards for horses, including kidney issues. Bad stomach, excessive gas, and stone formation are possible consequences of feeding kale to a horse. In worst-case scenarios, it can lead to the death of your horse.
That is why, it is advisable to feed your horse kale in small amounts if you do so. It does have some nutritional value.
The following nutrition values can be valuable insight for you.
- Vitamin K (Daily Value)-68%
- Vitamin C (Daily Value)-22%
- Calories-7 cal
- Vitamin A-6%
Can horses eat swiss chard and beet greens
Beet greens are nice treats for a horse because of all the vitamins, minerals, protein, and fiber in them. Swiss chards contain vitamins A, C, and K in addition to being an excellent source of dietary fibers and other minerals.
However, both Swiss Chards and beet greens are high in oxalates. Feeding too many oxalates to horses can lead to calcium deficiency symptoms like lethargy and sometimes can cause facial bones to get enlarged. So, these are not healthy for your horse in large quantities.
Swiss chard’s nutritional value
- Vitamin A and K
- Oxalic acid
Beet greens’ nutritional value
- Vitamin D
Root vegetables like carrots, turnips, and parsnips can actually be good treats for horses. They have nutrition values that make them appropriate for a horse’s diet.
Carrots, Parsnips, and Turnips
Among the three root vegetables, carrots are the most popular treats that horse owners give their horses. The reason behind this is that carrots have a high concentration of Vitamin A and are low in cholesterol and fat.
Other than that, carrots are full of other vitamins that help ensure a horse’s well-being. However, make sure you maintain moderation.
Like carrots, parsnips are also low in sugar. If you have a stubborn and picky horse who wouldn’t eat carrots, you can give them parsnips. Nutrients in carrots and parsnips are almost the same, but parsnips are a little richer in minerals.
Similarly, turnips are also great for your horses being high in fiber which helps in digestion and reduces constipation. However, keeping the treats in moderation is necessary to ensure a healthy diet for a horse.
|– High in fiber
– High in potassium
– Higher Vitamin A
|– High in fiber
– High in potassium
– More pantothenic
– Higher in vitamin C
|– Vitamin K, A, and C
Sweet Potatoes and Radishes
Sweet potatoes are high in starch and calories, so you can definitely feed your horse sweet potatoes as they will provide instant energy. Sweet potatoes are also highly digestible and have less sugar content compared to carrots. However, the high calories make it unfavorable for frequent doses.
Radishes, on the other hand, can be used to add some variety to the diet of your horse. They are healthy and horses usually seem to really enjoy them. They are rich in minerals as well as vitamins. However, they too, need to be given in moderate doses because of the same digestive issues.
There are some foods that horses can eat but they shouldn’t! Cruciferous vegetables fall under that category. Horses have an extremely sensitive digestive system which is not suitable for cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables produce excessive gas in the intestine and can cause severe discomfort in horses.
Can peas be fed to horses?
Peas are a bit critical. Some peas can be toxic for horses like Indian peas. However, green peas or split peas are perfectly fine for horses. In fact, they are extremely rich in protein and vines.
Not only can you feed peas to horses, but they are actually really beneficial for them because they are an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin D, and B-6. They also contain calcium, magnesium, and iron in abundance.
Other vegetables like green beans are also good for horses. However, you need to be cautious that the beans are pesticides free, otherwise, they can be harmful and toxic for your horses.
Pumpkin is another vegetable that is suitable for horses. They can be comfortably consumed by horses including seeds and flesh. In fact, horses love pumpkins. They belong to the squash family along with zucchini. However, many horses are not as thrilled about zucchini as they are about pumpkins.
Pumpkins are beneficial to horses in several ways. The high fiber content contributes to clear digestion. There is Vitamin A which promotes good eyesight, strengthens bones, and helps in reproduction. It also improves cell health while, on the other hand, Vitamin E helps horses build and gain strong muscles.
The plenty of minerals present in pumpkins help the horse’s body parts to function optimally. In addition, the large water content keeps your horse adequately hydrated and cheered up.
When it comes to feeding your horse Brussels sprouts, it’s natural to wonder if they are safe. The good news is that Brussels sprouts are safe for horses to eat in moderation. These cruciferous vegetables are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals that can benefit your horse’s overall health.
However, it’s essential to make sure that the Brussels sprouts are fresh, pesticide-free, and thoroughly washed before feeding them to your horse. As with any new food, introduce Brussels sprouts slowly and monitor your horse’s reaction to avoid any adverse effects.
Advantages and disadvantages of the various veggies
|Type of vegetable
|High in water content
|Low in fiber
|Can cause intestinal gas if taken in high amounts
|Swiss Chard and
|– Good for digestion
– Have plenty of minerals and vitamins
|High in oxalates
|– Low in cholesterol and fat
– High in vitamins
|Does not provide enough energy
|– Provides instant energy
– Easily digestible
|High in calories
|Rich in Vitamins and minerals
|– High sugar content
– May lead to digestive upsets
|– Toxic for horses
– Can lead to severe health hazards, even death
|Rich in vitamins and minerals
|No serious disadvantage
|– Good for digestion
– Full of vitamins and minerals
– Keeps hydrated
|No serious disadvantage
How to feed vegetables to horses?
Before you feed your horse their treats, you need to make sure that the food is clean and washed. Feeding unwashed vegetables can be unhygienic for your beloved pal.
You also need to ensure that the vegetables are cleared of pesticides and other chemicals before you offer them to your horse. Another thing to remember is that you need to chop the food into small chunks so that your horse does not choke on it. This is an extremely important caution for horse owners.
Not going overboard with food is a major concern to deal with. It is not healthy for your horse to overeat. So plan out the diet carefully and make sure that the horse gets all the nutrition. Occasional extra treats are fine, but moderation is necessary.
How to know good vegetables for your horse?
It is likely that you do not have too much knowledge of this. But, mind it that giving the wrong vegetables to your horse can even kill it.
Therefore, before you decide to feed your horse anything, it is advisable to take suggestions from an expert or a vet. They will know what is best for your horse.
Can horses eat radishes?
Yes, horses can safely eat radishes. Radishes are a nutritious and healthy treat for horses, providing essential vitamins and minerals. However, it’s important to introduce radishes gradually into their diet to avoid any digestive upset. Always consult with a veterinarian before making any significant changes to your horse’s diet.
Why do horses need vegetables in their diet?
Horses are herbivores which means they only eat plants. Vegetables fall in that category and they are healthy for horses. That is why a large portion of a horse’s diet consists of different vegetables.
Can horses eat all types of vegetables?
No! They certainly cannot. Specific vegetables from the brassica family, also called cruciferous vegetables, are toxic for horses because they produce too much intestinal gas which can be extremely harmful to horses.
Can horses eat cooked vegetables?
Yes. Cooked food can be fed to horses. However, it is better to feed your horse natural substances that are free of preservatives and unwanted substances.
How much should I feed my horse?
Horses will eat anything you give them. Their bodily functions allow them to eat continually but in small portions. It is, however, not healthy to keep feeding your horse too frequently. You should make a proper diet with meals and snacks, and occasional special treats.
In conclusion, vegetables are a great part of a horse’s diet but knowing which veggies to feed a horse is important if you don’t want to risk the health, or sometimes the life of your horse.
Horses have sensitive digestive systems and not everything suits them, for example, cruciferous vegetables. So, ensure to take suggestions from experts to come up with meaningful and beneficial diet charts for horses.
Zunnun AhmedWe are a group of horse enthusiasts. We want to provide information and tips to help others learn more about horses, how to care for them, and how to enjoy them.
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