When we look at our horse’s feed intake in general we could consider their diet to be pretty boring in comparison to some other types of diets. It is true to say that your horse’s diet is likely to be mostly made of up roughage such as hay with sometimes such concentrated feed such as grains and peas.
As owners, we are always looking at ways of trying to mix up our horse’s diet which can have its pros and cons. There is no harm in feeding your horse the occasional treat however this must always be in moderation. One of the questions we got asked more recently was whether it was ok to feed a horse raspberries. This is question is slightly out of the norm so we felt compelled to dig into this subject a little bit deeper.
So, can horses eat raspberries? Yes, it’s perfectly ok for horses to eat raspberries in moderation, however, these must be considered a treat, and overfeeding is discouraged. Your horse’s diet should consist of mostly roughage such as hay and there is a risk of colic if you feed your horse too much fruit such as raspberries.
Fruits, in general, are not considered necessarily part of a horse’s main diet and you will find many fit and healthy horses have never eaten a raspberry in their life. I wouldn’t consider them to be particularly missing out on anything however sometimes it is nice for us to be able to provide our trusty steed with the odd treat or two.
Let’s delve a little bit deeper into this topic to see how viable feeding your horse’s raspberries really is.
How many raspberries are safe for horses to eat?
Raspberries are safe for horses to eat as long as they are only fed in moderation. These should be regarded as the occasional treat and nothing more. They are not considered a vital part of your horse’s diet and therefore they will not be missing out on an awful lot if you choose to not feed these to your horse.
A small handful of raspberries as an occasional treat should be more than enough to satisfy your horse. A handful is just the right amount for your horse to be able to appreciate the treat without the risk of overfeeding them.
How often should I allow my horse to eat raspberries?
We would not recommend you feed your horse raspberries every day and this is certainly not foodstuff that should be fed as part of the horse’s main meal.
Raspberries, in the same way as other types of fruits, are most definitely a treat for horses. They have extremely delicate bellies that need a lot of roughage in their diets to survive.
Raspberries as well as other types of fruits can very acidic and a whole belly full of raspberries in your horse’s gut will not bode way. By overfeeding fruits such as raspberries you are putting your horse at risk of colic.
We recommend only feeding your horse a handful of raspberries once per week.
Other treats you are providing such as specialist horse teats and other types of fruits also need to be factored into the equation. For instance, if you have already feed your horse a handful of horse treats, and two apples already that week then you may want to reconsider also feeding them a hand full of raspberries.
Is it ok for my horse to have raspberries as their main meal?
No, it is absolutely not ok to feed your horse raspberries as their main meal. This will cause more harm than good. Where your horse might think a bucket full of raspberries is the best thing since sliced bread their gut and intestines will certainly not!
Horses have a very delicate digestive system and for this reason, food intake needs to be monitored very carefully. Their diet should consist of mostly roughage which is likely to present itself in the form of hay or alfalfa.
Many owners also choose to feed their horse a concentrated feed in addition to roughage. This will usually depend on the type of work the horse carries out and if they are receiving all the energy they need from their diet of hay.
As an example, if you were to feed your horse a bucket of raspberries one day instead of their usual roughage and concentration diet their system will likely reject this.
Once the raspberries have passed through the esophagus and work their way through the digestive tract into the gut, your horse will likely experience a painful bellyache.
This is usually when complications occur. Colic is very common in horses and can be life-threatening. Feeding raspberries and other fruits in too large quantities are just not worth the risk or particularly necessary.
What are the benefits of feeding your horse raspberries?
Feeding raspberries to your horse in small quantities can still have its benefits. As long as you keep portions small and do not feed too often, raspberries can be very advantageous. They contain powerful antioxidants known as epicatechins and anthocyanidins.
You will often find a variety of horse supplements that include antioxidants as an ingredient usually quite high up on the list.
Antioxidants include Vitamins E, C, and A to name, but a few. Horses are very good at producing these vitamins however are not so good at absorbing them and therefore deficiencies are common.
These vitamins can be particularly helpful for performance horses or those in hard fast work to increase exercise results. Horses that are prone to laminitis and illness also require antioxidants to help them in the recovery stages.
What other fruits can horses eat?
There are many types of fruits that are ok for horses to eat. As long as they are only fed these as treats and not as their regular meal there does not appear to be any research to suggest horses are at risk by eating these types of foods.
Most vegetables are also ok for horses to eat and they seem to like these as much as eating fruit. Let’s take a look at some fruits and vegetables you may want to consider feeding your horse as a treat:
|Apples (see notes below)||Swede|
|Apricots (see notes below)||Beetroot|
|Peaches (see notes below)||Pumpkin|
|Plum (see below)||Collard Greens|
What fruits and vegetables should horses avoid?
Nearly all fruits are safe for horses to eat. The main concern is how you feed these to your horse. Pitted fruits can be particularly troublesome for horses are known to be a choking hazard. When feeding these types of fruit to your horse always ensure you remove the pit first.
In an ideal world, you should cut up fruit as small as you can before offering it to your horse. This will eliminate the possibility of them choking.
Vegetables are also generally quite safe for your horse and should be cut up as small as possible. With long vegetables such as carrots always ensure you slice them lengthways rather than slicing them into round pieces as this can also be a choking hazard for horses.
Aside from those mentioned above, there are some other fruits and vegetables that you should 100% NOT feed to your horse under any circumstances. Particularly those from the nightshade family. Always avoid feeding your horse the following:
- Regular Potatoes
- Brussel Sprouts
- Anything from the nightshade family
What types of feed should horses eat?
The main part of a horse’s feed should consist of roughage. This should make up 70% + of their diet. When we talk about roughage for a horse we are referring to foods such as hay, alfalfa, haylage, grass, and sugar beet.
These are usually fed to your horse twice a day, but this can vary from horse to horse and depends on how much turn-out time they receive throughout the day (to be able to graze on grass).
You will often find that some owners will feed their horses a concentration feed in addition to roughage. This usually will depend on a few deciding factors. A key one being the type of work their horse carries and whether they are receiving the right amount of energy from roughage alone.
There are many types of commercial concentrated horse feeds available to buy whether you are looking for a feed to provide energy, senior mixes for older horses, or a more standardized mix for everyday care and exercise. There is something out there suitable for every equine’s needs.
These are the main types of feeds you should provide your horse daily. There are however many types of other feeds that can be fed to your horse as a treat such as fruits, vegetables, commercial horse treats, sugar cubes, and peppermints to name but a few.
As a reminder again, these treats and should only be fed on the odd occasion in small quantities. If you provide these foods as a main meal your horse will likely become very ill and you should expect a very big vet bill on your hands plus the possible risk of losing your horse to colic.
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