You have probably wondered whether a horse can eat meat. Horses are big and strong animals, after all, and it would seem natural for them to gain strength from a juicy piece of meat.
Do Horses Ever Eat Meat?
Horses are herbivores which means they eat plants and hay. Only in Iceland will people feed horses dried fish to give them more proteins. The digestive system of horses is geared toward eating plans and hay and should not have to process meat.
Why Do Horses Not Eat Meat?
It may seem strange that such a big and strong animal as a horse can live on plants in hay alone. After all, they are often working hard all day and we tend to think that such labor requires meat in order to develop the muscles and sustain the animal.
But that’s simply not the case.
You can say that horses are vegetarians.
They eat what is categorized as “primary producers”. Primary producers are organisms that are turning the heat from the sun into energy through photosynthesis. This is a constant and ongoing process in plants such as grass and flowers.
Horses prefer to eat hay and they will also eventually eat grass and other green plants. Horses have flat teeth that are perfectly made for chewing plants and grass.
That doesn’t mean that your horse will never eat anything that’s animal-based.
The digestion system of the horse works well with food that’s high on fiber and not high on proteins. They have small stomachs and they cannot store big loads of food in them. So they have to eat often and in smaller portions.
Once in a while, your horse will need some sort of supplements that are based on proteins or other animal-based food. You will also find that the foal will drink milk from the mother which is full of proteins. It’s important for the small horse to get the rich proteins from the mother’s milk in order to develop strong and healthy bones.
What if my horse likes meat?
You might find that a horse likes the smell and taste meet. But that doesn’t mean that you should feed it meat. It’s simply not good for their digestive systems. They have been bred and formed by nature to have a digestion system that is based on eating plans and hay.
Horses will often like the smell of human food. Also when it contains meat. This is because we eat food that is processed and flavored and the horse like the smell of it just like you and I.
But is typically the flavor and sauce around the meet they are attracted to. Just like a horse would love a bite of your hotdog. It does taste good because we add a lot of extra taste and flavor to the product.
So the next time you will wonder if you should let your horse taste your leftovers, you will need to get rid of the meat first. Feed that to the dog instead. It will love a nice piece of meat and it has the teeth and the stomach to process meat.
The teeth of horses are made for plants
Animals who eat meat have sharper teeth in order to chew and bite the meat.
The teeth of the horse are not sharp and they wouldn’t do much good against a tough piece of meat.
Here you can see a set of horse teeth compared to the sharper set of teeth from Lion’s mouth. As you can see, the teeth are completely flat when you compare them to the long sharp teeth of the Lion.
They are made for chewing plans and they will do no good against a solid piece of meat!
This is also why you should never feed your horse a slice of meat. It doesn’t have the sharp teeth to eat it and it will not be able to turn the meat into little pieces.
What Would Happen If A Horse Ate Meat?
Probably nothing. The parts of the meat that can’t be processed by the digestive system will just be processed out of the body. A horse can eat smaller rodents and birds and they will typically not try to eat bigger slices of meat.
If your horse has grabbed a piece off your hotdog or another tiny piece of meat, it’s normally no trouble at all.
It’s a big animal and a little piece of meat should do no harm. But that doesn’t mean that you should let it taste it on purpose. You should keep the meat away from the horse because it might not be aware that it’s not good for it. Horses are intelligent creatures and they are curious. It might want to eat it even though it cannot digest it.
It might like it at first because most of the food we eat is pretty salty. So it tastes good in the mouth of the horse but it’s not meant for it. Processed food is not the best option for either the horse or other animals.
You just need to watch the animal carefully if you suspect that your horse has been eating a lot of meat you probably need to take it to the vet.
You will need a professional opinion if you suspect that your horse has become sick or in other ways is affected by eating meat.
It’s simply always better to be safe than sorry, especially with a large animal such as a horse.
Do WILD Horses Eat Meat?
Wild horses, on the other hand, have often been observed to eat other smaller animals. But they probably do so in order to survive. It’s not that easy to always find fresh food when you are living in the wild.
Just like other wild herbivores, such as deers, a wild horse will eventually eat smaller pieces of meat. It could be rodents or birds.
No harm is done from a horse eating a little mouse or another tiny animal. It might catch that little fella for sport and it might also eat it occasionally
But you will never see a wild pack of horses eating a bigger dead animal. They are not predators such as big cats like tigers and jaguars. They roam together because they are flock animals and because there are some benefits from doing so when it comes to survival. Even though it could seem otherwise.
But wild horses can show omnivory behavior once in a while.
We have also found stories about Bedouins feeding their horses meat whenever there was no green grass to be found. They would typically keep dry camel meat and feed it to the horse along with other things such as honey.
Wild horses live in flocks but not in order to hunt other animals. They do so in order to survive the attack of other predators. Because as you might know, horses do have natural enemies such as bears, alligators, big cats, etc.
We also find several occurrences of wild animals attacking horses here in the US. It’s actually not as uncommon as you would think.
Here’s everything you should know about how to keep your horse safe from predatory animals.
So What Do Horses Eat?
Horses eat a majority of hay. They prefer grass and that’s also what they eat in the wild. They will also eat stuff like carrots and fruits. It’s important for a horse to get a good and diverse diet.
If you want to give your horse a treat here’s a few options you can try:
- Sweet potatoes
As you can see all these things are primarily fruits and vegetables. These are all good things for your horse and it will love you for it.
It’s also a good way to get a horse to like you. Let’s say you want to approach a wild horse. One of the best ways is to bring an apple and to come at it from an angle at the front.
It’s actually quite interesting how you approach a wild horse. The initial bond is formed quickly. You can read a lot more here about how wild horses can be approached, tamed, and trained.