Well-dried bread is gladly fed to horses by some. Others strongly advise against it, as it is considered a fattener and can also cause digestive problems.
It is true that bread has a very high energy content and consists largely of starch. Wheat bread contains about 49 grams of carbohydrates per 100 grams.
But does this make it directly unsuitable for horses? We will give you the answer here.
In this article you will learn if and how your horse can eat bread. We will also show you the dangers and advantages of feeding bread. Quantity, preparation and alternatives we also give you on the way.
Can horses eat bread?
Yes, as long as you consider a few points.
Health condition of the horse
Body weight and energy requirements
As a concentrated feed, small reward or for luring, a small amount can be quite useful. In phases of increased energy demand, bread feeding is even recommended.
However, this only applies if the horse does not suffer from EMS or overweight.
What else you need to pay attention to, you will learn in the following sections.
Why can bread be healthy?
Dried bread has two important advantages.
First, it is a very clean food because contaminants are removed through multiple grinding processes.
Unlike grain, it keeps longer and is better for horses with allergies or animals sensitive to liver.
On the other hand, the starch is already better broken down through preparation and cooking, making bread easily digestible and an optimal energy source.
This makes it ideal whenever your horse has a high calorie consumption or is too thin.
Typical reasons for this are
very low temperatures
underweight due to diseases
Bread is then suitable as a concentrated feed, which is also very popular with horses.
What are the dangers of feeding bread?
In addition to a lot of starch, which is partially converted into sugar during chewing, bread also contains a lot of salt.
The amount must therefore be kept low so as not to risk too great an intake.
This applies to both the sugar and the salt. The sugar can lead to fermentation in the intestines, upsetting the intestinal flora.
As a result, digestion is disturbed. Colic is a possible consequence of this. Since these can become dangerous, small portions spread throughout the day are important.
As soon as discomfort occurs, you should stop feeding.
The salt content can throw the electrolyte balance out of balance. This affects health and well-being.
Another danger is if the bread is not dried properly and becomes moldy or if you offer too large pieces.
Mold has a negative effect on the stomach and intestines and can cause significant problems.
Too large pieces eaten hastily can lead to dangerous constipation of the gullet.
How can you feed bread?
The best way to dry it is to cut it into thin slices or small pieces. This way it dries better, more evenly and faster.
In addition, the risk of mold is reduced and the risk of pharyngeal blockage is decreased.
Bread prepared in this way can be added to concentrate, fed directly from the hand, or used to keep your dog occupied during foraging games.
Hiding it in hay, putting it in a feed ball, placing it under cloths or wrapping it in a rug will prevent boredom.
How much bread can a horse eat?
Up to one kilogram of bread per day per horse is possible. It is best to spread this amount over two meals.
In the case of very thin or heavily worked animals, you can double the portions.
However, this assumes that your horse tolerates bread well.
When should you not feed bread?
You can give a handful of bread cubes or one to two thin slices of bread as a treat to almost any horse – as long as it is infrequent and makes a special change.
Bread feeding is generally not advised if your horse:
suffers from EMS
already has digestive problems
it is suffering from laminitis
Laminitis is another risk of feeding bread, or too much of it.
What are the alternatives to bread?
If you want to offer bread as a variety, reward, lure or occupation, you have many different options.
- Leaves and branches of fruit and nut trees
- Cabbage leaves
- Sugar beet
If, on the other hand, the goal is to increase caloric intake, corn and rice are good choices, along with ready-made concentrates.
In general, you should pay attention to small portions and tolerance with these foods. This is because they are not part of the horses’ natural diet, or only in very small quantities.
Horses and bread
Bread is not generally bad for horses, but only belongs to the healthy or sensible snacks under certain conditions.
Whether you use it specifically to provide more calories or as a treat, horses generally like bread and accept it well.
As a result, you can even use it to increase appetite.
Cleanliness, freedom from mold and small pieces are critical when feeding. The same goes for small portion sizes.
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