It is impossible to imagine human cuisine without potatoes and they are the basis of many delicious dishes.
But what about horses?
In this article we tell you whether horses are allowed to eat potatoes and what you have to watch out for!
Are horses allowed to eat potatoes?
No, horses are not allowed to eat potatoes – neither in raw, nor in boiled or fried form.
Potatoes belong to the nightshade family, which are highly toxic to horses. This applies both to the potato itself, but also to its leaves.
Often one reads on the Internet that potatoes are fed to horses in order to boost them – this is strongly discouraged! Most horses instinctively feel that potatoes are not good food and therefore do not eat them at all.
In this article you will learn everything about potatoes and horses.
In addition, we offer you some alternatives that are healthy for your horse and with which you can feed an underweight, old or sick horse.
No matter which alternative you choose in the end: Stay away from potatoes, peppers and other nightshade crops!
Why are potatoes bad for horses?
Potatoes have a high solanine content. Solanine is extremely toxic to all farm animals and causes sometimes severe gastrointestinal distress.
It is very likely that nothing will happen if your horse bites into a potato once in its life or eats two or three potatoes completely. But you should never specifically include potatoes – or any other nightshade vegetable – in your horse’s diet.
While there are always animals that are not harmed by feeding potatoes, it is not recommended to test it out.
There are no health benefits from feeding potatoes even if your horse does not get gastrointestinal problems from the feed.
By the way, another consequence of feeding potatoes can be the decay of red blood cells and a resulting anemia!
The anemia does not show up immediately, so you may not realize that your horse is sick until some time later, and you may not associate this circumstance with the potatoes at all.
Therefore, it makes sense in any case, if you reach for an alternative that really tastes good to your horse, brings many different benefits with it and above all is also very healthy. We will now present you with a few example alternatives in the next section.
What are the healthy alternatives to potatoes?
You now know that you should not feed the potato itself, nor the leaves of it to your horse – this is especially true if the potato is already starting to sprout!
If you have a horse right now that you desperately need to feed, here are five delicious and healthy alternatives that will do your horse good.
All these snacks can be integrated into the daily diet and fed over a longer period of time.
If you have further questions about a single alternative or if you have the feeling that your horse is allergic to it – which of course can always happen – then contact your treating veterinarian, because he knows both you and your horse best.
Now let’s start with our list:
- hay cobs
Hay cobs are very popular with horses and are ideal for animals that are fussy or have dental problems that make them unable to eat their normal hay.
If you feed hay cobs daily, your horse will be able to gain weight again within a few weeks.
However, make sure that you give enough water to the hay cobs, because otherwise colic can quickly occur! As a general rule, two or three liters of water per kg of hay cobs is the perfect mixture.
Let the hay cobs steep in the water for about 20 – 30 minutes before feeding them.
If your horse suffers from diarrhea or other digestive problems, mash is a good choice as a supplementary feed.
As with hay cobs, mash should never be fed dry, but always mixed with water. If you have a horse that is prone to laminitis, the mash should definitely also be sugar and grain free. Because of its consistency, horses with dental problems can also be fed mash without any problems.
However, mash should not be fed over a long period of time. It is better to do several cures of several weeks with your horse.
- brewer’s yeast
Brewer’s yeast should never be fed alone, but always mixed in with the main feed.
Brewer’s yeast itself has little positive effect on your horse, however, most horses like it so much that they will eat the rest of their feed much easier if you have brewer’s yeast mixed in. Brewer’s yeast has various B vitamins, amino acids, many different trace elements as well as minerals.
Thus, in some cases, it can even alleviate mild digestive problems and thus actively contribute to the health of your four-legged friend.
Oatmeal is very healthy for horses, it provides energy, stimulates salivation and, compared to oats in its original form, can be eaten even by horses with dental problems.
You don’t have to be afraid that feeding oats or oatmeal will make your horse ‘spidery’ in the head, because this is a common misconception.
A horse that gets enough exercise and is kept busy both physically and mentally will benefit from feeding oatmeal – without any undesirable side effects!
- sunflower oil
Oil is known to contain many calories and vegetable oil is very digestible for horses. Ideally, you should add 1 ml of oil per kg of body weight to your horse’s feed every day to feed your horse and give him more energy.
A 500 kg horse may therefore consume up to 500 ml of oil per day.
In case of doubt, however, you should rather feed a little less oil, otherwise diarrhea may occur.
Especially for sensitive horses, it makes sense to accustom the animal slowly to the feed by starting with small amounts and increasing them a little every day.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
I take great pride in being the best possible author and giving you the knowledge that i have on all different types of animals!
I have spent a lifetime learning about pets and animals, and have worked in the pet and vet industry for over 20 years now!
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