Healthy or dangerous: Are horses allowed to eat blueberries?
Blueberries are delicious and healthy – at least that’s true for humans. But does it also apply to horses?
A high content of vitamins, minerals, trace elements, anthocyanins and low calories suggest that your animal can also benefit from the berry fruit.
Whether this is the case and what alternatives there are to blueberries, we show you in the following guide.
In this article you will learn whether horses can eat blueberries and if so, in what form. We also offer you further possibilities to enrich the diet of your animal and to make the menu varied.
Are horses allowed to eat blueberries?
Yes, if you consider a few factors, horses can eat blueberries. They contain plenty of healthy micronutrients and are low in calories.
However, fruit is generally a food that should only be included in your horse’s diet in very small amounts.
This is because compared to grass and hay, the sugar and water content are high. The digestion of the animals is not designed for this.
Nevertheless, berries are comparatively healthy. You can find out why in the following sections.
Nutrients in blueberries
Blueberries or bilberries are more than just delicious. They also contain:
Minerals and trace elements
Vitamins in blueberries
Blueberries contain, among others:
Vitamin B1, B2, B4
They are important for cell protection, as vitamin C and vitamin E act as antioxidants, mitigating the harmful effects of free radicals.
The micronutrients also play a crucial role in the immune system, metabolism, skin, coat and performance.
Beta-carotene is a precursor of vitamin A and thus also belongs to the antioxidants. In addition, it is important for vision.
Minerals and trace elements in blueberries
The minerals and trace elements in blueberries are:
They are important for the metabolism, the health of the bones and teeth as well as the nerves and muscles.
Horses need feed rich in minerals, as they also have a high consumption, especially during greater stress.
What effect do anthocyanins have?
Anthocyanins are secondary plant substances and are responsible for the intense coloration of blueberries.
In addition, they act as antioxidants and thus protect cells, just like the aforementioned vitamins.
They have a positive effect on fat metabolism and thus also protect the blood vessels.
Tannins in blueberries
Tannins have an astringent effect and therefore have a slight anti-inflammatory effect. They are beneficial for digestion and can even be soothing and supportive in case of diarrhea.
However, this is only true if you use dried blueberries or tea made from them. The fresh berries, on the other hand, can have a mild laxative effect.
Dietary fiber in blueberries
For every 100 grams of fresh blueberries, there are about 4.9 grams of dietary fiber. This is significantly less than in roughage and grass, but a good value for fruit.
Dietary fiber is important for healthy digestion. They contribute to a good consistency of the manure and can have a positive effect on the intestinal flora.
Are there any dangers for horses when feeding blueberries?
In too large quantities they can have a laxative effect and produce diarrhea. In addition, they contain salicylic acid.
This substance has a blood-thinning effect. For both humans and animals, it can cause rashes, headaches and symptoms of poisoning in larger quantities.
Therefore, always offer your horse only very small portions.
How can I feed my horse blueberries?
Feeding fresh berries is possible as well as dried fruits. In addition, you can also offer your horse blueberry tea if he suffers from diarrhea.
You can feed the berries directly from your hand or give them together with other fresh feed. Make sure that the fruits are not left too long.
Because then they can rot or mold. This creates dangerous substances that are detrimental to your horse’s health.
In addition, insects can be attracted. So avoid feeding overripe fruits and wash them thoroughly beforehand.
In what quantities can horses eat blueberries?
Occasionally feeding 200 to 500 grams of blueberries or bilberries is safe as long as your horse is accustomed to the fruit.
Offer smaller amounts at first. A handful is perfectly sufficient at first. If the fruit is well tolerated, you can gradually increase the size of the portions.
Even at 500 grams, however, blueberries make only a very small contribution to an adequate supply of vitamins and minerals.
They are therefore in each case only a supplement and suitable as a tasty variety.
What alternatives are there to blueberries for horses?
If you want to use the berries as a reward, occupation or for variety, you have numerous alternative options for doing so.
Leaves and twigs of fruit and nut trees
You can even combat boredom in your horse through these foods.
With food toys, suspended food or treats hidden in the hay, it is ensured that the search and eating take more time and are more strenuous.
This makes for a better workload and can prevent frustration and resulting problems, especially when boxed.
However, since you can only feed small portions of blueberries, variety is a good idea, especially when it comes to occupation.
Conclusion: Horses and blueberries
As long as you don’t feed large amounts of blueberries, they can be a good addition to the normal feed.
To stimulate appetite, you can crush them and add them to mesh, hay or other means.
Whether fresh or dried, the fruit is a popular and healthy snack for horses.
My name is Mark and the senior editor
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