As horse owners, we get a real satisfaction from feeding our beloved horses all kinds of crunchy fruits and vegetables, but sometimes we could be offering them the kind of vegetables that could be bad for them.
So, what about that green veg we hated as kids? Can horses eat broccoli?
Yes! Horses can eat broccoli. This vegetable is an excellent source of vitamins and minerals and a healthy treat that your horse will enjoy. However, you must be careful when feeding your horse broccoli in large amounts, as it can easily upset their digestive system and be harmful. Only ever feed your horse broccoli as a very occasional treat.
Broccoli is good for horses for the same reason it’s good for humans: broccoli is packed with vitamins, particularly vitamins C and A. It contains iron, calcium, zinc, and other minerals that both humans and animals need to stay healthy.
Iron is vital for keeping red blood cells packed with the oxygen that gets carried around your horse’s body. Calcium is important for the skeleton and is recommended for horses who suffer from lameness. Zinc helps horses digest and metabolize the carbs and proteins they get from their food, and there are a wealth of other minerals to be found in broccoli that your horse can benefit from.
It’s true that broccoli, while beneficial in small doses, can very quickly become harmful to your horse. It’s not that it contains any one ingredient that will make the horse sick, but the way it’s digested in your horse’s stomach can cause gas-related colic, or abdominal pain, which can be deadly.
We know from personal experience that certain vegetables can give us a bit of gas after we eat them, but for horses, this gas can quickly build up inside the digestive system without being excreted. When this happens, the horse risks a torsion or twisted bowel, and the bowel can even rupture.
If that sounds serious, it’s because it is! Horses are very badly affected by colic in ways that other animals aren’t. And some vegetables put them at greater risk than others.
Is Broccoli Good For Horses?
We’ve established that because of its health benefits, broccoli can absolutely be good for horses. But it must be given a small amount at a time, and not given to them every day. Broccoli should never replace a horse’s diet.
Is Broccoli Safe For Horses To Eat?
Broccoli is safe for horses to eat in that it won’t cause them any immediate damage, and it won’t make them sick if they accidentally eat a floret or two of broccoli among other vegetables.
However, broccoli belongs to a group of foods called cruciferous vegetables. In this group, there are other vegetables including collard greens, cabbage, and brussels sprouts. You may be tempted to feed your horse plenty of these vegetables because of their known health benefits and the fact that they’re packed with nutrients, but you should always exercise caution with this food group when it comes to your horse.
Cruciferous vegetables are fine as a very occasional treat, but they create gas in the stomach. All foods produce intestinal gas as they digest in our stomachs but these vegetables are renowned for creating more than others. And too much gas can cause many painful problems for your horse. We don’t want to put too fine a point on it: too much broccoli and other such vegetables can even be fatal.
Is Broccoli Toxic To Horses?
No, broccoli isn’t toxic to horses. A toxic food or plant would be one that would poison a horse, and you would know never to feed that particular food. Toxic plants would include poisonous mushrooms, nightshade, or hemlock.
Broccoli doesn’t fit into the toxic category but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t exercise caution. As discussed, while broccoli is safe for horses to eat, it should only be served a small amount at a time, and as a treat.
There are many foods that are bad for us as humans. Perhaps they’re high in sugar or fats, so we only choose to eat them on special occasions, or only once a week. Broccoli should be thought of in a similar way when it comes to horses. They often enjoy it, it’s good for them in small amounts, and it’s a tasty treat for every once in a while.
Do Horses Like Broccoli?
To some horses broccoli is the greatest thing on the planet, and to others, they’d be perfectly happy if they never ate it again!
No two horses are the same, and in the way that humans have different tastes and palates when it comes to their food, horses too can vary in their dietary preferences. Most horses will happily munch on broccoli and even look for more because there’s a powerful, delicious taste to the vegetable that surely makes a welcome change from their regular diet of grass, hay, and oats.
Broccoli also has a very pleasing crunch, and a horse will make light work of a floret or two. But the only way for you to know for sure with your own horse is to try it out! Next time you have broccoli in the house, pocket a little for your horse and take it to them. Maybe it’ll be practically inhaled from your hand, or maybe your horse will take a sniff and decide it’s not for them.
Will Horses Eat Broccoli?
Horses love all kinds of fruits and vegetables and there’s no reason that broccoli should be any different. The unique taste and the satisfying texture of broccoli mean that it makes for a very welcome treat. You’re likely to find that the biggest problem on your hands isn’t getting your horse to eat broccoli but getting it to stop! That’s why it’s up to you to control the portions.
But, as we’ve said, all horses are different so don’t be worried if your own horse turns their nose up at it. Perhaps they’d prefer a carrot instead.
How Much Broccoli Can Horses Eat A Day?
Your horse should only eat around 4 ounces of broccoli a day, and even then, it shouldn’t be given every day, and instead only once or twice per week.
If you’re wondering what 4 ounces looks like, then it works out to roughly one and a half cups. That’s not a lot at all! Broccoli should be seen as a treat in the same way you’d see peanut butter or a sugar cube. It’s an occasional reward or nibble but it’s not healthy for your horse to have any more than recommended.
Of course, broccoli doesn’t contain sugar or fats like sugar and peanut butter do, but still, it can have an adverse effect on your animal if they have too much.
And don’t forget that if they show signs of gastrointestinal discomfort after just this small amount of broccoli, then never feed it to them again, as they’re clearly insensitive to it.
Can A Horse Eat Too Much Broccoli?
Absolutely! And it takes much less than you might think. The next time you have some broccoli, measure out 4 ounces and you’ll see that a horse should only eat a small amount of broccoli at a time.
As your horse’s owner, you’re the one with the responsibility of feeding the correct foods to your horse, and in the correct amounts. When we love our animals, we might see them enjoying a treat so much we want to give them a little more, but it really isn’t worth the risk so be sure to be strict with the broccoli portions!
How To Give A Horse Broccoli
You should never feed your horse cooked broccoli. For a start, there’s nothing satisfying about soft broccoli for a horse, and they’ll probably look at you in disgust. Broccoli should always be fed to your horse raw, and crunchy.
This also ensures that the vegetable retains all its nutrients. Boiling vegetables might make them more palatable for humans, but it causes much of their vitamin content to leech out into the water.
Instead, get some fresh, mold-free florets and wash them under the faucet to remove any bugs or pesticides. Then, an open hand in which sits some delicious broccoli is sure to have your horse come running.
Many horses love broccoli and will greatly enjoy this treat, which is also highly nutritious and good for them.
But, as we’ve discussed, broccoli should only be fed to your horse in small portions, and only once or twice a week. Any more than that and it can upset their sensitive stomachs.
If you’re looking for another source of vitamins and minerals without the risk of intestinal gas that cruciferous vegetables have, try feeding your horse cucumber instead. You may know that it’s especially good that horses eat cucumbers in the summer as they provide extra hydration in the heat. But this crunchy, delicious vegetable is also much easier for horses to stomach.
As always, clean all vegetables thoroughly so that there’s no risk of them ingesting chemicals or pesticides, and chop them up into manageable chunks.
- Can horses eat asparagus?
- Can horses eat carrots?
- Can horses eat celery?
- Can horses eat cucumbers?
- Can horses eat lettuce?
- Can horses eat sweet potatoes?
- What do horses eat?