There are many specialized horse foods available in the market for horses. But most people often choose bread to feed their horses. But, can horses eat bread?
It is crucial to know whether bread is good or bad to include in a horse diet. Horse caretakers are curious to know whether including a bread diet in the horse meal is good or dangerous for their horses. There are many research studies done on exploring this matter. Scientific evidence showed that feeding bread to horses can positively and negatively affect the horses’ health.
Therefore, let us explore some more facts on the pros and cons of including bread-diet in a horse meal.
Can bread kill a horse?- Can horses eat bread?
Some people believe that feeding horses with bread can kill a horse. Bread ingredients include yeast, wheat flour, salt, and water. Therefore, the bread itself does not contain any toxic things that can cause to kill a horse. According to many research findings, bread appears to be harmless for horses. More than that, bread is also identified as a food item with a less nutritional value. Even though research findings explain bread is harmless, it might cause to block intestinal tracts of horses. The main reason for this can be present as the doughy wad used to make baked food items.
In 2016, P.A. Harris and seven other researchers had conducted a research study focusing on feeding conserved forage to horses. The study showed that a forage-based diet might adversely affect a horse’s health and performance. If you wish to explore this research, you can read more.
More than that, scientific evidence proved that bread is not a toxic food item for horses. However, bread can indirectly cause many adverse effects on the healthiness of your horse.
This digestive issue related to horses is known as equine metabolic syndrome. Laminitis is a deadly condition for horses. Laminitis occurs as a result of overeating/ obesity of the horses. Research evidence shows that horses who regularly consume bread are at high risk of developing the metabolic disorder.
Insulin dysregulation is one of the most common serious health issues identified among horses that could lead to death.
Why is bread bad for horses?
Horses have a very fragile digestive system. If horse owners feed their horses less nutritional, unhealthy food, horses might get sick or injured.
Can horses eat bread?
As mentioned earlier, consuming small amounts of bread is not toxic for horses. But bread is not considered a very nutritious food.
If you choose bread to feed your horse regularly, it can cause many nutrition problems for horses. Wheat lacked zinc, copper, selenium, and vitamins A, D & E. These all nutritious portions are essential for the horse’s fitness. Further explaining, wheat also lacks calcium, but it adds more phosphorus to a horse’s diet. As a result, calcium deficiency can occur as there are no sufficient calcium levels in the horse’s body. Calcium deficiency is a primary reason why bread is bad for horses. Because of the lack of calcium amounts, the horse’s body absorbs the necessary calcium amounts from its bones. It directly influences the weakening of the bones and strength of the horse. Therefore, bread fails to supply the essential nutrition balance of the diet for horses.
More than that, fewer amounts of calcium could cause more severe health issues for horses. ‘Secondary hypoparathyroidism’ is another common serious condition among horses. Secondary hypoparathyroidism is also known as ‘big head disease.’ In 2018, researchers Luca Lacitignola and four other researchers had researched secondary hypoparathyroidism in horses. Click here.
Research results showed that this condition causes parathyroid glands to overwork to pay back the calcium loss in the body. However, if you give bread with hay or other substitute food, these health issues might not be a huge concern.
Why is feeding bread to horses bad?
Bread is known as a bad meal for horses as bread is a high starch diet. High starch food can be a potential health problem for horses as it links with severe health issues.
Rhabdomyolysis and developmental orthopedic diseases are the most common conditions horses develop if they eat starchy food in large amounts. Coenen, Mosseler, and Vervuert researchers conducted a study in 2016 to show other concerns for starchy food.
Wanna dig up more about that study?
The research explained the limited capacity of starchy food to digest in the small intestine. The small intestine allows large amounts of food to pass and ferment in the colon and cecum. Therefore, it can cause adverse health effects on horses.
Other than these reasons, feeding bread to horses is considered harmful because it causes weight gain.
As a horse owner, it is good to have some knowledge about the health problems of the horses. If your horse is already overweight, it is not a good option to feed your horse bread. Feeding bread to an overweight horse can cause health issues such as intolerance to heat, cardio issues, and joint strains. However, if your horse is underweight, you can include bread in your horse’s diet to gain some desirable weight.
As mentioned earlier, feeding bread to your horse frequently can worsen their health due to digestion issues. Digestion of the horses occurs in the hindgut, which includes the cecum, rectum, small and large intestines. Click here to read about a related research study on digestion issues in horses.
The undigested starch in the small intestine enters the cecum and begins the process of fermentation. Research findings have proved that the fermentation of starch creates lactic acid. This process disrupts pH levels, and it can also lead to abdominal pain or colic symptoms. Therefore, it can worsen the pain and cause more suffering to your lovely horse.
‘Laminitis’ is another solid fact to determine that feeding bread to horses is harmful. Laminitis can develop as a result of gaining excessive dietary sugar and starch. Therefore, your ponies can experience severe pain from laminitis as it causes inflammation of soft tissues in their bodies. Research facts also showed that horses could experience extreme pain as a result of laminitis. Did you ever notice that your horse has difficulty moving and weight back off to one limb when they move? Then it is better not to include bread in their diet.
Why is bread ok for horses?
Even though bread can have many negative impacts on the horses’ health, occasionally feeding bread is ok for horses. When giving bread with hay or pasture, protein content in bread is sufficient for a growing or lactating horse. It can also state that commercially available bread is okay to feed horses. As this bread bakes for human consumption, it includes safe amounts of vitamins and minerals for horses. Therefore, it might be more nutritious for horses than straight-fed grains.
More than that, if you are a horse owner, buying bread could be a more cost-effective way to feed your horses. Additionally, it can explain that banana bread is suitable for horses. Adding bananas in the process of baking bread can cause an increase in nutrient composition in the bread. Banana bread is rich in essential proteins, which help to grow, repair, and recover the horse’s muscles. It also includes healthy fats and minerals like potassium to support the growth of horses. According to these facts, feeding two or three slices of bread is suitable for horses.
Can horses eat bread and butter?
When humans began to domesticate horses, they tended to prefer human food items like butter. Horses can eat bread and butter even though it is not very healthy. But it is also essential to know that feeding butter in large amounts is bad for horses.
Many research studies have proven that occasionally eating peanut butter can add nutrition to your horse’s diet.
Peanut butter found in the USA includes 90% of peanut and 10% of other ingredients. Like humans, horses also love to eat peanut butter. Research evidence supports that peanut butter is a food item rich in high calories, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Therefore, adding a small amount like two tablespoons of peanut butter to your horse’s diet could help to improve their health.
Peanut butter in small amounts is indeed acceptable. But it is not a good idea to feed your horse with bread and butter sandwiches. It is better to avoid feeding peanut butter sandwiches to horses with metabolic syndrome. Even though bread is non-toxic for horses, bread is neither a healthier option for horses. Therefore, if you feed your horse with butter sandwiches, it will be hard to digest and cause laminitis.
However, as a horse caretaker, if you wish to feed butter for horses, it is better not to combine both ingredients. You can try both bread and butter separately in small amounts. Meanwhile, it is also better to pay attention to any changes you notice after feeding peanut butter to horses. If you notice your horse is refusing to eat appropriately after eating butter, what should you do? Then it would help if you took this as a warning sign and immediately stop feeding butter.
The Bottom Line
To conclude all the points, you should keep these facts in your mind when you feed butter to your horses. It is crucial to make sure that you are feeding peanut butter to horses not regularly but occasionally. Though your horse loves to eat butter, and butter contains all necessary nutrition, do not try it regularly. It is advisable not to go above the quantity of two tablespoons. Although, bread and butter together are not advisable to feed, especially for horses with metabolic syndrome and nut allergies.