can horses eat carrots

Can Horses Eat Carrots?

Written by: Annemarie Dutton

Many horse owners agree that horses prefer carrots over other treats.  Carrots are very healthy for humans and are full of Vitamin C, but can horses eat carrots?

The short answer is yes, horses love eating carrots, and it serves as a healthy treat for your horse.

This article will explore the nutritional value, benefits, and risks of feeding carrots to horses.

The Nutritional Value Of Carrots

Nutritional information of 100g of raw carrots.

NutrientAmount
Energy (kJ/Cal)156/37
Protein0.6 g
Fat Total0.2 g
Saturated Fat0.03 g
Carbohydrates6.8 g
Sugars6.6 g
Dietary Fibres2.8 g
Sodium 41 mg
Vitamin A2 mg
Vitamin C872 ug
Niacin2 mg
Potassium174 mg
Vitamin B60.12 mg
Folate21 ug

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The Benefits Of Feeding Carrots To Horses

Vitamin A:

Vitamin A functions as a powerful antioxidant for horses, functioning in all important ways in their systems. The vitamin works to support their reproductive functions and vision and gives another significant boost to their immune system.

Vitamin C:

Horses need Vitamin C to boost their immune system. Vitamin C fights against the free radicals and neutralizes them. It also plays a vital role in keeping a horse healthy during stress.

Potassium:

Potassium plays an essential role in normal muscle contraction and relaxation. It also controls the osmatic pressure.

Fiber:

Fiber keeps the gut full and the horse hydrated by acting as a water reserve. Therefore, it is excellent when it comes to digestive health.

Carbohydrates:

Carrots contain a significant amount of carbohydrates. Since this is a valuable nutritional ingredient that horses need, carrots come in handy to provide the same. Carbohydrates provide the energy that horses require to stay energetic. 

Protein:

Carrots are not a good source of proteins, but they supply horses with essential nutrients to play a significant role in the body. 

Risks Of Feeding Carrots To Horses

Although it is perfectly safe for horses to eat carrots in limited amounts, some potential health risks need to be avoided.

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis (HYPP)

HYPP is a disorder some horses may suffer from. As the name suggests, it is a severe condition and requires the horse owner to be vigilant about controlling their horse’s diet.

Paralysis happens when the horse consumes anything high in potassium, and carrots certainly fit those criteria.

Therefore, horse owners whose horses suffer from HYPP should avoid carrots and any other foods with potassium.

Insulin Resistant Horses

If your horse is a laminitic or EMS horse, you need to oversee their diet and consult your vet before feeding carrots to your horse.  This is because carrots contain sugar levels.  Although the sugar levels are low, it can trigger the release o insulin.

Teeth Issues

Horses with dental issues, including tooth loss and decay, often need to eat food that is softer and easy to chew. Carrots are crunchy, require a lot of chewing, and are not the best option for your horse.

Can Foals Eat Carrots?

Foals can eat carrots, but they should eat carrots as treats and rewards like adult horses. Foals love carrots a lot, so you should not give them too many carrots at a time.

Reducing the number of carrots you give to foals at a time can increase their love and value for carrots. It will help you train the foals while using the carrots as a reward.

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Can Horses Eat Carrot Tops?

The answer to this question is that horses can eat carrot tops. They are a rich source of forage for horses. However, you should ensure that you feed your valuable friends in moderation, even when they gladly demonstrate their love for the carrot tops.

Too many of them can result in health issues, which could ultimately affect the quality of health of your horses.

How Many Carrots Can You Feed Your Horse?

A horse’s diet primarily consists of grass and hay. Carrots should come in as a complementary diet. This implies that you should give them moderately. 

One of the dangers of allowing your horse to eat large amounts of carrots in a day is that it might feel satisfied and fail to eat other foods. The result of this is that it will miss out on valuable nutrients.  

If your horse fails to consume these nutrients, getting severe health problems is high. An excellent example of a disease that your horse is likely to develop due to eating excess carrots is colic.

To be safe, you shouldn’t allow your horse to eat more than two large carrots in a day. However, if you have the smaller ones, you can enable them to eat a number of them. 

Just make sure that the overall quantity of the small carrots does not exceed that of the two bigger ones.

How To Give Carrots To Horses

Here are some ways to feed your horse with carrots.

Wash the Carrots:

Always try to find organic carrots free of insecticides, pesticides, and other chemicals.  Wash the carrots thoroughly before feeding them to your horse.

Chop the Carrots

You should dice, chop, or cut the carrots into smaller parts to feed your horse. This safety practice will prevent your horse from choking. You do not have to chop the carrots into tiny pieces.

Mixed with Other Vegetables:

You can mix carrots with other vegetables that you are giving to your horse. We will list some great vegetables you can give to your horse later. Remember to chop the carrots.

Carrot Leaves

Did you think that your horse would reject the leaves of your carrots? Horses can eat carrot leaves, so you do not have to throw them away.

Final Thought

Carrots contain many vitamins and minerals that are essential for your horse’s health.  Always feed any treats with caution and understand that you should only provide them in moderation.

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