A horse’s appetite is voracious and strong. When you look at a horse, you always see them eating hay, grass, and grain but never bread.

 Can a horse eat bread, or is it bad for them? Yes, but how much they eat depends on the kind of bread you brought for them.

Can Horses Eat Bread?

Yes, they can have plain bread, but there some special types that may not be safe for a horse. 

These can include chocolate bread, garlic bread, and bread with poppy seeds. The reason they can have plain bread is that it is made from four simple ingredients: wheat flour, salt, water, and yeast. None of these ingredients are toxic to a horse, so it is ok if they have bread occasionally. One thing to note is that bread does not give a horse all the nutrients it needs, so it cannot replace commercially formulated grain.

Bread should be considered only as a treat and not part of its main diet. But it’s treated status is not deserved, because there are many treats that are just as cheap as bread but far more flavorful.

When giving a horse bread, they should have no more than one to two slices of bread every once in a while, if the horse likes bread. Some horses do not like bread. They may choose not to eat it because of their lack of appealing aroma.  

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Why Feed Horses Bread?

Some owners will give their horses bread as an occasional treat. 

Bread has a high-calorie content, so some owners will give bread to a horse to put weight on them. This is ok as long as the horse is still eating a normal amount of their feed. If not, then it can lead to nutritional deficiencies.  

Even if the bread is given to help a horse gain weight, it should still be done in small amounts because of the high starch content. Too much starch can cause abdominal pain and other issues.

bread on a table e1590501395633

Why Bread is Not The Best Food For Your Horse

  • Bread is not able to give a horse all the necessary nutrients it needs. Even if it is given in small doses, it can still lead to nutritional deficiencies and imbalances. Bread does not provide a horse with the right amount of minerals and vitamins. There are not enough vitamins A, D, E, or minerals like copper, zinc, calcium, and selenium.
  • The high starch content can lead to bone formation problems in young horses and rhabdomyolysis, which is a syndrome that can lead to muscle damage. The small intestine of a horse has a limited capacity to digest starch. If they eat a large amount of starch, it will go through the small intestine and ferment in the colon and large intestine. The fermentation causes a build-up of bacteria and produces lactic acid in the hindgut. This can lead to a drop in pH levels and causes abdominal pain and weight loss.

What Bread Not to Feed Your Horse

Moldy bread—a horse cannot digest mycotoxins or mold that the mold can produce. 

  • If thy ingest mold, it can lead to various illnesses and disorders. The mycotoxins can lead to a number of gastrointestinal, reproductive, respiratory, and immunological illnesses.
  • Whole wheat bread—a horse can eat who wheat bread because of the heat of baking and the alteration to the gluten-starch by the yeast. If it did not have this alteration, the wheat grain could cause a blockage if it balls up in the intestinal tract.
  • Raisin bread—raisins are ok for a horse to eat in limited quantities, but they have to be seedless. If you are not sure if the raisins are seedless or not, then you should not feed your horse raisin bread. They cannot properly digest the seeds in raisins. It could lead to abdominal pain.
  • Chocolate bread – chocolate may be a delicious treat for humans all over the world, but giving it to a horse could cause them to have diarrhea. Chocolate causes diarrhea because it has chemical theobromine, which is why dogs can’t eat it either.
  • Breaded foods – we didn’t think we had to tell anyone not to give their horse breaded food, but apparently, we do. Aside from the oil and presentative in the bread, chicken, and shrimp cannot be consumed by horses because they are herbivores.
  • Cheesy bread – along with not being able to eat the bread, horses cannot eat dairy that is not from a horse. 
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horse eating bread

High-calorie Foods That Horse Can Eat:

We know that bread is given to horses because it is a cheap way to fatten up a horse and give it extra calories, but bread is not what you should turn to, especially if you want your horse to eat a balanced diet. Here are a few high-calorie foods that are better for the horse’s diet. 

  • Feed that is formulated to fatten up horses.
  • Peanut butter
  • Alfalfa
  • Beet pulp – which is also high in vitamin c
  • Pasture hay
  • Some oils like vegetable oil are ok

Also, you can feed them more often and with more food than a regular horse. Try to make the horse eat a bit more each time. 

 Conclusion

  • It is better to give your horse a treat of fresh fruits and vegetables than bread. They provide more nutrients and are more similar to your horse’s regular food than bread is. They are less likely to cause an upset stomach than bread.
  • Feeding too much bread to your horse can lead to tooth decay.
  • If you really want your horse to eat bread, put some peanut butter on it to make it tastier for your horse.
  • Horses love to eat peanut butter, just like dogs.
  • Bread can help a horse gain a little weight, but a horse needs to take in more calories than they burn through exercise or normal metabolism. Feeding a horse a high-calorie diet can be very hard and expensive.
  • White bread has a lot of calories but few nutrients.
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