horse eating grass not meat

Are Horses Omnivores? Do Horses Eat Meat?

Last updated on March 11th, 2023 at 10:19 pm

Are Horses Omnivores? Do Horses Eat Meat? 

Horses are absolutely not omnivores. Even though horses are big strong animals, they don’t eat meat. Horses are strictly herbivores and keep themselves healthy by eating only plants. Omnivores eat both meat and plants, but this does not apply to horses.

Horses in the wild survive eating grains, grass, and other plants. They love all things green and do not eat meat! In fact, horses don’t even have teeth designed for eating meat. They’ve evolved with sharp incisors and very strong canine teeth which help them to crush and break the fibres found in plants into something they can easily digest. This is why older horses have a harder time with nutrition because their teeth can’t effectively break down food any longer.

Are Horses Herbivores? 

Horses are 100% herbivores. They’ve even developed a special jawline from eating only raw plants. Carnivores would never be able to eat grains and plants because their teeth aren’t designed for it. Carnivores slash and rip meat for easy swallowing with their fangs while omnivores like horses crunch plants with their blunt teeth and grind up grass to properly digest it.

Horses also have specialized incisors that help them to graze. With their specialized teeth, they can easily nip through long grass, cutting and eating only the grass they want. They’re also especially good at pulling back tree branches to get at something that looks yummy. Almost every animal has unique incisors that help them to eat.

As a herbivore, horses share similar traits with other herbivores like goats and donkeys. They are alert, they have the ability to run in fast bursts, and their skulls are unique. Herbivores have skulls designed to give them an advantage in detecting predators. This means they have one eye on either side of their head so that when they turn their head from side to side, they get a 360-degree view of their surroundings to keep an eye out for predators.

Why Do Horses Sometimes Eat Birds?

If horses are herbivores, why have they been spotted killing and eating birds, particularly baby birds? As crazy as it sounds, lots of herbivores, including horses and deer, will sometimes eat very tiny amounts of meat – though more often than not they just chew on the bones and slurp out the minerals.

Horses, cows, and other herbivores can gain an extra little boost of nutrition from practicing a little bit of meat-eating. But it’s very minimal and there haven’t really been many studies about it just yet.

But ask anyone who owns a horse, they’ll tell you there’s no horse that is above stealing a hotdog out of somebody’s hand or begging for a bite of a hamburger. Some domestic horses even shake birds’ nests out of trees just to eat the eggs and babies.

Even though horses are 100% herbivores, they sometimes will snack on things that are a little meaty. It’s just that their digestive system isn’t designed for it. Sometimes, horses will even eat mice caught up in their hay by accident.

Why Don’t Horses Eat Meat?

The digestive system of a horse is designed for transforming ordinary grass into powerful energy. 12 incisors and 12 premolars cut and grind plant matter such as leaves and stem into mush that gets digested perfectly by the horse’s system.

Horses don’t eat meat because they are herbivores and because they don’t need to. They also don’t have canine teeth for tearing flesh. Horses just aren’t designed for eating meat. The stomach of a horse is also only designed to hold a small amount of food. It also empties its stomach quite quickly. A horse will usually pass its food through its body at about 1 foot per minute. It simply doesn’t have the design needed for digesting meat.

Why Can’t Horses Vomit?

Horses are unable to vomit. Their digestive system is set up in such a way that things can only go down, not up. Unlike cats and dogs that vomit when they eat something that made them sick, horses are stuck with whatever they ingest.

The consequences of not being able to vomit can be serious. If a horse eats something dangerous or poisonous, they have no way of getting it out of their system. They would need immediate medical assistance to prevent a health disaster.

Meats and other animal products often sour quite quickly. It’s possible for meat to become toxic even to carnivores. But carnivores can simply puke out the toxic meat. Horses can’t, and so they can’t risk eating meat. This is herbivore 101. For horses, plants are really the only way to go.

Can Horses Eat Meat?

Horses can technically eat meat. Any animal can technically put meat into its mouth and chew. If a horse steals a bite of your cheeseburger or you catch it munching on some baby birds, it’s not the end of the world. If your horse consumes a bit of meat now and then, it’s probably not going to cause a problem. But you should absolutely never add meat purposely to your horse’s diet.

What’s the Best Food for a Horse?

The best food for a horse is anything that’s nutritious and plant-based. Grains are a great source of vitamins and minerals. Hay is obviously the first thing you think about when it comes to feeding a horse. On average, a horse will consume about 2% of its own body weight every day just in the hay. If your horse weighs about 1000 pounds, it needs to eat 20 pounds of hay in a day.

Related Articles – Orchard Grass Hay, Brome Grass Hay

There are also some foods that your horse definitely shouldn’t eat, even if they are green. Horses shouldn’t eat fruit in large quantities. They should never eat clippings from your lawn or your garden, they shouldn’t eat vegetables like cabbage or broccoli, or really anything in the cabbage family. They also shouldn’t eat dusty hay or feed other animals, like cattle feed.

Stick to hay, grains, the occasional apple treat, and proper horse feed. With this diet, your equine friend will live a long and healthy life.

Can Horses Eat Fruit?

There is a wide variety of fruits a horse can eat that are safe for their health. It includes apple, apricot, blackberries, blueberries, mango, peaches, chasteberry, cantaloupe, pears, plums, strawberries, and melons. You must ensure to finely chop these fruits and appropriately remove pits and seeds and offer small proportions to your horse.