Can Horses Eat Meat
 By Winniefield Park   •   30th Oct 2014   •   26,578 views   •   1 comments
Can Horses Eat Meat

Can horses eat meat is a keyword phrase I sometimes see in my Google Analytics. A few years ago, I reviewed a book called Deadly Equines, The Shocking True Story of Meat-Eating & Murderous Horses by CuChullaine O'Reilly. I found the book a little silly, and the supporting evidence that horses can be vicious carnivores a little thin. The book really addresses two subjects that aren’t connected: that horses can be vicious and that they sometimes eat meat.

For example, the author tells the story of Bucephalus and Alexander and that Bucephalus was fed raw meat and was the offspring of meat-eating mares. But myths like those do little to substantiate the premise that horses are by nature, meat eaters or provide much evidence that they can be fierce.

So the question is, can horses eat meat? The answer appears to be yes. Most of us know of a horse that likes a bite of sandwich or hamburger, will eat a hotdog or some tuna. While horses don’t hunt for their own meat, they are in some cultures, fed meat. Fish is a common additive to a horse’s diet in some places. In Iceland, horses are fed salt fish in the winter months. Tibetan horses are fed a mixture of grain and blood. In Bhutan horses are fed meat. And during Scott's expedition to Antarctica, the ponies used were fed a fish meal with their rations.

And many of us have heard of a horse that killed a small animal, and perhaps appeared to eat it. Horses can be savage. A horse that belonged to my mother was vicious with small animals. He once picked up a 60lb dog and threw it several yards, and another time, threw a cat against a barn wall so hard it killed the animal. But he never hunted animals and we don’t think he ate any.

While there may be accounts of a horse attacking and swallowing a chicken, most meat eating horses are fed the meat. Sometimes, there’s little choice. Often, the meat is ‘hidden’ in their food. Blood and bone meal are still used by some owners to supplement horse feed. The Icelandic salt fish may be tasty to the horses because of the salt flavor, not because they particularly seek out meat to eat. After all, we eat many things that aren’t good for us, but are tasty. So horses can, and do eat meat.

But is a horse’s digestive system set up to digest meat? The answer is no. Horses have flat teeth for chewing plant material, unlike the carnivore’s pointed, meat shredding teeth. Their digestive system is long, unlike the carnivore’s short system designed to move things through quickly. Their livers are not designed to flush out the residues of meat protein breakdown. Carnivores, who hunt, do not sweat through their skin. And carnivores sleep a lot more than herbivores.

So can horses eat meat? Yes, they can. But should they?

Horse News More In This Category:  Care and Grooming      Horse News More From This Author:  Winniefield Park
That's the whole point I guess, any herbivore can consume meat but their digestive system won't be happy for it.
  Nov 2, 2014  •  27,504 views
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