Do horses eat meat? And should they?
After a video of a horse eagerly eating a baby chick (aka. Horse Eats Chick), went viral on the internet it’s a question that seems to be on many horse owner’s minds (you can see the video at the bottom of this post. WARNING – GRAPHIC!).
2022 Update: New videos added.
In 2011, a book was published titled Deadly Equines, The Shocking True Story of Meat-Eating & Murderous Horses by CuChullaine O’Reilly which claims that horses can be vicious meat eaters.
The book tells the story of Bucephalus and Alexander with the claim that Bucephalus was fed with raw meat and was the off-spring of the meat-eating mares.
While it’s hard to relate that to our modern equine partners, there are more examples.
In Iceland, horses are routinely fed dried fish throughout the winter for extra protein, and beef gelatin and bone meal are commonly used supplements in Europe for promoting hoof growth.
Anyone who’s spent time at a show has probably seen a horse that happily steals bites of sandwiches, hamburgers, or hot dogs.
In the racing world, there have been many reports of horses killing small animals, particularly dogs and cats. There are also several startling accounts of meat eating horses in this Carnivorous Horses article.
While it seems that horses can eat meat in small quantities, they also have notoriously delicate digestive systems.
Since horses can’t vomit, mold or toxins can be potentially fatal, and while the meat itself may not be a problem it certainly poses a risk.
The “better safe than sorry” approach is usually the best option, but it does go to show that perhaps horses’ tastes are much more extensive than we realize.
Am I the only one to notice that in each of the chick-eating videos the horses are on a dry lot, with no hay in slow feeders? If we keep horses in unnatural and unhealthy environments, we drive them to aberrant behaviours. Wild horses forage 25-30 different plants per day – thus they are able to satisfy all their nutrient requirements, IF they have adequate range.
I thought hrses were vegetarian. It makes me wonder if they aren’t fed will they resort to feeding their hunger any kind of way. What is the reason for this behavior?