Horses are a domesticated species and can be found in almost every corner of the world. They are best suited to walking on flat areas with lots of vegetation in their natural environment. In such places, horses eat other foods to maintain a muscular body. Because these animals are popular and used for recreational and sporting activities, they need a diet that supports this physical need. Let’s find out more together!
Life of a Wild Horse
Wild Horses can consume a wide range of small plants, fruits, leaves, shoots, and bark as herbivores. However, they cannot utilize the nutrients contained in these foods properly. This is why horses eat during the day, to meet their natural energy needs and the low-calorie content of the primary nutrients.
What Is the Horse’s Digestive System Like?
One of the significant problems herbivores have when eating plants is that the plant cells that make up the plant are very difficult to digest. For this reason, horses have adapted their bodies to get energy from less nutritious foods. The main characteristics of horses’ digestive system are as follows:
Chewing food slowly and thoroughly: Chewing is one of the most efficient processes in plant consumption because it facilitates the digestion and absorption of nutrients. This is also observed in other herbivores such as cows, bulls, and goats.
Small stomach: This allows for faster digestion. Since horses do not have a stomach like ruminants, they cannot absorb nutrients from their meals properly. However, to compensate for this, they eat more meals per day.
Large intestine with microorganisms: Some herbivores break down their food with the help of bacteria that live in their intestines. In this way, plant nutrients are released and absorbed more easily.
What Do Domestic Horses Eat?
Domestic horses have a similar diet to wild horses, so there is not much difference. However, the food they have access to is limited. These animals are fed a high-fiber diet to provide them with adequate nutrition. Typical foods are as follows
Hay: This is a dried animal feed (stems, leaves, and seeds) made from legumes and grains. These foods are rich in protein, fiber, and carbohydrates, making them ideal for horses.
Meadow: Domestic horses, like wild horses, can eat grass from pastures. However, to get enough nutrition from this diet, the horse must eat almost all day long. Therefore, this diet is often supplemented with hay to avoid harming the animal.
Toxic Herbs (Caution): Not all vegetables are suitable for feeding. It should be noted that some grasses are poisonous to horses.
Grains: This type of food is known to give the horse more energy. Therefore, it is only recommended for horses that need a lot of energy, such as sport horses and pack horses. Examples of this group include oats, corn, barley, wheat, and rye.
Fruits or Vegetables: This cannot be the horse’s daily diet, so it should be given as a treat.
Sport horses need to take minerals as supplements to regulate the osmotic balance in the body. Horses lose these components through sweat and need to replenish them in their diet. However, these molecules are lacking in grass and hay. Therefore, they are provided as salt blocks or added to the animal’s feed.
Commercial feeds and concentrates: Some commercial mixes can provide a standard diet for horses. This has the advantage of offering direct nutrition to the animal and is also very convenient for the owner.
However, a standardized diet is not necessary for all types of horses. Feeding is an excellent option to meet the body’s nutritional needs, but it is not essential. If not used carefully, it can lead to obesity and other long-term health problems in horses.
What Do Wild Horses Eat?
Wild horses benefit from the (hard to process) nutrients found in plants. It may sound simple, but these organisms have complex digestive systems to cope with their environment.
As a result, wild populations have formed in places such as the United States, demonstrating the adaptability of this beautiful animal.
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