Can Horses Eat Broccoli? (Is It Good or Bad?)

Can horses eat broccoli?

People often consider broccoli a superfood, thanks to its numerous nutritional benefits for the body and immune system.

But how safe is this green vegetable for your equine friend, and should you include it in their diet? 

Let’s find out together. 

Can Horses Eat Broccoli?

If you take a piece of broccoli and give it to your horse, they will probably eat it with pleasure and ask for more. 

While horses eat different types of grains, they enjoy a little diversity in their diet. Fruits and vegetables are a source of dietary fiber and lots of vitamins.

That’s why a well-balanced diet should include healthy snacks that won’t upset your equine’s digestive system. Usually, horse owners think of carrots, bananas, and apples.

grey horse and two broccolis. can horses eat broccoli?

But can horses eat broccoli?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t a straight “yes” or “no.”

Broccoli can be an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, but it can also have a negative effect on your animal’s digestive tract. 

Since broccoli belongs to the cruciferous family, it contains a type of sugar that produces intestinal gas. For humans, a bit of gas, bloating, and stomach pain aren’t a big problem.

However, gas-related colic can lead to severe abdominal pain in equines. Overfeeding cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli, can be deadly! 

As such, you’re likely to hear different opinions on the matter. Some specialists agree that horses can eat broccoli in minimal quantities. Others warn against it. 

For example, Dr. Lydia Grey says that cruciferous vegetables “do not technically contain a toxic agent but their tendency to lead to excess gas production in the GI tract worries some people.”

Horsemart includes cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower in their category of foods dangerous for equines.  

Can Horses Eat Raw Broccoli?

Both raw and cooked broccoli contains raffinose, the sugar responsible for excessive gas production and bloating.

Cooking strips broccoli from many of its nutrients and reduces its benefits.

raw broccoli on the floor: can horses eat broccoli?

As such, if you’re going to include broccoli in your horse diet as a healthy treat, there’s no point in cooking it.

And fresh broccoli has a more appealing texture and a better taste. 

Do Horses Like Broccoli?

Most horses enjoy celery, parsley, swede, turnips, carrots, apples, and bananas. Broccoli is no exception because it has a great taste and a pleasant texture.

Still, it depends on your horse’s personality. It’s perfectly normal for your horse not to like broccoli and turn its nose when you offer it.

Don’t force your equine to eat broccoli if they seem reluctant. Instead, experiment with other healthy snacks like cucumbers, carrots, pumpkin, and so on.

Just be careful to avoid treats that contain dangerous ingredients, such as chocolate and caffeine. 

Is Broccoli Safe for Horses?

raw broccoli on the wooden plates and chopping board

Unlike tomatoes, avocados, and peppers, broccoli doesn’t contain any toxic agents that could be potentially harmful to your horse. So, don’t panic! 

Still, there are some risks you should consider before you give your horse broccoli. 

Intestinal Gas

As we already pointed out, cruciferous vegetables often lead to excess gas production in the digestive tract, which causes colic. 

While colic can be mild and resolve quickly, it’s nothing to b take lightly. PetMed warns horse owners that any type of colic “should be treated as a potential emergency.”

That’s why you shouldn’t give more than four ounces of broccoli a day and no more than once or twice a week. Ignoring this limit can be dangerous for your animal! 

Even this amount is a risk, that some owners don’t want to take. Colic is just too dangerous to worry about.

If you do take this risk remember to provide plenty of fresh water to reduce the likelihood of abdominal pain, no matter what you’re feeding your animal. 

Choking Hazard

For young animals, broccoli doesn’t pose much of a choking hazard unless your adult horse is prone to swallowing food whole.

However, older animals often have dental issues and can’t chew their food properly. As such, they’re at risk of choking, even on something as trivial as broccoli. 

We recommend that you cut the broccoli into small, edible chunks or blend broccoli with water/ other safe vegetables. 

Pesticides/Chemicals 

Farmers and manufacturers use pesticides to keep their produce safe from pests and disease. These chemicals can be toxic for animals and cause several issues. 

Always soak the broccoli in water for at least 30 minutes before you give it to your horse. If possible, buy organic.  

Allergies

Like people, equines can be allergic to a lot of strange things, including broccoli. However, determining what food your animal is allergic to can be quite difficult for vets.

To ensure that broccoli is safe for your horse, mix a very small amount with the grain. Observe for a couple of days to see if your animal will show any adverse effects.

If you notice any unusual symptoms, talk to your vet and eliminate broccoli from your horse’s diet. One thing to keep an eye our for is an increase of gas for your horse.

Benefits of Eating Broccoli for Horses

After reading the scary bit about intestinal gas, you’d be right to wonder if broccoli is a healthy snack.

But if you remember, we said it’s an excellent source of essential vitamins and minerals.

lady giving treat to the brown mare

In fact, broccoli has numerous health benefits for your four-legged friend.

If you want to risk your horse it is a good idea to discuss feeding broccoli to your horse with a vet. 

Let’s see take a look at the nutritional benefits.

Aids Hydration

As the nutritional profile shows, “raw broccoli contains almost 90% water, 3% protein, and almost no fat.”

Staying hydrated is essential for the proper digestion and overall health in equines.

In other words, broccoli can be a refreshing snack for horses, especially during hot summer days. It can slighly improve the hydration levels of horses reluctant to drink water. 

However, since you cannot feed a lot of it, the effects will only be small.

Healthy Digestion

Do you know that a cup of broccoli contains 2.4 grams of fiber? As such, broccoli is an excellent source of dietary fiber,  vital for a healthy gut. 

Moreover, extra fiber is great for constipation and might aid regulating your pony’s bowel movements.

So, when fed in moderation, broccoli can support the digestive tract.

Strong Antioxidant Properties

Raw broccoli is an excellent source of vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant that protects cells from free radicals and strengthens the immune system.

A 100 grams of broccoli contains almost 90 mg of Vitamin C. That’s 150% of the recommended daily amount for humans.

For equines, Juliet M. Getty suggests “adding 3 to 5 mg per pound of body weight per day” for animals in their late teens.

As such, a little bit of broccoli can give your animal a hefty dose of Vitamin C. 

Plenty of Vitamins and Minerals 

Broccoli is rich in Vitamin A, Vitamin K, and Vitamin B, all necessary for a strong immune system, normal metabolic functions, and healthy bones.

Furthermore, broccoli is also an excellent source of calcium, zinc, phosphorous, and potassium, which are great for the overall health of your horse. 

Tips on Preparing Broccoli for Horses 

It’s not hard at all to prepare broccoli for horses. Just follow these tips:

  • Wash the broccoli well to remove any traces of chemicals/pesticides.
  • Then cut the broccoli into edible pieces.
  • Feed it slowly to your horse to avoid choking.
  • Don’t give more than a few broccoli pieces at a time, and stick to the four ounces rule. 

If your animal has dental problems, use a blender to mix broccoli with water or juice and offer it as an occasional treat. 

You can also mix a bit of broccoli with other healthy vegetables and fruits, such as turnips, carrots, apples, bananas, and lettuce. 

Broccoli for Horses FAQs 

What Foods Are Poisonous to Horses?

Chocolate, caffeine, garlic, and onion are the most common human food toxic to animals. 
Horses also shouldn’t eat any vegetables from the nightshade family like tomatoes and potatoes. Seeds and pits can also be dangerous because they’re a natural source of cyanide. 
Vegetables from the cruciferous family, such as cabbage and broccoli, aren’t toxic, but they can cause colic.  

Can Horses Eat Cucumbers?

What about cucumbers? Can horses eat cucumbers? Yes, cucumbers are a nutritional treat because they have high water content with plenty of vitamins and minerals.
Watch this video to find other safe fruits and veggies you can add to your equine’s diet. 

Can Horses Eat Cooked Broccoli?

Yes, cooked broccoli is safe as much as a raw one. However, it has less nutritional value, and any added ingredients can humans use to prepare broccoli can be bad for your equine. 

Conclusion

Broccoli has numerous health benefits for horses, but it can be dangerous since it produces intestinal gas.

You should always feed it in limited quantity and introduce it slowly to see how your horse handles it. Talk to your vet if you have any concerns about your horse’s diet. 

What do you think about this topic? Can horses eat broccoli? Tell us your experience with broccoli in the comment section and how you prepare it for your animal. 

References:

  • Adda Bjarnadottir, MS, RDN (Ice. 2019. “Broccoli 101: Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits.” Healthline. Healthline Media. May 10, 2019. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods/broccoli.
  • “Colic in Horses | PetMD.” 2019. Petmd.com. 2019. https://www.petmd.com/horse/conditions/digestive/c_hr_equine_colic.
  • Gray, Lydia, and DVM. 2017. “Ask the Vet: Fruits and Veggies for Horses.” Horse Illustrated. October 23, 2017. https://www.horseillustrated.com/horse-experts-horse-vet-advice-2017-fruits-and-veggies-for-horses.
  • LLC, Getty Equine Nutrition. n.d. “Older Horses Need Supplemental Vitamin C.” Getty Equine Nutrition, LLC. Accessed June 17, 2021. https://gettyequinenutrition.com/pages/older-horses-need-supplemental-vitamin-c.
  • “What Kind of Vegetables Can a Horse Eat?” n.d. Pets on Mom.com. Accessed June 17, 2021. https://animals.mom.com/kind-vegetables-can-horse-eat-6325.html.

Can horses eat broccoli? Please share your thoughts about it below!

Grigorina S
Grigorina S

Grigorina grew up surrounded by animals – dogs, cats, cows, goats, sheep, and horses and that has shaped her into what I am today – a crazy cat lady who always has a place for one more cat (or a dog). She has two female cats – Kitty and Roni, and two tomcats – Blacky and Shaggy, but she also feeds her neighbors’ cats when they come for a visit. I just can’t say no to them. Follow her on FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM

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