Can Horses Eat Carrot Tops? [Benefits + More]

Can horses eat carrot tops?

Before we answer that, we should probably look at whether carrots themselves are safe!

Then we’ll dive into the answer for those leafy green tops!

We have lots to discuss, so let’s get started!

Related: Can Horses Eat Lettuce?

Can Horses Eat Carrots?

I’m pretty sure most new horse owners know that the answer is “yes,” horses can absolutely eat carrots.

In fact, most horses love them!

They enjoy the sweetness as well as the crunchy feel of the carrot as it crushes beneath their healthy teeth.

To a horse, a carrot is like what apples are to humans. The benefits of carrot to a house are many such as a source of vitamin A and C.

As one of the root vegetables, it helps your horse develop healthier teeth. Plus, to them, carrots kind of taste like sugar cubes.

It does not matter what colors your carrots come in since they all contain the same carotene and have the same taste once the horse eats them in its mouth.

Usually, you would want to feed your horse with hay, whether fresh or dried, but with an occasional grain and a sweet treat like a raw carrot, right?

But what if you want to change this diet or do not have hay in your area?

Can you swap in all those tops from the carrots you’ve been feeding your horse? Let’s find out.

Can Horses Eat Carrot Tops?

Could you feed your horse with leaves from carrots? My simple answer to this is a yes.

In fact, most (not all, but most) of the plants humans eat, horses can eat too.

And since we use the tops as green salads, your equine friend will enjoy it, too!

Horses- like humans -need various foods to meet their nutritional requirements.

According to Rutgers University horses are meant to eat roughage, and the bulk of their diet should be “foraging” foods.

However, due to domestication in these modern times, today’s horses eating so many things that they wouldn’t naturally find while foraging.

This overeating could lead to colic as well as metabolic challenges.

So, while “foraging foods” like hay and grass (and leafy veggie toppers) may not sound all that nutritional to us, they’re an important part of a horse’s diet.

The University of Minnesota advises that you give your horse from 1.5 to 2.5 percent forage of their body weight.

Leaves from carrots actually act as a good source of forage!

However, your horses should be fed in moderation even when they show signs of loving the greens.

Too much of anything can cause health issues. Your horse could develop intolerance to carrots or even an allergy to carrots.

According to the Washington State University, you should limit carrots in general to 20lbs per day. More than this could cause issue.

Now, there’s a MAJOR caveat to all of this: the source of the carrot tops.

Before you even think of giving your horse any at all, consider where those carrots came from.

Too many farms use pesticides.

While most of these chemicals have been approved for use on human food (although it’s still not good for you), there’s just not enough research on how they can affect your horse.

If you plan to give carrot greens (or even just whole carrots in general), we advise that you go organic with your farming.

Related: Can Horses Eat Turnips?

Organic growth of carrots to get good carrot tops for your horse

Michigan State University has a simple guide you can grow carrots organically.

They recommend using sandy soil that has been manured with horse dung.

Remember, we want to do things as organically as possible. So no inorganic fertilizers are allowed.

You can use pelleted seeds to plant but make sure they are National Organic Program (NOP) Compliant.

The Tamil Nadu Agricultural University also advises using cow pat pit and harmless fungi to treat their seeds.

A soil test would also be essential to determine what essential mineral substances could be lacking in the soil and address them.

If you fertilize the soil, do it a month before the plant is planted.

Carrots take about ten days to germinate, during which period you need to water daily.

To control weeds, dig the area well and remove any that you find. As the carrot seeds prepare to germinate, weeds will germinate first.

Before planting, you can also kill them through flame weeding, where you use a fuel-burning device to burn all weeds.

Once they start growing, you can weed your carrots with your hands.

To manage carrot diseases organically, Cornell University advises that you select seeds known to tolerate diseases, ensure crop rotation, and plant in the right soil.

Once fully grown, harvest your plants and keep them in your kitchen fridge.

Are Carrot Tops poisonous?

These tops are not poisonous at all. In fact, many people have used them in their own salads!

Need more than just my word for it?

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) has actually categorically quoted that tops and carrot flowers are not toxic to horses.

Many “zero waste” experts advise that you should stop discarding carrot greens.

This is because high-end restaurants and thrifty great grand-mothers have always used them as an ingredient in making wonderfully flavorful foods.

Carrot greens would only become poisonous if they contain so many pesticides sprayed when the crop was growing.

For organically grown carrots, you have nothing to worry about.

What if My horse refuses to eat the leaves from a carrot?

If the horse refuses to eat your tops, it may be because they’re just new to him You could look at a few hacks that will make that meal palatable.

1.       Leave the tops on your whole carrots. That way, your horse gets the familiar crunch he loves, plus tries something new!

2.       Dry the tops for a few days to lose that fresh green color, and try to feed them to your equine friend.

3.       Cut the tops in small sizes and mix them with hay

4.       Mix the tops with the horse’s favorite grains and feed.

5.       Your horse might taste and feel that the tops are somewhat bitter and stop eating them. If that is the case, “lace” them with some sugar or honey.

6.       Make sure that the tops are free from soil and clean.

Carrot tops nutritional benefits and taste.

A cup of carrot veggies makes 90 calories while 61 grams of carrots make 1 calorie.

A few grams of sugar from your kitchen table easily has more calories than this and so feeding your house with carrots is a safe treat compared to sugar.

A study by Researchgate showed that carrot leaves are a good source of carbohydrates, proteins, and potassium. 

The potassium content in tops is about 975.00ppm. They also have a cellulose fiber that will help your animal with digestion.

They are also a good source of vitamins. In fact, the amounts of vitamin C that you get from the fresh leaves are higher than what you get from the carrot root.

A horse that is obese or has insulin sensitivity should get a reduced intake of foods that are rich in carbohydrates.

Since the tops are rich in carbohydrates and sugar, you are advised not to give them to obese horses or those with insulin sensitivity.

Related: Can Horses Eat Parsley?

Wrap up on whether you can feed your horse carrot tops

We have pointed out that it would be okay to feed your horse with tops from the plant. They can either be dried or fresh.

I would, however, advise you to give your horse dried tops to prevent bloating.

At the same time, your horse should be able to drink a good amount of water.

If your horse doesn’t seem to like them at first, consider trying our tips above.

Most important of all, try to go with organically grown carrots. That really goes for all vegetables and fruits.

Also, go easy!

Like carrots, tops have lots of sugar, so do not feed them to an obese horse or one with insulin sensitivity.

horse behind a fence eating carrot tops

can horses eat carrot tops? what do you think? share below!

Siun L
Siun L

Siun is an all-around animal lover, with a passion for horses. She grew up in the United States, competing in the hunters, equitation, and jumpers. Now living in Ireland, she competes with her own showjumping horses. She is experienced in the care and training of horses, as well as teaching riding lessons. She loves to combine her love for horses with her work. When not working, Siun will be found at the stables, rain or shine.
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