Can Horses Eat Swede? Is it Safe for Them?

Can horses eat swede?

What exactly is swede anyway?

Below, we’ll cover both questions in detail to find out if this uncommon veggie is safe & healthy for your steed.

Let’s dive in!

Also check: Can Horses Eat Pine Needles?

What Exactly Is Swede?

Before going into more detail, let’s first take a look at what swede actually is.

It is commonly thought that a swede is just another name for a turnip. However, this is a misunderstanding.

newly harvested swede

While the swede and the turnip are from the same family, they are different vegetables.

To make things more confusing, the rutabaga, another vegetable in this family, is also thought to be the same as the other two. However, they each are different, with individual characteristics.

A swede is a root vegetable that is bigger than a turnip. It is also called a Swedish turnip or yellow turnip. It also has rougher skin and yellow flesh.

Whereas the turnip has white flesh and smooth skin. Even though it is larger, the swede grows faster than the turnip.

Can Horses Eat Swede?

horses eating grasses. can horses eat swede instead?

Swedes are safe for horses to eat. They make an excellent treat for horses that have to spend a lot of time in their stable.

The best way to give a horse swede to alleviate boredom is to drill a hole through it.

Then place a rope through the hole, knotting it at one end, and hanging the swede in the stable. 

The swede will move around as the horse tries to eat it. Hopefully, this will keep the horse entertained when they are stuck inside.

Can Laminitic Horses Eat Swede?

horse eating grasses

Laminitic horses need carefully controlled diets. The starch and sugar content of any feed given to horses with laminitis needs to be low.

Too much will raise insulin levels, which is responsible for the majority of laminitis cases.

One cup, 140 grams, of swede, has 6.9 grams of sugar. It is a low starch vegetable. They are quite similar to carrots.

The Laminitis Site suggests that carrots are safe to give to laminitic horses in small amounts.

Swedes, being similar, can be fed to laminitic horses, but only under certain circumstances.

The swede still contains sugar. Eating sugar can cause an insulin spike. Do not feed swede, carrots, or any treats containing sugar to a horse in the midst of a laminitis episode.

Also, avoid these treats if the horse’s insulin levels are still high.

Once the horse’s symptoms are under control, you can feed a small amount of swede. This amount should be equivalent to one carrot per day.

When feeding this treat to a horse, it is also better to split the portion throughout the day. This will reduce the sugar eaten at one time and lessen any insulin spikes.

Other Vegetables to Feed Your Horse

a lady feeding carrot to horses

You’ve seen plenty of horses eating carrots, so you already know about that one!

But this isn’t the only tasty treat that your horse will enjoy.

Horses can eat swede and parsnips, as well as several other vegetables.

The parsnip has similar sugar content to the carrot but does not contain starch, making it a good alternative for a laminitic horse. Horses that don’t like carrots are often found to like parsnips instead.

Beetroot, cucumber, and celery are also safe for horses to eat. You can also feed a horse fresh corn. For more info, check our complete guide on “Can Horses Eat Celery?”

In fact, it is found in many horse grains, but avoid giving it to them on the cob, which is a choking hazard.

Squash and even green beans are safe for horses to eat. However, some horses do not like the taste of these vegetables.

Feeding broccoli to horses is controversial. Some say that this vegetable is safe for horses to eat, while others say it is not and leads to severe gas.

Since horses don’t particularly like the taste of broccoli, it is best to stay on the safe side and give it a miss.

Check the video below.

Vegetables You Should Not Feed Your Horse

It’s easy to assume, since horses are vegetarian, that all vegetables are safe for them to eat.

However, this is not the case. Some vegetables are toxic and should never be given to a horse. Here is a list of unsafe vegetables to take note of:

  • Onions – can damage red blood cells and cause anemia due to containing N-propyl.
  • Rhubarb – is poisonous and can cause kidney failure.
  • Cabbage – can cause severe gas.
  • Brussel Sprouts – can cause severe gas.

The following vegetables are part of the Solanaceae (Nightshades) family. These vegetables contain atropine, which is known to cause colic.

They also contain hyoscyamine. Hyoscyamine can cause constipation, saliva decreases, and a high heart rate. 

  • Tomatoes – though technically a fruit, most people think of them as a vegetable.
  • Aubergine (eggplant) 
  • Chili peppers
  • Bell peppers
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Pimentos
  • Potatoes – can also cause toxicosis.

Things To Keep In Mind

Like any treat you give your horse, moderation is key. Don’t overfeed swedes or any other type of vegetable.

Also, if you have a horse that is particularly sensitive to new foods or has digestive issues, be careful adding something new to its diet.

Introducing a new food or even the odd unusual treat could upset the digestive system of a sensitive horse.

This could make the horse sick or even cause colic. If you are unsure, always speak to an equine vet before offering your horse a new type of food.

Final Words

One of the best ways to incorporate swede into your horse’s diet is to use it as a boredom buster.

Horses can safely eat swede, but if you are hand-feeding it, it is safer to cut it into small pieces to avoid choking.

In fact, when you are feeding any vegetable, make sure that it is cut into pieces that will not pose a risk of choking.

If you are unsure about whether a certain vegetable is safe for your horse to eat, seek veterinary advice.

It is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your beloved horse’s health. 

white horse eating on the wooden plate: can horses eat swede?

Can horses eat swede? How about your horses? Share with us your experience 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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