The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Caring for an equine is something that a lot of people take an interest in. After all, horses can make wonderful and characteristic companions, with personalities that will set them apart from just about any other animal.
However, because a horse’s digestive system is both long and incredibly sensitive, you are going to have to take a lot of care to ensure that you are feeding it the right things. Even when you are sticking to the horse’s ideal diet, there may come a time when you decide that you want to try and give your horse a treat.
One of the problems that comes with the troublesome digestive system of the horse is that even a small amount of a food that is bad for it can result in digestive problems, and in some cases, this can even mean death. Nobody wants to kill their horse while trying to give the horse a treat.
Because of this, you are going to want to do what you can to ensure that you research the treats that you are planning to feed your horse to make sure that it will thoroughly enjoy what you feed it.
In general, vegetables are a hard field to determine for the herbivore horse. There are some vegetables that are so toxic they can lead to death, while other vegetables are quite good for horses. This then begs the question of where turnips can fit into a horse’s diet.
To understand where turnips fit into a horse’s diet, you first need to understand what a horse’s diet is.
The Ideal Diet of a Horse
The ideal diet of a horse, unfortunately, is one that is extremely boring. For better or for worse, this does make it incredibly easy to manage if you aren’t planning on working in any treats.
However, the very drab diet can mean that your horse may crave something new, and this is all the more reason to learn what vegetables your horse can eat as a treat.
Typically, a horse will eat grass and hay, and that’s about it. Because of the nature of a horse’s digestive system, horses need to eat frequently, but they cannot ingest all that much at a time.
This leads to their grazing behavior that many people see, as horses will frequently eat grass, wandering around to find new patches of grass to eat every so often.
If you live in an area where good grass may be tough for you to produce regularly, you can replicate that by placing fresh hay in front of the horse. Hay will provide much of the same nutrients that a horse needs and by placing it in front of them, they can bend over to eat it however frequently they want during the day.
To add some variety to your horse’s diet, there are plenty of different foods that you can incorporate as treats. These treats should be exactly that, occasional and infrequent. Horse’s diets are sensitive, so it is important not to fill its small stomach with treats.
As for what your horse can consume as a variety for its diet, you can choose from grains, fruits, and vegetables. Here is where it matters for you to do some research on what exactly your horse can eat in addition to its main diet.
Safe Vegetables for Horses
There are a number of vegetables that are completely safe for your horse to eat. Referring back to the question of whether or not horses can eat turnips, they most certainly can. Turnips are one of the better vegetables that you can feed your horse and there’s a good chance that your horse will appreciate the variety that you are adding to its diet.
Of course, when you feed your horse the turnip, you will need to make sure that you have properly washed the turnip so that it will be free of any pesticides, molds, chemicals, and dirt that it may have picked up during the growing process. This will also ensure that when you feed your horse a turnip, it will be completely safe for it to eat.
As for how much of a turnip a horse can eat, they can generally eat small pieces of a turnip at a time. If this is the first time you are feeding your horse a turnip, you should only feed it one small piece at a time to make sure that there aren’t any underlying allergies to turnips or anything in the turnip family of vegetables.
From here, you should make sure that the pieces of turnip are large enough that the horse can actively chew on them.
If your horse is older or has dental issues, you can blend the turnip in some water (or a horse-safe liquid) and mix that into a grain treat for your horse. Aside from this, you will want to leave the skin of the treat on.
To be on the safe side, you should only feed your horse the bulk of the turnip, rather than the stems and stalks of it. Your horse, no matter the size, should only get about one or two pieces of turnip each day.
How Much Is Too Much?
Any more turnip than one or two pieces per day can cause a whole host of problems for the horse. For one, the sugars in the produce are going to be detrimental to its health if it has too many of them. As the most basic problem, when a horse eats too much of a treat, it is going to fill up its stomach and cause the horse to feel full.
Horses need to eat frequently, but if a horse feels full, it is likely not going to feel inclined to eat despite the fact that it should. This can lead to even more digestive distress, which can be physically stressful for your horse depending on its overall health.
You should always err on the side of caution and feed your horse less than the maximum amount that it can eat, such as only one piece of turnip per day.