Can Horses Eat Almonds?
The short answer to the question can horse eat almonds?’ is yes. However, as with all things, there is more to know before you indiscriminately feed almonds to your beloved horse. Read on to find out why you need to take care when giving your horse some almonds.
A balanced diet
Horses are classed as herbivores. As vegetarians they only eat plant material. It is important, therefore, to ensure your horse receives a balanced diet if it is to thrive and enjoy good health.
The mainstay of any horse’s diet will be grass, especially during summer months. Your horse will happily graze fresh grass and it is important that it has access to clean pasture. Hay is the standard back-up for times when fresh grass is hard to come by and during the winter months.
Horses love grains like corn or oats. However, it is important not to feed wheat to your horse. You may also wish to add supplements and salt and other minerals to the diet.
We would be bored if we had to eat the same foods all the time. Your horse is no different and will appreciate some different treats from time to time. This is the best way to feed it some almonds – as an occasional treat. Other treats might include carrots, sunflower seeds, peppermints, apple, raisins, sugar cubes and hay cubs. An occasional handful of granola can be a treat too.
Let’s concentrate now on almonds and why they can be good for your horse.
Benefits of almonds as a food for horses
1. Hoof health. Almonds contain several compounds that promote good hoof health in a horse. Your horse only needs to eat tiny amounts of these various compounds, but they still need them for the best health. Manganese and copper, Vitamin E, Biotin and various monosaturated and unsaturated fats all act as aids to good hoof health.
2. Boost to the immune system. The compounds listed above also contribute in a major way to your horse’s immune system. In addition its digestion will be improved and it will enjoy better overall health.
Factors to consider when feeding almonds to your horse
We usually speak of almonds as nuts. In fact they are not. They are fruits and they grow as a seed within an outer casing called a hull. This means there are a few things to remember when feeding almonds to horses:
1. The hulls. The hulls of the almond are a super-fiber. An almond is ripe only when the hull has dried. The dry hull is separated from the almond itself, but is not discarded. Horses find the hulls easily digestible. It has been suggested that a horse will benefit from super-fibers up to 45% of its daily diet. Dry almond hulls can be a major element in a super-fiber feed.
2. Quantities. Although almonds contain much that is beneficial to a horse’s health, they are high in fat. As horses have no gall-bladder and therefore can’t easily break down fats, too many almonds will make them ill. Some owners feel that 6 or maybe 8 almonds a day is fine for a treat, but no more.
3. Leaves. Do not feed your horse the leaves from an almond tree. Also avoid the leaves of other fruit trees like peaches, plums and cherries. All of these are toxic to horses.
4. Other nuts. We have already seen that almonds are not nuts. Horses can eat them without fear. Nuts, however, should be avoided. Some are especially toxic to horses – black walnuts, acorns, sago palm nuts and buckeyes should particularly be avoided. They all contain toxins that can harm a horse.
5. Almond flour. Many horse-owners advise that the best way to feed almonds to your horse is as almond flour. This makes it easy for your horse to eat it and digest it. Most owners suggest that a quarter of a cup of almond flour each day will be sufficient to keep your horse healthy.
6. Almond butter. Some horse-owners give their horses peanut butter as a treat. Almond butter can also be fed to horses, but should be given only in small quantities and then only occasionally. Some horses do not like the texture of either peanut or almond butter.
In answer to the question, we can say that it is fine to feed horses almonds. Just don’t give them too many at a time. Only feed as an occasional treat.
The dry hull of the almond fruit is a fantastic super-fiber and will benefit your horse as part of its normal diet.