Can Horses Eat Bamboo?
Can horses eat bamboo, appears to be a reasonable question when it is commonly eaten by goats pigs, and pandas. To get the right information we need to know a bit more about bamboo, and what it actually contains. Even people eat some types of bamboo often served with dishes in the Chinese restaurant. You can feed bamboo to horses, but it has to be the right type of bamboo, as some bamboo is harmful to horses.
The horse can eat two types of non-invasive bamboo, and they are Bambusa oldhamii and Bambusa ventricosa. These two are very nutritious and contain up to 20% of crude protein, and are high in fiber. These are the only two types of bamboo that you should feed your horse with as the yellow invasive bamboo is toxic to horses.
Too much bamboo is not good for the horses, so feed the horse limited amounts of bamboo mixed in with his normal food, or give a few shoots a day as a treat. Wild horses living in regions with the bamboo present as a food source were found to have unusual neurological symptoms, when they were removed to a place where there was no bamboo available they recovered fully. Further trials were conducted with the same results.
The bamboo plant has some amazing benefits. It grows very easily without much water and is a good source of fiber and protein. They don’t taste very nice as they are bitter and maybe the horse realizes they contain Vitamin E good for hoof health, and vitamin B6 as well as phytosterols. The horse can also eat the bamboo leaves, and they are rich in iron and manganese.
We have to closely monitor what our horse eats because they are grazing animals they will eat continuously and often eat too much of the one thing. The horse has a very complex digestive system and is designed to eat small amounts continuously. This goes back to when horses lived in the wild and didn’t have to work or race before humans intervened in their way of life. If you see horses in the wild, like in the Snowy region of Australia the wild Brumby’s graze all day roaming from above the snowline in Summer to pastures below the snowline in Winter. This country does not offer a lot to horses as they have to forage far and wide for food, but they look healthy and continue to breed and survive. Their impact on the environment is quite damaging, but most people want them to remain there living and breeding the way they have for a century.
Humans and Horses
So can horses eat bamboo, and in reality, the leaves are the best part of the plant for them. A horse’s diet should be varied quite widely, as far as forage is concerned, and as herbivores, the leaves of the right bamboo are fine for them. It can take a horse as long as 72 hours to complete digestion, so it is important to give your horse foods high in fiber, and lots of water to drink. Humans have changed the horse’s way of life forever, and the working horse needs to be given all the right nutrients to survive.
Your Horses Environment
If you have your horse at home in an extension of your backyard, his area needs to be fenced off, and it is important not to have any trees or shrubs in the yard that are toxic to the horse. Get a list from the vet and remove anything that the horse shouldn’t eat. Also, check the grass for toxic weeds, and there are quite a few that should be removed before the horse arrives. Get a feeding plan from the vet of appropriate grains and alfalfa, and if you have the right bamboo growing he will also be able to graze on it as a treat.
Keeping a horse is quite complex, so when you ask can horses eat bamboo, yes only the noninvasive ones, and as they grow quite quickly you can put them in your yard to give the horse a bit more variety to graze on.