Can Horses Eat Kale?

Kale is a vegetable belonging to the Brassica family, and can horses eat kale? they can’t, as kale is known to be toxic to horses. Kale is known as a cruciferous vegetable and includes other leafy vegetables like broccoli and cabbage. A horse has a complex digestive tract and can tolerate many types of fruit and vegetables, when you get your horse, make a list so that you know what he can and can’t eat, as we want your horse to eat something that is safe and healthy treat. As a herbivore, you will be feeding your horse primarily on hay and alfalfa, with some protein mixed in, get a fact sheet from your vet so that you know how to feed a horse.

When a horse eats a lot of kale, two different problems can occur, and they are anemia and gas or bloat, and I have outlined them below, as both can be serious issues, anemia can lead to death. Bloat can also kill a horse if it is not treated properly.


If you think, can horses eat kale, no they can’t as the horse might develop anemia, as the kale leads to destruction and inhibition of the red blood cells. If your horse got loose in the kale field and ate a large amount, as horses do, he wouldn’t actually die but would become very anemic and you would need a visit from the vet. Just one or two leaves would not hurt the horse, but why give him any when there are so many healthy snacks he can have. He can even eat bananas, and this is good because they are easy to peel and can be instantly fed to the horse, it would be easy enough to give him a banana a day. Problems arise when your horse is left without enough suitable food available to him and if he continued to eat the kale he would eventually die, but fortunately, usually, someone realizes what is happening and stops it.

If a horse is left with insufficient feed like hay and alfalfa he will become desperate and often eat whatever he can forage, and he will end up sick anemic, and in very poor condition. In other words, this type of anemia is caused by starving the horse of its key nutrients and is often seen in horse refuges where the abused and neglected horses are taken to recover.

You should never allow your horse near your daily cup of coffee, as even a small amount of caffeine can cause heart irregularities in a horse. Although horses have been seen tied up outside the pub drinking beer, that is most likely not good for them either, so keep them away from stimulants. You would never mean to mistreat your horse, and learning to understand what certain vegetables and some fruits can do to his system, as the digestive system of the horse works very differently to humans is necessary, as food that we thrive on is not good for a horse.

Cruciferous Vegetables Including Kale


Can horses eat kale is not a good idea as apart from anemia it will also give them a lot of gas. When a horse gets too much gas in his intestines he will often lie down and froth at the mouth. This is a medical emergency and the vet must be called as sometimes the gas has to be released by a surgical procedure, or the horse is at risk of death. This is an extreme case of colic and only happens when the horse eats a large amount of the wrong food. Other vegetables that are similar and may lead to colic are Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, and broccoli all causing a huge amount of gas to build up in the horse, leading to discomfort and bloating. Horses can and do take a liking to foods that are not suitable for their systems if they are hungry and see these vegetables they will probably consume them. Their digestive systems are geared towards high roughage foods that break down slowly when consumed. In his field the horse will eat weeds like dandelion and thistle, small amounts don’t harm them, as long as too many don’t grow. Another vegetable the horse should not eat is raw potato. If you pick one up off the ground, you will often notice a green tinge on part of it, this is selenium and is toxic to horses, and can be toxic to humans as well. So don’t risk giving potatoes to a horse.

Horses and Fruit

Some fruits are okay for horses, but as you can see some vegetables are dangerous to horses. Can horses eat kale, you will know it is safer to offer some fruit as a treat, as long as no pips are involved. Most horses will eat fruit but stick to chopped-up apples, figs, and plums with the pips removed. Anything too big may prove a choking hazard to the horse, as they tend to swallow things whole. Your horse will also enjoy some watermelon, so if you have some available, chop it up in Summer for a treat.

Breeding Your Horse

When you are breeding a mare it is important that she is in optimal health before foaling. If you decide to breed your horse, they have a very long pregnancy, usually a full year. During that time enforce a diet watch the horse’s intake of food carefully. Give regular fruit treats like figs. Be aware that horses usually breed during the summer months, and that veterinary care will be required to see the pregnancy through. Like a human pregnancy this is the time to be careful that the mare or mother horse only eats foods that are good for her, so absolutely no kale before or during the pregnancy. Once the foal is born you can start training him not to eat vegetables and fruit unless it is offered to him. If your foal is going to have good habits, training starts early. Horses like to feel safe when having their young and will choose a safe site for foaling away from predators.

Once a foal is born he will stand up and start to drink almost immediately. Horses are lactose intolerant, so never give a foal a bottle of cow’s milk. If the horse can’t feed or the mother dies in foal, call the vet immediately as a foal won’t thrive on cows’ milk, as a pet lamb will.

Can Horses Eat Kale? Horse Treats

The horse likes sweet foods, but try not to give sugar lumps as these will ultimately rot his teeth. Use carrots or pumpkin chopped into pieces as the horse will really like pumpkin as it is sweet. Keep the treats to a minimum, once a day, and don’t offer kale leaves, once we have identified that something is bad for your horse, keep it away from him. The more correct foods he has the healthier he will be. If your horse shows any lethargy or signs of ill health call the vet immediately, as horses often require a blood test to make sure they are healthy and to identify a lack of essential nutrients that can be supplied as vitamins.

Horses are Heavy

If your horse has become heavy, he may be reluctant to move. So when you are out riding, take some carrots or pieces of apple to incentivize him to keep exercising and moving. An older horse often becomes reluctant to exercise and wants to stay at home grazing. Horses can live for 30 years when they are healthy and well cared for.

Trees in Horse Enclosure

Keep fruit trees out of the horse’s field, as the horse will eat any fruit and the tree, in the field. It is best to have a safe shade tree, as they will chew on the tree’s leaves. Many fruit trees and fruits are toxic to horses. Some animals can safely eat avocados, but not horses because of the persin content in all parts of the fruit and tree. Avocado is a worry, and if you find your horse chewing on one remove it and seek veterinary attention as avocado is not safe for a horse to eat. If a horse eats other wrong foods, don’t panic, but lead him to safety and contact your vet, as certain things like small amounts of kale will be okay as long as it does not happen often.

The Horse Diet

Never give your horse lawn clippings as they may contain poisenous weeds. Sometimes when the horse becomes ill it will take a large number of blood tests and other investigations to get to the root of the problem. It is not worth risking the horse’s health, and there are quite a few fruits and vegetables, especially vegetables that they can’t eat. So can horses eat kale, the answer should be no, as explaining the details is really quite complex.