do horses eat baby birds

Recently, videos of horses eating baby chickens have gone viral on the internet. As someone who has owned horses for 12+ years, I suddenly found myself questioning why a horse would do this and if horses are actually omnivores. I started researching, and I thought I would report my findings on Equine Helper.

Do horses eat meat? While there may be rare instances of horses eating meat or other animals, the equine species are not omnivores. Horses are herbivores, meaning that their bodily systems were created to specifically process plants. Adding other non-plant substances to a horse’s diet puts them at risk of certain health problems.

You may be asking yourself, if horses are herbivores, then why did those horses in the videos eat the baby chickens? It’s important to know why horses display certain behaviors. In this article, I’ll share more about the horse’s digestive system, a healthy horse diet, and why those horses ate those chickens.

Why Horses Will Eat Chickens?

It wasn’t like the chicken in the infamous video just happened to get in the way of the horse biting into a piece of hay, so why would a herbivore like a horse decide to eat meat? No, the horse chose to eat the chicken after carefully observing it, and it most definitely chewed and swallowed it. (sorry) So, why would a horse exhibit this behavior?.

Horses are inquisitive animals that enjoy using their mouths and noses to examine objects. My horse will always sniff something new, give it a quick nose bump, and then try to nibble on it. When my horse encounters a new animal, such as a dog or cat, he typically gives them a nose bump and nibbles on their fur.

For a particularly inquisitive equine, a small curiosity nibble could become quite filling. My horse once grabbed a cat by the tail because he was so fascinated about it, and I had to intervene before he could stop himself. (Don’t worry, the cat hissed and scratched really well.) ).

A horse doesn’t necessarily need to eat something just because it does. It doesn’t follow that a dog should eat chocolate just because it would Horses, like all animals, often don’t know what foods are appropriate or inappropriate. They frequently eat things purely out of curiosity or necessity. While not all horses behave in this manner, I have encountered numerous horses who will sulk at anything that comes their way.

Horses need mental stimulation just like humans do. One thing that struck me about the horses in the countless videos of them gorging on chickens was that they all appeared to be by themselves in a paddock. As members of a herd, horses require the companionship of other horses in order to feel secure and mentally stimulated.

A horse may engage in unusual behavior, such as eating chickens, if it isn’t receiving enough mental stimulation. When horses receive mental stimulation at last, it can cause them to become excessively excited and even hostile.

If you’re having trouble determining whether your horse is bored, read my article on How to Tell if Your Horse Is Bored.

Due to their size, horses need a lot of resources in order to stay healthy. The good news is that high-quality forage can typically be sufficient to support your horse’s diet. An average horse will graze for 17 hours a day and consume up to 20 pounds of forage during that time.

A diet deficiency in horses is likely indicated if you observe them consuming objects that are off-limits, such as dirt, chickens, or even their own excrement. Since meat is high in protein, it may indicate that your horse is deficient in protein if you observe them consuming chickens or other meat products.

Fortunately, if your horse is lacking in this area, it is simple to give them more protein. You can add alfalfa hay or specialty grains to their diet as supplements.

See my article Why Horses Eat Dirt: Essential Behavior Guide for more information about nutritional deficiencies in horses.

So, the bottom line…

The interesting thing about horses and birds is that, if a horse is consuming them—or small mammals, or really anything strange and out of the ordinary—we need to figure out what is lacking in their diet, well-being, and nutrition, and act quickly to make that necessary adjustment. In these situations, your veterinarian’s assistance can be quite helpful as they can evaluate your pet’s body condition and the suitability of their diet.

How Food is Digested in a Horse’s Body:

The next step in the process is the digestive system. A horse has by now chewed up their grass or feed into a material that is readily absorbed. The digestive system of a herbivore is made to absorb as much nutrients, proteins, fibers, and sugars from the plant matter it has consumed as possible.

Conversely, the digestive tract of a carnivore is made to process larger food particles. Although it might be able to break down meats and other animal materials more easily, it will find it more difficult to break down plant materials. (have you ever seen the aftermath of a salad?).

It’s also important to remember that horses require constant feeding in order to produce the energy they require. Naturally, horses are far more vigilant during the day because they are prey animals. However, carnivores eat less frequently and sleep for extended periods of time. They don’t require as much energy to get by each day.


Can a horse eat a bird?

When their diet falls short of these necessities, they are inclined to feel hungry, and when a horse feels hungry, they are quite capable of thinking outside of the box in terms of foodstuffs. Should the opportunity arise, this can mean chomping down on birds and even small mammals.

Can a horse eat a baby chick?

Horses are herbivores and do not eat meat in their diet.

Do horses eat small animals?

Horses have been known to eat mice, insects, birds and even fish. Horses adapt to their environment and will eat whatever they can when push comes to shove. Domesticated horses are fed a controlled diet of grass hay and …

Why do horses eat chicken?

Diet Deficiency What is this? If you notice your horse eating things they shouldn’t eat, like chickens, dirt, or even their own poop, it’s a good sign that they have a diet deficiency. Meat is high in protein, so if you see your horse eating chickens or other meat sources, it could mean that your horse lacks protein.