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Discussion on Carrots

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Marcia A Rollins
Username: Avandia

Post Number: 20
Registered: 12-2003
Posted on Thursday, Nov 24, 2005 - 1:14 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Please can you advise how many carrots a horse can eat per day. My horse Truman whose situation is on the discussion 'Vet at a loss' got into the carrot bin and ate like a horse who has not been interested in feed for several months. Is nature telling me something here! For the time he was eating it gave me hope!
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Sara Wolff
Username: Mrose

Post Number: 968
Registered: 1-2000
Posted on Thursday, Nov 24, 2005 - 6:03 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

I don't really know, but I do know that on the tracks the trainers used to keep bushels of carrots and the horses were fed about 10/day all chopped up in their oats, plus a few handed out as treats. I'd guess that like most feeds the horse needs to get used to them gradually. I'd just keep an eye on him, but I imagine he'll be o.k.

Carrots are sugary, so most horses (but not all) like them. They also are high in vitamins. From what you've posted it sounds like Truman gets a pretty well balanced diet.
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Robert N. Oglesby DVM
Username: Dro

Post Number: 14191
Registered: 1-1997
Posted on Friday, Nov 25, 2005 - 10:04 am:   Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Marcia,
As much as everyone thinks that carrots and horses go together, there are no published studies on carrots as a staple in the horses diet. In our article Care for Horses » Nutrition » Nutritional Content of Common Feedstuffs for Horses the nutritional profile for carrots is listed. As you can see on a dry matter basis it compares almost exactly with grains in the macronutrients with the exception of having more calcium (a good thing). However carrots are appx. 90% water while grain is appx. 10% (9 lb of carrots = 0.9 lb of grain in the amount of nutrition it provides).

I was wondering if overtime is there enough vitamin A to cause toxicity if used as a main part of the diet. Carrots do not contain preformed vitamin A but instead pre-vitamin A components known as retinoids of which beta-carotene is one. These are converted to vitamin A by the liver and stored for future use. It is believed that the ingestion of these preformed retinoids are not as likely to cause toxicity because absorption and conversion decrease with increased vitamin A storage in the liver. Vitamin A supplements will be increasingly toxic in a diet rich with retinoids however.

Hmm...there are too many unknowns, including some particulars of vitamin A metabolism in the horse, to give you specific amounts of carrots or vitamin A supplementation that would be safe with a diet high in carrots. I cannot find a case of vitamin A toxicosis in the horse related to feeding carrots, for more on this see, Care for Horses » Nutrition » Vitamin A and Horses.
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Username: Frances

Post Number: 186
Registered: 3-2004
Posted on Friday, Nov 25, 2005 - 2:45 pm:   Edit PostPrint Post

Marcia, I wonder if other fresh foods in addition to carrots would tempt your horse's appetite and perhaps provide good nutrition too?

I'm thinking particularly of greens grown for human consumption, such as endive. Here in Greece a number of vets recommend the daily feeding of bitter greens (well-washed to remove any pesticides), as they are apparently beneficial to the digestive system, and also provide nutrients which are useful to horses which are not at pasture.

I give my horse up to a kilo a day of various fresh greens (unfortunately I don't know what they're called in English other than that one type is endive) and have done so for years. When she had colic one day last summer, the vet was very pleased that I had greens with me to give her once she was recovering, and said they were the best thing after colic. He was a racetrack vet, and mentioned that they give up to 5 kilos to the racehorses to make up for their lack of grazing.

It just occurred to me that since carrots got Truman's appetite going, other horse-friendly veggies might do so as well, but let's see if DrO is in favour or not?

All the best

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