Horses - Diet and Nutrition/Horse nutrition


In some countries, horsemeat is on offer to buy. I was curious as to what horses are fed on year-round, especially those horses which are meant for human consumption? Thanks! I got the vague impression that such horses usually start out racing and are then slaughtered for food in old age - is this correct?

Hello Geoff,

Thank you for your question.  The idea of slaughtering horses for human consumption can certainly strike the wrong chord with some people.  Having said that, human consumption of horse meat is commonplace in many cultures.  For the most part these horses start out as riding, work or racehorses.  There aren't many instances where the horses are raised intentionally for slaughter.  Rather, they often end up in feedlots and slaughter houses once they've outlived their 'usefulness' in other fields.  The only time a horse is fed intentionally for the purpose of fattening them for slaughter, is when they are redirected to a feedlot prior to slaughter.  

In natural or 'wild' settings, horses would consume forages...mostly grasses and legumes.  In domesticated settings horses will eat either fresh or cultivated forages (grasses or legumes), cereal grains, high protein by products, fat (plant or animal), vitamins and minerals.  The racehorse and pleasure horse industry will also feed a number of supplements, herbal or otherwise, to help improve performance and animal comfort. I hope that helps with your questions.

Thanks, Corlena  

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Corlena Patterson


I can help with any of your horse nutrition questions and concerns. I have been involved with horses for closing on 40 years, with a B.Sc in Animal Science and currently working on an M.Sc in Equine Science with the University of Edinburgh. I have owned my own feed store, consulted professionally as an equine nutritionist, and lectured in the fields of equine and dairy nutrition at the University level for 5 years. I have developed and currently market 'Ration-X', a ration formulation program for horses...designed for the everyday horse owner. I am happy to help in any way I can.


Experienced in developing and implementing feed programs for horses of all disciplines, creating custom horse supplements and managing inter-disciplinary equine facilities. Specialize in equine nutrition consulting.

The American Society of Equine Appraisers

'Stable Management' Handbook, Equine Canada.

M.Sc (Equine Science-current), B.Sc(Agr) Animal Science, Equine Sports Massage Therapy Certification, Farrier Certification, Equine Consultant Certification, Certified Equine Appraiser, Certified in Emergency Equine Rescue.

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