Yes, horses can eat blackberries – in fact, they love eating blackberries. Wild horses encounter blackberries in the wild often and use this thorny fruit as a source of healthy nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
As a horse owner, you can feed blackberries to horses in moderation – as you can with most other sweet and sugary fruits. But like other snacks, consuming too many blackberries can be harmful to horses. So, you need to be careful not to overdo it.
In this guide, we’ll explain all you need to know about blackberries and the role they can play in your horse’s diet.
Nutritional Content of Blackberries
Blackberries are more than just a tasty snack. For horses, they provide a strong vitamin and mineral boost to their regular diet. In terms of vitamin content, blackberries provide horses with a dose of vitamin C, vitamin K, and Vitamin E.
But that’s not all! Feeding blackberries to horses is good because the nutritional content includes:
In every 100 grams of blackberries, there are 5 grams of fibre. This significant level of fibre makes the fruit a great option for those looking to top up their horses’ fibre intake. Of course, keeping your horse’s fibre levels up is essential. Fibre should equate to around 50% of their diet, after all.
There is around 0.9 mg of manganese in every 100 grams of blackberries. The positive effects manganese has on horses are substantial – from strengthening bones to creating a healthier immune system. Manganese also supports collagen synthesis.
There are 29 mg of calcium in a 100-gram cup of blackberries. Obviously, calcium is great for supporting bone development in horses and maintaining bone health. However, there are other health benefits, including the fact it prevents blood clotting.
There is 162 mg worth of potassium in every 100 grams of blackberries. You’ll find the most potassium in the blackberry leaves, so it would be recommended to serve a few leaves to your horse alongside the blackberries themselves. Potassium helps keep the cells hydrated and also keeps muscles and nerves functioning at a healthy level.
The Health Benefits of Feeding Your Horse Blackberries
So, blackberries are rich in potassium, calcium, manganese, and fibre, but how does this actually translate into health benefits for your horse?
Here’s what horse owners can expect when feeding blackberries to horses:
They keep your horse’s antioxidant levels high
Blackberries contain several antioxidants, such as ellagic acid, polyphenols, and flavonoids. If your horse is out grazing all day in the summer heat, it’ll likely sweat out a large amount of antioxidants.
On hot days, allowing your horse to snack on a portion of blackberries will help you keep their antioxidant levels in check.
Alternatively, if your horse is undergoing a particularly strenuous workout routine and sweating a lot, blackberries would be a good snacking option.
The antioxidants found in blackberries contain anti-inflammatory properties and are particularly good at fending off cancer.
Another bonus of blackberries is that they contain salicylic acid. Not only does this antioxidant moisturize the skin, but it also stops skin cells from adhering. This helps horses to remove dead skin cells, which boosts their overall skin health.
While the high sugar content found in other fresh fruits can be bad for horse dental health, blackberries may actually be good for your horse’s teeth. Blackberries contain antibacterial properties, which can combat the bacteria ruining your horse’s teeth.
So, on top of regular dental checks, feeding them an occasional helping of blackberries could keep thier teeth in good order
Horses love blackberries because they taste great – what they might not be realizing is that blackberries also improve their mental health. The high level of antioxidants found in blackberries can alter how brain cells interact, and can even combat free radicals.
How to Incorporate Blackberries into Your Horse’s Diet Safely
You should let your horses eat blackberries as a reward for good behaviour. You don’t need to serve them in any particular way – just palm-feed them to your horse.
Some would suggest mixing them with oats and other horse feed, however, we’d recommend against this. When mixed with oats, horses can sometimes eat blackberries too quickly without chewing them properly.
Also, be sure to rinse the blackberries before serving them to your horse.
After feeding blackberries to your horse for the first time, you should also monitor them for any signs of allergic reactions. Like most other reactions to fresh fruit, the signs of your horse being allergic to blackberries will be self-evident (more on this later).
How Many Blackberries Can Horses Eat?
While blackberries can serve as a nutritious snack, you should not feed horses blackberries regularly. The high sugar content of the fruit could cause tummy upset if served too frequently. They should instead be reserved for an occasional healthy treat. For example, you could give a portion of blackberries to your horse as a reward for exercise and training sessions.
Which brings us to the question: how big should a portion be?
A handful of blackberries will suffice – i.e., around 5-10 blackberries per serving. Start with small quantities (3-5 berries) and gradually build up to bigger portions.
Do all horses like Blackberries?
Find out in our videos below which horse liked them and which one didn’t
Types Of Blackberries That Are Unsafe for Horses
There is no specific type of blackberry that horses can’t eat. However, if any blackberry bushes are growing nearby where your horse regularly grazes, it would be best to determine whether the blackberries are healthy to eat or not.
In particular, you should ensure that the blackberries are free from contaminants and pesticides.
Always make sure that the blackberries are fresh, clean, and ripe to eat!
Should Horses Eat Blackberries?
You can feed horses blackberries as part of a healthy and balanced diet. Horses enjoy eating blackberries, making the fruit a great option as a rewarding snack. As aforementioned, it’s safe to allow horses to eat blackberries as long as the portions are small and infrequent.
You Shouldn’t Feed Blackberries to These Horses…
While most horses can eat blackberries safely, there are a few instances where you should avoid serving them the fruit. For example:
If your horse suffers from obesity
Obviously, if your horse is already overweight, giving them a particularly sugary treat would not be recommended. Instead, focus on creating a balanced diet plan for them with a steady caloric level and reduced sugar intake.
If they sufer from digestive problems
You should not feed horses blackberries if they have a sensitive digestive system. Blackberries may cause discomfort and even lead to gastrointestinal upset or colic.
You should consult a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to create an appropriate diet plan, and also find out which snacks are suitable for your horse to eat.
If they suffer from metabolic issues
If your horses suffer from equine metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, or any other type of metabolic issue, you should consult a horse nutritionist before serving your horses blackberries.
If they have an allergic reaction to blackberries
As we already mentioned, you need to look out for any signs of your horse suffering from an allergic reaction after feeding blackberries to them for the first time. But what will this allergic reaction look like?
- Lips, tongue, or face swelling
- Breathing difficulties
- Abnormal heartbeat
- Itchy areas or hives
- Stomach upset
You should avoid feeding blackberries to your horses if you observed any of the above reactions.
Can horses eat blackberry leaves?
Blackberry leaves are actually one of the most nutritional parts of the fruit and are safe for horses to eat. Blackberry leaves are particularly rich in flavonoids, vitamin C, and hydrolysable tannins. Not only are they highly nutritious, but horses enjoy eating the leaves of blackberries.
Can horses eat berries?
Horses can eat blackberries, as well as other berry types. This includes strawberries and blueberries. However, feeding your horse too many blackberries, strawberries, or blueberries could create health problems for your horse. As with all horse snack types, you should feed berries to your horse in moderation.