can horses eat cabbage

Can Horses Eat Cabbage?

When it comes to indulging our beloved equine companions, nothing quite compares to the joy of treating them to a delectable snack.

And, as much as you want to reward your horse for good behaviour, or simply just spoil them, not all vegetables are always a good treat!

So, if you’ve ever wondered “Can horses eat cabbage?“, the answer is NO, horses cannot eat cabbage.

Let us explain why. Here, we cover everything you need to know about the potential risks of feeding your horse cabbage and provide you with some safer alternatives.

Nutritional Content of Cabbage

Cabbage is packed with nutrients (great for us humans, of course). Every 100 g of cabbage contains:

  • 25 calories
  • 6 g carbohydrates
  • 3.2 g sugar
  • 2.5 g dietary fibre
  • 1.3 g protein
  • 18 mg sodium
  • 170 mg potassium

Cabbage also contains iron, magnesium and calcium, as well as vitamin C and B6.

The Health Risks of Feeding Your Horse Cabbage

While there is much debate amongst horse owners about cabbage being relatively okay for horses to eat, we advise against feeding your horse cabbage. The risk certainly outweighs the reward and there are plenty of other great vegetables out there that horses can safely eat!

Sure, it may seem baffling that horses eat lettuce and Brussels sprouts safely in moderation, but not cabbage – a vegetable that also belongs to the cruciferous family.

Here’s why this leafy vegetable is a no-go for your horse’s diet:

Causes gastrointestinal issues

Cabbage contains a sugar compound known as raffinose, which can cause bloating and intestinal gas in both humans and animals.

While for some humans being bloated and gassy might not be a big issue, when horses eat cabbage leaves, they may suffer a great deal more, and experience a lot of discomfort from gas pains and gas-related colic.

Horses, unlike humans, can not burp or belch. This is because a horse’s digestive system is one way. This makes it impossible for horses to expel the excess gas produced when eating cabbage through their mouth.

May cause toxicity

While cabbage is known for its nutritional benefits in human diets, it contains sulfur-containing compounds called glucosinolates.

When horses consume cabbage, these compounds can be broken down during chewing and digestion, releasing potentially toxic substances.

The presence and quantity of glucosinolates in cabbage can vary depending on factors such as cabbage variety, growing conditions, and storage conditions, making it challenging to determine a safe amount for horses to consume.

How to Stop Horses from Eating Cabbage

Try to, at all times, keep cabbage away from your horse.

Remove any cabbage from the horse’s paddock or stable and close gates to your garden if you grow cabbage to prevent your horse from eating it.

Tell your farmworkers about the dangers of feeding cruciferous vegetables to your horse to ensure they don’t mistakenly feed them something they shouldn’t eat.

What Are Some Horse-Safe Alternatives to Cabbage?

Although cabbage is not suitable for your horse, there are numerous tasty and safe vegetables that you can offer to your equine companion.

So, if you want to spoil your horse with a crispy vegetable treat – and avoid cabbage altogether – try one of the following horse-safe vegetables:


There’s a reason carrots are a traditional favourite among horses – they’re delicious and safe!

Carrots contain low amounts of sugar and carbohydrates, Potassium, and Magnesium and also provide your horse with generous amounts of vitamins A, C, E & K.

Carrots promote digestion, relieve constipation, and promote a healthy coat. Other benefits of carrots include improving horses’ immune system and function, supporting bone health and acting as an anti-inflammatory.


Did you know that most horses have a secret craving for cucumbers? It turns out these crunchy delights are not only a tasty treat but also brimming with all the good stuff.

Cucumbers promote strong and healthy bones thanks to their high levels of potassium, calcium, and vitamins.

Cucumbers also boast a rich concentration of antioxidants, effectively combating the presence of troublesome free radicals that can induce inflammation within your horse’s body.


Yes, horses eat celery – from the stalks to the leaves to the seeds.

Fresh celery contains fibre, vitamins A, B9, and C, as well as phosphorus, magnesium and water.

Celery is also high in cellulose – cellulose encourages chewing, which stimulates saliva production which can be beneficial for horses with stomach ulcers.

Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a great sweet treat for horses. They are packed with Vitamin C and potassium but, because of their relatively high sugar and starch content, should be given in moderation.

Care should also be taken when feeding them to starch-sensitive horses, as large quantities may wreak havoc on your horse’s blood sugar and insulin levels.


Horses can eat pumpkin too as a yummy treat. Pumpkins are low in sugar and carbohydrates, have a high fibre content and contain vitamins A and E.

Pumpkins also contain a lot of water which helps with hydration – great for our hardworking equines!


Can horses eat dried cabbage?

No, dried cabbage, like fresh cabbage, contains raffinose which causes bloating and intestinal gas in horses which can lead to discomfort and pain. In severe cases, it can lead to colic and potentially fatal outcomes when a horse has consumed too much dried or fresh cabbage.

Can horses eat red cabbage?

No. Even though red cabbage contains more vitamins and minerals than green cabbage, it also contains raffinose which causes bloating and intestinal gas in horses.

Can horses eat savoy cabbage?

No, savoy cabbage also belongs to the cruciferous family of vegetables and contains raffinose.

What is the best diet for horses?

A balanced diet for horses contains ample amounts of pasture grass, hay and grains. In addition to providing good quality feed, also ensure that your horse has access to fresh water and that they consume sufficient amounts of minerals and salt.

A horse’s regular diet can be supplemented with fruits and vegetables as a treat to boost the nutrient and water levels in their diet.

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