Not only can horses eat oranges, but it’s in fact a very healthy treat for equines. Oranges, like other citrus fruits, contain lots of nutrients and minerals and have the same benefits to horses as they do for humans.
This article will discuss everything you need to know about feeding your horses oranges, including the health advantages, how to feed them, and which horses should maybe give the oranges a skip.
Nutritional Content of Oranges
Horses that eat oranges – including the orange peels – will get to enjoy the vitamin C found in most citrus fruits, which comes with a lot of benefits. But, before we get into the actual goodness of these fruits for horses, let’s first consider the nutritional content of a single orange:
Water: 86% by weight
Protein: 1.3 g
Carbs: 14.8 g
Sugar: 12 g
Fibre: 2.8 g
Fat: 0.2 g
Vitamin C: 82.7 mg
Folate (vitamin B): 40-50 mg
Calcium: 60.2 mg
Potassium: 232 mg
As you can see, oranges are definitely not lacking in nutritional goodness.
The antioxidants and vitamin C boost the immune system of horses. Furthermore, nice, juicy oranges are filled with water, high in fibre, but low in calories, making them the perfect snack.
The Health Benefits of Feeding Your Horse Oranges
Now that we have covered just exactly what nutrients you can find in these zesty citrus fruits, next, let’s look at exactly how all these minerals and vitamins benefit your horse.
Boosts the immune system
It should come as no surprise to you that oranges are absolutely loaded with vitamin C. And when we say loaded, we mean loaded.
A single orange provides humans with 92% of their daily requirements. And sure, horses are a bit bigger than us, but they can still enjoy the pros of this vitamin when snacking on oranges.
Vitamin C strengthens the immune system and helps your horse-pal to develop antibodies to fight off disease.
It also helps to repair damaged cells and reduces oxidative stress.
Fibre helps with digestion since it can absorb water and move food along in the gut.
Ever eaten an orange and spent the next 30 minutes picking little bits of pulp from your teeth? That’s the good stuff.
The pulp contains fibre, which helps with digesting carbs and other nutrients.
Helps with blood flow and the cardiovascular system
Horses that do strenuous exercise are in luck. The hesperidin found in oranges (a type of bioflavonoid) helps to move blood through the body during exercise, getting oxygen to where it needs to go.
If your horse gets exercise-induced bleeding in the lungs, hesperidin can reduce the haemorrhaging of blood capillaries, lessening this condition.
After training, your horse will be able to recover much quicker. But, don’t let your horse eat oranges straight after exercise. Let them cool down first before feeding them treats.
Benefits of orange peels
If you are wondering “Can horses eat orange peels and is it actually good for them?” then you might be happy to know the answer is yes.
The peels contain a lot of vitamin C, but that’s not all.
When horses eat orange peel, they consume polyphenol, which is an essential oil that boosts their immune response, is anti-inflammatory and helps fight diseases.
Limonene, another chemical in the peel, has anti-cancer properties and helps to prevent tumours.
I’d like an orange please…
How to Incorporate Oranges into Your Horse’s Diet Safely
Feeding fruits as part of your horse’s feed is actually simple, especially if your horse enjoys the taste. Here are some tips to get your equine friend to enjoy oranges.
With the orange peels
Make sure to wash the orange with hot water before feeding it to your horse, to get rid of any toxins that were sprayed on.
Cut the orange in half, and then cut each half into three slices.
You can then feed your horse these bite-sized wedges.
Without the orange peels
Some horses might not want to eat the whole orange as the peel has a bitter taste.
Simply wash the oranges and remove the rind. Cut the orange into wedges or blocks and feed it to your horse as a tasty treat.
Orange treats for horses
You can get a bit creative if they turn their nose up at the whole orange:
Frozen slices: Wash the orange, remove the peel, and cut it into wedges. Freeze the wedges in a container. Feed a couple of frozen wedges at a time – these sweet frozen treats are perfect for a hot day.
Mix with bran mash: Peel the orange and cut it into slices. Mix the slices with bran mash (wheat bran mixed with boiling water). You can also add additional healthy treats, like other fresh fruits, carrots and oats.
How Many Oranges Can Horses Eat?
Don’t just unleash your herd into the orange orchards.
All good things should be taken in moderation, and oranges are no exception.
Feed your horse a maximum of two oranges per week, otherwise, they could suffer from digestive issues.
Types Of Oranges That Are Unsafe for Horses
Every part of the orange is safe for horses – including the orange peel and the seeds.
Make sure to cut the orange into wedges as your horse will struggle to chew whole oranges.
Also, make sure to wash the fruit first to remove chemicals from the peel.
What Are Some Horse-Safe Alternatives to Oranges?
Oranges are completely safe for horses, but here are some other citrus fruits to feed your horse if they do not enjoy the taste:
Tangerines: They have less sugar than oranges, and are less acidic. Feed them to horses in small quantities.
Grapefruits: Grapefruits also have less sugar and lower acidity than oranges, making them a great alternative (if your horse can stand the bitter taste).
Clementines: You can feed one or two clementines to your horse each week as a tasty, healthy treat.
Should Horses Eat Oranges?
Now we know the answer to “Can horses eat oranges?“. But just because they can, does it mean they should?
If the amazing benefits described above have not yet convinced you then let’s make this clear: Yes.
Oranges are really healthy for horses, but should be fed in moderation – no more than two a week.
You Shouldn’t Feed Oranges to These Horses…
Some horses should not be snacking on this citrus fruit:
Horses with metabolic-related diseases: potassium and sugar can worsen their conditions.
Horses with hyperkalemic periodic paralysis (HYPP)
Can horses drink orange juice?
Horses can have orange juice as long as it is fresh from the fruit. Your horse should never be given any processed food or soft drinks. Be very careful though as it’s high in sugar
Can horses eat orange seeds?
Yes, orange seeds contain lots of antioxidants and can provide your horse with energy. The seeds are too small to be a choking hazard or cause any problems in the digestive system.
What fruits can horses not eat?
Horses should not eat stone fruits or fruits with a pit. Cherries, avocados and peaches should be avoided as they cause gas and colic.