Feeding Honey to Horses

Including honey in the equine diet is common in some countries, but is it safe?
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feeding honey to horses
Honey can be used to add energy to a horse's diet or entice picky eaters to consume their rations. | Photo: iStock

Q.I recently learned that feeding honey to horses is a common practice in some Eastern European and Middle Eastern countries. Why would you feed honey and is it safe?

A.One tablespoon of honey (21 grams) contains 17 grams of sugar. Therefore, the main reason behind feeding honey to horses is that it’s a readily available energy source. Honey’s sweetness might also entice picky eaters to consume their rations.

Honey 101

Like table sugar, honey is made up of glucose and fructose; however, where table sugar contains almost equal amounts of glucose and fructose, honey is about 40% fructose and 30% glucose. Honey also contains small amounts of other more complex sugars, as well as trace amounts of protein, enzymes, vitamins, and minerals

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Written by:

Clair Thunes, PhD, is an equine nutritionist who owns Clarity Equine Nutrition, based in Gilbert, Arizona. She works as a consultant with owners/trainers and veterinarians across the United States and globally to take the guesswork out of feeding horses and provides services to select companies. As a nutritionist she works with all equids, from WEG competitors to Miniature donkeys and everything in between. Born in England, she earned her undergraduate degree at Edinburgh University, in Scotland, and her master’s and doctorate in nutrition at the University of California, Davis. Growing up, she competed in a wide array of disciplines and was an active member of the U.K. Pony Club. Today, she serves as the district commissioner for the Salt River Pony Club.

2 Responses

  1. Years ago a pony I had developed breathing problems after I moved him to another field. I gave him a spoonful of honey in some feed which I acquired from a friend who kept bees about a mile away from the field. After a few days of doing this he recovered completely.

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