Can Horses Eat Chicken Feed?

Chicken feed for horses? Has this question ever come to your mind because it crossed mine two days back when my horse tried to eat it from the feeding pot? I was successful in saving my horse from taking a bite. This incident scared me to death as I have heard that chicken feed can kill the horse. 

Chicken feed is enriched with nutrients, both medicated and unmedicated ready-made chicken food is the best way to supply chickens with all the needed vitamins and minerals.

Besides supplying all the needed vitamins and minerals, it enhances disease-resistance in the chicken’s body and helps in improving the meat and egg quality.  Chicken feed is therefore rewarding in all senses. 

How can a thing that is so enriching harm something? Frankly, I never bothered to search what makes the chicken feed so harmful? But that incident led me to my browser as I wanted to know what I could have faced if my horse was successful in consuming the chicken feed from the feeding pot.

Now that I know the risks and rewards of feeding chicken feed to the horses. It’s mandatory to enlighten you as well.  Without further ado, let’s discuss today’s topic in detail. To keep the tradition alive, let’s start with the simplest most Googled question.

Can horses eat chicken feed?

No, chicken feed is harmful to the horses. You may not notice any side effects immediately but it’s extremely harmful. Frequent feeding can kill the horse. The horses can only eat processed food in the form of hay cubes or pellets.

Horses may have been consuming more or less the grains and the treats that are healthy for chickens but the chicken feed is a big no-no as it’s not at all safe for them.

Why Chicken feed is harmful for horses? 

It’s poisonous because it contains some additives that are proven to be toxic for horses. For horses, the ingredients of chicken-feed work the synonymous way as a slow poison. And how can it be beneficial for horses if it’s intended to serve the needs of a “totally” different creature?

Medicated or unmedicated it doesn’t matter

The chicken feed is available in the market in forms; medicated chicken feed and unmedicated chicken feed. It’s extremely harmful to the horses whether it’s medicated or unmedicated. 

Both feeds put the horse in different kinds of trouble. The unmedicated feed that is mostly made by combining barley, flaxseed, peas, organic wheat, sesame oil, molasses fish, and corn, etc, is high in starch that kills the beneficial bacteria in the hindgut which results in severe colic. (Resource)

The medicated chicken feed contains Amprolium, Coccidiostat, and Lasalocid as main ingredients.

These ingredients on frequent consumption can kill the horses. “Coccidiostat” is extremely poisonous for animals like horses, donkeys, llamas, alpaca, and camelids. 

Lasalocid and Amprolium have also got a bad reputation to be fed to the horses.

But the horses can eat unprocessed chicken feed

Commercial chicken feed whether it’s medicated or not is just not meant for the horses but they can eat unprocessed chicken feed like grains etc. 

Never feed chicken feed to the horses

We all know chickens are omnivores and horses are herbivores then how can they eat the same thing?  The chicken feed is made to fulfill the needs of omnivores not herbivores. The said feed contains a noticeable quantity of ingredients that only omnivores can digest. So, it shouldn’t be fed to the horses at all.

You are probably here either your horse has consumed a noticeable amount of chicken feed without even you knowing or you are wondering whether it’s good for the horses or not? In both cases, half knowledge is dangerous. If the horse is already suffering from chicken feed toxicity do not hesitate to call the vet.

So whether your horse has already eaten chicken feed( I’m afraid if this is the case) or you are planning to put it on horse feed you should know what health issues your horse can face within a day or so.

The possible issues horse can face after consuming chicken feed

Well, the horse may not show any obvious sign of toxicity for a few hours or even a day but the possible issue the horse may face first, if not severe, is intestinal upset. The intestinal upset is the first sign of chicken feed toxicity.

The health issues that a horse is going to face depends on the type of chicken feed it has eaten and how much it has consumed. If the chicken feed is consumed in small quantities; diarrhoea, colic, and laminitis but if it is devoured in a huge amount of heart failure or death.


What vitamins and minerals chicken feed has? Do the horses need them?

The chickens mainly need niacin, choline, pantothenic, riboflavin, thiamine, biotin, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, iodine, cobalt, zinc, iron, vitamin A, D, E, and K.

The chicken feed is therefore made to supply all the needed nutrients. No doubt, the horses need iron, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, zinc to be active and healthy but they should be supplied in a horse-friendly way.

Moreover, the horses require more protein-rich foods and chicken food is just not enough to meet the demand.

Related Best Mineral Salt Blocks for Horses

Lastly, What’s the point of feeding chicken when premixed horse feed is available?

Cures work only for the problem or issue they are made for. If it’s hard to arrange hay or pasture as per the needs you can get the premixed horse food from the local store nearby. It is safer and more convenient to fulfill the needs.

My recommendation 

I would like to recommend that, do not feed any premixed food made for one animal to any other animal or bird. If you find the readymade horse feed expensive the DIY door is open.  For a DIY horse food, you will need;

  • Crushed oats
  • Crushed barley
  • Barn
  • Salt.

Mix these ingredients well and serve. You can also keep the mixture aside for the future but do not store it for more than a week. 

I hope this article has helped you. The views and information presented in this article are not coming from a vet or professional but an experienced horse admirer.

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Hi, I am Waqar and active in the horse world since 2012. I have MSc (Hons) in Agriculture from the University of Agriculture Faisalabad. I love to solve equine health care issues and note down in the form of research papers. I have written hundreds of equine health care, accessories, names, and history-related blogs. My equine related work is watering a lot of horse-related magazines and blogs.

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