Do Horses Eat Chickens? (Answered)

You might have probably seen a horse eating chicken and wondered what was happening. Typically, horses are famous attractive creatures known to depend on live plants as their diet primarily. Do horses eat chickens? — this is among the commonly asked questions unanswered.

Thankfully, the following sections will answer various questions about horses eating chickens and the possible benefits or side effects of feeding on these birds. Read on!


Do Horses Eat Chicks?

Yes, horses eat chickens, but when they are hungry. When you find your horse eating chicks, there is not enough food in the trough. Consequently, it implies that your horse is not getting the required nutrition. 

Further, since you can only see the exposed parts of your horse, such as its neck and head, your horse might have been starving before the occasion of eating a chick. Typically, horses eat meat when there is no other food available. An empty trough and a skinny neck show that your horse is hungry, which is when the chick becomes part of its meal.

In the wild, horses only follow a plant-based diet. However, when there is a lack of enough plants to eat in the wild, a horse might be forced to eat a chick. Hopeless horses eat small animals like chicks to curb their hunger.

You will not easily see a horse chasing and eating large animals. These creatures usually only go hunting for other animals as food. Also, research shows that herbivores will only eat meat when there is no other option.

Why Do Horses Eat Chicks?

Horses eat chicks due to hunger, boredom, curiosity, and diet deficiency. It is too hard to find herbivorous creatures, such as a horse eating a chick. Also, no horse actively watches a chicken and gets attracted to eat it.

Here are the possible reasons why you will find a horse eating chicks:


Horses are curious creatures that like inspecting things using their mouth and nose. If you show a horse an unfamiliar object, it first sniffs at it, hits it using its nose, and tries to noble at it. Also, if he notices a new animal, such as a dog or a cat, he first bops them using his nose and nobles at their fur.

A small curiosity nibble may turn into a feast if you have a generally curious horse. On other occasions, a horse may be interested in a pet, such as a cat, and lift it using its tail.

When you find a horse eating a chick doesn’t mean it is its main diet. Like any other animals, horses lack the know hood of what they should be eating and what they should not. They mainly eat things they should not eat out of circumstance or curiosity.

Diet Deficiency

Horses are large-sized creatures that require adequate nutrients to stay healthy. An average-sized horse grazes for 17 hours daily and eats 20 pounds of fodder during its timespan. Fortunately, high-quality fodder is enough to maintain your horse’s diet.

If you notice your horse eating a chick even after supplying it with enough fodder, it may be a sign of diet deficiency. Chicken meat is a rich source of proteins, and therefore, it may be a sign that your horse lacks enough proteins.

Nonetheless, you can still ensure sufficient protein intake for your horse by supplying it with a protein supplement in its diet. Some of these supplements may include alfalfa hay and specialized hay.


Like human beings, horses also need mental stimulation. In the most recorded scenarios of horses feeding on chicks, they are always out of their paddock on their own. Horses are herd animals that need to be accompanied to be assured of security and feel mentally stimulated.

If your horse lacks mental stimulation, he may do unusual things, such as eating chicks. Lack of mental stimulation in horses leads to aggressiveness and over-enthusiasm when given this attention later. However, you can easily track your horse’s level of boredom to prevent them from unwanted behaviors such as feeding on chicks.

Do Horses Eat Meat?

No, it is not common to find horses eating meat. Horses are herbivores creatures that primarily feed on plant-based food. However, you will find a horse eating meat due to starvation, curiosity, and diet deficiency.

Horses’ digestive systems are made to absorb nutrients from plants and plant-based food. Feeding horses meat exposes their body to the risk of health complications. When you find your horse feeding on chicks and animals, it is hungry or needs more proteins in its main diet.

Therefore, you should always watch out for your horse to ensure it is feeding on the required food substances. If you notice your horse eating the meat of other animals, it should signal that you are supplying it with less food than needed since horses are heavy feeders.

Similarly, it would help if you proposed adding protein supplements to its diet to ensure it gets the required proportion of this nutrient in its body.

Can Horses Digest Meat?

Yes, horses’ digestive systems digest meat but not correctly. Carnivores take about 8 to 10 hours to excrete their food, while horses spend double this duration. Research shows that horses can take up to 24 hours to excrete meat intaken into their digestive system.

The complication of horses absorbing and digesting nutrients from meat can lead to severe problems if they eat meat in the long term. Additionally, horses have bacteria in their digestive system that aids in absorbing hay, grasses, plants, and all plant-based food they feed on.

Therefore, introducing meat into their digestive system can alter their good bacteria and lead to serious health complications for the horse.

Is Meat Bad for Horses?

Yes, although feeding horse meat may not show harmful effects on the first days, providing your horse with meat consistently can lead to grave health complications. Horses generally have bacteria in their digestive system that aids in absorbing hay and other plant-based food they feed on. Thus, feeding horses meat destroys these bacteria and complicates their digestive system.

When you notice your horse craving meat, you should propose to supply it with enough food with the correct nutrient supply. A horse will be attracted to eat meat when it lacks enough proteins in its body. Therefore, you should supply it with enough protein supplements.

Are Horses Omnivores or Herbivores?

Horses are natural herbivores. Their diet mainly consists of plants and plant-based food such as hay, fodder, and grains. However, they may act as omnivores by feeding on meat and plants when issues must be addressed.

As mentioned, due to curiosity, diet deficiency, and boredom, horses will feed on meat and plants. Therefore, you should always watch your horse for possible causes and address them appropriately. Lastly, you should purpose to feed your horse on forage and grains in the correct quantity as its main diet.

Do Wild Horses Eat Meat?

No, it is rare to find horses eating meat in the wild. These animals are known to eat meat during drought, winter, and insufficient plants to feed on. Typically, horses are herbivores that will try by all means to survive and will only kill and eat small animals when starving.

There is no history of horses hunting and feeding on dead animal remains. Generally, horses stay in herds in the wild for championship and safety but not to prey on other creatures. Therefore, when you notice a horse killing and eating other small animals, it means that it is in a hostile condition and doing so for sustainability.

What Happens If Horses Eat Meat?

When horses meat, it exposes them to serious health complications. Meat goes rancid quickly and contains toxins that are eliminated by cooking. These toxins may lead to botulism in horses which is deadly when untreated.

Horses won’t vomit when fed with meat. However, this meat may contain toxins or mold that pose significant health risks to the digestive system. Also, meat intake in the horses’ digestive system destroys the bacteria responsible for breaking down the plant and plant-based food in their digestive system.


Horses can eat chickens but on special occasions. For instance, during starvation, due to boredom, curiosity, and due to dietary deficiency. However, feeding your horse chicken and other meat is not advisable as it can cause severe complications to their digestive systems.

If you find your donkey eating chicken, you should know that it lacks proteins in its diet and start feeding it with protein supplements.

Disclaimer: This blog should not be considered as being professional pet medical advice. The content published on this blog is for informational purposes only. Please always consult with a licensed and local veterinarian for medical advice.

About Shaun Clarke

Shaun is passionate about pets and animals, especially dogs, cats, and rabbits. He owns a dog and a couple of cats too. He loves visiting wildlife sanctuaries and shares a strong bond with animals. When he is not writing, he loves to do a barbecue in the backyard with his family and friends.