Can Horses Eat Corn On The Cob?

Horses can eat corn on the cob in moderation, as a treat. However, it is important to note that corn should never be a staple food in a horse’s diet. While horses can digest corn, it should be fed in small quantities and preferably cooked or ground to aid in digestion. Corn should always be given as a supplement to a balanced diet of hay, grass, and commercially formulated horse feed.

can horses eat corn on the cob

Health Benefits of Feeding Corn on the Cob to Horses

Feeding horses a well-balanced diet is essential for their overall health and well-being. While hay and grains are commonly included in their diet, there is some debate surrounding the inclusion of corn on the cob. In this section, we will explore the health benefits of feeding corn on the cob to horses.

1. Nutritional Value

Corn on the cob is a good source of essential nutrients for horses. It contains carbohydrates, protein, and dietary fiber, which are all important for their energy needs and digestion. Additionally, corn on the cob is rich in vitamins, such as vitamin A and vitamin E, as well as minerals like potassium and phosphorus.

These nutrients play a vital role in maintaining the overall health of horses. Vitamin A is essential for proper vision and immune function, while vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect against oxidative stress. Potassium and phosphorus are crucial for maintaining healthy bones and muscles.

2. Promotes Weight Gain

If a horse is underweight or needs to gain weight, feeding corn on the cob can be beneficial. Corn is high in calories and can help horses put on weight in a healthy manner. The carbohydrates present in corn provide a readily available source of energy, which can be especially beneficial for horses involved in strenuous activities such as racing or show jumping.

However, it is important to note that corn should be fed in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. Overfeeding corn can lead to excessive weight gain and may cause digestive issues like colic. Consulting with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist is recommended to determine the appropriate amount of corn to feed based on the individual horse’s needs.

3. Dental Health

Chewing on corn on the cob can help promote dental health in horses. The act of chewing the cob helps to naturally wear down their teeth and prevent overgrowth. Horses’ teeth continually grow throughout their lives, and regular chewing of fibrous food like corn on the cob can aid in maintaining proper dental alignment and prevent dental problems.

It is important to note that corn on the cob should be fed whole, allowing the horse to chew on the cob, rather than feeding them just the kernels. This ensures that they get the full dental benefit while also reducing the risk of choking.

4. Mental Stimulation

Feeding corn on the cob can provide mental stimulation for horses. The process of removing the corn kernels from the cob challenges their problem-solving skills and keeps them engaged. This can be especially beneficial for horses on stall rest or those that do not have access to pasture, as it helps alleviate boredom and promotes mental well-being.

5. Cost-effective Option

Compared to other grains, corn on the cob is often a more cost-effective option for horse owners. It is readily available and less expensive, making it an attractive choice for those on a budget. However, it is important to remember that the nutritional needs of horses should always be the priority, and any cost-saving measures should not compromise their overall health and well-being.

In summary, feeding corn on the cob to horses can have several health benefits. It provides essential nutrients, promotes weight gain when necessary, aids in dental health, offers mental stimulation, and can be a cost-effective option. However, it is crucial to feed corn on the cob in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. Consulting with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist is recommended to ensure that the horse’s specific dietary needs are met.

Potential Risks and Considerations of Feeding Corn on the Cob to Horses

Feeding horses has always been a topic of great importance for their owners and caregivers. While horses are herbivores and primarily consume grass and forage, there may be instances where horse owners consider feeding them corn on the cob as a treat or supplement. However, before incorporating corn on the cob into a horse’s diet, it is important to understand the potential risks and considerations involved.

Digestive Concerns

One of the main concerns when feeding corn on the cob to horses is its digestibility. Horses have a unique digestive system that is designed to break down fibrous materials, such as grass and hay. Corn, on the other hand, is a starchy grain that can be more difficult for horses to digest. The high starch content in corn may lead to digestive issues such as colic, which can be potentially life-threatening for horses.

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Furthermore, the cob itself poses a risk of impaction in the horse’s digestive tract. The cob is fibrous and can be challenging to break down, potentially leading to blockages and discomfort. It is crucial to carefully monitor a horse’s chewing ability and overall digestive health before introducing corn on the cob into their diet.

Weight Management and Carbohydrate Content

Another consideration when feeding corn on the cob to horses is its impact on their weight management. Corn is a calorie-dense food that can contribute to weight gain if not fed in appropriate quantities. Horses that are prone to obesity or metabolic conditions such as insulin resistance should avoid excessive consumption of corn on the cob.

In addition to its caloric content, corn is also high in carbohydrates. Horses that have insulin resistance or are prone to laminitis may have difficulty processing high levels of carbohydrates, which can exacerbate their condition. It is important to work closely with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to determine the appropriate amount of corn on the cob, if any, to include in a horse’s diet.

Mold and Mycotoxin Contamination

Corn, being a grain, is susceptible to mold growth and mycotoxin contamination. Mycotoxins are toxic substances produced by molds that can be harmful to horses when ingested. Moldy corn on the cob can lead to various health issues, including respiratory problems, digestive disturbances, and even neurological symptoms.

It is crucial to source high-quality, fresh corn on the cob and carefully inspect it for any signs of mold or contamination before feeding it to horses. If there are any doubts about the quality or safety of the corn, it is best to avoid feeding it to horses altogether.

Alternative Treats and Supplements

Considering the potential risks and considerations associated with feeding corn on the cob to horses, it may be wise to explore alternative treats and supplements. There are numerous commercially available horse treats and feed supplements specifically formulated to meet the nutritional needs of horses. These options are often safer and provide a wider range of essential nutrients compared to corn on the cob.

When choosing treats or supplements, it is essential to read the labels carefully, consult with an equine nutritionist if necessary, and ensure that they are suitable for the horse’s individual dietary requirements and health conditions. This approach can help maintain the horse’s optimal health without compromising their well-being.


Feeding corn on the cob to horses can pose potential risks and considerations. It may lead to digestive concerns, weight management issues, and the risk of mold and mycotoxin contamination. It is essential to carefully evaluate a horse’s individual health condition, consult with experts, and consider alternative treats and supplements that are specifically formulated for horses. Prioritizing the horse’s well-being and nutritional needs will help ensure their optimal health and happiness.

Alternative and Healthy Treats for Horses

When it comes to treating our horses, it’s important to provide them with nutritious and healthy options. While traditional treats like carrots and apples are always a hit, there are also alternative options that can add variety to their diet while still providing the necessary nutrients. In this section, we will explore some alternative and healthy treats for horses.

1. Peppermint

Peppermint is a refreshing and aromatic treat that many horses love. It not only adds flavor to their diet but also offers a range of benefits. Peppermint can aid in digestion, relieve stomach discomfort, and freshen breath. However, it’s important to feed peppermint in moderation as excessive consumption can lead to digestive upset.

2. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is not only a popular treat during fall but also a great addition to a horse’s diet. It is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, as well as essential minerals like potassium and iron. Pumpkin can also help regulate digestion and improve gut health due to its high fiber content. Feeding small amounts of cooked, unsweetened pumpkin to your horse can be a tasty and nutritious treat.

3. Coconut Flakes

Coconut flakes can be a healthy and tasty treat for horses. They are a good source of healthy fats, which can help boost energy levels and support a shiny coat. Coconut flakes are also rich in fiber and provide essential minerals such as manganese and copper. However, it’s important to feed them in moderation as they are high in calories.

4. Dried Fruits

Dried fruits like raisins, cranberries, and apricots can be a sweet and nutritious treat for horses. They are packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Dried fruits can provide a burst of energy and are a great option for horses who require additional calories. However, it’s important to feed dried fruits sparingly as they are high in natural sugars.

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5. Herbal Treats

Herbal treats are a wonderful way to provide additional health benefits to your horse. There are various herbal treats available in the market that cater to specific needs such as calming treats, joint support treats, and immune-boosting treats. These treats often contain herbs like chamomile, lavender, and turmeric, which can help promote relaxation, reduce inflammation, and support overall well-being.

6. Carob Chips

Carob chips are a tasty alternative to traditional chocolate treats. They are safe for horses to consume and can satisfy their sweet tooth without the harmful effects of chocolate. Carob is naturally sweet and contains fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, it’s important to feed carob chips in moderation as they can still be high in calories.

7. Vegetable Treats

While carrots are a popular choice, there are other vegetables that horses can enjoy as treats. Celery, cucumbers, and zucchini are all safe and healthy options. These vegetables are low in sugar and provide hydration due to their high water content. They also offer essential vitamins and minerals that can contribute to overall health.

8. Homemade Treats

One of the best ways to ensure the quality and nutritional value of horse treats is by making them at home. By using ingredients like oats, molasses, flaxseeds, and grated carrots, you can create delicious and healthy treats for your horse. Homemade treats allow you to control the ingredients and avoid any additives or preservatives that may be present in store-bought options.


Offering alternative and healthy treats to your horse can not only provide them with a diverse and enjoyable diet but also contribute to their overall well-being. Whether you choose peppermint, pumpkin, coconut flakes, dried fruits, herbal treats, carob chips, vegetable treats, or homemade options, it’s important to feed treats in moderation and consider your horse’s specific dietary needs. Remember to always prioritize their health and offer treats that are safe and nutritious.

Best Practices for Feeding Corn to Horses

Corn is a commonly used feed for horses due to its high energy content and palatability. However, it is important to follow best practices when feeding corn to horses to ensure their health and well-being. In this section, we will discuss the guidelines to consider when feeding corn to horses.

1. Quality of Corn

When selecting corn for horses, it is crucial to choose high-quality corn that is free from mold, toxins, and contaminants. Inspect the corn for any signs of spoilage, such as a musty smell or visible mold. Moldy corn can lead to various health issues, including colic and respiratory problems. It is also essential to store corn in a cool, dry place to maintain its freshness and nutritional value.

2. Proper Processing

Before feeding corn to horses, it is recommended to process it to enhance its digestibility. Whole corn kernels are difficult for horses to chew and digest effectively. Grinding or rolling the corn can improve its digestibility by breaking down the hard outer covering. This allows for better absorption of nutrients and reduces the risk of digestive disturbances in horses.

3. Balancing the Diet

While corn can provide a significant source of energy for horses, it should not be the sole component of their diet. Horses require a balanced diet that includes a variety of nutrients, including proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Corn should be supplemented with other forages, such as hay or pasture, to ensure horses receive a well-rounded diet.

4. Feeding Guidelines

When feeding corn to horses, it is essential to follow specific guidelines to avoid overfeeding or causing digestive issues. Here are some best practices to consider: – Start with small quantities: Introduce corn gradually into the horse’s diet to allow their digestive system to adjust. Begin with small amounts and gradually increase the portion size over several days. – Monitor body condition: Regularly assess the horse’s body condition score to ensure they are maintaining a healthy weight. Adjust the corn portion accordingly to prevent excessive weight gain or loss. – Divide into multiple meals: Instead of feeding a large amount of corn in one feeding, split it into several smaller meals throughout the day. This helps prevent digestive upset and allows for better nutrient absorption. – Consider individual needs: Each horse has different nutritional requirements based on factors such as age, weight, activity level, and overall health. Consult with a veterinarian or equine nutritionist to determine the appropriate amount of corn to feed your horse.

5. Potential Risks

While corn can be a valuable part of a horse’s diet when fed correctly, there are some potential risks to be aware of: – High starch content: Corn is high in starch, which can cause digestive issues, especially if fed in large quantities or without proper processing. – Insulin response: Horses with metabolic conditions, such as insulin resistance or equine metabolic syndrome, may be more sensitive to the high sugar content in corn. It is best to consult with a veterinarian to determine if corn is suitable for horses with these conditions. – Allergies or sensitivities: Some horses may have allergies or sensitivities to corn. If your horse exhibits any adverse reactions, such as skin irritations or digestive upsets, discontinue feeding corn and consult with a veterinarian. In summary, feeding corn to horses can provide a valuable source of energy, but it is crucial to follow best practices to ensure their health and well-being. Choose high-quality corn, process it for better digestibility, balance the diet with other forages, and carefully monitor portion sizes. Always consider the individual needs of each horse and consult with a veterinarian for personalized feeding recommendations.
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Signs of Allergic Reactions in Horses to Corn on the Cob

Allergic reactions in horses can occur when they consume certain foods that their bodies do not tolerate well. One common food that can trigger an allergic reaction in horses is corn on the cob. It is important for horse owners and caretakers to be aware of the signs of such reactions in order to provide prompt veterinary care and avoid further complications.

1. Skin Irritation

Horses that are allergic to corn may develop skin irritations as a result of the allergic reaction. This can manifest as redness, swelling, hives, or itching on various parts of the horse’s body. It is important to monitor the horse closely for any changes in the skin condition, as excessive scratching or rubbing can lead to further complications.

2. Respiratory Distress

Allergies to corn can also affect a horse’s respiratory system, causing breathing difficulties. Common signs of respiratory distress in horses include coughing, wheezing, labored breathing, and nasal discharge. If a horse exhibits any of these symptoms after consuming corn on the cob, it is crucial to seek veterinary attention immediately to ensure the horse’s airway remains clear.

3. Digestive Upset

Another common sign of an allergic reaction to corn in horses is digestive upset. This can include symptoms such as diarrhea, colic, bloating, or frequent urination. These symptoms may vary depending on the severity of the allergy and the individual horse’s tolerance. It is important to monitor the horse’s overall digestive health and consult with a veterinarian if any significant changes occur.

4. Behavioral Changes

Horses experiencing an allergic reaction to corn may also exhibit behavioral changes. This can range from irritability and restlessness to lethargy and depression. These changes in behavior may be a result of the discomfort caused by the allergic reaction. It is important to provide a calm and stress-free environment for the horse during this time and consult with a veterinarian for appropriate management.

5. Systemic Reactions

In severe cases, horses may experience systemic reactions to corn allergies. These reactions can include anaphylaxis, a severe and potentially life-threatening allergic response. Signs of anaphylaxis may include sudden collapse, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, and pale gums. Immediate veterinary intervention is necessary to treat anaphylaxis and stabilize the horse’s condition.

In summary, it is crucial for horse owners and caretakers to be vigilant for signs of allergic reactions in horses to corn on the cob. Skin irritations, respiratory distress, digestive upset, behavioral changes, and systemic reactions are all potential indicators of an allergic response. If any of these signs are observed after a horse consumes corn, seeking veterinary attention promptly is essential for the horse’s well-being and to prevent further complications.


Can horses eat corn on the cob?

No, horses should not eat corn on the cob. The cob is difficult for them to digest and can lead to digestive issues or blockages. It is best to feed horses corn that has been removed from the cob.


In conclusion, while horses can consume corn on the cob, it is not the most ideal or recommended food for them. Corn on the cob poses several risks to their digestive system and overall health. It can be difficult for horses to chew and digest, potentially leading to choke or impaction. Additionally, the high sugar and starch content in corn can negatively affect their insulin levels and lead to various health issues such as laminitis. It is best to provide horses with a balanced and appropriate diet consisting of hay, grass, and specially formulated horse feed. Always consult with a veterinarian for the best dietary recommendations for your horse’s specific needs.