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Q: “What are the dangers of feeding horses sheep mix food??”

Written on: June 3rd, 2012 by: cathay in Q & A's

Question:  “What are the dangers of feeding horses sheep mix food??”

Although horses and sheep are both foragers, their anatomy is different enough to require attention to the types of food offered.  Most cooperative extensions, such as through local universities and colleges, offer indepth information about farm animals.  They can provide rich resources into the research and current trends as well.

According to the North Dakota State University, for example, “Recommended feeding management of horses differs from that of other domestic livestock, primarily because of differences digestive anatomy and physiology.”  The “horse is classified as a monogastric (simple stomach)” whereas… “ruminants (cattle and sheep) have extensive fermentation in the rumen prior to gastric digestion.” This is found at:

Sometimes sheep mix has an additive that is helpful for preventing illnesses in sheep, while not tested or known to be harmful to horses.  One example is Lasalocid, used in the United Kingdom.

Horses’ metabolism also differs from sheep and the food requirements will need to be tailored to meet their daily needs.  There is discussion of this in detail from the Utah State University, Cooperative Extension, found at:

All in all, research and reputable recommendations agree that sheep mix food does not fare well for horses, based upon their different digestive and metabolic needs.  The dangers of this will vary by type of food and if it is medicated.  For specific information, it’s best to consult with equine experts, such as through local 4-H clubs, cooperative extensions (the University of Delaware has a program at: ), and reputable veterinarians who provide client education.

If you ever need any help finding reliable information, please feel free to ask a Delaware librarian, anytime!  Just go to:

We’re glad to be of assistance and we’re 247!