What flavors do horses prefer?

by horselover2

Inspecting bananas for fruit flies

Image via Wikipedia


In taste tests conducted in  England at the University of Southampton, results were different then expected.  It turns out that horses like banana, cherry and fenugreek more than carrot and peppermint.

In the first part of the study, which lasted 16 days, eight horses got hay every day and six small portions of feed, each infused with a different flavor. How much horses ate of each flavored feed and how long it took were observed and recorded.

Of the 15 flavors, only 12 were eaten by all the horses. In the second part of  the study, the eight flavored meals that had been eaten most quickly were given to the horses two at a time in all combinations to determine which they liked best. Final results showed that the top eight flavors were, in order of preference, fenugreek, banana, cherry, rosemary, cumin, carrot, peppermint and oregano.

By modern standards the results may be surprising, but a review of different cultures suggests that equine predilections are fairly consistent, says Deborah Goodwin, PhD, who headed the study.

 “In India horses are routinely offered bananas, and the Greeks and Romans fed fenugreek to horses,” she says. “In the United Kingdom when horses worked the land, fenugreek and cumin were used to encourage fussy eaters to eat their food.”

Goodwin’s work may lead to tastier rations for horses, but she says she hopes it may ultimately have health benefits as well: “We know from previous work that horses prefer variety in their forage ration. Yet owners vary the concentrate ration with great caution due to concerns over colic.

This work suggests that by varying just the flavor of an otherwise identical diet we may be able to provide the variety horses need without changing the nutritional content of the diet.”