Mustangs are not fortunate enough to have people that deliver their hay or grain to their stall or paddock. These wild horses must fend for themselves in order to survive. Today, space has become limited, and with growing population sizes, mustangs can have a hard time finding an acceptable food source. They’ve had to adjust to the limited grazing ranges provided by the government.
Mustangs, like all horses, prefer to eat grass. The perennial grasses on the rangelands provide the majority of a wild horse’s diet. Species of grass, such as Indian ricegrass, deergrass, Great Basin wild rye, and wheatgrass, are native in North America. Bermuda grass is an invasive type that has been popular in recent years.
Certain types of weed plants are also consumed by these feral horses. Dandelion and clover plants can be hard to find, but are grazed upon if available. Others may include thistle, sunflower, primrose, and echinacea.
Another aspect of a mustang’s diet can include various trees, scrubs, and even soil. Wild horses have been known to nibble on shrubs and branches like yucca, sage, juniper, maple, and willow. They may also purposely ingest soil, which is high in nutrients like calcium, potassium, and sodium.
Wild horses have to adapt to their conditions in order to survive. In the winter, you might expect them to paw through snow in order to find a suitable meal. They may also travel several miles in a single day to locate grazing land. Few predators and a high birth rate has resulted in a shortage of available food.
Mustangs are fascinating creatures! The more you learn about them, the better you can help them!