We feel disgusted when we see our horse eat their poop. This is referred to as coprophagy and is quite different from eating dirt, sand, twigs, and other non-food products.
Some foals from the day they are born until when they are about 60 days old will tend to eat their manure as well as those of their mother. According to veterinarians, there is a variety of reasons as to why this occurs. They explain that the foul may be eating their manure to get good bacteria which will help them digest food or it could be because they need to ingest eggs of certain parasites that will help boost their immune system. Another reason could be that the foul is just testing out what it should eat and what it should not. Some veterinarians recommend that one adds a probiotic to your colt or filly’s food to help them build the good bacteria they need.
So why do the horses eat their manure?
Our lovely horses are meant to graze all day but since we have domesticated them, we tend to keep them in stalls which limits them from moving and eating freely as they should be. This means that these horses may get hungry or bored hence you begin seeing them eat their manure or even cribbing on wood. Eating manure can also be a sign that your horse is lacking some important nutrients.
How do you stop this behavior?
To begin with, you need to work with an equine nutritionist or veterinarian who has the expertise to determine the specific nutrients you may be missing from the food you are giving your horse. They may be essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, or something else.
By simply going through this process, it will be clear what the current diet you are feeding the horse lacks and the convenient adjustments will be recommended. The horse’s age will also be factored in. There are also some other activities that one must do on daily basis to ensure that your horse is eating the right food.
- You must note that the horse’s diet requires supplements as well as grain and all the critical nutrients to add to the hay and grass which you feed it. It is also important to ensure that you de-worm your horse and maintain doing this on a fixed schedule.
- Another thing you need to do is ensure that you have an equine dentist float and check the horse’s teeth semi-annually or annually. Floating comprises shaping the horse teeth using a file and giving them smooth surfaces. This helps the horse by enabling it to grind their food adequately as well as getting the most nutrients out of what they eat. A dental check helps one determine if their horse needs any of its teeth pulled out.
- Something else you need to do is keeping the mineral block in the horse’s stall and also in the pasture. Blocks of salts are usually made from different types of minerals and come in a variety of sizes. These are those you hung in the horse’s stall and there the large ones which one can place on the ground in the corral.
- The other thing you need to do is ensure that the pasture and stalls where the horse spends most of its time are clean from manure. Ensuring that the stalls are cleaned every day will go a long way in ensuring that your horse gets rid of this behavior.
- The other thing you need to do is ensure that you have availed hay to your horse at all times. You should know that even hanging hay in a hay net directly outside the stall door will help the horse understand exactly what is going on around them. They can have something to feed on when they feel hungry.
- You also need to ensure that you have fed your horse several times in a day and not just two times. Horses require to have food in their digestive system throughout thus why it is important to feed it several times during the day.
- It is also worth noting that one should avail clean water to the horse at all times. It is also critical to always check your horse’s water supply a couple of times in a day and also check it to ensure that your horse has not pooped on the water bucket. Also, ensure that the water is not frozen and is clean at all times.
- Since horses thrive on a strict routine, make sure that you train, feed, and turn out your horse the exact time every day.
- You should also note that horses that live in stalls entirely, need to get out sometimes because to them it feels like being trapped in a cell. If a horse has been confined in a stall for too long, they may begin exhibiting behaviors like eating manure and weaving as a result of accumulated stress. Grazing outdoors, exercising, and even eating a balanced diet will in a great way reduce coprophagy.
You will find out that overweight horses tend to have this disgusting behavior of eating their manure. To address this issue one needs to fix something known as slow feeder in the horses stall. This ensures that such a horse to feed at a much slower rate hence help it in its weight issues. Doing this will help your horse move away from the behavior of eating their manure.
Horse coprophagy is normally a result of a horse that is having a diet that is missing some of the critical nutrients. It can also be a result of extreme boredom. Once the cause of this behavior is identified, it should immediately be addressed the sooner the better.
Once this behavior is stopped, the horse will return to its normal routine and live on as a healthy member of your family. The most important thing is that once you have identified this behavior, check the cause of it, and immediately put in measures to address it.