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Horses Eating Manure

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  • Horses Eating Manure

    Over the long 4 day holiday weekend I noticed that everyday three out of my four horses were eating manure!! Everytime I saw them doing it all three were doing it. They seemed to do it for a long time too. UCK!! They are fed second cutting grass hay three - four times a day and they are fed a complete feed twice a day and have unlimited access to a salt/mineral/selenium block. This time of year they have no pasture but are turned out 24/7 with each one of them having a stall.

    Any ideas why they are eating their poo?
    RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
    May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
    RIP San Lena Peppy
    May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

  • #2
    Hay

    When I worked in breeding, foals would generally always eat their mother's poop. It was to get probiotics in their systems. You might try adding a probiotic but follow the directions. Too much and their poop can get runny. Or switch to a feed that has the probiotics in.

    Also, I would add a first cut hay. 2nd cut is like "candy". I usually feed 1st cut and then use 2nd cut as a treat or for the hard keepers.
    Sorry! But that barn smell is my aromatherapy!
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    • Original Poster

      #3
      I actually just started the second cutting and have been feeding 1st cutting since September. Since one of my horses is fat me and my vet have gone over my feeding plan and I can't imagine that they are missing something from their diet. I was thinking more towards boredom but they have always been in the same situation for years.
      RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
      May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
      RIP San Lena Peppy
      May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

      Comment


      • #4
        Horses in the wild have access to feed off all kinds of plants and barks and minerals in the soil when they are feeling a bit off. We cut down poplar trees and allow them to chew the bark. Free choice minerals might help.

        Comment


        • #5
          Needs Salt

          I have always been told that it means they need salt and/or minerals. I would make sure your horses have access to a salt or mineral block or equivalent. You can also add loose salt to feed.

          We had one horse do this every so often and, sure enough, if you noticed him eating manure, it meant his salt block was gone.

          Comment


          • #6
            IMO they get bored in the winter after the grass is gone and just do it for something to do. I wouldn't worry about it.

            Comment


            • #7
              One of my three does it too (the other two are obviously disgusted by the third!). He is fed probiotics, has free access to both a white salt block and mineral block, is out 24/7 unless the weather is horrific, and has ample hay. I attributed it to ulcers with him (he had all the symptoms) and treated him accordingly. He is now symptom-free, but still eats poop. I'm with kcmel now; I just stay clear of his nasty mouth

              Comment


              • #8
                We had this problem and then started feeding Purina Nature's Essentials 12:12 free choice minerals.
                http://horse.purinamills.com/products/free_balance.asp
                The regular (red) vitamin mineral block was apparently not enough. I haven't seen them eating poop since they've been on it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by VTHokie View Post
                  We had this problem and then started feeding Purina Nature's Essentials 12:12 free choice minerals.
                  http://horse.purinamills.com/products/free_balance.asp
                  The regular (red) vitamin mineral block was apparently not enough. I haven't seen them eating poop since they've been on it.
                  The red vitamin mineral block I am familiar with is called a "trace mineral block" and it is just that...salt with a wee tiny bit of minerals (ie. not enough minerals). These are great to leave out in the pasture but if the horse isn't needing salt he certainly isn't going to lick that block enough to get everything he needs. Try free choice minerals. When my colt started eating sand like it was going out of style I bought loose minerals for him to see if that helped. The other horses in the pasture were all over me for it. They sucked it down like they were starving. It was incredible. They ate a lot of it for the first couple of days and then tapered down to a reasonable level.

                  I would offer a loose mineral with minimal salt and add probiotics to his meal. My stallion ate an entire pile of poop recently after being treated with steroids and bute for uveitis (and 2 weeks on stall rest). I assumed his gut was stressed and needed probiotics. I also added U-Guard to coat the tummy and started giving a bit of alfalfa for the same purpose a few times a day. I understand the "boredom" issue but if they leave feed or hay to eat poop it is a sign of something else. My boy completely ignored me while I poured his feed in his bucket and continued until the entire pile was gone. Normally he is there on the spot.
                  Altamont Sport Horses
                  Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
                  Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
                  Birmingham, AL

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Altamont Sport Horses View Post
                    The red vitamin mineral block I am familiar with is called a "trace mineral block" and it is just that...salt with a wee tiny bit of minerals (ie. not enough minerals). These are great to leave out in the pasture but if the horse isn't needing salt he certainly isn't going to lick that block enough to get everything he needs. Try free choice minerals. When my colt started eating sand like it was going out of style I bought loose minerals for him to see if that helped. The other horses in the pasture were all over me for it. They sucked it down like they were starving. It was incredible. They ate a lot of it for the first couple of days and then tapered down to a reasonable level.

                    I would offer a loose mineral with minimal salt and add probiotics to his meal. My stallion ate an entire pile of poop recently after being treated with steroids and bute for uveitis (and 2 weeks on stall rest). I assumed his gut was stressed and needed probiotics. I also added U-Guard to coat the tummy and started giving a bit of alfalfa for the same purpose a few times a day. I understand the "boredom" issue but if they leave feed or hay to eat poop it is a sign of something else. My boy completely ignored me while I poured his feed in his bucket and continued until the entire pile was gone. Normally he is there on the spot.
                    Same thing here. They goobled down a few scoops full at first, but now they nibble at it. The label actually says something about that being the typical reaction when they're lacking something.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I did read in an Equus magazine about a year ago that something like 80% of coprophagia (eating manure/spelling?) is caused by a protein deficiency.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        They have had a mineral block out in their paddock all summer and fall and have licked it down to about half way so they do have access to it all times. What worries me is that three out of the four are doing it. If it was just one I would say that horse was bored but it make me wonder if something else is going on. I have a call into my vet about it just to make sure. One of the horses just had blood work done and everything was fine but a slightly elevated Glucose and a low Bilirubin level.
                        RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                        May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                        RIP San Lena Peppy
                        May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'm not saying that your horses are doing this because of not having enough minerals but what I am trying to point out is that even a trace mineral block that is well licked is not going to provide enough minerals...it just doesn't have enough minerals in it. And if they don't need and want the salt they won't lick it and therefore will get even less of the already limited minerals contained in the trace mineral block. After seeing my horses suck down loose minerals like it was going out of style it seemed obvious to me that they were deficient. Offering minerals *only* through a trace mineral block wasn't doing much for them. In the future I will not worry myself over salt vs. mineral blocks because they obviously aren't getting enough through the trace mineral block anyway. I'm better off providing a salt block and free choice minerals. That way they can take what they need.

                          I'm not familiar with all the free choice mineral products on the market but I know a friend who has a system where they are broken down into a couple of different containers. You offer each of them separately in their own container and the horse will eat what it needs. She saw her horses eat all of them but definitely a lot more of one and then they evened out. With this system they aren't taking in as many extra minerals that they don't need, only the ones that they are most deficient in.

                          As an experiment you could buy a small bag of loose minerals (with minimal salt) at the feed store and offer individually to your horses in a bucket. See who eats what and how enthusiastically they do so. You'll probably be surprised.
                          Altamont Sport Horses
                          Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
                          Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
                          Birmingham, AL

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            I spoke with my vet yesterday and he doesn't feel that they are lacking any nutrients or vitamins. He said that sometimes horses will eat manure if they have been stressed. Recently a neighbors turkeys have been coming over to my house and scaring my horses to death. I got the neighbor to contain them but I noticed that the two mares were not eating normally and seemed to be on watch (protecting the herd). He thinks that they are eating manure because they were stressed by the turkey's. I haven't seen them do it since last weekend but I have been back to work during the day. I will have to pay attention during my Christmas break to see if they are still doing it. The mares have finally settled down and are eating normally again now that the turkey's are gone.
                            RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
                            May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
                            RIP San Lena Peppy
                            May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Nasty Teeth on Manure Eater

                              My manure eater has very gross, stained teeth - YIKES!

                              Can you scale their teeth like dogs? Other than Crest White Strips - anybody got any solutions??

                              What brand of free choice minerals do you suggest?

                              Comment

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