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Horse manure looking like cow piles

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  • Horse manure looking like cow piles

    On rare occasions, I've noticed one of my horse's manure piles look more like cow piles - one big clump. Lately, it's been happening more often. What causes that? How concerned should I be?
    R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

    Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.

  • #2
    Some sort of bowel dysfunction - what is really hard to say without knowing his lifestyle and what he's fed


    • Original Poster

      He's a seven-year-old half TB/half percheron gelding, currently rehabbing from a DDFT tear in one leg and an impar ligament tear on another. He's turned out in a two-acre field during the day; comes into stall at night. Is fed orchard grass in am; alfalfa at night. Recently tried substituting a 50/50 alfalfa/grass hay mix for the evening alfalfa (and perhaps that has something to do with the change in manure because -- light bulb going on -- the "cow pile" manure began appearing with the change. Main reason I made the change, however, was that he's been so high during rehab work that I thought less alfalfa might be good. He's actually seemed higher since I made the switch so I've put him back on alfalfa (as of yesterday).

      He gets a handful of strategy at night (when other horses get their goodies) with his supplements mixed in. Tried switching him to TC Lite (which my two minis get) and he colicked. Twice. Even the vet was puzzed since we're talking only a handful of feed and that shouldn't be enough ... but it freaked me out so that I've kept him on the strategy. And literally, we're talking a handful. He also gets platinum performance.

      He's on a regular worming schedule. I give him tractguard because he tends to drink less water than all my other horses (he gets electrolytes in summer).

      He looks great, gorgeous coat, eats all his hay. I've cut back hay a tiny, tiny bit since now we're getting into winter which means california turns green and there's stuff to eat in the field. Nothing he hasn't seen before, however.
      R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

      Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.


      • #4
        My horse had this problem a few weeks ago - sometimes runny diahrrea and other times cow pile-like. He also had a temperature. Vet said it was some type of virus and he was put on a bunch of different pastes for a few days. Now he's fine.


        • #5
          Alfalfa is a natural laxative. I grow my own hay and my guys are all on about 80% alfalfa, the rest timothy. Their manure piles are very very soft and moist, VERY green and it comes out with a "plop!"

          To be honest, I am happy to see it. I worry if I see small, hard golf ball size manure balls and worry about impaction as there isnt enough moisture in their gastro intestinal system pushing everything through effectively

          Since you noticed the change in conjunction with the hay change, I'd say it is the alfalfa that is causing the looser stools with him

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          • #6
            A heavy load of encysted small strongyles can do that to the poop. Are you finding his poop like this or are you watching him poop and that's how it's coming out? If you're finding it like that, it could be mice and birds too picking through it.


            • #7
              It sounds like your horse has stomach/intestine problems which need extra help. I study alot on these types of problems in horses and humans. The colic was most likely due to this and not the feed. You should put him on 3 to 6 months of a good probiotic, either fast track or the one I really like is Opti Zyme because it has the sacchromyces cervease in it which works really well at correcting imbalances in the digestive system. I was told by Texas A&M vet school that was the best ingredient out of the probiotics and I have seen it work really well for these issues. It is also cheaper than the fast track and it has the digestive enzymes which helps to break foods down for digestion. This will go in the feed AM and PM. You can also mix in half a cup of Aloe Vera Juice (from Walmart) in his feed twice a day. After a few months on the probiotics you can increase the Aloe to a full cup twice a day which will actually help heal the stomach and intestinal lining. I would wait until he is on the probiotics for a while and develops normal manure. Remember hay changes have to happen just as slowly as feed changes. Alot of horse are actually more sensitive to digesting hay. This is where the Amylase in the OptiZyme will help. Amylase aides in the digestion of starches.
              It just sounds like he needs a good repair of his digestion tract to prevent things from getting worse.


              • #8
                Could definitely be the hay. Considering the reaction to TC lite, I would not feed him any grain. He might tolerate the Strategy now and might just be slower to react to it, as he seems to have a more sensitive gut. I would use just hay or alfalfa pellets instead to mix the supplements in.

                In the meantime, I would add probiotics and perhaps charcoal or bentonite clay for a few days, to draw out any toxins or bacteria he may be dealing with too.


                • #9

                  My concern is feeding him one type of hay AM and another PM. I would mix the two so he gets some of each at both feedings.
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                  • #10
                    I have a pony that tends to have loose stools, especially when nervous. We've tried probiotics and that does seem to help. I'm probably going to have him checked out for ulcers at some point, but otherwise he's fine. When we bodyclipped him a few months ago, we did it in an area of the barn he never goes in. He hated bodyclipping and really gave us a fit, even when aced. The other day it started raining while waiting to load him on the trailer, so we all ran over and crowded in that section of barn, and he immediately tensed up and shot projectile poop all over the barn wall (barely missing the radio) It was REALLY loose and gross! His next poop was fine. Go figure.

                    So, I really think our boy just has nerves (even though he isn't nervous or spooky otherwise).


                    • #11
                      How long has he been on Tractgard? It's known to give loose manure, it even says so in the instructions.
                      Tell a Gelding. Ask a Stallion. Discuss it with a Mare... Pray if it's a Pony!


                      • #12
                        My gelding had that kind of poop from alfalfa pellets, and when we did a fecal he also had strongyles. We did a Panacur PP and moved him from pellets to timothy/alf cubes and he is fine now. I can't say which caused it or if it was a combination - I do think the pellets were just too much concentrated alfalfa for him. I would do a fecal on your horse to rule out worms first.


                        • #13

                          Is it true that excessive sand in the gut can cause manure to resemble cow pies?


                          • Original Poster

                            These manure piles happen very, very infrequently, like maybe one pile every other day amongst all the other extremely healthy-looking & "normal" piles manure. I don't know if that makes a difference to what people are suggesting.

                            Tested his manure for sand recently when he had his colic bouts. All was fine.

                            It seems most logical that the new hay was causing this. The piles only appeared during the day, out in the field. He was getting the different hay at night. Not sure about horse's digestive patterns - would it take that long for the hay to pass through his system?
                            R.I.P. Ollie (2007-2010) You were small in stature but huge in spirit. You will never be forgotten.

                            Godspeed, Benjamin (1998-2014). A life well-lived. A horse well-loved.