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My horse is eating his own poop. um, WHY?

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  • My horse is eating his own poop. um, WHY?

    Okay so this is my first post here, I usually just look, but I just had to talk about this.

    I was cleaning stalls last night and my boy pooped and turned around and started eating it. YUCK! he was acting fine and it did not seem to bother him when I checked on him later on. I have had him for 10 years and this is the first time he has done this. Any ideas why he would do this? Let me tell you about him and maybe you can help me figure it out. He is a big, only 16'2 but massive bones, 14 yr old Dutch warmblood. He is an easy keeper. He gets 1 1/2 cups grain twice a day with Equinyl Combo and Cocosoya Oil in the pm. Is turned out for 8 hrs a day on a round bale. he wears a muzzle b/c he will gorge himself on hay. He also wears it in the spring on the new grass but it comes off in July. he gets 2 flakes timothy hay at 10pm in his stall. He has a mineral, not salt, lick in his stall that he eats like candy. he is currently not in work, dressage, b/c I don't have an indoor and can't afford to board this year, and live in Ohio. He has NEVER been sick, knock on wood, and only injured once due to a bad farrier that I used only once. he is up to date on all shots, worming, teeth and everything else you can think of.

    So my first thought was that he was missing some minerals in his diet. I know he is not hungry b/c he does not go more than a few hours without hay and he is getting fat being off for the winter. Could he be board?

    Any thoughts you have would be appreciated. Thanks

  • #2
    I was just told recently...

    That the horse / foal is seeking "probiotics" from the poop. so maybe try feeding him a probiotic suppkement like Fastrac or Probias.


    • #3
      In addition to the probiotics mentioned above your horse might be slightly mineral deficient.


      • #4
        Your mineral block is 93 - 97% salt. That means your horse is eating more salt than minerals. THere are several companies that sell loose minerals. Purina 12:12; Moormans, Redmond,

        Horses will eat poop for several possible reasons. 1: hunger, 2: they need the bacteria from the poop; 3: nutritional deficiency.

        Just because this is the first time you have witnessed it, doesn't mean he's never done it before.

        The equinyl combo is a joint supp, right? If he's an easy keeper why does he get Cocosoya? I would drop the Cocosoya and find a well-balanced pelleted grain to feed him instead. And feed him according to what the package says. A low-carb or even something as basic as Purina Strategy. 3 pounds a day (a level feed scoop usually) should give him what he needs in vitamins/minerals. Then add a pro-biotic. There are several available.


        • #5
          I've seen horses do this. He is looking for more minerals and fiber in his diet. Adding a suplement should help.


          • #6
            Three out of my four horses began doing this recently and I have not been able to find out why. I called my vet and he said that he highly doubted that they were lacking something in their diet since I feed them all complete feeds and excellent hay. He was leaning more towards stress or just plain boredom. I have a feeling one started doing it and the others decided to copy. Great.......I am so thrilled

            No advice just sympathy from being in the same situation!
            RIP Sucha Smooth Whiskey
            May 17,2004 - March 29, 2010
            RIP San Lena Peppy
            May 3, 1991 - March 11, 2010


            • #7
              They tend to do this when they need more beneficial bacteria in the gut. This can happen anytime but more frequently an issue when they have been stressed, have been taking medicine or were recently dewormed. I think it can be an issue when they start eating more hay in the winter as well.

              What does your horse munch on after dinner if he doesn't get hay until 10 p.m.? I would try adding probiotics to his grain and knock out the extra fat if he is such an easy keeper. If you pull back on some of this perhaps he get eat a bit more hay and stay busy if that is his issue.

              Also, I definitely suggest the minerals. The mineral blocks are almost all salt so they won't get enough minerals from them. That might be why he is eating his block like candy (he's not getting enough minerals). Try offering free choice loose minerals with minimal salt. I use Moorman's Gro Strong. When they really need the minerals they will go bonkers for that stuff and then once everything evens out they will show more moderate interest and eat it occasionally.

              Note: Unfortunately, complete feeds are not really all that complete. They do a pretty good job and are better than just throwing some oats in a bucket but they aren't totally complete. I know even some of the best can be lacking in certain elements. And if your horse is an easy keeper you may not actually feed your horse enough for it to complete. Do you feed as much as the manufacturer recommendations on the bag? Of course all horses are different just like people are. Some horses may need more of one thing than other horses do.
              Altamont Sport Horses
              Trakehners * Knabstruppers * Appaloosa Sport Horses
              Home of stallions: Ambrosius af Asgard "Atlantis" & Hollywood Hot Spot
              Birmingham, AL


              • #8
                One of three things, IME.

                1) Needs "gut bugs" -- he's seeking beneficial bacteria, like foals do, to keep their GI track working properly. (Horses DO seek what they need, regardless of what we think is good feeding for them)

                2) Ulcers -- horses with ulcers often seek "odd" things to eat in the quest to relieve their belly problems.

                3) He's simply seeking fibre/roughage. If he's muzzled with hay and he only gets 2 flakes later in the evening and has nothing to pick on to keep in his belly happy, then he's simply seeking what horses need. Access to roughage 24/7. This by itself, can lead to #1 and #2 above.

                This can happen with some horses who are fed hay in bulk only a couple of times a day during the winter. Some clean it up (as you say, "gorge")...then go for hours with nothing which can cause belly problems (#1 and #2) -- or the behavior you are seeing. Especially in winter.

                If he's such an easy keeper, I'd cut his grain completely other than something low carb to carry his oil (presuming he's getting that not for weight, but for some therapeutic reason like EPSM). If the oil is not for that, and he's an easy keeper he shouldn't be getting any.

                Give him access to free choice minerals and let him have hay to be provided 4-5 times a day (if he's a gorger). The fact that he's a "gorger" may tell you that he's really missing the roughage he's seeking in his diet.
                Last edited by sid; Jan. 9, 2009, 08:14 PM.
                www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube


                • #9
                  My horse used to do this and it was DISGUSTING. Moreover he seemed to very much enjoy his after dinner poo dessert and the final straw was that often when I would ride after work i would get a lovely POO Mouth kiss - YUCK.

                  Now here's the kicker w/ my horse - first he would only do it in the winter time - like it was "comfort food" 2) I swear this is no lie - often it would be like he really wanted to poo so he could eat said poo - disgusting.. It was like Yeah cookies fresh from the oven - gross 3) I went the mineral supplement - must be missing something from diet routine and still enjoyed the poo. when the weather got warm no more poo eating. I'm sure it had to do w/ something missing from diet.


                  • #10
                    Equus article from a year or two ago stated that 80% of coprophagia in adult horses is caused by a protein deficiency. So I would definitely look into upping his protein and also put him on a complete mineral/vitamin supplement in the very near future. I would also do as others have suggested and start him on some probiotics.


                    • #11
                      how many are out there to one round bale
                      is he in at at night with hay as you said he get 2flakes in the morning

                      he might not be eating enough of the round bale during the day as to many to one bale

                      a horse that big can consume 2 bays of traditional hay easy

                      horse that are placed in areas with very little or no grazzing and not enough hay will eat there pooh,

                      always pick up the pooh and worm to worming programme not a daily wormer one as horse can get inmune to wormers but to one that on a seasonal cycle

                      if none of the above then its a defecincy in minerals

                      and also wwhy has he a grassing muzzle on himis he prone to laminitus or ir if not ditch it
                      and work him to a proper feeding and exercise plan

                      i think op horse is hungry as not getting enough food - ie be shoved out the way of the round bale
                      maybe, and not having hay in his stable at night maybe..


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by sid View Post

                        3) He's simply seeking fibre/roughage. If he's muzzled with hay and he only gets 2 flakes later in the evening and has nothing to pick on to keep in his belly happy, then he's simply seeking what horses need. Access to roughage 24/7. This by itself, can lead to #1 and #2 above.

                        This can happen with some horses who are fed hay in bulk only a couple of times a day during the winter. Some clean it up (as you say, "gorge")...then go for hours with nothing which can cause belly problems (#1 and #2) -- or the behavior you are seeing. Especially in winter.

                        If he's such an easy keeper, I'd cut his grain completely other than something low carb to carry his oil (presuming he's getting that not for weight, but for some therapeutic reason like EPSM). If the oil is not for that, and he's an easy keeper he shouldn't be getting any.

                        Give him access to free choice minerals and let him have hay to be provided 4-5 times a day (if he's a gorger). The fact that he's a "gorger" may tell you that he's really missing the roughage he's seeking in his diet.
                        This is pretty much what came to mind. If he's already on supplements, I would simply start giving him more hay, more often.


                        • #13
                          If a horse is missing something in their diet, I wouldn't cut the grain IF it's a pelleted, balanced feed. Too many times we cut back on the pelleted grain and then the horse doesn't get the daily minimums it needs due to a lack of other feedstuffs.

                          Simply adding loose minerals won't supply everything the horse needs.

                          And as someone else said, he could be gorging on hay in an effort to add what he might be missing. So in this case, more hay may not be the right answer.

                          For the horse that only did it in the winter - yeah... he was missing something from his winter diet. Vit A, lysine (no grass), and an assortment of other nutrients that are lacking in hay and he had from grazing on summer grass.

                          Heck - horses that are stalled and never get outside - lack Vitamin D.


                          • #14
                            The cost of having the Vet run a complete blood work-up would be worthwhile, if from your piece of mind alone.
                            The inherent vice of Capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings. The inherent virtue of Socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.
                            Winston Churchill


                            • #15
                              No worries, he's probably just mimicking your dog


                              • #16

                                Thanks for all the advice. I will try a loose mineral supplement and get rid of the “mineral” block and see if that helps as well as a pro bio. this was my gut feeling when I noticed what he was doing. Any suggestions on what supplement brands to use?

                                Yes the equinyl is a joint supplement. Yes the oil is not for weight gain but other reasons. Yes I feed a balanced pelleted grain.

                                For those who think he is not getting enough to eat because of the muzzle I don’t agree with that. He is on the round bale with one other horse, who also has a muzzle due to feet issues, and they go through the bale in less than two weeks. I spent time watching him eat this weekend and you should see how much hay he can get in that 2 inch opening. My vet is the one who recommended the muzzle b/c I tried for years not to use the muzzle and there was no way I could keep his weight down without it, I even cut out his grain and he was in work 6 days a week. He is the type of horse that eats 24/7 and never comes up for air; he does this in the spring and fall when he is out almost 24/7. He gets his grain at 6pm with hay, I think I forgot to mention that and gets a little hay in the am before breakfast then out all day on the round bale and hay again at 10pm. He never gets grain without getting a little hay first. I wish I could give him hay 4-5 times a day instead of having him on the round bale, but I work full time and am not home during the day. I know this would be best but I figure that the round bale will have to do.

                                I think if the mineral and pro bio don’t work I will talk with the vet about ulcers and also see if he recommends doing blood work.

                                Thanks for the sympathy from those that have been through this. It was very odd to see him do this.


                                • #17
                                  You don't say what kind of grain he is getting, but perhaps using a ration balancer - something like Purina's Enrich 12 or Enrich 32 would be helpful, if he doesn't go for the loose minerals. You would only feed a small amount to balance what he isn't getting in the hay. You can search on COTH for info about ration balancers if it's something you want to consider.

                                  My all time favorite for pro / pre-biotics is Ration Plus. It's a liquid and seems to blend nicely with small amounts of grain/pellets.


                                  • #18
                                    I boarded my quarterhorse for at least 10 years...he didn't get much turn out at all, although he was being ridden. As soon as I moved him to my friends place, which I ended up purchasing her farm, he stopped. He has NOT touched his manure in over 4 years! I spoke to EVERY VET I knew and gave him minerals, etc. I truely believe he was bored out of his mind!!!

                                    Maybe you could lunge him or ride him in the pasture to get him some exercise. Good luck with your guy. He sounds like a beautiful horse.