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Horses and oak trees/acorns

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  • Horses and oak trees/acorns

    Any issues with horses ingesting oak tree leaves, acorns, etc.? Our wonderful neighbors (I say this sincerely - they are great) called this evening to say they are planning to plant trees along our joint property line, and they were wondering if there are any issues with the horses.

    They really ARE great!!!

    Anyway - is this safe? The trees will be on their side of a fence (which is hot) so they won't be rubbing on them or anything, but we're wondering about them eating acorns or the leaves. Thanks for any info!

  • #2
    If acorns and oak leaves were dangerous, all my horses would be long dead.
    That said, I think they arent good for very young or very old
    "You can't really debate with someone who has a prescient invisible friend"


    • #3
      Our broodmare paddocks are loaded with acorn trees. I see the mares and/or weanlings out there eating them every fall and nobody has had problems but I have heard that ingesting mega quantities of acorns can cause colic. Of course anytime a horse ingests anything out of the ordinary in large quantities, they can colic .
      Susan N.

      Don't get confused between my personality & my attitude. My personality is who I am, my attitude depends on who you are.


      • #4
        I believe black oak are poisonous. Not sure if it's the leaves or acorns.


        • #5
          If they eat the leaves or the acorns in large enough quantities it can contribute to colic.
          They won't eat them if they are provided with enough other forage, be it grass or free choice hay.
          I have several huge oaks on my place, but I feed free choice hay and have not had a problem.
          "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


          • #6
            Originally posted by Jaegermonster View Post
            They won't eat them if they are provided with enough other forage, be it grass or free choice hay.
            I call BS on this statement.

            My horse is turned out on 4 acres of green pasture and he stands under the silly trees with hs donkey and eats acorns.
            Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


            • #7
              You can call whatever you like. That's what i was told by my vet and by the vets at UF vet school and also what I have seen by my personal experience.

              Small amounts of acorns or leaves won't hurt them but if they a lot it can cause problems.
              "Perhaps the final test of anybody's love of dogs is their willingness to permit them to make a camping ground of the bed" -Henry T. Merwin


              • #8
                I've got 180 acres of pastures all have White and Red Oaks and never had any problems but if they had nothing else to eat I'm sure there could be.
                Quality doesn\'t cost it pays.


                • #9
                  One reads that they are poisonous but I have five huge white oaks in my small grass field. The horses eat the leaves that fall into their turnout paddock, and have done so for thirty years (different horses!) I've not noticed them bothering with them while they are out in the grass field. In the fall there are a lot of leaves, and they seem to love them, but have never had a bit of problem. Maybe there are some varieties of oaks that are poisonous.

                  You do have nice neighbours.
                  Proud member of People Who Hate to Kill Wildlife clique


                  • #10
                    This last fall I had a mysterious series of colics and couldn't figure out what was happening. I posted a question on this forum and a fellow poster came up with the answer - acorns.

                    For some reason, my horses started eating the acorns falling from oak trees. Hadn't bothered them in the past but it sure did this last fall. I had five colics in three days. Vets didnt' think of acorns as a cause since this area is filled with oak trees but after the COTH'er made the suggestion, I looked through my horses' manure (fun) and found acorns.

                    Immediately put up electric tape and blocked that portion of their field. Spent the next six weeks picking up 2 million acorns (because I didn't trust the electric tape). No more colics. Now, come Labor Day, I will always put up electric tape.

                    Oh, and my horses are well fed and not starving and have plenty of other things to eat!

                    No one else in this area has ever had a problem so I doubt it's a common problem. But it happened to me and that's all I need! The neighbors on either side of me have the same trees and their horses apparently don't eat the acorns or dont' have a problem.

                    (Point of curiousity - I have big horses in the field for X number of hours and then minis in the field for a couple of hourss. None of the minis ever colicked; just the big horses. And I found acorns in the minis' manure, as well. Just one of those mysteries of horse ownership.)
                    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.


                    • Original Poster

                      I appreciate everyone's input on this. I will monitor the horses' interest level in the area around the trees when the time comes...I'm guessing it will be quite a few years before we have acorns on the ground anyway!

                      Our neighbors are fantastic. They even horse-sit and dog-sit when we have to be out of town. Don't be too jealous, though. Our other neighbors are completely insane


                      • #12
                        I have a QH mare who has eaten acorns her whole life, with no problems yet. I mean thousands of them, all day, as long as there are any she can reach. The other horses don't seem to bother them. As a side note, she also loves dogwood trees, rose bushes, and Bradford pear bark. She hasn't coliced yet, but I know she will one day!


                        • #13
                          I can recall a friend's horses colicing as a result of eating acorns, but they were dry lotted. It was an annual affair if she didn't get there fast enough with her rake.
                          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                          • #14
                            I have 47 large Live Oaks on my farm in Ocala. I have to say the biggest problem with them is that they choke out all of the grass. Mine will occassionally eat the acorns and leaves, mostly from boredom or needing some roughage. I have not had any problems yet. Now, my neighbors (across the road) did have a QH that was dropping weight and looking unthrifty. They went through full diagnostics for months and couldn't find the problem. Someone from UF Vet School mentioned the acorns and sure enough, that was the problem. They have 150 horses (TBs) on their farm and in 20 years there, they've only had one problem. So, I guess I wouldn't worry about the trees, but I'd certainly not rule it out if any turned up with a problem.


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by purplnurpl View Post
                              I call BS on this statement.
                              I think I'm with you on this. I agree that MOST horses won't eat leaves and acorns if they have enough good food, but some will. My 2 y.o. loves the leaves from one particular oak tree. He gets a well balanced diet (ration balancer, oats, minerals for his grass-based diet, 24/7 pasture, and all the hay he'll eat in the cold months), but he is often seen stripping the leaves from that poor tree.... There are several oak trees in and around my pastures. The pastures also have about a million pecan trees and the horses eat the pecans in the late fall. None of the beasties have had problems (BS types while knocking on wood).
                              Y'all ain't right!


                              • #16
                                My horses love acorns! My farm borders a lane of live oak trees and although there is excellent and abundant grass and they get good quality feed and plenty of hay, each fall they spend countless hours foraging for acorns. This has been going on for 30+ years and the only problems have been when an older horse with questionable teeth has a little gas colic. Usually a dose of banamine and she is back to normal. My vet says they usually don't have problems unless they gorge. I sure am glad because it would be hard to fence off all the pasture along that side of the property and I can't cut the trees.
                                Piney Woods