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Eating mud??!!

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  • Eating mud??!!

    My horses have 'all of a sudden' picked up the habit of eating mud....can anyone tell me why? They have mineral salt blocks, eat well balanced diets, have plenty of yummy grass, and when I went out to the pasture to work today, both horses were hanging out by the barn, & my TB was licking a hole in the sandy-mud & looked like he'd been doing it awhile. We've had alot of rain lately, so the area outside the barn is alot wetter than it usually is, which is probably why I've never seen him do it before now.
    But anyway, I'm really worried he's going to colic from eating it.
    To make matters worse, when I went out there to bring them in for the night, BOTH horses were standing in the mud, licking holes to China! They didn't even want to leave the mud to come in for dinner!
    Anybody else have this problem? Will giving something like Sand Clear help prevent impaction?
    Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it ~ Goethe

  • #2
    I'm not sure why they do it, but yes, I do have this problem from time to time.

    Both my horses get plenty of free choice high quality forage, grass, multivitamins and other supplements, free choice minerals, plus alfalfa, and they both have the habit of when they are first put out in the am, once or twice a week I see them go over to the same spot in each paddock and lick dirt - a good few licks, sometimes more! I have even seen them (gasp**) EAT a mound of dirt that has roots from grass in it.

    Then they start to graze on grass and move on with their day.

    I was always told that when they do this they are "missing something" mineral wise, but who knows.


    • #3
      This is most likely because they are craving certain minerals in the mud. Mineral salt blocks are firstly not designed for horses, and secondly they contain both salt AND minerals, so the horse cannot regulate them seperately. So if your horse is craving certain minerals, but they don't need more salt, then they will not use that mineral block.

      What you can do is offer them loose Redmonds salt and loose Rush Creek Mineral mix. After they have their fill of the Rush Creek mineral.....you will most likely see their mud eating behavior stop.
      These are both available from Advanced Biological Concepts at www.a-b-c-plus.com and get the Starter or Mineral maintenance kit.

      As far as your worries....where do you live? Is the soil high is sand content? If your not sure, you can call your local vet and ask them. If there is significant sand content, then yes, a course of Sand Clear could be a good idea.
      Hope that helps.


      • #4
        Maybe he has ulcers and learned that it makes his tummy feel better? It would have a buffering effect. Many other species will also eat clay to control some of the poisons they ingest with their diet (parrots for example).

        Are they actually using they salt block as much as they should and yes, something like sand clear used on a regular basis would help for any possible dirt/sand accumulation and the salt block may not provide everything they need.


        • #5
          I used to see my horse doing that occasionallly especially when we would go to places off the farm. He would graze and rip out grass by the roots and eat the whole thing including the dirt. I fed him a bucket of ABC's Detox (for other reasons) and I've never seen him do it again.

          I've read that horses in the 'wild', self-medicate by doing licking mud, in particular where it is newly disturbed, i.e. freshly uncovered for some reason like perhaps by lots of rain.


          • Original Poster

            Thanks all; We have heavy, clay soil, but the area where they're eating it is in the gravel, sandy road area; - which has a nice mix of old hay bits & probably manure, as it is right outside the shed part of the barn. It's usually not a muddy area - we've just had so much rain lately. I think my draft cross just started doing it because his buddy's doing it.... I think I'll pick up some Sand Clear today, & look into those mineral options!
            Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it; Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it ~ Goethe


            • #7
              I have a horse in my barn that was doing a LOT of mud licking and then started chewing in his stall and on the OUTSIDE of the barn - got some SuperSal (John Ewing Co) and he has stopped both (thank god!)

              Be aware - if you use SuperSal, do not feed as much as directed - enclosed scoop is about 2 tsps and my vet said that was too much. He recommended 1 tsp 2x/day for 5 days then 1 tsp once a day.


              • #8
                KnK what is SuperSal?

                Flipper don't forget to double check your worming need/schedule as well as making sure they have adequate probiotics.


                • #9
                  SuperSal is a mineral supplement: