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Acorn toxicity

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    Acorn toxicity

    Anyone know about the toxicity of Quercus lobata/ Valley Oak acorns? Ive been very careful with them, and am treating them like they are toxic to the horses.

    Sounds like in general acorns are toxic in larger quantities but a few won't hurt?


      Ah, acorns. They come at just the right time of year for a horse who wants to put on some fat for the winter.

      There was no way that I could avoid my horses getting acorns (part-Arabs, Arabs, Paso Fino--all small and food efficient.) The worst that happened to them is that sometimes I had to put them on a diet for a few weeks so they would not get grossly fat.

      When I learned they could be toxic to horses I got worried--BUT my first horse, who died at age 33, probably ate acorns every fall in his life. My other acorn vacuum cleaners all lived to their late twenties.

      So the toxicity, for most horses, is probably a result of a lot of acorns over a long period of time.

      Of course if the horse already has problems with various organs I can see how too many acorns might be a really bad idea.

      Consult with your veterinarian if you are super worried. They probably know the local vegetation that can be dangerous for horses.


        Yes, ran into this with two horses at the same time: very dry summer. Acorns fell by the bucket loads. Frost, snow, then warm spell. Acorns, apparently softened and two of my four horses nearly died eating them. The first to show symptoms was a 1100 pound QH --he turned bright yellow ---eye membrane, gums, tongue ---yellow! Vet said possible/probable that his liver was failing and he was going to die from so many acorns. So I said --ok, he's going to die -- now treat him as if he wasn't --so we ran oil into him, treated as if a bad colic, and after a few weeks, he was back to a normal color. Right about then, the draft horse had the same bright yellow coloring --treated --moved all horses to a pasture w/o acorn trees. Both survived. I still use the pasture that has the acorn trees --but we've never had as many as that one dry summer. And I've had horses in that pasture 30+ years --only a problem that one year after a dry summer.


          My horses don't have access to acorns( on purpose), but my neighbor almost lost a horse to acorn toxicity one year. My goats adore them and they put weight on literally overnight when they start falling.

          I think the problem is dependent on the weather and the amount of acorns consumed. Even cows can have an issue if the conditions are right.


            Why risk it?
            No matter where you go, there you are


              Apparently some horses do seem to become kind of addicted to acorns, in the sense that they'll purposefully hang out around the oak tree and spend all of their time eating them basically as soon as they fall.

              I'd be careful about allowing a horse access to a field with acorns in them; I'd watch to see if they seem to be eating them, and probably remove them from the pasture (the horses, not the acorns) if they seemed too interested.
              "The formula 'Two and two make five' is not without its attractions." --Dostoevsky


                There is an association between acorn ingestion and renal damage/failure in some cases., as well as GI signs --colitis/enteritis/hemorrhagic diarrhea I'd not give horses access to any significant volume of them.
                "It's like a Russian nesting doll of train wrecks."--CaitlinandTheBay

                ...just settin' on the Group W bench.


                  I have one horse addicted to acorns so I have to close off the pastures that have oak trees especially if it's a good year for

                  acorns. Otherwise he will overeat them. they're like crack cocaine to this one horse and he's taught others to imbibe also.
                  "There is no fundamental difference between man and animals in their ability to feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery." - Charles Darwin


                    I had this happen with a horse that I thought had a cast iron digestive system. She colicked really bad with terrible diarrhea for days and the weather was too bad to get her to the vet. She is fine now but will NEVER be allowed in that pasture again!

                    She had been turned out in my large pasture for years with no problems but due to her weight issues I decided 15 acres of grass was not good for her so I divided the pasture and she got 1/2 acre lot. The other mare got the big pasture with the oak trees. This mare has never had an issue with acorns and I have never seen her eat them.

                    Anyway mare #2 destroyed the electric tape fence dividing the two pastures so I turned mare #1 out in the big pasture while I was repairing the fence. I did notice mare #1 hanging out a LOT in the vicinity of the oak trees but thought nothing about it. Until the cramping and diarrhea hit. I called vet and we got her through the episode with banamine, probiotics and electrolytes. We aren't doing this again. Ever.

                    So maybe if they are exposed to them on a regular basis they do not overindulge? I do recommend keeping horses away from them if at all possible. I have read that horses do not eat them unless they are starving. This is WRONG!!!!


                      The majority of my horses won’t eat acorns, or at least not in any great quantity. But my one mare will gorge on them to the point where she ignores all other forage. Like others have said, it’s like an addiction. Usually the toxicity symptoms start with her abscessing. Colic-like symptoms aren’t far behind. She got really sick one year with enterocolitis and it wasn’t until after the fact that we realized it was the acorns.

                      The tricky thing about oak trees is that they have mast years where they produce massive quantities of acorns, then may produce very few other years. So you may not realize you have a problem until the stars align with a large quantity of acorns dropping plus a horse who finds them irresistible.
                      Don't fall for a girl who fell for a horse just to be number two in her world... ~EFO


                        My 125 year old oak in my paddock is masking like crazy this year. No I’m not cutting down the tree so I spend a lot of time raking them up or fencing the horses away. Both my geldings will nibble on them but aren’t gobbling them down. But I take no chances.
                        Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!