Study Explores Causes Of Watery Manure

Watery manure in horses can be a horse owner’s nightmare, coating the tail, hind legs and buttocks of horses, potentially scalding skin and encouraging flies. the condition, called “free fecal liquid,” is when a horse excretes manure that has both solid and liquid components. The liquid can be voided by itself or with the solid components.

Horses with free fecal liquid typically don’t clinically show signs of disease. The underlying cause is unknown, but feeding wrapped forages or other specific kinds of feeds are thought to be involved. Other factors linked to the condition include horses that are over 20 years old, those that have poor dentition, horses that are infested with parasite infections and those that are fed large quantities of alfalfa. Horses affected by the condition also have higher incidence of colic compared to other equine populations.

A Scandinavian study, led by Katrin Lindroth of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, gave a 50-question online survey to horse owners that investigated feeding and management practices. Other researchers included Johan Dicksved, Jan Erik Lindberg, Cecilia Müller, Astrid Johansen and Viveca Båverud. The team received 780 responses; of those, 339 horses had free fecal liquid.

They determined from the answers that almost any type of horse in any management program could be affected with free fecal liquid. In the survey, 58 percent of owners that had horses with the condition noted diminished signs of liquid when they changed from wrapped forage to hay; one-quarter of affected horses improved by changing batches of wrapped hay. Other horses improved by changing from wrapped forage to pasture.

The researchers concluded that while feeding strategy may be of importance, it cannot solely explain why free fecal liquid occurs and they suggest more studies to determine the cause of the liquid.

Read the full study here.

Read more at HorseTalk.

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