Why Do Horses Chew More Wood In Winter?

Even horses that don’t typically chew wood may start nibbling wooden surfaces in winter, when temperatures drop. Studies have shown that some horses may chew on trees and fences in cold wet weather, perhaps because of an instinctive urge to ingest more roughage as temperatures dip.

Horses that pick up this habit should be evaluated by a veterinarian to rule out any nutritional deficiencies. If nothing is found to be wrong, wood chewing is considered a behavioral issue and these steps can be considered to correct it:

  • Eliminate access to wood sources. Though replacing fences and cutting down trees usually isn’t an option, stringing an electrified wire inside the top board of fencing can prevent horses from chewing on fence boards.
  • Offer more hay. Providing more forage is the most effective option to stop wood chewing. Using a slow feeder can make hay last longer.
  • Make wood taste bad. Coating wood surfaces with a product that makes it taste bad discourages horses from chewing.
  • Increase exercise. Encouraging horses to move more, whether in a planned exercise regimen or on more-casual rides, can burn up extra energy that may go toward chewing.

Read more at EQUUS magazine.

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