Why Do Horses Eat Weird Things?

Quality equine nutrition is paramount to keeping horses looking and feeling their best, but some horses eat things they shouldn’t, which could lead to colic or cause long-term health issues. Pica is an eating disorder that involves ingesting items that aren’t typically considered food.

Some horses eat:

  • Manure
    Called coprophagy, manure eating is natural. Foals eat manure to populate their digestive tract with beneficial bacteria and some adult horses do the same, but eating feces could be a sign that something more is amiss. Adult horses often eat manure because they’re lacking in fiber.
  • Poisonous Plants
    Horses often only eat poisonous plants when they have no other forage option. Knowing what plants are poisonous, and removing them, is important to keeping horses safe. Offer plenty of quality forage so the horse doesn’t think poisonous plants are the only edible option.
  • Dirt
    Eating dirt is fairly common, but may indicate horses are seeking minerals like salt, copper or zinc. Check his diet to be sure he’s receiving the proper amounts of minerals he needs to be healthy.
  • Tree Bark
    Eating tree bark is natural, but some horses chew bark because they are bored. It’s important to ensure that the tree bark the horse is eating isn’t poisonous. Additionally, if the horse is ingesting so much bark he’s harming the tree, fencing horses away from tree trunks may be necessary. Offering a horse-safe logs to chew on is an option.

Read more at Horse & Rider.

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