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Does your horse have a taste for something bizarre?

Why does my horse chew wood? horse chewing wood fenceHorses eating wood is relatively common, and is usually due to a lack of roughage in the diet. If your horse eats wood, try to ensure they have access to ad-lib forage, or if they are a good doer, trickle feed at least 1.5% of the horse’s bodyweight per day (e.g. feed a 500kg horse 7.5kg of forage)  which should satisfy the horse’s natural need to chew. This practice can often occur in colder weather, when the horses need for forages rises.  If your horse has access to grazing yet still likes to nibble on the fence posts, try supplying hay in the field- sometimes water content of grass is so high that it is hard for your horse to consume his fibre requirements from grass alone. Horses that are under stimulated, though lack of variation or exercise are also more likely to bite wood, so try to make sure you exercise your horse regularly, and shake things up a bit in your training! Why does my horse eat soil? 7906387846_ccc4cd5834_cEating soil is usually indicative of a deficiency in the diet, often sodium or other minerals, but may also be to introduce micro-flora into the gut, or due to boredom or habit. If your horse is eating dirt, supply them with a free-access salt lick, ensure that they are receiving adequate vitamins and minerals, and try a probiotic to enhance gut flora population. Feeding Feedmark’s Original Balancer is ideal, as this provides 25 essential vitamins and minerals alongside a probiotic. If the behaviour is due to habit, ensure your horse has plenty of room to play in, make sure they have company and try to make their working life as varied and interesting as possible. Why does my horse eat their own poo? foal eating poo smallEating poo, or ‘Coprophagy’ to use the correct term is common among horses and many other animals. This is not considered an abnormal behaviour, and is common in foals. It is theorised that horses eat poo to help to populate their hind gut with beneficial bacteria. Feeding a pre and probiotic, such as BioPro can help with this behaviour by ensure a healthy population of bacteria in the hind gut. If your horse is eating anything out of the normal they are often trying to make up for a lack of a nutrient in their current feeding regime. Assess their diet to ensure that they are receiving adequate vitamins and minerals, fibre and probiotics, and call our Freephone advice line if you need a hand on 0800 585525. Olivia Colton MSc Nutritional and Technical Coordinator