Eating Oak Leaves

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Eating Oak Leaves

This is a discussion on Eating Oak Leaves within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category

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    09-21-2010, 12:08 PM
Smile Eating Oak Leaves

I have a 6 month old colt and he is eating oak leaves. I have them through out my pasture for shade. What should I do, cut them down? They are dead leaves too!!:)
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    09-21-2010, 01:44 PM
Oak leaves (and acorns if they eat enough) are toxic to horses. If you don't want to remove the oaks, you should rake or mow with a bag attachment to get the oak leaves out of the pasture.

If your colt is eating a lot of the oak leaves it could be a sign that he doesn't have enough food or forage in his diet. Horses don't generally eat toxic plants unless they are very hungry.

Ask the Expert -- Poisonous Plants
    09-21-2010, 01:47 PM
Taken from that same website, here are some other pages that will help you determine what could be toxic in your pasture.
    09-21-2010, 02:04 PM
I have a lot of ragweed in the pasture and to many oak trees to mow or collect leaves every time they fall. I have no where, where it is just grass. I have trees through out the whole thing. I really an't trying to cut them.
    09-21-2010, 02:39 PM
Eating a few leaves or even acorns won't hurt him.

If he's consuming them in mass quantities because he's not getting enough to eat, then yes, he could possibly be getting toxic amounts.
    09-21-2010, 03:10 PM
Do they have access to hay/grass 24/7? If they don't they are going to nibble on something. A horse needs to graze somewhere between 18-23(estimate)hr a day. They are not like cows that will eat a while and then lay around and chew their cud, as it is said. A horse needs to be nibbling on something most of the time for their digestive system to work properly. I think the reason is their acid pumps are always running so they always need a little something in their system for the acid to be breaking down.
The fact of him being 6 months also means he's nosy and probably very touchy and feely with everything.
I would suggest that if you don't have enough grass for him to graze 24/7 that he has hay 24/7 to nibble on.
Are you sure he's eating them or just playing with them? As stated in the other posts, horses are smart when it comes to what to eat, and what not to eat. They will only eat it when they have no other resource.
    09-21-2010, 05:11 PM
The leaves are more toxic in the spring but in the fall it is more common to see poisoning from the acorns. Maple leaves are the ones you really want to worry about in the fall as the wilted leaves are toxic.

As far as Oak goes, he would have to be eating more than 50% of his diet as leaves or acorns. That being said, he's a foal and if it tastes good/he doesn't have enough proper forage it wouldn't take that many for him to become ill. If he develops a taste for them now it could be problematic later in life. I'd say your best options sound like either putting more hay out for him to nibble on or move him somewhere you don't have to worry about lots of oak trees.
    09-21-2010, 05:43 PM
Originally Posted by tealamutt    
The leaves are more toxic in the spring but in the fall it is more common to see poisoning from the acorns. Maple leaves are the ones you really want to worry about in the fall as the wilted leaves are toxic.
There are LOTS of varieties of maples and oaks, only a few maples are toxic (red maples for one), and the toxicity of the oaks varies. It is best to actually find out what types you have around before worrying too much...and the toxicity drops the longer they are on the ground, especially if it rains as the toxins are leached out.

We have lots of maples and oaks around and the only ones we had to cut were the red maples. Our mares happily eat some of the maple leaves, generally don't touch the oaks leaves, and do eat acorns. They have free choice hay, so they're not hungry, and we actually see them head for the acorns after they've filled up on hay. They've been doing this for years without any ill effects.

If you have any questions or concerns, though, check with your agg extension agent to be sure. Better safe than sorry.
    09-21-2010, 06:30 PM
Ok thanks guys, I read all of your posts and it seems like you all are thinking that he doesn't have access to hay or grass, and that he is very hungary. He has access to grass and hay all day, plus I feed him grain in the morning and at night when I put him up. He doesn't comsume alot of the leaves, or accorns for that matter he just starts to do it when I let him in the pasture. He has been nibbling of hay all day today. I went to tractor's supply and bought some dewormer and a white salt block. He is licking the salt pretty good. I think have alot of red oak and white oak trees. I don't think I have any red maples though.

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