Horse is eating wood
 
 

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Horse is eating wood

This is a discussion on Horse is eating wood within the Horse Health forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Horses category
  • Is wolmanized wood bad my horse?
  • What wood wont be eaten by horses

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    11-27-2011, 09:03 AM
  #1
Foal
Horse is eating wood

Not sure if this belongs here but...
My horse is out in a field and began eating the bark off trees, googled it, not a problem. He is now RIPPING chunks of wood from his shed and eating them.
I am not only worried about him getting hurt from the wood/chemicals in the wood, but I am worried about whether or not he is missing anything in his diet.
Or could this just be him cribbing because he's bored out there by himself?
Any help would be great, thanks!
     
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    11-27-2011, 09:38 AM
  #2
Foal
It could be boredom, but most likely minerals. I always set out mineral blocks in the fall.

NOTE: There is a difference between a mineral block and a "trace mineral salt block." Feed stores seem to push trace mineral, as mineral blocks! They are SALT blocks with only 3% mineral. I keep trace mineral blocks out as free choice all year.

In the fall the horses as grass changes, I add a Purina horse pasture mineral block to their stalls. This is a mineral/ protein block- no salt. Used them for about 10-15 years.

Your trees will die!
     
    11-27-2011, 09:40 AM
  #3
Banned
It could be either one or the other- boredom/temperment or a deficiency in his diet. I disagree with those who AUTOMATICALLY assume ALL wood chewers are mineral deficient.


Our 6 yr. Old OTTB is also a wood chewer. With the help of our vet's dietary advice and changes, we have discussed our boy's ongoing chewing problem and he has come to the conclusion that In his case, it is NOT due to a deficiency in his diet. It's his temperment. Which is also the cause of his tendency to choke.....temperment can cause lasting and hard to break vices and health issues...so it cannot be dismissed out of hand when a wood chewer is involved.

Last winter he was kept in a SMALL dry lot paddock with his pasture mate day and night, the paddock attaches to the stable.....and he proceeded to eat the barn walls. His chewing stops in the summer and fall when he is on pasture all day and roams the 23 acres he has at his disposal, and only put in the small paddock at night.

This year we have opened up all the fields, and will keep them open through the winter, so while they won't have grass in them for grazing but rather snow, he will still have room to run and not be confined to the small paddock. Confinement in small spaces with nothing to do causes him to go on chewing binges.
     
    11-27-2011, 10:11 AM
  #4
Green Broke
If it is green treated wood it has salt in it and they like to eat it.
     
    11-27-2011, 11:16 AM
  #5
Super Moderator
We have found that it is usually a lack of Calcium, particularly if they are on grass hay. Horses need at least twice as much Calcium as they need Phosphorus. Most grasses and grains have more P than Ca, so a Ca deficiency is created. Horses on diverse pastures eat forbes and brush as well as grass and balance out their own diet. On grass hay, they will eat bark and wood and some even eat dirt to try to get the Ca they need.

I have just not seen very many horses that did not quit eating wood when they have been given access to a high Ca loose mineral. I feed a loose mineral that has 4 or 5 times as much Ca as P. It is only 25% salt. I have had horses that came in and literally left grain to eat mineral. After a few days, they caught up on the Ca they needed and then they only went to the mineral feeder now and then like the other horses. The 25% salt in it keeps them from eating too much at once.

My mineral of choice also has 2% Magnesium along with Zinc and at least 150,000 units of Vitamin A per pound.

Feeding this mineral has stopped 100% of the tree chewers and about 95% of the wood chewers I have had including those stalled. I have had injured horses on stall rest and it kept them from eating the barn down.
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    11-27-2011, 01:23 PM
  #6
Banned
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherie    
feeding this mineral has stopped 100% of the tree chewers and about 95% of the wood chewers I have had including those stalled.
Which is still a small number of the total proportion of horses in this world with the wood chewing vice. Unfortunately, wood chewing is like any other issue....there is no one answer that fits all those horses afflicted with this vice..perhaps since ALL the wood chewers you have owned were cured by minerals/salt/calcium your problem was a geographic one...i.e. Poor soil, hay, grass, etc.. who can say for sure.

BTW....the wood chewers at the barn where I used to board were NOT helped with dietary intervention, so what's that mean? ONLY that the wood chewers I've come into contact with, which is a small number of the total wood chewers in this world, were NOT helped by dietary intervention. Then again, all were OTTBs and were not in large paddocks. Maybe that had something to do with it. Who can say for sure.

As for our boy, it is definitely behaviorial....so the OP really needs to talk to her vet to rule out a dietary deficiency.....and if the issue is not resolved, to consider it a behavior issue.



I would caution the OP to consult with her vet before adding calcium, salt, zinc or other minerals to her horse's feed. You should never loose feed/force feed your horse salt, vitamins or minerals without a vet's consultation and reccomendation. Overloading a horse on certain minerals and even salt can cause kidney issues and other health and metabolic issues.NONE of us on this forum are vets, and experiences stated on here should NEVER take the place of a vet's advice...
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    11-27-2011, 03:54 PM
  #7
Super Moderator
I DO have a background in nutrition and have worked as a nutritional consultant for feed companies and have been called in by Veterinarians to help farms with problems like a high number of foals born with weak and/or crooked legs, OCD problems and with horses exhibiting Pica.

Absolute fact -- Calcium is lacking in ALL GRAINS while Phosphorus is high.

Fact -- Calcium is lacking in every grass hay sample and every grass hay profile that I have seen in textbooks and IRL. I have sent in hundreds of forage samples over many years and the grass hays only varied in the amount of the lack of Calcium in them. All had an inverse ratio with more Phosphorus than Calcium. Legumes on the other hand vary a lot, but in general, have a lot more Ca in them than grass hay.

Excessive Calcium is not a problem unless it is HUGE. Excessive Phosphorus is a HUGE problem even if the excess is small. It is the reason I have taken bran out of the feed formulas I have worked out for breeding and boarding farms. It is just SO high in P that you have to add large amounts of Ca to balance it out.

I have found that most Veterinarians are not very good nutritionists. They have to study equine nutrition on their own as the Universities to not do a very good job of it during Vet School. Some of the feed companies are now getting a better Ca:P ratio in their feeds, but most still do not balance out separate grain formulas for horses eating legumes (high in Calcium) and grass hays (low in Calcium). None compensate for forages that are very low in Ca.

With that much difference in forages, obviously one grain and one mineral mixture would not be suitable for all horses. It is up to the owner to be informed enough to know if their horse needs Calcium or a 'balanced' mineral that reflects the horse needs of a 1.5:1 total Ca:P minimal balance. Horses try to tell us by eating unnatural and unpalatable things like tree bark and wood.

With mature horses, you will see few if any problems when the Ca:P ratio of 4:1. A ratio of 2:1 is what I consider ideal. I have set up management and feeding programs around that goal number for about 40 years now. There have never been any problems from this ratio with breeding stock, growing young horses and performance horses. Older sedentary horses can exist with a huge overload of P and a serious lack of Ca, but even they will start eating trees and wood when it gets bad enough.

We have helped clear up many problems other than Pica and they include reducing the incidence of OCD, contracted tendons, 'knobby' ankles in young growing horses, crooked or weak legs in foals, and many other problems.

The few wood eater that did not stop eating wood after a diet change had other clinical problems. Most were stalled and had ulcers, too little turnout, were cribbers, or had other stall vices. It is hard to say which came first. The cause and effect thing on ulcers, wood chewing and cribbing is not clear in all cases.

But, one thing is very clear to me. When horses are not confined to a stall and they eat trees and wood, they have a nutritional imbalance.

I do not ever force feed a mineral, but leave loose mineral out free choice. Magnesium, Zinc and Vitamin A are all necessary for a horse to utilize the Calcium and Phosphorus in their feed properly.

I DO force feed salt when it turns very hot or very cold. This is to prevent a horse from drinking too little water and impacting, particularly when the weather turns very hot or very cold. This is the best colic preventative I know of.
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    11-28-2011, 12:26 PM
  #8
Banned
Personally, I don't care what credentials you SAY you have, as none of us have any way of knowing if you do or don't. I could say anything on here...I could even SAY I am a vet myself. This is the internet, folks. People can say anything....and sometimes do.....so let's keep it in mind.

But regardless of what you DO or DO NOT have, giving opinions on a public forum about a horse you have never examined is NEVER a replacement for a vet's consultation about a horse he is able to see and examine. YOU are making it seem like it should be. You also intimate that vets cannot and do not undrstand horse nutrition and so cannot be counted on to know what they are talking about in this area so we should disregard considering calling them to evaluate dietary issues and should all listen to who? You? .... And I disagree with this.

Plain and simple. Whether you are a nutritional consult for a feed company, or whether you work at wal mart....you are still an anonymous internet person that few of us know, and who has not seen nor evaluated this horse.

The fact that you are making blanket statements about a problem as complex as wood chewing makes me very suspicious of the credentials you say you have.....because anyone with any nutritional/medical background would KNOW that wood chewing can be nutritional or it can be behaviorial...and they would suggest a vet be called in to make the determination and supplementation...if necessary. A PROFESSIONAL would not give medical advice via the internet to a person whose horse they have not evaluated and examined.

JMO
mls likes this.
     
    11-28-2011, 01:00 PM
  #9
Banned
I have to agree that it is best to consult with a nutritionist or your vet prior to just adding something to your horses diet to fix the problem of the moment. Frequently adding something to their diet can make other problems.

Wood chewing can simply be a bad and very annoying habit.
Beauseant likes this.
     
    11-28-2011, 02:25 PM
  #10
Green Broke
Quote:
Originally Posted by Beauseant    
Personally, I don't care what credentials you SAY you have, as none of us have any way of knowing if you do or don't. I could say anything on here...I could even SAY I am a vet myself. This is the internet, folks. People can say anything....and sometimes do.....so let's keep it in mind.

But regardless of what you DO or DO NOT have, giving opinions on a public forum about a horse you have never examined is NEVER a replacement for a vet's consultation about a horse he is able to see and examine. YOU are making it seem like it should be. You also intimate that vets cannot and do not undrstand horse nutrition and so cannot be counted on to know what they are talking about in this area so we should disregard considering calling them to evaluate dietary issues and should all listen to who? You? .... And I disagree with this.

Plain and simple. Whether you are a nutritional consult for a feed company, or whether you work at wal mart....you are still an anonymous internet person that few of us know, and who has not seen nor evaluated this horse.

The fact that you are making blanket statements about a problem as complex as wood chewing makes me very suspicious of the credentials you say you have.....because anyone with any nutritional/medical background would KNOW that wood chewing can be nutritional or it can be behaviorial...and they would suggest a vet be called in to make the determination and supplementation...if necessary. A PROFESSIONAL would not give medical advice via the internet to a person whose horse they have not evaluated and examined.

JMO
Why are you getting on someone who gave their opinion? The Op obviously wanted some answers from strangers off the internet and can decide which advice to listen to. Vets do not know everything. Many vets do not ever agree on a diagnosis. Most people do not even call a vet on these forums when obviously medical attention is needed. Either they don't have the money, they are too young and their parents won't call or they just think it will take care of itself on it's own. I think consulting a nutritionist makes the most sense and I also think Cherie's reasons of what could be wrong are intelligent and articulate. You go Cherie!!
     

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bored, cribbing, lonely

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