Horse is eating woodchips - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 08-06-2013, 10:22 PM Thread Starter
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Exclamation Horse is eating woodchips

I'm leasing a 6 year old mare and the owner has told me that this mare has been abused in the past. She also informed me that this mare has been eating the landscaping woodchips that are used in her paddock and all around the boarding facility where the horse is kept. I don't know if this is like cribbing, or done out of stress, due to a stomach problem, or boredom, but she doesn't seem to be wind sucking or chewing on the fence posts in her paddock. She does seem to want to eat the sand and dirt on the ground. Does anyone here have any advice or ideas of what may be causing this and how I can help to stop this? The horse is already being treated with Sandclear.
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post #2 of 12 Old 08-06-2013, 10:30 PM
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Sounds like she needs vitamins and minerals
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post #3 of 12 Old 08-06-2013, 10:37 PM Thread Starter
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I thought about that and the owner just said she has a salt lick for trace minerals. So I asked her to get a different kind next time, to switch it up. I worry about the horse getting colic. Thank you though, it makes me think I was on the right track!
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post #4 of 12 Old 08-06-2013, 11:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Remmy75 View Post
I thought about that and the owner just said she has a salt lick for trace minerals. So I asked her to get a different kind next time, to switch it up. I worry about the horse getting colic. Thank you though, it makes me think I was on the right track!
A trace mineral block is 98% salt and only 2% minerals so basically, it is just a colored salt block. It is not providing minerals in sufficient quantities and types (does not include macro minerals) to make a difference. Her behavior is typical of a mineral deficient horse. What else makes up her diet? She needs a good quality loose mineral/vitamin supplement. Look for something with no more than 25% salt, twice as much Ca as P (in the 20%: 10%) and 100,000 IU Vitamin A. Don't worry about the other values. They should be in line if you find something close to those target values.

She could also be bored and hungry.
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post #5 of 12 Old 08-06-2013, 11:06 PM
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Sounds like the horse is looking for forage. Does it get plenty of hay?
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post #6 of 12 Old 08-07-2013, 05:06 AM
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I would say needs more fibre.
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post #7 of 12 Old 08-07-2013, 06:06 AM
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I agree that hay/forage is the first thing to look at. Horses are built to be eating/chewing almost constantly and hungry/bored horses will start eating all sorts of things that aren't good for them.
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post #8 of 12 Old 08-07-2013, 01:06 PM
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Agreed, eating wood is typically either a sign of needing more forage or nutritional imbalance/deficiency.

Like LHP said, a mineral block is mostly salt. A typical 4 lb block doesn't contain enough of any of the minerals (except salt, of course) to meet even a day's nutritional needs. If your horse isn't already getting a quality fortified grain (fed at the minimum recommendation on the bag or higher rate), ration balancer, or vitamin/mineral supplement, then it's probably a good idea to add one to her diet. I personally lean more towards the ration balancer (mine gets Triple Crown 30% Supplement) because it doesn't have the extra sugar/starch/calories of a typical grain-based hard feed, and it provides extra protein and amino acids (especially lysine) that you don't get in a vitamin/mineral supplement.
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post #9 of 12 Old 08-07-2013, 01:41 PM
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Another good ration balancer is Nutrenas empower balance.
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post #10 of 12 Old 08-07-2013, 01:51 PM
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The licks are designed for cattle as are the trace minerals. Offer the horse loose salt in a separate pan, about 1/2 cup. The lick, designed for the raspy bovine tongue makes the horse tongue sore and it doesn't ingest adequate amounts of salt. My horses have a salt/trace mineral in the barn and loose salt near the water trough. Keep an eye on the salt and replenish as needed. If feeding hay stuff small mesh hay nets. It will slow her down and give her something to nibble on. Whether she's in a stall or outside use two nets spaced well apart to encourage her to move and they naturally do move from one to the other.
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