Wood Chewing in an 18month old filly. - The Horse Forum
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post #1 of 21 Old 12-15-2010, 02:23 PM Thread Starter
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Wood Chewing in an 18month old filly.

Hi guys, looking for some advice.

I have a gorgeous foal, light of my life etc. She's a dream in every single way apart from one thing.

She chews wood. I don't mean, has a little nibble, I mean, she completely destroyed (nothing but splinters left) EIGHTEEN rails in her field. Since she's been in for the winter (so in her box at night, and either turn out during the day or in her little paddock area), she isn't doing it as badly, but she is still eating the building slowly from the inside out....!

She NEEDS to be chewing on anything she can get her teeth on - today she was going to town on her mane and tail brush! Her need to chew overrides her dislike for the taste - I've used both cribbox and washing up liquid to no real avail. She would also rather true that work for food - if there is hay in her rack (which is easy) she'll eat rather than chew, but if its in her net she'll totally ignore it and chew instead.

I've spoken to her dentist who says that there is no way she can be teething, shes totally the wrong age. The vet also says that shes not lacking in anything and agrees with the dentist.

Any thoughts are hugely appreciated. I love her to pieces but shes costing me a fortune!!!

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post #2 of 21 Old 12-15-2010, 10:15 PM
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is she bored? watch it with the wood she can get some bad colic from that
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post #3 of 21 Old 12-15-2010, 10:40 PM
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She may be bored, she may be looking for a quick fix chew, which means eating the wood instead of her hay when its in the net and not as easy to eat. I know that my Arabian will chew wood when annoyed, frustrated, or bored as long as she has access to it (fortunately she's in a pipe corral). I would try and find some type of toy she can actually get her mouth around and chew on.
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post #4 of 21 Old 12-16-2010, 01:17 AM
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My 5 month old foal chews on anything he can get in his mouth. Luckily my fences are pipe so he can't eat them!

I would worry that she is swallowing the wood slivers and it could cause her harm.

I know it is more expensive, but if you can afford to keep some grass hay in front of her at all times, that might be the way to go. My foal was eating the adult horse's tails until I started giving them grass hay in addition to their alfalfa.

And look at it this way, it's cheaper than replacing boards constantly.
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post #5 of 21 Old 12-16-2010, 08:45 AM Thread Starter
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I'm desperate for a horsey equivalent to a doggy chew toy!! I think it would be totally perfect!

She may be slightly bored as she's in but I cant help that are our fields are lethal atm. Shes getting as much turnout as possible and I'm spending as much time playing games with her as possible.
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post #6 of 21 Old 12-16-2010, 09:46 AM
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you could try getting her a jolly ball or maybe a salt lick or i have this for my horse Uncle Jimmys Hangin Balls - Statelinetack.com and he loves it... hope that helps a little bit.
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post #7 of 21 Old 12-16-2010, 10:40 AM Thread Starter
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She has a salt lick, a Uncle Jimmys ball, and a likit treat ball. She shows no interest in them at all, apart from the UJ ball but that falls under the "food is too much hard work" category so she only uses it very rarely.

Spoke to the vet about her ingesting that much wood, he said not to worry as their teeth grind it up into mash and he's never known a horse colic from wood. 10% of their natural diet is wood, apparently...

Interesting thought on the grass hay, although she's perfectly interested in hay she'd just rather chew wood.

Lost my temper with her last night, screamed at her and burst into tears. Isn't it silly how the little things can push and push and push....!
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post #8 of 21 Old 12-16-2010, 11:40 AM
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This is actually a case of 'pica', which is an abnormal craving for inedible substances. When horses ingest large amounts of wood, bark, dirt, mains & tails, etc, they have a deficiency in their diet. It has nothing to do with boredom or lack of exercise.

If this horse is being fed grass, grass hay and/or grain, it is a very good bet that Calcium (Ca) is missing from its diet. It can be stopped, almost overnight, by providing a free choice loose mineral supplement that has at least 3 or 4 times more Ca in it than Phosphorus (P). This mineral should also contain a good amount of Vitamins A and D -- needed for the absorption of Ca & P.

The mineral we have used for many years also contains Magnesium and Zinc. It is 24% Ca and only 4% P. It is also 25% salt, so it is the only salt source we provide in the winter. In the summer, we also keep out white salt blocks in case they do not eat enough mineral.

I have had horses come in with horrible hair coats, pot bellies, eaten off tails and eating dirt and wood. They had been dewormed but still looked awful. When given this mineral, they ate so much of it that I limited them to 1 pound a day until they got their fill. Within days they began looking better and their pica appetite stopped immediately.

Our mineral also contains 200,000 units of Vitamin A per pound, so it prevents rain rot, goopy eyes and lice, particularly in winter and early spring when Vitamin A reserves are depleted.
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post #9 of 21 Old 12-16-2010, 12:01 PM
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Cherie, interesting. I know that wood chewing is normally a sign of something missing, though the op said that the horse wasn't lacking (should have asked if the vet actually tested her horse), I just didn't know what exactly the horse may be lacking. Thank you for that information. Learn something new every day.
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post #10 of 21 Old 12-16-2010, 01:23 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, Cherie, very interesting, thank you.

My vet said (and I trust him with my horses life, he is one of the decent ones) that any horse on good grazing (whether thats hay or grass), holding a good weight and with clear eyes and a good coat cannot be lacking. His exact words were, "mineral supplements are there to make the owner feel better. they do the horse no favours apart from in pregnancy". I did ignore him, however, and give her some haylage balancer - which she wouldnt eat. Wouldn't eat the chaff, wouldnt eat the balancer biscuits, wouldnt eat the powder mixed with her favourite treats, just wouldnt eat it. So I gave up in the end!

Also, when she was eating an extraordinary amount of rails in the field, she was on poor grazing but was DESPERATELY bored. Since she's been in, she's less bored (and on better grazing), and is still chewing but less.

Her condition, weight (shes weight taped which, although inaccurate for foals, at least lets me know if she goes up or down), coat condition and hoof condition have remained exactly the same.

I'm happy to try anything tbh, whats the brand name you use?
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