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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi there. My horse has recently (that I know of) been eating his own poop and I am wondering why. Although the muddy state of the paddocks has meant that he has been in much of the times, this week the barn owner was able to put the horses out. I have been able to see him during the pandemic and to ride him or at least let him run in the indoor. Also, he usually has hay in his hay net. Any thoughts on what might be going on? This seems to be a new behavior.
 

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The general opinion on this is that horses that eat their own stool (coprophagia) sometimes do so because they are missing certain minerals in their diet. What is your horse getting other than hay? What kinds of mineral supplements?

That being said, it seems that some horses do it out of boredom. It is also apparently harmless for them to eat their own poop since they aren't ingesting anything foreign. Still, most humans feel it is a rather nasty habit.

In my humble opinion, mud isn't a good reason to keep a horse in a stall, if that's what you mean. Horses need turnout. As much as possible. Being stuck inside a box 24/7 is not acceptable, and will lead to all sorts of vices.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for this. He has a himalayan salt ball hanging in his stall and he gets grain in addition to hay. He also gets heave relieve and generic Zirtec because he has heaves. I agree about turnout but it's not up to me; the barn owner decides when they can go out. I do thinks its gross, but if it doesn't harm him I am not so concerned, unless it's a nutritional issue. I will talk to the vet about this.
 

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Thanks for this. He has a himalayan salt ball hanging in his stall and he gets grain in addition to hay. He also gets heave relieve and generic Zirtec because he has heaves. I agree about turnout but it's not up to me; the barn owner decides when they can go out. I do thinks its gross, but if it doesn't harm him I am not so concerned, unless it's a nutritional issue. I will talk to the vet about this.
You might consider a ration balancer. Ideally, you have his hay analyzed (companies such as Equi-analytical do this very cheaply), add in the grain (what grain? pelleted feed?) and figure out the nutritional values of them added up. There are basic things horses need, such as zinc, copper, cobalt, salt, and possibly iron and selenium depending on where you live and what's in your feed (those minerals may already be present in your soil, thus the need for testing). The problem with salt blocks is that firstly, horses' tongues aren't rough enough to get the correct amount of minerals, secondly, there is no way of knowing if the horse is actually getting the right minerals. It isn't a one-size-fits-all - it all depends on what the horse is getting from its grass, hay, and other sources. Finally, I stopped feeding Himalayan salt licks personally because they contain elements like arsenic (naturally present in soil, but not necessarily something I want to feed) and a lot of iron. Most soil in North America is high in iron, and too much iron causes a lot of problems so the last thing I want to is to give more iron. I do provide salt licks for my horses, but they are plain, white salt. I also give them a supplement containing all the additional minerals they need, which I add to a mash of timothy hay cubes and beet pulp (sugar free) so they only get what they need, no thing more. No fillers, no grains, no sugar.

Horse nutrition may seem complicated, but in the end, keeping it simple is my preferred philosophy, and my horses do well on this. I would urge you to do some reading about it and make decisions for yourself.
 

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I think contacting your vet sounds like a good idea. I agree with Acadianartist, horses often develop lots of bad behaviors when kept inside all day. hopefully you'll be able to get him out of his stall more often, and with summer approaching he'll be able to go on turnout more often.
 

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Hi, I have one of those! He started last year, so far as I know. He does have ulcers & a 'runny tummy' - prone to runny poo. He gets free choice grass hay, a good mineral supplement, tailor made for his diet, and a gut support(gastro-aid) supp. When I first noticed him doing this, I also put him on probiotics too, in case gut bacteria was lacking. But no, he still did it. Doesn't seem to do it all that often, so no idea, on his note.

For your horse, I'd be looking at gut issues & nutritional imbalance having a bearing - as well as possibly boredom/stress 'habits' from being cooped up. Analyse his diet in order to work out what mineral supps may be best. Add/provide loose salt, not just leaving a rock for him to lick, as he's not likely to get enough from that, even if he licks it for long periods.

I'd quit feeding him grain. While it's still a common horse feed, cereal grain & such is not generally good for horses. It is high sugar/starch and if not well processed, hard to digest. For those reasons it's problematic & can cause gut probs including ulcers, acidosis & colic. It's also probably not necessary to give your horse a 'high octane' diet if he's not in hard work either, but if he needs more than hay will provide, ingredients such as copra, alfalfa, beet pulp, rice bran, etc provide extra calories without the probs.

Also the way the horse is fed has a bearing on his health - horses are built to have small quantities going thru their gut near constantly. So no.1 thing is providing free choice hay, so he doesn't go hungry. And 'hard feeds' especially if rich, should be fed in small, frequent feeds, rather than only a couple of large 'meals' daily.
 

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Sometimes they eat poop to just eat poop. Spring time seems to be when they do the poop eating.

My horses are eating there own poop. Not lacking for vit/mins or salt plenty of hay pasture to graze. It's just what they do for a time,then they'll quit eating it.

Mine are fed no grain alfalfa cubes an Timothy pellets and a vit/min. Worked daily. I don't worry about it they'll stop eating poop in a few weeks,at least for my horses.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
My vet recommended I put my horse on a mineral supplement and gave me some suggestions. He also said it is not a matter of great concern. Sloane is a senior, not sure of age because he is a rescue who came to me with no papers and EOTRH syndrome for which I had to pull all his incisors. His teeth are not a guide to age, and he was seriously underweight so he looked quite old. Once his teeth were pulled he started gaining weight and looks much better. He has plenty of energy and seems happy. Thank you everyone for your advice.
 

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He is likely just bored but.. it wouldn't hurt to add Probiotics to his diet and maybe Aloe for gut health. ProBios is cheap and effective. Sometimes they'll eat manure looking for good bacteria, like a foal eating his dams manure.

I have fed a ration balancer (Essential K) for the past few years but this spring I switched two horses back to senior feed and once the Essential K is gone I think I'll switch the other two horses too. We had 1 gelding loose a lot of weight and end up with chronic diarrhea. I literally thought this horse had cancer, had him seen by a vet, he a dental done. And the other horse, like your guy, started to eat manure. I put the skinny guy on 8# senior feed and 8# alfalfa pellets and the mare eating manure on 4# senior feed. Both getting ProBios added in. One is vastly improved, gained weight, no diarrhea and the other has stopped rooting around in poop - so, playing with his diet a bit might help.
 

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My Teddy did this when I first got him. I put him on a vit / mineral supplement, and it stopped. He wasn't too healthy at that time, and I don't think he was able to get enough nutrition from forage / hay.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you. I have been talking with my barn owner about his feed. I am waiting for his nutrient supplement to come in and I will see how he does on that. His weight is fine; once I got his infected teeth pulled he was able to eat comfortably again and gained the needed weight. Poor guy had been through the wars but is now doing well. I haven't had any more reports of his poop eating but I am keeping an eye on it.
 
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