Why Is My Horse Eating That?

Why is My Horse Eating That?

Horses generally eat grain, hay, grass and the odd treat like an apple or a carrot. But sometimes they can display some unusual habits, for example eating manure and dirt. Whilst this behaviour can be worrisome or even offensive for the owner, is it actually harmful to the horse and why exactly are they doing it? Read on to find out.

Horses and Pica

Pica is a condition that can affect some humans and horses can suffer from it too. Pica is defined as eating non-nutritious substances for a period of a month or more and it’s found most commonly in younger animals. In many cases Pica can indicate a nutritional deficiency, for example a lack of phosphorous in the diet can cause cows to eat dirt or even bones. However, in foals it seems that eating dirt or manure is a normal foraging or physiological response.

Geophagia, the eating of dirt and coprophagy, the eating of manure is quite common in young horses, typically between the ages of five days and two months. Foals often eat the manure of their mother and sometimes consume adult manure from other horses or their own faeces. This occurs more often if the foal is confined to stables as opposed to on pasture and is unusual if the horse is older than 6 months.

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