If you own horses and have trees in your pasture you have probably witnessed the phenomenon of the bark disappearing from them. We use them primarily for trail riding and my daughter gives some riding lessons in the summer. Hot wire fencing on top of the wood fencing is one of the best ways to stop a horse from eating every piece of wood on the property. Furthermore, there are trees that are considered poisonous, and if the horse chews the bark or wood from the trees, they could become ill. The result is frustrating and the maintenance is costly. This does not mean the horse … She went to college for equine management and training. Symptoms may include: There are several types of trees that are poisonous to horses. They have lots of room to run like 5 acres. Wood chewing can be an annoying and destructive behavior in horses. I have heard of people putting motor oil, ivory soap, tabasco sauce, and many other things on trees or any wood that the horse likes to chew on. Luckily, we wanted to cut the woods back a little anyway, so now all the trees are dying. This does not mean the horse … Research suggests that, among other reasons, horses crib or suck wind to create an endorphin releasing "high". There's also a soap called Irish Springs, that is supposed to work really well. It would be best to have him examined by a veterinarian, as they can see him, assess his oral health, and watch the behavior to see what he is doing exactly. Boredom can also happen if they are fed mostly concentrates without enough fodder to keep them chewing for a period of time. If horses are understimulated or confined to a stall frequently with nothing to do they will develop behavioral issues. I asked the vet about it, and he informed me there was probably nothing wrong, horses just love the feeling of chewing on trees. They still eat the trees. Horses can also damage other surfaces in the barn besides the stall doors. Foals love to chew anything in their path. 09-09-03, 02:08 PM. Hunger is one obvious answer. However, your horse may be more prone to choke, as a piece of hard bark may lodge in his esophagus. We live on approximately one hundred wooded acres. I think it's just because they crave something living, since they still do it when they have hay available, and are fed a well-balanced diet. They may even catch them eating the bark off trees. Your veterinarian will assess your horse’s symptoms, if any, and may do some laboratory testing just to be sure there are no underlying health issues. Treatment of wood chewing in horses is more nutritional and behavioral than anything. I hope that all goes well for him. Thanks. may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Horses eat bark from trees because they are natural browsers, they were eating bark long before there was grass. ... Wrap some of this readily available, inexpensive, and easy to maneuver stuff for fence posts and trees that get gnawed on. Researchers have documented an increased incidence of wood chewing in cold, wet weather (Jackson et al., 1994). She sounds very healthy, but without examining her, I can't diagnose or prescribe anything, and she may have dental problems that are making her prefer the fence - she should be seen by her veterinarian to make sure that she is healthy - your vet may have some suggestions to keep her from eating the fence. In others, falling branches or uprooted trees injure nearby horses. A behavioral specialist is a professional who understands abnormal horse behaviors and can help alter those behaviors, such as wood chewing, so he does not harm himself or destroy any more property. If the horse does not feel full or is bored, they will find something to chew on and consume. No, won't lead to cribbing. I've got teeth marks all over the hoods of my trucks. Horses may chew on wood in their stable, fencing, or trees. In an ideal world, horses should be in a pasture that is clean and nutrient-rich for the majority of the day. Understanding why horses chew wood and incorporating strategic management practices into your routine can help eliminate the problem. If the horse does not feel full or is bored, they will find something to chew on and consume. You might try those two things and see if they help. Horses chew from side to side as in a motion of a grinder. Wood chewing is commonly linked to three major factors: Boredom or frustration With the treatment options above, which are general management procedures, you should be very consistent with your horse and be sure he continues to receive proper pasture time, activity time, socialization, and less stall time. Why do horses chew wood? Triggered behavior from other wood-chewing horses. Stops horses from chewing wood, blankets and bandages in most cases. Why do they do this? A horse chewing on wood could be the result of keeping a horse in an unnatural environment. Having a happy horse is crucial to preventing  specific behavioral conditions such as wood chewing. They get grain twice a day and supplements. If your horse chooses to chew wood very sparingly, it is typically not a cause for concern. ... My horses are turned out 24/7, they take the bark off trees. Your horse's chewing might simply seem like a bad habit, but an uncontrollable urge to chew might be hard to control. Even if your horse has never been inclined to chew on fences and trees, keep an eye on him this winter. Letting horses live as naturally as possible with other horses, or outdoors with lots of grass or chewing hay, can help prevent chewing. There's plenty of grass, he's looking in good shape, but I just can't understand why he's suddenly so desperate to eat the trees! So far it has not led to any of mine cribbing, and it's been going on for a few years. The symptoms of wood chewing in horses are very basic. If there is something you can improve on in the way of managing and taking care of your horse, your veterinarian and team of counselors will help you be the best and most loving horse owner you can possibly be. Horses can’t chew through it, and it’s unpleasant on their teeth so they quit trying to chew the wood beneath it. They are cropped every other year so they are certainly well looked after. I have two horses that are not cribbing, they are chewing wood fencing and trees. I would have thought a horse couldn't chew on his own tail. Wood chewing generally is natural behaviour - however in this instance the reasons are almost certainly down to no grass. They have lots of room to run like 5 acres. Horses are more prone to wood chewing in cold, wet weather so even if your horse has never chewed on fences or trees it is a good idea to keep an eye on their behavior during winter. None of our contacts have seen this behavior either. 1: Lack of fiber in the diet. Horses get all day turnout. You say he's chewing halfway down, but it might be because that's all he can reach. Even when they have all this they chew on the bark. Your veterinarian will ask you questions about your horse’s lifestyle. It is just a horsey thing. For instance, a wire fence with a top pole or board can be readily protected by covering that top pole or board with chicken wire, cutting it into strips the proper size with wire cutters. Farmers sometimes discover that their cows are chewing fence posts or barn wood. Pasture time is very important to horses so they do not become bored and so they can remain happy and healthy. They usually do this spring then fall. Why Does My Horse Chew Wood? The SNS is indeed the gas pedal (stress arousal, along with survival activation of fight or flight). He may have started chewing early in life as a response to stress or boredom. Horses may chew the bark (ringbarking) to compensate for a shortage of minerals or fibres, hunger or boredom. They usually kill one or two trees per winter. We use cookies to give you the best possible experience on our website. Set meals and feed at specific times of the day do not satisfy your horse’s natural instincts and cravings to happily graze and eat freely. In the springtime, emerging leaves may taste fresher to your horse than a dry hay bale. On the thought that the tail might be bothering him, you can try putting soothing creams on the tailbone and also scritching it for him in case that helps. Later when resting and watchful for predators, they regurgitate and re-chew it. Horses really know what they need; they just don’t have access to all the herbs and plants that used to grow in pastures. There's actually a bit of debate on this. Some do it out of boredom, some do it because they actually like chewing...but most do it because of digestive problems. Fences, stalls and trees may suffer! That's my theory, I could be totally wrong! They start chewing bark around Christmas time and stop when the grass starts growing again. If you are supplementing with square bales instead of round bales or if your round bales are not good quality, your horses may be frustrated because they don't have forage available 24/7. Once testing is complete, and your veterinarian has gathered all necessary information about his diet and lifestyle, he will explain to you the options you have to help your horse stop chewing wood. It sounds like your horses are displaying a form of the stereotypy wood-chewing. Why Do Animals Eat the Bark and Wood of Trees and Shrubs? Some research suggests that when horses are lacking certain minerals they will resort to chewing wood. In some cases, fruit- or nut-bearing trees contribute to colics when horses gorge on their produce. But, during drought, when pasture grass is sparse, your horse might snack on the trees despite the taste. No, but 2 horses in the barn do. I doubled up for 3 days at first (to do a detox) then I leveled off to one scoop for 1-2 weeks (some of the older horses I kept at the higher dose longer). 1 with collar does well, 1 without cribs and chews constantly In 45 yrs I never had a wood chew or a weaver. So I covered the trunk with chicken wire and it stopped them. But, if it gets bored or hungry, to satisfy its need to graze, your horse might try chewing on tree bark, branches or leaves. Your veterinarian will be able to diagnose the condition and the specific cause of the wood chewing. Author: Equisearch Updated: May 8, 2017 Original: Apr 30, 2006. Without seeing him, it is difficult for me to determine what might be going on, unfortunately. He will want to also know about the type of feed he eats, and how much and how often he eats. Your veterinarian may recommend a new schedule for his pasture time which entails turning out your horse to a larger area where he is free to graze, roam, socialize, and exercise for longer periods of time. If there is plenty of other food, such as grass or hay available, your horse probably won’t touch any of the trees within its reach. There are professional counselors available to help you decide on the ideal diet for your horse. Some horses love the taste of willow, staghorn sumac, and a … Learn why horses chew wood like fences and trees and how to prevent the problem. Since your property is heavily wooded, I'm going to guess there's not a lot of available grass. Horses may chew on wood in their stable, fencing, or trees. for 3 reasons. My horses were chewing the bark off my trees. Hay and pasture may vary in the content of fiber and it is shown that if horses are not getting enough fiber in your diet they may choose to chew wood. Wood chewing can be an annoying and destructive behavior in horses. Boredom—if a horse is kept in a paddock or stalls, or away from other horses, it can become boring. Based on these models, the autonomic nervous system actually has 3 branches, not 2. Horses are more prone to wood chewing in cold, wet weather so even if your horse has never chewed on fences or trees it is a good idea to keep an eye on their behavior during winter. He doesn’t do it when turned out just when I have him in. But older horses might be chowing down on tails, too, and that could mean a few different things, including nutrition problems or plain old boredom. They also have salt blocks and water and hay at basically all times. I have 2 Quarter horse females and 1 male Arabian. How can a horse be bored? So why do horses still chew wood? Boredom—if a horse is kept in a paddock or stalls, or away from other horses, it can become boring. Researchers have documented an increased incidence of wood chewing in cold, wet weather (Jackson et al., 1994). Farmers and small property owners can use a variety of methods to successfully protect their young and mature trees. When selecting forage trees and shrubs you must take into account that you may find limited information about the use of trees and shrubs for horses, moreover there are many contradictions in the literature regarding the acceptability of fodder from trees and shrubs. Horses will chew on things when they are mentally bored. Intestinal impaction is also a risk. It can typically be broken down into a few reasons: 1. Unfortunately, sometimes once horses start chewing wood, they are reluctant to stop - even once you've given them alternatives. Still it is good for trees as I don't know if you'd be able to put creosote or whatever on trees as it could kill them. Nutrition Imbalances: A lack of forage is the most common reason cited for tail-chewing. It can be very frustrating to deal with behaviors that not only seem to have no cause but also are so damaging to your property! Because most of these toxic trees don’t taste very good, horses will leave them alone. He will want to know about his daily routine, how much time he spends in the pasture, whether he is socialized, the amount of activity he performs, if any other horses around him chew wood, and any other information to help him understand why your horse is continuing to chew wood. They're fat and have free access to mineral salt blocks, but the grass is pretty much gone. Sooooo. Would you have any advice on what i could do to improve the behaviour whist I’m saddling, rugging or grooming please. Please help! Opinions vary as to why livestock attack trees. A common habit that horses develop to ease their boredom and frustration is chewing … However. Dr. Jennifer Williams, The Equine Behaviorist, answers equine behavior questions submitted by readers. Because the primary behavior of submission in horses is to move away, if the horse is trapped and can’t move away, it might do this “I’m a baby, I give up” gesture. Discussion on Chewing poplar tree trunks Author: Message: Member: Gardener: Posted on Thursday, Jun 16, 2005 - 7:06 pm: My friend wants to throw a long poplar trunk of a tree into my horse's pen. Why would a horse eat bark. There are any number of reasons why horses chew on wood or "crib". In the case of wood-chewing, some behaviorists theorize that the horses are missing nutrients. Why would you seek to prevent them. She says it will prevent boredom. Are the lacking something - Answered by a verified Horse Veterinarian. Now, he might just do it for the reward of chewing itself, which can release natural endorphins (hormones from the morphine family). We supplement with year round hay and they receive grain each day that is prepared by a livestock/equine nutrition expert that is a family member. 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