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October 31, 2008 | | Comments 0

Wood Chewing by Horses

Wood Chewing by Horses

Wood Chewing by Horses

Wood Chewing by Horses

You would think that only beavers had any interest in wood. It seems though that horses too may sometimes form an affinity to wood. Under certain circumstances, a horse may resort to wood chewing.

What is Wood Chewing by Horses

Wood chewing is sometimes seen in the same light as cribbing. The two however are very different sets of behavior. Cribbers may grab on any stationary surface to allow them to suck air. Wood chewers on the other hand actually peel or bite off some wood to chew on. Wood is not a natural part of a horse’s diet. It can therefore be potentially harmful to a horse.

Causes of Wood Chewing by Horses

Experts and horse owners seem to be divided when it comes to acknowledging the causes of wood chewing. Some believe for example that horses chew wood because of a nutritional deficiency or because of a lack of food. Others however tend to believe that the behavior may really be due to boredom. It is also possible that horses resort to chewing wood to relieve tension, nervousness, stress and anxiety. This is something humans may be able to relate to. Some people tend to chew on pencils or fingernails in times of stress.

Consequences of Wood Chewing by Horses

Wood chewing can cause a lot more damage to your property than cribbing. The damage to your property however is really less alarming than the possible damage to your horse. Wood chewing can damage the teeth of your horse and can cause wounds around the oral cavity. The worst part is that pieces of wood can find their way into the stomach and intestines of the horse. These could lead to colic and outright punctures to the intestinal walls. As you may already know, colic is a major cause of horse death.

Solutions to Wood Chewing by Horses

Since horse owners do not agree about the causes of wood chewing, they also have different opinions when it comes to eliminating the behavior. Some suggest modifying the horse’s diet to address nutritional deficiencies. Aside from the usual food, nutritional pellets and supplements may be given to the horse. Whether or not there is any truth to the theory on nutritional deficiencies, it seems that regular and sufficient food intake help in eliminating wood chewing. Make sure that your horse has more roughage than any other kind of food.

Nervous wood chewers simply need to be kept happy. Horses seem to be happiest when they are out grazing in the open so you should try to provide as much grazing time as possible. If this is not possible, you can supply your horse with lots of stable hay and some chewing toys to while away the time with.

Some liquid solutions may be applied on wood surfaces. These solutions are really harmless but may taste bitter or spicy. Your horse will eventually find wood undesirable.

Do remember that horses have unique personalities. One solution may work for others but not for your horse. You can try exploring a number of solutions before settling on one. The sooner you find a solution, the better for your horse’s health.

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Filed Under: Horse Health

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