Coprophagy (Stool Eating) In Horses
My 9 month old tennessee walker stud colt is showing signs of coprophagy. I know this can cause diarrhea but I don't know how to stop it. He shares a field with a couple of goats. Any suggestions?
Coprophagy is when a horse east feces, and is a common concern for horse enthusiasts. Yes – this behavior seems disgusting to humans, but it is actually a completely normal behavior for foals. It occurs with greatest frequency during the first few weeks of life, but often continues until the foal is approximately 6 months of age. It is believed to have a variety of benefits, including promoting good digestion, transmitting maternal bile acids and introducing a feed preference. In foals less than 6 months of age, therefore, coprophagy should not be considered abnormal unless the foal is driven to consume excessive quantities of feces. Mares, of course, should be dewormed regularly to minimize transmission of parasites.
Coprophagy is less common among adult horses. Even healthy adults, however, will occasionally sample the feces of other horses, particularly when they are fresh. If you suspect that the behavior may be due in part to boredom, increased turn-out time or initiation of an appropriate training program may be helpful. If the behavior persists and appears obsessive, however, I would recommend discussing the matter with your regular veterinarian to rule out a nutritional imbalance, especially if your colt exhibits other symptoms of nutritional deficiency such as weight loss, slow growth, poor coat quality, or lack of energy.