Horses normally pass droppings a number of times a day. Whilst their absence will be a relief from poo-picking, alarm bells should sound! Constipation in any species causes feelings of discomfort of varying degrees, & possibly pain. Horses will pass hard, dry droppings infrequently, sometimes mucus-covered. They may develop a rough coat & unthrifty appearance. In extremis it leads to compaction colic requiring veterinary intervention.
- Poor teeth resulting in inadequate chewing of food.
- Gut wall damage by parasites
- Food overload, either finely ground hard feed with no long fibre, or coarse material such as hard-to-digest wheat straw or wood chips.
- Inadequate water intake – either inadequate supply, or freezing cold, or contaminated & undrinkable.
- Debris accumulating in the gut e.g. sand, plastic – such as baler twine, etc causing an obstruction.
- Feed a laxative such as Epsom salts or gut regulators such as psyllium husk or bran.
- Include adequate long fibre in the feed e.g chopped oat straw, alfalfa or dried grass or hay chaff. These can be molassed if your horse is not sugar-intolerant.
- Ensure your horse has an adequate supply of clean water. In very cold weather try to avoid freezing cold water. If you don’t have heating facilities keep a few 20 or 25litre plastic cans at home with as much water in them as you can comefortably carry & take that to the stables as required. Gravenhorse Feeds has a limited supply of these, available to local customers.
- Ensure your horse gets adequate exercise; this massages the gut wall, encouraging bowel motion. Horses on box rest are at risk of constipation so should be monitored carefully.
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