Let's Talk About Poo!
Healthy and unhealthy horse poo all relates back to the health of the horse’s digestive system.
A grown horse can create up to 9-10 tonnes of poo a year! That’s about 25kgs a day.
Stud piles can be a sign of dominant behaviour. Passing droppings also has a social function in the herd – it’s a way of saying “I’m here” and often if one horse poo’s another will return the favour and pass a dropping too.
The following pointers tell us a lot about your horse:
Size of droppings – foals do small droppings, grown horses do big droppings. However, do take note of the size of the droppings if a big horse has a small appetite, struggles to eat all his meals, and produces small droppings, then this should cause alarm bells to sound. In this instance it could be due to damage cause by lack of deworming as a youngster.
Shape of droppings – your horse’s dropping should be firm and round.
Consistency of droppings
Droppings should be moist, not wet, with formed faecal balls making up most of the pile. It is okay for the horse to pass some moisture before or after the dropping. Droppings may be softer after a work session, if he is nervous or when it is very hot. There should be very little distinguishable feed material in a dropping, such as whole maize, whole sunflower seeds etc.
Very loose droppings or wet diarrhoea are not good symptoms – take temp, speak to a vet.
Very hard dry droppings are also a warning signal that your horse might not be getting enough water. Add water to his feed, soak his hay or add salt to his feed to encourage him to drink more.
If you find long fibres of hay or undigested ingredients in your horse’s droppings then he may not be chewing properly, and it could indicate that he might need to have his teeth done.
If your horse passes a dead worm or two it might be because he has been dewormed recently. If he is passing live worms then he needs to be dewormed urgently.
If your horse’s poo looks gritty, he may be ingesting a lot of sand, which could cause a sand colic.
Colour of droppings
Lucerne and fresh green grass will make the poo’s green. Dry veld hay will make poo’s look brown. A beet product can make droppings look reddish brown, and a diet high in oil can make the poo’s look grey or oily. Too much oil can give a horse diarrhoea. If you see red poo’s call the vet as there could be blood in the stools. Yellow or clear mucus around the poo is not a good sign as it could mean that the poo has been delayed in the gut or could be a sign of feed impaction.
Number of droppings
How often does your horse poop?
Between 8-16 times a day. Sometimes more, and it shouldn’t be less. The more the horse eats, the more fibre it eats, the more it will poo.
If your horse is not pooing at night, he might not have eaten because he is not feeling well. Check your stables to see how many times he has passed manure during the night, and if there are not many droppings, check their consistency – are they hard?
It should take about 15 seconds for a horse to pass a dropping. If he is taking longer to pass manure or is straining to poo but is not able to pass droppings, then he may be experiencing pain due to gas or an impaction. He might also have a physical obstruction that is making it difficult to poo.