Horses Eating Wood and Trees

Why do some horses eat wood fences and barns, destroy trees for consumption of bark, gobble up dirt, feast upon feces of other horses, lap at urine puddles or prefer one bale of hay and not another?


Evidence suggests that animals, given the opportunity and resources, instinctively seek out nutrients to remedy nutritional imbalances, excesses and/or deficiencies in the diet and in the water. Free choice supplementation provides the opportunity for nutrients to be balanced accurately for each individual horse in its own unique environment.

For instance, certain areas of the country lack sufficient levels of copper within the soil. A free choice copper supplement would compensate for this deficiency. Water sources may embody increased levels of calcium, in which case phosphorus and magnesium free choice supplements would benefit in balancing those macrominerals. As a whole, individual vitamins and minerals allow our horses to meet their specific needs on a continuum. Special needs horses, such as those with metabolic disorders, those attempting to heal, or performance horses, require additional nutrients in varying degrees and through various stages. Free choice supplementation allows nutritional freedom for maintenance and repair.

Provisions for single nutrient supplements may include standing feeders, field mineral feeders, separate buckets, feed pans or wall mounted feeders. A horse may satisfy his requirements with only a few minutes per day. Larger feeders may be mounted in outdoor structures when supplementing a herd. Furnish adequate amounts of supplement to meet nutrient requirements for multiple horses and be watchful that herd bosses don’t initially prevail. Recognizing horses’ destructive nature, employ sturdy containers and pay attention to placement. Supplements should not be mounted near drinking water. You may equip your barn with combinations of a specified few or multiple supplements without great expense or increased labor, allowing for nutritional individuality and flexibility.

Category: Nutrition

Opinions expressed herein are those of the experts consulted and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the editors and publishers. The information in this publication is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to medically prescribe or diagnose in any way. ~ Holistic Horse Inc.