Sunday, September 15, 2013

Coprophagia and Pica

Ever heard of these terms? I had but didnt think much of it as I didnt have a horse that had it. But last night Husband told me, after I returned home from the store, that little mister Moose was eating his own manure. Red flags for sure, but I didnt think the vet needed to be involved yet...from what I remembered that meant there was a dietary or nutritional lack, from boredom, or even from not enough roughage consumption time . I googled searched and sure enough, those were the causes listed.

Coprophagia: consumption of feces; one's own or another's

Pica: eating non-food items such a s wood.

Lets start with the most skin crawling one, it grosses me out to really think about it, but nevertheless I need to figure out why Moose does it, because he doesnt seem to think its disgusting. My first thought is the boredom/not enough chewing time. As you know I have a "slow feed" hay bag that I use for him now and I have observed that he and Milo finish eating at about the same time, so I'm not sure if its really slowing consumption down or not as Milo's hay is on the ground loose right now. Boredom I can see as a real issue too as he's alone in a small dirt pen right now. I gave him an orange traffic cone to stave the boredom, but he hasnt touched it like Milo would have. Without making him a legitimate slow feed box, and with the conditions we have right now the least I can do is give him more chewing time without overfeeding. Today I gave him twenty minutes of in hand grazing for mastication and help the boredom. I do mess with him quite a bit daily from brushing, to cuddling and handling, to taking him out for walks, so aside from putting him in with Milo just yet thats the best I can do until he's healthy enough to start working him.

Now for nutritional concerns. I started him on the same vitamin supplement Milo is on. Dynamite, if you look at the label, has a whole heap of ingredients, but simply put their website says, "It is a complete balanced formula containing enzymes, coenzymes, biocatalyst microorganisms, amino acids, cultered gut bacteria, vitamins, and bioavailable minerals." Coprophagia, as I researched, can be caused from a lack of Vitamin E in a horse's diet, common with horses kept in grassless confinement. I searched the label and my supplement does have Vitamin E in it, however the amount is unlisted just measured in IU, or effectiveness, so it's hard to tell if there is a true deficiency of that in the supplement.

So, how do I fix the problem? All I can start with is continued hand-grazing as I can, and try and keep his mind busy, unfortunately.

Moose out hand grazing
Now, Pica, or wood chewing, is not being displayed with Moose, but Milo. I assume most people know or have horses that do this. Its not really a huge concern except that it destroys fences and obviously also means there is either a dietary deficiency or boredom. In Milo's case...I'm leaning towards boredom. I've noticed him chewing wood for at least two years now. Back when he lived on a pasture and when he was in a stall and run. So the possibility of the nutritional deficiency is hard to prove as he had 24 hour access to grazing on the pasture, and even in the stall and run he has some roughage and was turned out regularly. I lean towards the boredom on this case, but now that he is home and I know goes through periods of time without any grazing or chewing, it begs the argument again on graze time. But being ongoing I just think its something he has learned to do to fill the time. Unfortunately for my fences, and my angry husband about it, all I can try and do is deter the behavior. I heard rubbing body bar soap on the fences help deter? But knowing Milo he might like the taste...when I bleached his water bucket he was licking the sides of it trying to get a taste of the bleach.


Mary said...

I have read that Irish Spring bar soap might work for the cribbing. I hope you can fix Moose's problem.

paint_horse_milo said...

Thanks I heard that too. It isnt really cribbing hes not sucking in air he just chews the wood.

Natalie said...

Irish Spring soap does well in deterring our wood chewers and even holds up well in the rain. Just reapply now and then.

Marissa Rose said...

Your in washington right? Do you have washington grown hay? Washington, oregon and california are severly lacking in selenium in our hay... My mare wasn't eating poop but she was constantly head down sniffing for something when there was no hay around, and eating dirt.

I got her LMF Gentle Balance because it was a feed thats higher in selenium and started cycling that through her, and then went in on an equilix with another horse owner....

idk if you've ever heard of the equilix, but they are awesome. Somewhat expensve (about 70 dollars, but free shipping) and they have a probio, selenium and lots of other minerals that they need to have a balanced diet (I'm not sure but I think they are made specifically for horses along the west coast based on whats missing from our hay. It's basically a tub of salt block/lick.

Anyways, now I give Pony the grain that I got for her (its actually a grain free pelleted mineral based thing) and since its not a sweet feed, she won't touch it...and she isn't eating dirt anymore either.

So I'm not sure if that helps you with moose at all, but the equilix is an awesome product. I know he came from somewhere a few hours away, maybe she had a different hay source that contained selenium, or had a selenium block out (you can get the selenium mineral blocks as well) and his system is starting to miss it!

paint_horse_milo said...

Thanks for the info! I was wondering if there was something missing and I have heard about selenium deficiancy in our area before...mostly the hay is from eastern wa or oregon. I have a post tomorrow I chatted with the vet today.