Is my horses’ poo normal?
As horse owners we are all familiar with horse and pony poo (faeces), but how do you know if your horse’s poo and poo habits are normal? In this blog I will outline what is normal and what is abnormal for horse poo.
Horses and ponies are designed to be grazers. They are supposed to eat small meals frequently that are mostly fibre based throughout the day. As a result, it is quite normal for a horse to poo (defecate) 8-12 times a day and produce anywhere from 13 to 23 kilograms of poo a day. Changing your horse’s diet to large infrequent meals or from a fibre to a grain-based diet can change how many times and what your horse’s poo may look like. Normal poo can range from green to a brownish colour. The poo of a healthy horse on a basic fibre-based diet should look like small egg-shaped balls that slightly break away from one another when they hit the ground. They should be firm, but not too firm. If they do not break or crack when they hit the ground, this may be a sign of dehydration. Normal horse poo should be 58-62% water. If your horse has poos that splat instead of break this could mean your horse has digestive issues caused by:
- Stress (Nervous Poo)
- Dietary Changes
- Infection (Viral, Bacterial, Parasitic)
- Side Effects from Medication
It is always a good idea to check your horse’s poo for any abnormalities. Things to look for include:
- Undigested Grain
Horse poo & worming:
Having your horse or pony’s poo checked by your veterinarian for parasites is a great way to check and see if your worming program is working. This also helps to prevent drug resistance as you do not need to treat your horse as often if no parasites are detected in the poo. You should always clean the poo from your horses’ paddocks, to prevent parasite infections and increases the grazing area for your horse (horses do not like to eat where they poo).
Blood in your horse’s poo:
Always contact your veterinarian if you detect blood or mucous in your horse’s or pony’s poo.
Sand in your horse’s poo:
If your horse is kept on sandy ground it is a good idea to check poo for the presence of sand. This can be done by taking six to eight manure balls from the middle of a fresh pile (to make sure it’s not contaminated with sand from the ground) and place them in a plastic ziplock bag. Fill the bag 2/3 full of clean water. Shake or stir to break up the balls. Hang the bag with one corner facing down and let the mixture sit for about 15 minutes. If any sand is present it will collect in the bottom corner of the bag. If there is more than a tablespoon, you should contact your veterinarian. Your horse may have dangerous levels of sand in his poo, and you will need to treat the problem before sand colic occurs.
Grain in your horse’s poo:
If you see undigested grain in your horse’s poo, it may be a sign that your horse is not chewing properly and needs to have his teeth checked. If their teeth are normal or you have an older horse that has missing teeth, it may be time to switch from a whole grain diet to grains that are processed such as: cracked, rolled, extruded, pelleted, or micronized.
In conclusion, always ask your veterinarian for advice if you notice changes in your horse’s or pony’s poo. A lower amount of poo than usual can be an indication of impactions or other illness.
Written by Neely Hopkins