Chewing On Wood

   A recent article in a popular equine magazine addressed a question about horses chewing wood.  A subscriber had written in wondering why her mare would chew on wood, and eat shavings and poop when her access to pasture was restricted.

  The author opined the problem was most likely low dietary fiber, because of  the low forage intake when not on pasture.  It was recommended to provide extra hay to compensate for the lack of pasture forage.

  Confinement, boredom, and lack of activity were also mentioned as possibly contributing to the problem. .  I have no doubt these factors—and probably others—are implicated in abnormal appetites for non-food items.

 I was dismayed that a lack of minerals was not considered as a possible cause.  Mineral imbalances are often associates with aberrant appetites if not the primary cause of many,  With today’s twin problems of low-mineralized feeds and limited access to pasture, most domestic animals need some extra mineral supplements. 

Stewart Jackie kw 1- edited 2-2-17 wk

In an earlier time, a phosphorus deficiency was thought to be the cause of chewing wood.  but with the decline in soil fertility  other deficiencies can also cause pica.  

   It is prudent for all horse owners to provide a supplemental source of minerals.  Given the choice of a variety of mineral formulas, horse will balance their mineral needs  and avoid at least one cause of chewing wood or eating dirt. As shown in the image, the feeder need not be elaborate.