When a horse suffers from loose droppings and/or excess faecal water, it can be a nuisance and uncomfortable for both horse and owner, particularly if it’s winter time when it’s cold and you don’t want to be washing off in icy water!
There are a number of reasons why horses might develop loose droppings or excess faecal water. These include:
- An increase in the water content of the diet. Water is normally reabsorbed in the large intestine, but if this mechanism isn’t working effectively, or there’s too much water in the diet for the system to cope, this can result in loose droppings.
- Intake of lush pasture.
- Lack of quality digestible fibre.
- Poor dentition or an inability to effectively chew fibres.
- Viral or bacterial infections.
- Changes to the hindgut environment, such as a drop in pH, increasing acidity.
- Disruption of the gut microbiome.
- Sudden dietary changes.
Horses evolved as trickle feeders and at pasture they have constant access to fibre. However, when stabled hay/haylage rations usually get consumed in the first part of the night and then nothing is available to trickle through the gut for several hours. If the horse is a veteran, the focus needs to be on his/her intake of digestible fibre and dentition.
If you’re using haylage as the main forage source, it’s important to remember that it needs to be fed in larger quantities due to its higher moisture content. This can contribute to loose droppings and faecal water discharge. In addition, haylage is more fermentable, which can affect pH levels. (Good quality dry hay would therefore be preferable.)
This is where feeding Happy Tummy® charcoal can help. Fed daily with whatever forage is being given, Happy Tummy® rapidly re-balances the pH of the gut to its normal level by adsorbing excess acids. The results are very beneficial from improving digestion to resolving loose droppings, excess wind and so forth. (Full information on Happy Tummy can be found at finefettlefeed.com)
Finally, whatever the type of forage, it should be fed at a minimum of 1.5% of a horse’s bodyweight, but ideally ad lib (i.e. providing as much as they want to eat but within reason, if your horse is a good doer).