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Eating wood

My friend sent me a message saying her new horse is eating wood and now her other horse has started doing it also.

This is new to me. Does anyone know why they do this. Is something missing from their diet, or is this a habit that has developed due to some other reason.

Can she spray her wood with something to make them stop.

Input please....

Cribbing can be caused by any of a thousand different reasons. Pick one or seven.

Go to a quick lube place and get some USED oil... paint it on any thing they chew on. They will stop.

I'm surprised you've never heard of it before.  My horses were beavers in their previous life.  

I wrap all my wood in metal.  Have metal sleeves for my posts.   You can use wire (a heavy gage) around posts and on flat boards.   Don't use chicken wire, use something like rabbit hutch wire.
Four Magic Acres

Eating/chewing wood and cribbing are different.

One of my mares began the beaver thing when she was pastured in a field with lots of trees - I guess she was bored.  She never cribbed.  She does, on ocassion, chew wood, but it is rare.  

I have had three cribbers and they cribbed on everything, even metal gates, metal and wire coated wood.  My horses live out 24/7 in a "Paddock Paradise" style track with obstacles, plenty of forage and balanced mineral supplementation - doesn't matter.  If they crib, they crib.  

I have read extensively about cribbing and I have never found a resolution for it, other than a reasonably secure Miracle Collar (and if you tell me the Miracle Collar doesn't work on your horse, I'll tell you its not tight enough.  I've seen them on horses too loose to be effective because the owners thought they were uncomfortable for the horse.).  

Some person who shall remain nameless (Linda Parelli) wrote that cribbing is harmless.  One of my girlfriends had a horse that cribbed until it basically so overused the muscles in its neck that it choked off its own air (the muscles around the windpipe were constricting the windpipe).  Yes, this really happened.  The muscles eventually returned to a "normal" size when the mare was put in a cribbing strap.

My herd decided to eat my scotch pine.  I wrapped it in wire, and they stopped.  No big deal.

I agree that they are different things.   I saw a video of a young mare two weeks who was so bad at cribbing, she cribbed instead of ate.   I watched a demo of this product last weekend. It was developed for heaves, but works for cribbing too. A side affect is that they release the same endorphans that the horse gets with cribbing.They are expensive, but I gather you can rent one and try it.

They work great on heaves, asthma and respiratory allergies.

I understand that they are being used now on race, reining, and other competition horses. I've thought of trying one on Diablo, see if the endorphans help him relax.

OVER HERE WE USE CRIBOX WHICHis painted on and tastes bad, or ould be mineral deficiency

In Australia eating wood or bark is a sign of copper deficiency mostly. It can also indicate other deficiencies too.

My horses seem to love any type of pine tree, umbrella trees, pawpaw (pappaya not sure how you guys spell that word), several exotics (non indiginous to australia).

They do & have chewed wood rails & live/dead trees down to nothing. During winter they chew more wood than in summer. Currrently they are working their way through some eucalypt gum sapplings I cut to replace broken rails.

Since it is well known that australian coastal pastures are ususally deficient in copper, moybdenum, & other trace elements, I just let them chew wood. Because horses are actually browsers by nature, their systems are adapted to handle fibrous material anyway. It is very hard to find a suitable feed that provides those minerals & not too much of other things. So easier to let them chew some wood.

Don't let them chew CCA treated timber. They will go for the copper in the treatment mixture but it also contains cyanide which is very harmful.

We keep our horses on a (mostly) dry lot during the day and then they get turned out at night. Before the grass was ready, they were in the lot 24/7 and we noticed that they were all chewing the wood on the fences. Since going out at night, I haven't seen any of them chew. It was just plain ol boredom.

I've seen horses in lush pastures chew wood.   I honestly think that to a horse, a tree or board is just something else to eat.   I notice some horses eat more wood, weeds, etc. and others are picky - all horses on the same diet.   Some trees, like fruit trees, are particularly yummy.    

If you want to save your trees, wrap them in wire cages or stake them with electric fence.   You can paint boards or cover them.

I have never had a horse do this.. I knew about cribbing but wasn't sure if it was the same thing as eating wood.

My friend got a new horse and this new horse is eating wood... Now her other horse is doing it. She asked me what she could do to stop them from doing this. I was at a loss and had no answer for her.

I will pass along your suggestions and she can see what works for her..


Here is a little bit of the woods in my pasture.When we moved here it was VERY thick.It took Phil about 2 years to get it this thinned out.He ate everything in it except the pines and few other trees.I posted a similar question on the SC last year.I was told that horses in the wild spend 10 -20 mins a day eating sticks,leaves,twigs and other crap like that ans it's normal.Phil hasn't got sick or anything so I let him do it.

Gismo,used oil,really?????I'd think that would make a horse very ill if they took a lick.


i know loads of people who use oil, the horses are not daft enough to lick it!

Phil is curious about EVERYTHING!What if he WOULD lick it?I'm afraid I'll get him sick.There are a couple trees I'd like to keep.Wire or oil?hhmmm Oil would be very easy to apply and we have tons of it(hubby is a mechanic).Wire I'd have to buy and keep adjusting as the tree grows.I"ll be licking and chewing for a while.

Thats why I stated *USED OIL*
1. It dosent smell like something good to lick...
2. If they do lick it , they wont do it twice.
3. If the can get past the smell and the taste they cant eat enough to hurt them.
4. Oil is not a poison, it only tastes like it.
5. everyone around here uses it and it will stop them.

Ask your hubby how much of it he has swallowed while working under a car.
I have ingested a bunch of it. Never developed a craving for it.

I have heard to use Creosote. It is nasty smelling and tasting.

Feather-n-me wrote:
I have heard to use Creosote. It is nasty smelling and tasting.

I hope my mom doesn't find that out.She'll want me to clean her chimney

My friend's horses are eating their shelter....  They have not bothered the trees. I told her about the used motor oil. We will see if it helps.

Thanks again..

I don't believe Creosote is used to protect wood anymore.  It is a carcinogen.  This is from another site:

It used to be very common to use it for preserving posts and wood that came in contact with the ground or in water like piers. Then they came up with the green pressure treated wood instead because Creosote was just too dangerous and toxic. It got into the ground water and was a skin irritant. But it is still around in every wood burning chimney as the residue from burning wood. It coats the inside of the pipe and maybe even blocking up the pipe when it sort of crystallizes. It's one of the leading causes of chimney fires, when you don't clean it out often enough and the flames heat it up and it catches on fire. Chimney sweeps who clean them out have often gotten scrotum cancer from the creosote if they don't take precautions to keep it from contacting their skin.

We used to use it on the ranch for the posts buried in the ground.  I don't think it is even for sale anymore for that purpose.   I wouldn't use it above ground, it smells horrible and is very hard to get off you.

PasoBaby_CarolU wrote:
I've seen horses in lush pastures chew wood.   I honestly think that to a horse, a tree or board is just something else to eat.   I notice some horses eat more wood, weeds, etc. and others are picky - all horses on the same diet.   Some trees, like fruit trees, are particularly yummy.    

If you want to save your trees, wrap them in wire cages or stake them with electric fence.   You can paint boards or cover them.

I agree.

Horses are MEANT to eat trees (aka wood).

Wrap em and problem solved.

Cribbing-not that is a different critter.

We had to wrap some of our big corner fence posts in chicken wire we just stapled it on there and problem solved.

They were only eating one kind of post too the others didn't taste as good I guess.  

I have some very old totara posts I use as markers.  That's a NZ conifer with very hard wood - was used as fenceposts pre chemical treating of pine posts.

Horses have started chewing them as winter has set in.  Not a lot, but maybe it is an interesting way to exercise their jaws / get rid of frustrations?     Maybe they are sharpening their incisors      

They haven't put too much energy into nibbling live trees.

Mine get magnesium supplement and there is copper added to the pellets I give them.  They get hay twice a day plus a strip of standing hay every evening and at the moment hoover up the gold elm leaves as they fall.

Their paddock area is long and narrow - sort of a series of 'rooms' and they move a lot, which I think helps with the boredom factor.
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