Horses licking maple tree

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JFNM miniatures

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Hello everyone.
I was taking care of my horses as usual when I noticed one of my mares was licking the maple trees in my paddocks.
The horses had scratched the bark off, earlier this winter, but I didn't think much about it. But this afternoon, I saw they were licking the bark, and that sugar sap leaking out. Note, it's the first time that sap was leaking out, so they have not been doing it for a long time. As soon as I saw them do this, I brought them back to the barn in order for them to stop. But I'm concerned that they will do it again. What do you think ?

I know dry Red Maple leaves are toxic to horses, and I've always made it a point to scrape all the dry leaves out in Autumn... but I was wondering about the sugar sap. I'm not sure what kind of Maples those trees are, but that is not my point.

I'd like to know if any of you might know if it's toxic for a horse to lick sugar sap. I have a pregnant mare, and saw her doing it too, so I'm quite concerned about this. I don't want to loose her foal because of this.

Thank you in advance for your opinions.
 

Abby P

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Are they red maples? I'd actually be more concerned about the sugar intake causing laminitis - presumably that is why they are licking it. I don't *think* the sap or bark are toxic, just the wilted leaves, but I'm not sure. Are you able to wrap the trunks or fence them off temporarily to keep them away until the sap stops flowing?
 

JFNM miniatures

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Are they red maples? I'd actually be more concerned about the sugar intake causing laminitis - presumably that is why they are licking it. I don't *think* the sap or bark are toxic, just the wilted leaves, but I'm not sure. Are you able to wrap the trunks or fence them off temporarily to keep them away until the sap stops flowing?
Thank you very much, Abby P, for your answer ! :)
I'm not sure if they are red maple or not. I know there is a difference between the leaves of a red maple and sugar maple... but there are no leaves yet, so I don't know. I did some research a bit in the meantime, and saw that maple syrup can be given safely to horses... so I don't think that the unprocessed sap is not toxic. But, you did bring up a good point about the sugar and laminitis... I'll see what I can do to prevent them from touching the trees...

Do you have any suggestions as to how what material I can use to wrap the trees ?
 

Taz

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If you can get the black corrugated plastic that's used for drainage it might work. I hope you know the stuff I'm talking about? Depending how big the tree is the larger size might work, cut it and tie binder twine or something around to hold it together. It's a great fix for fence posts you don't want chewed.
 

JFNM miniatures

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I don't know about the sap but I just want to add that it's not just dry leaves that are toxic, green ones can be too.
Thanks Cayuse,
Yes, I'm aware that the green leaves are toxic. But my horses can't reach those, so only the dry ones that fall in Autumn were my concern. I'm not going to take any chances with the sap either.

If you can get the black corrugated plastic that's used for drainage it might work. I hope you know the stuff I'm talking about? Depending how big the tree is the larger size might work, cut it and tie binder twine or something around to hold it together. It's a great fix for fence posts you don't want chewed.
Great Idea Taz! Thanks !
 

Ryan Johnson

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I have over 30 Red Maple trees that line my driveway. This time of the year I have to create makeshift paddocks for a month whilst they drop their leaves.

I'm constantly on the leaf vacuum at the moment, trying to keep the leaves away. My minis would certainly have consumed the odd few leaves over the years.

My vet told me its the red wilted leaves & bark that are most toxic to horses.
 

YKate

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I thought it was the wild cherry tree wilted leaves that were highly toxic. (in Western PA) anyway. My vet's advice was that normally horses won't go after the leaves if they have something better to eat.
 

JFNM miniatures

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I thought it was the wild cherry tree wilted leaves that were highly toxic. (in Western PA) anyway. My vet's advice was that normally horses won't go after the leaves if they have something better to eat.
There are many types of trees that are toxic. Oaks, Red maples, and yes, wild cherry trees as well. Here in the region of Canada where I live, though, we have more oaks and maples than cherry trees. And red maple dry and green leaves are very toxic. A horse can get anemic as the toxine kills red blood cells thus compromising oxygen levels. From what I read, a mini or pony only needs to eat about 1/2 pound of dried leaves in order to be a toxic dose. My horses don't eat the Maple leaves but I still clean them out to be sure.

I was more concerned about the sap though, because it's so sweet, I think even a horse out in a lush pasture would still want to get some of it because of its sugar content. My horses must have seen us collecting the sap for syrup, so they wanted to try. :)

But thankfully, they did not have a chance to do it for very long. I removed them from those paddocks as soon as I saw. The next day, the weather was warmer than it should for the maples to run, so there was no more sap and the horses haven't touched them since.
 
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YKate

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Good to know. I hadn't realized that other trees are so toxic. We have oaks and red maples here as well. In fact, we have a huge oak right next to our barn. I'll have to be more conscious of the leaves.
Thanks for the info.
 

JFNM miniatures

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Good to know. I hadn't realized that other trees are so toxic. We have oaks and red maples here as well. In fact, we have a huge oak right next to our barn. I'll have to be more conscious of the leaves.
Thanks for the info.
You're welcome! You might want to make a further research on the trees and shrubs specific to your area. You might have some other toxic species as well. BTW, be careful about the acorns from the oak... they are just as toxic as the leaves!
 

YKate

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I'm glad I read this blog. I wasn't sure if acorns were toxic til I read it here. I don't let him graze near that tree anymore.
 
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