How to stop wood chewing

Discussion in 'Miniature Horse Forum' started by mydaddysjag, Sep 20, 2011.

Help Support Miniature Horse Talk by donating:

  1. Sep 20, 2011 #1

    mydaddysjag

    mydaddysjag

    mydaddysjag

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Messages:
    2,290
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Western Pennsylvania
    I am having a terrible time with my horses wood chewing. I have a 4 year old stallion, and an 11 year old gelding. I have owned the gelding for almost four years, and he has NEVER chewed on anything. He was kept at a boarding stable in a tiny stall with limited turnout (20 minutes daily) in an indoor arena, and worked often). I know that wasn't ideal, but we were in the process of building a barn, pastures, etc.

    My stallion we got in the beginning of august, and his old owner told me he never cribbed or chewed wood. He was home for two days before he started chewing his stall apart. At the time, my older gelding wasn't home yet. I assumed that he was chewing because although he was never turned out with other horses, he had been stalled next to them. We brought my gelding home a couple weeks later, but that didn't seem to help. After being stalled next to my stallion, my gelding has now started chewing wood. Not nearly as bad as my stallion, though. I do believe he learned this nasty habit from the stallion.

    I'm very generous with hay, I honestly probably feed them 3%-4% of their body weight in hay, because winter is coming up. I bought them both busy snacker hay "nets" that are the 1" stiff nylon webbing with 1.5" holes, thinking that would slow them down eating their hay, and help with the wood chewing. Well, my stallion can still eat ALL of his hay in an hour, it takes my gelding about 2.5 hours. They are both getting grain, well one is on the purina mini feed, and the other I am currently switching from ultium to the mini feed. I also give the stallion quessence for his cresty neck, and my gelding gets a joint supplement. Both horses get loose salt, and also have free access to salt and mineral blocks, which I do see them use. The stallion actually eats the blocks very quickly. I think its more out of boredom than him lacking nutrients. Neither horse is thin. I gave them milk jugs with pebbles in them to play with, but they don't really show any interest. I also gave them a ball in their paddock, and I do take hay and "sprinkle" it around outside in the paddock, to try to mimic grazing. Both are dry lotted when outside, as I show them, and they get obese on grass. They don't chew wood when they are outside, though.

    I currently don't turn them out together, because the stallion is not gelded yet. Big horse friends tell me that its a bad idea to turn them out together because one is a stallion, even though there are no mares within 5 miles of our property. I really don't think there would be any problem, they mutually groom each other over the stall doors, and my stallion is quieter than my gelding. So far, he has shown NO stallion tendencies. We planned to have him gelded already, but my vet wont geld them when the flies are bad, and in my area, the flies are still bad.

    I have tried rubbing the wood down with bars of soap, only to later find my stallion with a white dusty "soap mustache" and more wood chewed.

    I really need to nip this in the bud NOW, as he is literally chewing my brand new barn apart. My stalls have "exposed studs" and we've had to replace 2 2x4's already, as hes chewed them almost in half. I dont want to resort to having to put a grazing muzzle on him when hes stalled, that is a miserable thing for a horse, and I dont like leaving any type of halters on them when not supervised.

    A friend recommended a paint type product called halt cribbing, and said to get the brown. Has anyone used this? Does the clear work as well? The area in my barn that they are chewing is light wood, and honestly, I think the brown will make it look like a dungeon.

    I wanted to get some of those balls that dispense feed to try giving them their grain in, to slow them down and occupy them, but at $65 a piece, I just cant afford it now. I just spent $140 on special hay bags, along with all of the expenses of building a new barn and pastures.
     
  2. Sep 20, 2011 #2

    Ashley

    Ashley

    Ashley

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2002
    Messages:
    5,529
    Likes Received:
    72
    I always used the brown.The clear never seemed to work as well.

    Can you leave them outside more? I dont have any horses here that chew wood anymore, as they were gone almost as soon as they started the habit. Its not something that will really every change. We had a mare here for a few months before I said thats it, and told the people to get her out. I had to replace about 12 of my paddock boards.
     
  3. Sep 20, 2011 #3

    Reignmaker Miniatures

    Reignmaker Miniatures

    Reignmaker Miniatures

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,442
    Likes Received:
    521
    Location:
    British Columbia
    As for the balls that they can roll to get treats, try a 2 liter er.... large 1/2gallon size, pop bottle. My vet suggested that for me the other day. She says you can put treats in and they can toss it around until one falls out the neck. As far as why a horse chews I have found 2 causes in my horses; a shortage of certain minerals - I offer a loose mineral mix and it stops 85% of chewing for me - or - boredom. This spring it rained here and rained and then rained some more. The horses were just plain bored, didn't want to play, couldn't nap in the sun and just stood for hours next to the fence or in their shelters. My rail fences began to look like I was housing beavers. I tried more hay...no luck, I made sure the mineral mix was fresh and plentiful but the only thing that seemed to help was taking each of the chewers out and giving them a good mental and physical work out. After a long training session where they worked hard enough to get tired they didn't chew their homes anymore. Hard to find the time if you have several (especially when they aren't the ones being fitted for showing lol) but it sure made a difference. The only other option I know of is to cover the edges with non chewable material like wire or metal. Oh and for my penned horses who want to eat their fencing I also offer freshly cut birch and poplar (maybe called alder there?) branches for them to debark. I'm not sure why but horses here really seem to have a need to strip bark from deciduous trees, especially in the winter. I try to cut and stack some in the fall so they can chew on it in the winter when the snow and cold keep them confined more.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2011
  4. Sep 20, 2011 #4

    chandab

    chandab

    chandab

    MHT Supporter MHT Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2005
    Messages:
    12,026
    Likes Received:
    2,029
    Location:
    NE Montana
    I've used both the clear and the brown halt cribbing and the brown does seem to work better. In my one shed I just painted the 2x6 support boards with it, but left the plywood just painted white and it seems to be working so far.[plywood is attached to the outside, and they can't really get at an edge to chew on.] Thought I had a picture of my shed, but I can't find it (I swear I just saw it the other day, and now its gone).
     
  5. Sep 20, 2011 #5

    mydaddysjag

    mydaddysjag

    mydaddysjag

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Messages:
    2,290
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Western Pennsylvania
    I cant keep my guys out overnight, because we have coyotees very close to our property. Occasionally, we get them coming down into our field. I dont feel safe leaving my two out at night, so put them in their stalls. My stall door tops are made of framed cattle panels, so they can still see out at night though. Within a few weeks, we will have another pasture put up (all but one side of the posts are set, but the companies auger machine broke and needs repaired before they can dig the rest of the holes for the posts)

    Once thats up, one horse can go in the paddock, the other in the bigger pasture, and they will both go out after breakfast, and come in for dinner, then stay in overnight.

    I'll try the pop bottle with pellets in it. The stallion, who is the bigger beaver of the two, gets fat on air if hes not being conditioned to show. Instead of treats, I'll pick up a bag of timothy/alfalfa pellets to use. At least that can be a part of his feed ration without me worrying too much about him getting fatter. I wonder if I couldn't find a way to droll a few holes in a bottle, then hand it up like one of those hanging likit thinks, so they had to bat it around a little to get the pellets out. Right now my stallion just stomps bottles into the ground, then forgets them. If it was hanging, he wouldn't be able to stomp it.

    A friend of mine (the minority) said to turn the horses out together, and that she thought that would stop the wood chewing. Everyone else said absolutely not, since one is a stallion. Whats your take? No mares, stallion has never been bred, very quiet, kind of "dumb" like a toddler. Really, he has the mentality of a baby, no stallion tendencies. Older gelding who is a little cranky and doesnt put up with crap, but hasnt been turned out with another horse in about two years. They mutual groom over the stall wall and door, but occasionally do pin their ears at each other and do the "bitey face thing"
     
  6. Sep 20, 2011 #6

    Reignmaker Miniatures

    Reignmaker Miniatures

    Reignmaker Miniatures

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,442
    Likes Received:
    521
    Location:
    British Columbia
    I have (er had... one was gelded last week) 2 stallions who live across a fence from each other. One of them (the new gelding) lives alone but the other adult stallion lives with the gelding and gets along just fine. They play but never fight and are fast friends. If you think your 2 will be OK what I'd do is put lines (lunge lines allow some distance while you maintain control if needed) on them and have a handler for each. Put them together and step back aways. If they fight you have a way to pull them apart and re-seperate them. If they don't then try turning them loose in the biggest area you have available and watch from outside. It should be IMO fine since there are no mares in the picture.

    BTW the 'bitey face thing' is just play and boys can play rough. If they are serious with each other you will know, feet will fly, ears will be pinned and teeth will be bared.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 20, 2011
  7. Sep 20, 2011 #7

    rabbitsfizz

    rabbitsfizz

    rabbitsfizz

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 29, 2003
    Messages:
    10,937
    Likes Received:
    383
    Location:
    England
    Turn them out, Stay and watch them, but, honestly, they will be fine. I have six boys out together, one stallion one gelding who does not know he is, two yearling colts and two yearling geldings.
     
  8. Sep 20, 2011 #8

    AnnaC

    AnnaC

    AnnaC

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    8,743
    Likes Received:
    556
    Location:
    Wales, UK
    Have you thought of ulcers? The stress of a new home, travelling, a new routine, no company to start with, could all have made him a bit uncomfortable - a stressed system doesn't take long to get upset and horses with stomach pain will often chew wood as it is a way of neutralising an over acidic system.

    I wouldn't be too happy about turning them out together (not against it because we have done it) especially if you are there alone. It might take a while for them to settle, and if by any chance they dont, you are not going to be able to seperate them by yourself if they have a serious fight, which could occur even several days after everything appeared to be ok. If they are paddocked alongside each other, then for the moment I would be happy with that.
     
  9. Sep 20, 2011 #9

    mydaddysjag

    mydaddysjag

    mydaddysjag

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Messages:
    2,290
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Western Pennsylvania
    Ive considered Ulcers, but neither show any other symptoms of Ulcers. I have had horses in the past with Ulcers, so do know what to watch for. I will keep an eye on it, and plan to consult my vet who will be out for fall shots soon. I really think its a boredom thing when they are stalled. I have wooden fencind, and when they are in the paddock, they do NOT touch any of the fencing.

    Right now they are not turned out next to each other, one is turned out part of the day in the small paddock attached to my barn and their stall doors open out into that paddock, and then the other goes out when the first horse goes in, so they are out in "shifts". Right now I only have one paddock, but the pasture will be finished soon. We were supposed to have both the paddock and the larger pasture done before both horses were home (thats why they werent both brought home at the same time) but the construction company had been stringing us along, and just told us that the machine they use to drill the holes to set the fence posts isnt working right, so thats why they hadnt finished it yet.

    That pasture is right along side my paddock.
     
  10. Sep 20, 2011 #10

    billiethekid40

    billiethekid40

    billiethekid40

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2003
    Messages:
    931
    Likes Received:
    0
    Do they have to come in at dinner time for the night or do you live on the property so you can bring them in for the night at dusk instead? When my horse was stalled too much during daylight hours he would chew, but he always just seemed to sleep when it was dark out... I never left much if anything on in the barn for lights when I wasn't there either. Started leaving him out till just before dark and the chewing stopped completely, even in the winter when the days are shorter and nights are long and cold.
     
  11. Sep 20, 2011 #11

    mydaddysjag

    mydaddysjag

    mydaddysjag

    Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2007
    Messages:
    2,290
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Western Pennsylvania
    I feed at 9am and 9pm, so its dark when I bring him in. I dont live on the property, they are around the block from my house at my parents place. I just spoke with my stallions old owner who owned him from the time he was a baby until this past spring. He switched hands between there, and only lived with the gal I got him from very briefly until she decided she wanted to go back to A horses.

    They told me that he was kept turned out with geldings with NO problem, and could be kept with stallions, but it would be highly unlikely that he would be the alpha in the herd.

    Im going to work on introducing them (will have help from my husband) and start trying to turn them both out from 10-9 every day. Hopefully they run around together and work off some steam, so they are tired at night. If not, it looks like I might be working horses all winter lol.
     

Share This Page

arrow_white