Manure Question

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Willow Flats

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I didn't want to post a photo so I'll try and give a description.

Rocko has always had clumping manure since I got him. In other words, fecal balls that are for the most part stuck together. Not like cow patties but like an oversize cluster of grapes. Seems like more moisture.
I'm asking because I have never had a horse do this and am wondering if this is normal. He can get a little mushy if there is a food change or he has been on green pasture but for the most part there is just the ball clumps.

It makes it easy to pick up and know whose is whose. Should I be concerned?
 

Abby P

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Does any liquid come out with/after he poops? If so he might have a little free fecal water - often caused by eating coarse hay. Or a myriad of other causes. But if it's just the poops holding together instead of shaking apart when they hit the ground I don't think that's anything to worry about. It's better than rattling when they hit the ground!
 

dalvers63

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Sounds exactly like my gelding. When he first moved in and my friend was cleaning paddocks she wondered how her big pony had managed to poop in Mike's run. His clump together and look just like the bigger horses. My mare is just the opposite - lots of tiny individual balls. I much prefer Mike's as, like you said, they are so much easier to clean up!
 

Willow Flats

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Does any liquid come out with/after he poops? If so he might have a little free fecal water - often caused by eating coarse hay. Or a myriad of other causes. But if it's just the poops holding together instead of shaking apart when they hit the ground I don't think that's anything to worry about. It's better than rattling when they hit the ground!
He does sometimes show evidence of some liquid on his back legs and tail.
 

Abby P

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So that's free fecal water - which isn't usually a giant deal but if he does get stemmy hay then you can fix it by just making sure he gets something that isn't so stemmy. Either some hay pellets or cubes, or some finer hay that he can pick through and get the nicer leaves. It doesn't take much! I fixed Rowan's (which was significant, on one particular batch of hay) just by giving him a little hay loose outside his net for him to pick through, whenever I happened to be out there (a few times a week at that time). He ate the original problem hay from a net the rest of the time, they just need a little something to help things along.

It can be from hindgut ulcers or other issues too but seems like usually it's an issue of them not digesting the coarse stems well enough to pull all the water out efficiently when they form the manure balls. Especially if it's mild it's probably just that.
 

Willow Flats

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Abby P - Yes, this last batch of hay I got is terrible! Really stemmy. We are in a drought so no telling when we will be able to get some decent hay around here.

I did some research on the fecal water and that was interesting. Thank you for bringing this to my attention! I mentioned this has happened. I was attributing it to a change in feed but see now that there are also other factors that can contribute.

He checks a lot of the boxes on which horses might be more susceptible to it. He is definitely low man in the herd. I keep him with another gelding away from the bossy mare.

I'll get him some pellets. He always roots through his hay to get to the chaff before he'll eat the rest. He probably knows what he digests better.
 

Abby P

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Yep, it's the low-ranking ones that get the dregs! I thought it was really interesting, I read in one place that for some reason, paint geldings are extra susceptible, I guess because they tend to be very low-ranking. My guy has his own paddock but if the hay is stemmy enough it'll still happen (although he IS a paint gelding 😁) , and the hay net keeps them from being able to sort through it as they would if free-fed.

I wish I'd known about this when I had my Arab - he had it really badly his whole life (the only times he would have normal manure is when he was eating second-cut hay or grass, but he was IR, so those times were relatively few). The vets sort of shrugged it off and suggested probiotics which never did a thing - the only thing that helped a little was psyllium. I checked him for sand a hundred times and dewormed him every which way but I never checked for hind gut ulcers or knew about FFWS. He was always better in the winter but I never put the pieces together that in winter he would get more hay pellets or cubes and even some second-cut hay to keep weight on, in grass season he was dry-lotted with first-cut hay. I kept thinking it was because he ate his hay off dirt in the summer. After he went to a new home, although he never colicked in the 17 years I owned him, he did ultimately die of colic at 24 and I have to wonder if there was damage that accrued over the years.
 

Pitter Patter

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I have been having this problem with my larger pony mare. When I got her the previous owners had had her only about a month. When they had her she had black tarry stool all down the back of her legs. I had to cut half her tail off as it was so bad after an hour of constant washing and I couldn't get any more off. It seems slightly caustic too. Thought we had it licked. Sand Clear didn't seem to work and the other minis and horse did not have sand. Couldn't get vet near her as she was terrified of others at the time. Tried Total Gut and was so happy that seemed to work but only for about one week. After it started back up I gave her another dose of it and it went away for only about a day. I see there are some ulcer type supplements on the market. Do they work? Her poop is sloppy but not like diarrhea. When she poops there is sometimes regular feces and the liquid comes out around it or afterwards. Any ideas?
Our hay has been horrible for the last couple of years due to growing conditions.
 

Marsha Cassada

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Midnight had this when I got her. I put 1/4 c aloe vera on her hay and it went away in a few days. I kept her on the aloe vera for several months, and periodically dress their hay with it now. But she has never had that issue again, and it's been 2 years. Try aloe vera. It's cheap, and if it doesn't work then at least it won't hurt.
 

Pitter Patter

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Midnight had this when I got her. I put 1/4 c aloe vera on her hay and it went away in a few days. I kept her on the aloe vera for several months, and periodically dress their hay with it now. But she has never had that issue again, and it's been 2 years. Try aloe vera. It's cheap, and if it doesn't work then at least it won't hurt.
Thanks! I think I just may give that a try! Will it hurt the ones that don't have the issue? Mine eat mostly in a herd type situation. Or should I separate her from the others? Is it 1/4 per day or per feeding?
 

Marsha Cassada

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Thanks! I think I just may give that a try! Will it hurt the ones that don't have the issue? Mine eat mostly in a herd type situation. Or should I separate her from the others? Is it 1/4 per day or per feeding?
Not at all. I top dress the aloe on my other horse's hay also. I didn't see any changes in him. Usually I don't measure but just pour a dollop on once a day. I put it on their alfalfa ration, but I think they would gobble it up however you add it. I never see any residue in the dish, so they must lick the last drop. It says to keep refrigerated, but I didn't. You can buy a quart and give it a try. I got mine at the local Walmart in the pharmacy section. Have not needed to use it in over a year.
 

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