Coprophagia in Horses

Coprophagia, the practice of eating feces, is a behavior demonstrated by different animals for different reasons. Though beautiful and awe-inspiring, the horse also possesses this behavior. In foals, coprophagia is considered entirely normal and is commonplace. In adult horses, the behavior is seen less frequently, and is only considered normal in small doses. When coprophagia becomes one of your horse's regular activities it may signify several underlying problems that need to be recognized and corrected.

Coprophagia and Foals

So, you're the proud parent of a new foal! Everything he does is cute and wonderful: running, nursing, sleeping … eating manure?! Don't worry, coprophagia is merely another hallmark of normal behavior, however unpleasant it may be.

In the first 1 or 2 months, your foal may be seen eating the fresh manure of his mother. Experts believe that this behavior may have an important purpose to your foal's health. These include:

The unsettling act of coprophagia should taper off by the time your foal reaches 2 months of age, and should completely end at the time of weaning (4 to 5 months).

Coprophagia and Adult Horses

If your adult horse is eating his own manure, or the manure of stable mates, then there's cause for concern. Your horse may be suffering from dietary imbalances, boredom and/or lack of exercise.