Question: I have a gelding that I got a year ago, and he munches on his bedding constantly, even when there is hay in the stall. We have tried straw (which he started on), then pine shavings, then some smaller sized pine wood shavings...he seems happy when he's munching. He's a little fat, so I don't have hay in his stall all the time, but he gets turned out on a dry lot so he's not just standing around.
Do you have any idea what is causing this and how to stop it?
Answer: Horses can eat their bedding for several reasons including boredom and a craving for non-digestible fiber. Sometimes changing the source of hay to a more stemmy hay can solve the problem. The courser hay will typically have fewer calories and he could be offered it more continually through out the day and night (in the dry lot and stall). Remember horses are designed as grazing animals and would graze up to 17 hours a day in the wild.
My concern with your horse eating his bedding is that he may develop an impaction colic. Make sure he is drinking plenty of water and his manure does not become hard and dry.
This article was written by Dr. Tanya Cubitt of Standlee Hay.