So, the other day, I walked into our beautiful run-in and saw all of the two by fours with chunks missing and some down to almost nothing. I stood there with my jaw dropped. Are you kidding me?!
These donkeys live in luxury. They have premium hay, mineral blocks, shelter, toys, each other, and even blankets. They have their vaccines, teeth floated, and feet done. What could possibly possess them to eat wood? They have messed with the trees before but that stopped. Frustrated, I solicited some advice from a friend of mine and also did some research. Here is what I found.
Apparently, donkeys will chew on wood for one of three reasons.
- Mineral Deficiency
- Copying their Mates
The top reason is boredom. According to Hayfarmguy.com, this is the most common reason for donkeys to chew on wood. That being said, this boredom is often the result of not having their friends or being locked up in a stall for long periods. These two items are not applicable to my situations. They are always with each other and are outside the entire time with the option to go into a shelter; they are rarely confined. They also have a large area to run around and play.
The second reason, vitamin deficiency…good ole Pica…the craving for non-food items such as wood. This can be solved by running blood work to look at the minerals and by purchasing a mineral block.
The third reason, when there is a new horse or donkey in the pact and they possess the wood eating habit. Donkey see, donkey do!
How do you address and stop this destructive habit?
- Spray wood surfaces with an anti-chew substance. You can purchase these sprays at a tack or local feed store. Or, you can make your own with Cayenne Pepper and water.
- Get blood work done and provide a mineral block.
- Provide the donkeys with things to play with- a ball, milk jug, etc.
- Allow them time outside with their friends.
Hopefully these suggestions work!
My senior Belgian Draft mare has a chronic condition where her stools are relatively solid but after having a stool, she passes fecal liquid separately, Her tail and hind end, and legs are covered. Initially when she came to me she had loose stools and the vet did a fecal and we put her on Biosponge. Her Fecal Sample showed minimal infestation and the Biosponge did not do much. Over time, her stools became more solid but the liquid continued. Now, after being with me for about 6 months we are still having this issue.
So, I did some research and came across an article on something I had never heard of before- Fecal Water Syndrome. According to an article on SmartPak.com, Fecal Water Syndrome is typically caused by the following;
The underlying cause of FWS in horses is not known at this time and there are many theories as to why some horses develop it. A group of researchers in Germany set out to explore some of the proposed theories and discovered that neither dental disease nor a heavy parasite burden seemed to be associated with FWS. However, it was found to be more likely to occur:
- in horses of low rank or “pecking order” in the social hierarchy of a herd
- in winter when subordinate horses were confined to a smaller space, leading to anxiety
- in geldings vs mares, which are usually more dominant than geldings
- in paint horses
However, the article also noted that due to FWS being a relatively new diagnosis, more studies are needed to look at the role stress, nutrition, and potentially, other factors in the development and management of FWS.
Diagnosis of FWS
Most veterinarians approach the diagnosis of a horse with FWS similar to one with diarrhea or loose stool. That is, they start by taking a thorough history from the owner, then perform a complete physical examination with special emphasis on the digestive system, and finally may recommend specific tests to evaluate the health of the horse in general and the GI tract in particular. It can be helpful to confirm the presence of soiled hind limbs and tail as well as dirty stall walls and bedding. While on the farm, the vet may want to walk through the regular feeding and management programs including turnout and herd status.
Treatment and Management of FWS
Although there is no standard treatment or set of recommendations for the care and feeding of horse suffering from FWS, all potential causes for disruption in the GI system should be addressed, including social stress.
- Making adjustments to the horse’s turn-out time and group.
- Making adjustments to the diet (with the input of a veterinarian and nutritionist.)
- Trying out various medications and supplements one at a time on the passage of fecal water. For example, adding omega 3 fatty acids for a normal inflammatory response in the gut, and to the stabilizing effects of “baker’s yeast” or Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
- Make sure to keep the hindquarters clean and dry to prevent any sores for forming.
We are beginning to build a barn on our property!!! While it is super exciting, there is much more to the process than I could ever imagine. I will be updating my site throughout the process. Below are some helpful resources along with the plans/lay-out for our barn.
Plans for a 6 Stall Barn
When It’s Time
— Read on horsenetwork.com/2020/06/when-its-time/
Due to Draft horses being prone to certain diseases such as, metabolic ailments like PSSM (Polysaccharide storage myopathy), laminitis, Cushings, founder, tying-up, and shivers diet is imperative. Based on these ailments, starch and sugar calories should be replaced by fiber and fat calories.
It is recommended that these guys have high quality forage and some concentrates while working due to their slower metabolism (similar to ponies). Meaning that the less energy they use, the more weight they gain. High carbohydrate feed should be avoided, as a forage with a rational balancer and/or a low NSC feed.
Breakdown of How To Feed A Draft Horse
- 15% daily calories from sugar
- 20-25% daily calories from, fat
- No less than 1% of horse’s body weight in forage
Calculating Fat Content:
Pounds of feed per day x % of fat
3 lbs of feed= 3 x 0.25= 0.75 lb fat
Feeds should have no more than 33% sugar and starch (low carb).
Low in starch and sugars: soy, beat pulp, wheat bran, wheat middlings
Feeds with 20%+ of fat should be supplemented with rice bran (20% fat). Feed with anything less than 20% should be supplemented with 100% additional fat source.
- Nutrena Compete
- Purina Strategy
- Blue Seal Hunter, Demand, Vintage Gold
- Southern States Legend
- Oil: soy oil, canola, corn oil, rice bran
- Vitamin E & Selenium supplement (be careful when adding in selenium as high levels can be toxic)
- Either Purina Strategy or Southern States Legend: No more than 5-6 lbs of feed per 1000 lbs
- Rice Bran Oil: begin with 1/4 cup and increase by 1/4 cup every few days until 2 cups are reached. Continue with 3-4 cups per day.
- Vitamin E with Selenium: 1-2 oz per day
- Forage: Alfalfa pellets mixed or substituted with Purina or Southern States feed
Mix 12 parts alfalfa (or Purina or Southern States Feed or mix of the two) with 1 part water. Soak for 10 minutes. Add in oil. Let it sit for 2+ hours. Right before feeding add in the supplement (Vet E/Selenium).
While agreeing to save the ponies from slaughter, I saw a beautiful, senior mare. She is a 17 hand, 17-year old, Belgian mare who was an Amish workhorse until put into the auction. She is visibility underweight and her coat is dull and patchy but her eyes bright and soulful. I watched to see if she got rescued as her slaughter date was for 5/7/2020. Well, last night, I took the plunge and purchased the sweet girl.
Ever since losing Chance I have not had a desire to get another horse. Over a year ago a neighbor gave me a thoroughbred mare but shortly after she arrived I realized I was not ready and I had just learned I was pregnant. Fortunately, I was able to find her a wonderful forever home. However, upon coming across this Belgian I knew she was my next heart horse. The thing is I only have one paddocked fenced in that holds three miniature donkeys. So I am quickly getting things in order- scheduled to have another paddock fenced in, a large run-in dropped off, and everyones vaccinations up-to-date. One of my neighbors has a barn and paddocks and no other horses on the property and generously offered to allow my new mare and friend’s two ponies quarantine there for 30 days. By the time quarantine is over, the fence and run-in will be up and ready for the new members of the family!
There is also a ton of research that I need to do about owning a draft horse. They are a special breed and more susceptible to metabolic disorders and a ton of hoof issues. Once again I will be using this platform as a way to organize my ongoing research. Wish me luck!
My friend called me late last night, “Lets save these two miniature ponies from slaughter!” Intrigued, I clicked on the videos and saw these adorable little guys prancing around. Shaggy, needing a bit of weight, and a ton of love. Price was $460.00. Basically, the price for their meat. I reached out to another one of my girlfriends to convinced her to buy one of the three we were looking at- she agreed!
The next morning, I went to the website and one of the three had already been rescued but the other two were still available. I clicked “add to cart” and checked out via PayPal. We were actually buying ponies the same way I purchased paper towels off Amazon. We later contacted the livestock auction to arrange shipping from Texas to Virginia and I have to say, the woman we spoke to was beyond helpful and you could tell she truly cared about these horses. So for now, we are anxiously awaiting their arrival to their forever homes. These horses are priced to sell. Some are put up for sale by individuals who plan to take them back if they are not sold- basically like consignment. Whereas other horses are put up for sale and if they are not sold they are slaughtered. Our two were going to be sent for slaughter if they were not sold. 😦
For more information and to see available horses, donkeys, ponies and mules visit Bowie Auction Horses.
The other day I was outside with a girlfriend and her two boys (6 ft apart) as they were feeding one of my miniature donkeys, Trou, a carrot. They turned and said, “That one is missing a tooth!” I smiled and upon realizing that they said went over to look for myself. Sure enough my Trou has a cracked, half missing tooth! I did a quick check- no cuts, swelling, abrasions, no puffiness, heat, and he did not seem to be in any pain. I called the vet and explained what was going on and that I needed them to come out to pull my donkey’s tooth since it was cracked so close to the gum line (like a human would have done). They came out two days later and simply said “it will grow back.” I was completely shocked! “It will what?!” The vet explained that equine (horse, mule, donkey) teeth grow. They have a very long root that as the tooth wears down, it continues to grow. I asked why a horse that cribs ends up having nubs for teeth. The vet explained that due to cribbing a horse will use up their “reserve” faster than most other horses so by the time they hit their late 20’s they no longer have any growth left. Sure enough, a week later, I checked on Trou’s tooth and it was almost back to normal!
For more information on equine teeth click on the link below:
Learn equine biosecurity basics for the farm, horse show, and breeding shed to protect your horses from infectious diseases.
— Read on thehorse.com/features/practical-biosecurity-tips-to-protect-your-horse/
Horses Require Extra Attention when Temperatures Plummet
With freezing temperatures comes the need for extra care and attention for horses and other equids.
The growing season some parts of the nation had last year produced overly stemmy or fibrous hay with a lower digestibility. As a result, making certain that horses are supplemented with grain when fed lower quality hay will help them maintain body weight and condition, a key factor in withstanding cold temperatures.
Constant access to clean, fresh water at 35 to 50°F is an absolute necessity to keeping horses healthy. This can be achieved via heated tanks or buckets, or by filling a tank, letting it freeze, cutting an access hole in the frozen surface, and then always filling the tank to below the level of the hole from that point on. This provides a self-insulating function and will typically keep the water below from freezing. Regardless of the method you choose, it’s important to check tanks frequently to ensure your horse’s water remains free of ice.
Additional ways to keep horses comfortable in cold weather include making sure they have access to shelter. A well-bedded, three-sided shed facing south or east will typically provide adequate protection from wind and snow, as can appropriate bluffs or treed areas.
When the temperatures get colder, mature horses will not typically move around much in an effort to conserve energy. Making an attempt to keep hay, shelter, and water fairly close together can limit the energy expenditure required, thus conserving body condition.
And, finally, keeping horses at a body condition score of 5 or 6 (on a 9-point scale) will help prevent surprises when horses shed their winter hair in the spring, and improve conception rates for those choosing to breed.
Spotting Lameness: The Game Plan
— Read on horsenetwork.com/2018/10/spotting-lameness-game-plan/
Learn about the diseases veterinarians recommend protecting your horse against and how vaccination could save your horse’s life.
— Read on thehorse.com/features/core-vaccination-protecting-horses-from-5-deadly-diseases/