My horses are stripping my trees!!! Help!!!

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by southernsibe, Apr 27, 2008.

  1. southernsibe

    southernsibe Songster

    Jun 15, 2007
    kensington, maryland
    No, they aren't cribbing, they are systematically stripping the bark off of my trees, all of them, even dead ones that have to be dragged out of the paddock area (once the tractor is running again). They have access to hay, have mineral blocks, water, and totally ignore anything I put in there as a toy. Does anyone have any ideas????
  2. KLH2010

    KLH2010 Songster

    Apr 20, 2008
    Mine do this too but since I am in a lease place I haven't worried too much about it. [​IMG] I have seen people put wire around their trees to protect them. I bet chicken wire would work. You would probably have to adjust it every now then as the trees grow (I don't know much about trees!). I think they just do it out of boredom. Good luck!
  3. kaacres

    kaacres Songster

    I found this on Hope it helps.

    Wood chewing increases if the horses' access to forage is limited; if they have inadequate feed and/or fiber in their rations; in cold, wet weather; or if the horses are confined and bored. Has the horses' quality of pasture, type of hay, or activity level changed?

    Mineral imbalances are not known to affect wood chewing, though a salt deficit will increase licking and/or chewing of abnormal substances in the horse's attempt to meet his salt needs. In previous studies, we found that wood chewing was also a highly individual activity--only two or three horses in a group of 10 did 90% of the chewing we observed. If a new horse was put into the herd that was a wood chewer, that could have triggered increased activity in others.

    Most types of wood are usually not dangerous, though destruction of fences and barns and the danger of ingesting nails or staples are real problems. Pressure-treated wood, however, has arsenic and other heavy metals that can be harmful if large quantities are consumed. It is best to prevent horses from chewing pressure-treated boards.

    Even wild horses chew the bark off trees, but the bark of some trees is potentially harmful--these trees include all members of the cherry family (wild and domestic), peach, black walnut, black locust, and certain types of pine.
  4. patandchickens

    patandchickens Flock Mistress

    Apr 20, 2007
    Ontario, Canada
    The likeliest explanation is that they are bored. If your grass has not yet come in well, or if they are in a relatively small paddock (like less than an acre or two per horse), I would bet you anything that boredom *is* the reason.

    When you say they have hay available, how much of what kind and what quality hay? Like, if it is a round bale that's been sitting there a while, or if their hay tends to get stomped into the mud, or if it is not the tastiest of hay in their opinion, or if one or more horses are monopolizing the hay feeder and chasing one or more lower ranking herdmates away from it.

    OTOH it is also true that sometimes horses develop obscure hobbies for no particularly obvious reason [​IMG] Or for temporary reasons -- every year, for about 2-3 weeks at the end of winter, mine decide they've had enough of it and they want something that tastes different and is available 24/7 (I portion their hay out 3-4 times a day), and for those 2-3 weeks they go after my wooden fences anywhere they aren't protected by hotwire. I use dish detergent as a good temporary anti-chew solution [​IMG] But at this time, they will also chew tree bark or fallen branches if the opportunity presents itself. I think they just have bored teeth. So I make sure the opportunity never presents itself [​IMG] and soon the grass gets going and they're happy again.

    Anyhow.... bottom line, it is really never a very good idea to have trees in a paddock (or reachable from across the fence) and now you know why ;P

    The proper solution, and the safest, is to fence the trees off. With electric on step-in posts right now, if that's all you can do, and ultimately with sturdy post-and-board or no-climb fencing. Make the fences *high*, so they are not encouraged to try to lean over, and use many boards relatively closely spaced so they don't try to reach between.

    A much poorer (less safe for horses, less safe for trees) also-ran solution is to put 2x4 welded wire all around the treetrunk from ground level up to about 8' (more if you have tall horses). Cut it to the exact length that will snugly wrap the trunk, and carefully lace it together using strong wire. If you have any doubt, cover the laced-together seam with a roped-on length of 2x6.

    I have seen it done with chainlink, but that has pokey edges waiting to snag an eye; chickenwire, which horses can rip through and then you have all those sharp points waiting to become vet bills; and old carpeting, which some horses will rip down and which is not good for the tree.

    Really, fencing the trees off is the thing to do.

    Good luck,

  5. Ron James

    Ron James In the Brooder

    Mar 12, 2008
    Only thing you can do is put a small fence around each tree, when i had horse they loved eating my pecan trees. they werent board 5 horses on 20 acre grassy green pasture in Oklahoma.
  6. GwenFarms

    GwenFarms Songster

    Feb 26, 2008
    A neighbor had a horse die from stripping and eating the bark of a momosa tree. It wasn't toxic, but he pulled such long strips that it was indigestible and he coliced while my neighbor was at work. Her gut was full of longggg strips of bark.

    I would be careful. I have another neighbor who limits his horse's hay and she chews trees. I had to go over and shoot her with banamine a few weeks ago because she went down. I warned him that I thought the trees were causing it, but he has left them up. They appear to be cherry trees and even though they aren't in wilt, I wonder if the bark isn't always toxic?? The vet wasn't really sure she just felt the horse may have been exposed to something toxic as there were no dietary, or other changes. This mare was pulling off chunks of bark and not strips, so she recovered.

    I personally would take out the trees, or fence them off.
  7. Cherry trees are deadly, so you can have them or you can have horses. we had a close call when our mare was a filly and ate some leaves which had blown into her pasture. We cut that baby down.

    Even horses with adequate nutrition, mineral/salt will chew. Our gelding is a good boy but the mare was always sinking her teeth into fencing and trees, it was an endless battle to protect her and the trees. Understand that this mare had year-round indoor/outddoor access- her mother was a chewer too. Both eventually died of (you guessed it) colic.

    Mason wire makes a good collar and can be expanded as the tree grows- pig nose rings make a good connector at the edges.

    This is a project worth winning, just keep in mind that the horse behavior isn't likely to alter, so yur response must.
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2008

BackYard Chickens is proudly sponsored by: