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Author Topic: Can horses eat bark?  (Read 755 times)


  • Joined Jul 2012
  • South Shropshire
  • A country lass who loves it all!
Can horses eat bark?
« on: January 08, 2017, 09:50:45 pm »
I'm into my horses a little bit but I'm by no means an expert, but I was walking past a friends ground today that's more of a wooded & hilly area with lots of moss & brambles ect, where they used to keep some free range pigs but are now keeping their 2 ponies on it, a Shetland & section A or B cob, the ponies do have access to some but only small amounts of grass but get plenty of hay daily & used to be on our lowland grazing, until a few months ago.   

Anyways the 1 thing I noticed were a few trees where the lower bark was stripped bare & also on a few fallen branches ( I don't know what type of trees.) But the only things I guess could have done it was the ponies, are they ok to eat this sort of stuff, I've heard that horses will do this occasionally if the grazing is poor.


  • Joined Nov 2008
Re: Can horses eat bark?
« Reply #1 on: January 09, 2017, 09:41:28 am »
They will often eat wood like trees and fence post if the diet is lacking or grazing is poor. Youngsters also do it when teething. Maybe a lack of minerals . Another sign is licking the soil.


  • Joined May 2010
  • South Lanarkshire
    • Wester Gladstone Hebridean Sheep
Re: Can horses eat bark?
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2017, 11:54:34 am »
The tree damage could also be deer, if you have them locally.

Draco dormiens nunquam titillandus


  • Joined Sep 2012
Re: Can horses eat bark?
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2017, 02:09:16 pm »
It usually implies a lack of fibre in the diet, or inadequate food going through the gut but equally could be an imbalance of micronutients.. 

It won't harm them, as long as it isn't Yew or a Sycamore and splinters don't get stuck in their mouths or throats.


  • Joined Jul 2014
Re: Can horses eat bark?
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2017, 02:15:09 pm »
I have a lovely old oak tree which my hooligans have nearly ring barked in a matter of days. I think boredom played a part in them doing it.


  • Joined Feb 2011
  • Cornwall
  • Rarely short of an opinion but I mean well
Re: Can horses eat bark?
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2017, 01:18:07 pm »
I'm sure I've read that oak - any part of, stem, bark or leaves; acorns too - can cause problems, and that horses can get kind of addicted to it, so should be kept away from the tree and anything that drops off it once they are clearly keen on it.
Don't listen to the money men - they know the price of everything and the value of nothing


  • Joined Feb 2012
Re: Can horses eat bark?
« Reply #6 on: January 10, 2017, 01:37:14 pm »
Best not to assume and mention to your friend to see if it the ponies. Could well have been the pigs.  If it is the ponies it seems excessive so they need to investigate the reasons and deal with it.


  • Joined May 2015
  • Aberdeenshire
Re: Can horses eat bark?
« Reply #7 on: January 10, 2017, 10:22:46 pm »
A few years ago, the livery next to me wasn't feeding the natives... the local farmers joked that if anyone was fencing they should take the old posts around and chuck them in as that's all the nags had to eat (they weren't far from the truth).

The following year (having eaten their way through the posts on their side of my boundary, they stripped the bark from their side of my shelter belt of pine trees.  Given that this meant they were stretching a good 4 feet from my boundary fence which is at least 6 feet from where their fence should have been you can imagine I wasn't too impressed.

Mine will occasionally pick at the greenery through winter - usually either pine or gorse, but they don't seem to eat much and it hasn't harmed them to date.  As others have said though, it depends on the trees (I wouldn't let mine near the leylandii, yew etc).

They will eat vast quantities of willow if they can reach it, and I think there's a painkiller in that one similar to aspirin.  The goats like it too of course.
Excellence is the result of caring more than others think is wise, risking more than others think is safe, dreaming more than others think is practical and expecting more than others think is possible.


  • Joined Jul 2012
  • South Shropshire
  • A country lass who loves it all!
Re: Can horses eat bark?
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2017, 06:44:35 am »
Well I knew horses will sometimes chew on wood like gate posts & fencing occasionally. We have got deer around & I thought about them & the pigs & we haven't got a lot of deer around & it looked like it had been stripped relatively freshly & the pigs haven't been around for about 2 years.


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