Fall Leaves in Horse Pastures
Posted: October 13, 2010
Prepared by Dr. Ann Swinker, Extension Horse Specialist
Dispose of Fall leaves properly or compost in an area outside of the horse’s pasture. Horses like the taste and smell of recently fallen leaves. However, the leaves are dense and can compact in the horse’s digestive system and cause compaction colic. The horse’s GI tract is a delicate system. Therefore, feeds should be selected not only for their ability to meet the animal’s nutrient requirements, but also for compatibility with the horse’s GI tract.
Feeding dense leaves and grass clipping can result in “choke.” If feed becomes lodged in the esophagus, the end result is called “choke.” Choke in the horse occurs in the esophagus and, although it is painful and uncomfortable to the horse, it is not life-threatening as in humans where the airways are cut off. Feed in the esophagus can only move in one direction – toward the stomach. A choking horse often presents itself with its head hung low with saliva and masticated feed coming out of the horse’s nostrils. A choking horse requires immediate veterinary attention and is usually treated with minimal complications.