Eating Trees

Q. My horses are eating the bark (within reach) on my mature silver maple and slash pine trees. I suspect it will kill the tree. Is there anything I can do to stop the horses or protect the trees?

Robert, via e-mail

A. The best solution to the problem of horses eating the bark off of your trees is to fence the trees off with board fencing. Chicken wire and snow fencing wrapped around the trees is dangerous because the horses chew at it and loosen the wire, and it becomes a hazard to their eyes. Nylon fencing is also a risk because horses will chew at it and ingest it, and that could cause colic.

I know of many products that have been tried on fences, trees, and barns to prevent chewing, but I am not aware that any of them are successful and safe. Horses primarily chew trees from boredom and possibly from a need for fiber and nutritional elements. However, I have known horses that chew trees even when they have complete diets and perfectly adequate pasture and hay available.

About the Author

Carolyn R. Simmelink, DVM

Carolyn R. Simmelink, DVM, is a veterinarian with Simmelink Equine Practice in Redding, Conn.

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