What To Do When Your Horse Eats Chicken Feed?

It’s important to keep your feed room locked and horse proof for many reasons. Even if your horse over eats horse feed, serious complications can be the result. A horse who eats too much feed is at high risk for developing colic, laminitis and intestinal upset. These and other problems are even more likely if your horse eats feed intended for another type of animal.

In this article, we explore the results of a horse eating chicken feed. We also offer good advice to help you deal with this problem quickly and effectively should it occur. Read on to learn more.

My Horse Ate Chicken Feed

what can happen to a horse who eats chicken feed

When you discover your horse has eaten chicken feed, naturally the first thing you should do is separate the horse from the feed and determine how much he has eaten.

Try to determine how long ago your horse ate the chicken feed. Your horse will probably not experience immediate problems from eating chicken feed, so knowing how long ago the feed was consumed will help your vet understand what signs and symptoms your horse might be exhibiting at this point.

This will help your vet to determine whether or not an immediate visit is necessary.

Determine whether or not the feed your horse has eaten is medicated. It’s a good idea to keep the ingredients panels from all the feeds you keep stored in your feed room. This gives you quick reference in case of accidents or emergency.

If chicken feed contains medications, it will naturally be the types and dosages of medications intended for chickens. A horse who consumes these medications may be in for some trouble.

Be aware of all the ingredients in your chicken feed. This is just another good reason to cut out the ingredients list and keep it on file.

Horses don’t digest common chicken feed ingredients such as whole wheat and cracked corn well. Ingesting these grains can cause imbalances in the hindgut leading to intestinal upset.

It’s also smart to know how the feed has been processed. Look for words such as extruded, steamed or cracked. The processing of the feed will make a difference to your horse’s ability to digest it when it reaches the hindgut.

Check your horse’s vital signs before you call the vet. It will help your vet to know your horse’s temperature, respiratory rate and pulse.

It’s smart to learn how to take these signs on your own and take them on a regular basis so that you’ll be familiar with your horse’s baseline readings.

How To Take Equine Vital Signs

The next thing you should do is give your vet a call. When you speak with your vet, he or she will ask you a few questions and give you advice to help you assess the situation and deal with any potential problems.

Even if it seems as if your horse is not in ill health and has not eaten very much chicken feed, you should let your vet know.

He or she may not choose to come immediately, but a heads-up will give your vet the opportunity to make plans around your potential emergency.

What Can Happen To A Horse Who Eats Chicken Feed?

Intestinal upset, diarrhea, colic and laminitis are not the only things you have to worry about when a horse eats chicken feed.

Feed intended for chickens may be filled with additives that are very toxic for horses. Ingesting large amounts of these can cause heart damage.

Follow Your Vet’s Advice To The Letter

follow your vet’s advice to the letter

If your horse develops very light signs and symptoms, you may be tempted to stop treatment right away.

Don’t be fooled, you should continue treating your horse as your vet recommends for a minimum of two days. If your horse does develop colic or laminitis, it can take a very long time to recover.

Even when your horse seems to be completely recovered from consumption of chicken feed, you should be on the lookout for signs of heart damage. These can take a long time to develop.

All-in-all, if you find that your horses eaten chicken feed or any other foreign substance or too much of his own feed, you must get in touch with your vet right away, follow his or her advice to the letter for the time period indicated and remain vigilant to any signs and symptoms that may turn up later on.

Will My Horse Recover From Eating Chicken Feed?

Luckily, if you assess the situation quickly and accurately and get in touch with your vet right away, your horse’s prognosis can be greatly improved.

It’s important to get your horse away from the feed, take his vital signs, gather your information and call your vet right away.

Doing so can mean all the difference in the world between a horse suffering from colic and/or laminitis or heart damage and one who recovers easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is chicken feed the only type of feed that can hurt horses?

Cattle feed is also bad for horses because it contains a number of ingredients that are not formulated for cattle but are quite dangerous for horses. Among these ingredients are:
– The ionophore known as Rumensin (monensin sodium)
– The antibiotic medication known as Bovatec (lasalocid)
Furthermore, cattle feed is designed to be eaten by ruminants which have a four-chamber digestive system, but horses are hindgut fermenters. Their digestive systems are not set up to safely process cattle feed.

2. What kind of feed is safest for horses?

Horses do best on a high fiber diet that consists in great part of high quality hay and pasture. Grains and feed that are digestible to horses include:
– Crimped Oats
– Cracked Corn
– Wheat Bran
– Beet Pulp
These basic feeds are best used by very experienced horsemen and women who understand how to measure and balance them for best results. These days, high quality, ready-made feed formulations for horses at all stages of life and types of lifestyle make it easy to choose and feed a safe and healthy diet.

3. Why is it safer to feed a “fixed formula” horse feed?

Fixed formula feeds are those that are always made with the same type and ratio of ingredients, even when prices and availability of these ingredients changes. This means that once you have settled on the feed you want to give your horse, you can count on it always being the same, no matter what. This helps prevent digestive upsets, refusal to eat the new formula and other complications that arise when you change a horse’s diet. It may also mean you’ll pay a bit more sometimes, but fixed formula feeding can save you money in vet bills in the long run.

4. How do you transition from one feed to another safely?

Transition over a week long period of time. On the first day, feed eighty percent of the old feed and twenty percent of the new feed. Adjust this ratio by ten percent daily (10% less old feed and 10% more new feed) for a full week until you are feeding the new feed entirely.

5. Will dog kibble make a horse sick?

Some horses like dog kibble, and you have to take steps to be sure they cannot get to it. As with chicken feed and cattle feed, dog kibble is not designed to be eaten by a non-ruminant, vegetarian animal. Dog food is high in protein and contains meat and grains that are not intended or prepared for equine consumption. If your horse grabs a bite or two of kibble, it probably won’t hurt him or her, but consumed in large quantities, it can lead to digestive upset and may spur bouts of colic and/or laminitis.

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