Lignophagia: Why Do Some Horses Chew Wood?

Lignophagia (or chewing wood) is an all-too common behaviour observed in horses. Whilst it can be both practical and tempting to lather stable boards and fence posts with products to discourage this, it is wise to also consider and address the possible reason(s) for this undesirable chewing in the first place…

From a dietary perspective, it is thought that horses may chew wood when they aren’t consuming enough fibre in their diet. Even horses grazing pasture may need to be fed additional hay to meet their fibre requirements. Adequate fibre in the diet is incredibly important for optimal GIT function, promoting balanced microbial flora of the GIT, preventing ulcers, supporting immune function and supporting neurotransmitter production (just to name a few of its roles!)

Lignophagia may also be due to boredom and left unaddressed, may develop into a stereotypy behaviour. As with any abnormal behaviour it should be viewed in a holistic context.

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