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Foal or Newborn, Eating Soil, Dirt or Sand

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

Code Green - Contact Your Vet to Obtain Useful Advice & Resources

    Foals are often seen eating soil or dirt. Theories for this behavior include compensation for dietary deficiencies (salt and minerals), ingestion of micro-organisms or clay (digestive aid), or behavioral issues (boredom). It is hard to keep a foal from eating dirt and, generally, it is not necessary.

    However, it is very important to prevent your foal from eating sand. Sand can accumulate in your foal’s intestines and cause abdominal pain (colic) and diarrhea.

    Provide your foal with quality long stem hay and ensure that they have free choice to red mineral and salt. Foals should be kept off of a sandy soil type whenever possible. Feed hay in a way that minimizes horses picking feed off of sandy soil.


    When in doubt, evaluate your foal’s general health and share your findings and concerns with your vet. When possible, house foals in areas without sandy soils. Provide lots of long-stem hay, provide socialization and exercise. Check your foal’s manure for sand accumulation using the sand sediment test.


    Your vet uses physical exam, fecal evaluation for sand, x-ray, ultrasound to rule out sand accumulation that could cause severe colic. They assess management and often suggest changes to reduce this problem.

    Helpful Terms & Topics in HSVGWritten, Reviewed or Shared by Experts in Equine Health

    Author: Doug Thal DVM Dipl. ABVP


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