Coprophagia – from the Greek “kopros” for faeces and “phagein” for eat.
Yup, you get the gist!
After we had finished talking to Dreki and Lilja the other day, they went off together to be foals with whichever mare could put up with them. Today, it was Hetja’s short straw.
One thing all foals have is coprophagia – the need for ingestion of faecal material.
Coprophagia is fascinating to watch. The mare defaecates and the foals are instantly drawn to the newly dropped faeces and start digging/pawing at it, and then picking out little bits to eat.
To some, you might be revolted by this.
To us, I was very happy to see it occur – it means everything is normal and how it should be.
During this transitional time, the foals are beginning to eat grass but they also need to establish the micro-flora in their gut.
By eating a mare’s stools, the little ones will receive everything they need – minerals, vitamins, micro-organisms – all necessary for gut maintenance and therefore healthy development.
Stool eating in foals is also a method of developing the ability to graze selectively, ie deciding what is poisonous and what is not.
All very interesting.
Copraphagia should be encouraged – it maximises health and development in foals.
Foals usually grow out of it at about 6 months.
And now you know (and so do I – I vaguely did, but it was good to look up for the official version).