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Coprophagy in FoalsBy Kentucky Equine Research Staff · July 29, 2011

Spend any time around foals and you’re bound to see it: a foal investigating manure left by an adult horse and perhaps even taste-testing it.

Though this behavior might seem unpleasant to humans, coprophagy, or manure-eating, is perfectly normal in young foals. It occurs most frequently during the first two months of life and seems to taper off as foals mature.

This behavior is not indicative of nutritional deficiency. Instead, researchers believe it might play a role in priming the gastrointestinal tract, particularly the hindgut, for bacterial fermentation of forages later in life.

Interestingly, foals seem to prefer the feces of their own dams, choosing it over others and suggesting a response to a maternal pheromone.

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