Saturday, March 14, 2009

What Goes In Must Come Out?

Tonka and Raven eat an average of 60 pounds of grass hay daily. Likewise, they produce an average of 5 cubic feet of manure daily (I know this because I can usually fit it in a single wheelbarrow load). But over the past two weeks they have been producing less manure (I no longer have to play a precarious balancing game with the last three or four piles) while eating just as much. Their daily water consumption has not changed, nor their feed rations, nor their turnout time. Considering all the deworming I have done over the past month I can only assume that parasites are not reducing the output. Maybe parasites have been contributing to the output for the past year? This isn't a major concern for me as both horses seem happy and healthy, but I do love a good scientific quandary. Please feel free to hypothesize.

Astute FFF readers will note that this is an old picture of me with my little wheelbarrow, as evidenced by the presence of the Hungry Boots. My newer Muck Boots are still going strong.


Funder said...

I think you must be right. You've killed most (all?) of the parasites, so the horses are turning the feed into body mass instead of poop. If they aren't noticeably gaining weight, maybe they're just growing summer coats or extra hoof wall?

Unlikely alternatives:
* They're hiding poop somewhere you haven't noticed.
* Titan has greatly increased his alternative food source percentage.

Jean said...

With the longer days and somewhat milder weather, is it possible they are just metabolizing the food more efficiently as they burn more calories?
Also, if their overall health has improved in your care, perhaps their poops become less as their body makes better use of the nutrients? I know this happens for dogs. Good health, good feed = less poops.

EvenSong said...

I have to agree with Funder and Jean--between the worming and the longer days, I think they're metabolizing better. Are you still using the limited-free-choice hay feeder? Perhaps they are eating less and you just haven't noticed yet. If, in fact, they are metabolizing better, you might want to keep an eye on where those extra calories go (says she whose horses are all pushing an 8 on BCS!). Time to get ridin'!

EvenSong said...

Glad the Muck Boots are working out for you! My daughter bought me a new pair for Christmas --my old ones had finally developed a crack on one foot, between the toes and ball of my foot where they bend with every step.

M word verification is especially apropos:
tundri = what Muck Boots do for your feet in the frozen north!

Black Jack's Carol said...

Your first hypothesis seems logical to me. My only wondering, having observed your keen eye: if the worms in the previous manure loads were that numerous, wouldn't you have noticed them? Oh, but of course, you did, or you wouldn't have begun the worming process. Ignore comment. New question: How is Tonka's willy doing?

I checked that Hungry Boots link and loved that post. I could so relate, even though I don't have mucking chores to do.

dp said...

Yep, they still get free-choice hay. I put out 60lbs or so each night and it's gone by the next night, so I don't think they are secretly eating less. And really, they both look great -- good solid 5s. Raven has lost some weight since I eliminated the high-fat pellets from her feed and Tonka always stays about the same.

I realized today that part of it has been the weather. When it's wet outside they tend to get too lazy to walk to the edges of the paddock, so they crap nearer to the feeders and I end up picking up wasted hay. When the weather is nice they don't mind taking a stroll, and the weather had been very nice until yesterday.

But still, I just know they are producing less and I think those of you who suggest that they are metabolizing better are correct. I'll be keeping a close eye on them to ensure they don't get porky!

BJC: The manure wouldn't be more plentiful because there were worms in it...only because they horses were not digesting their food well if their parasitic load was high. I don't think that actual worms contribute to the manure volume until things are way out of hand, and things just couldn't get that out of hand on their usual worming rotation.

Black Jack's Carol said...

Appreciate that you took time to explain without even a hint of a smile (that I could detect:)

allhorsestuff said...

Interesting all! I too have noticed the less poo...but I am not the only one cleaning new PBO does most of it..will have to ask her about how many piles

EvenSong said...

I'm wondering, with BJC, about Wee Wonka's Willy?

dt said...

Maybe dp could start a sub-blog devoted to Big T's sheath? Maybe called "The Full Tonky"?