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Why Do Horses Poop in Their Hay?

Horses are magnificent creatures, with their regal stature and gentle temperament. But, when it comes to their diet, horses can be quite messy and leave their owners wondering why they poop in their hay. In this article, we’ll explore the reasons why horses poop in their hay, while also discussing how to prevent it.

What Is Hay?

Before we can understand why horses poop in their hay, it’s important to know what hay actually is. Hay is a type of feed made from grass, legumes, and other forage plants, that is dried and compressed into bales for storage. Hay is a major component of a horse’s diet and is used to provide the animal with the essential nutrients and energy it needs.

The Benefits of Eating Hay

Now that we understand what hay is, let’s discuss why horses eat it. Hay is an essential part of a horse’s diet, as it provides them with energy and essential nutrients. Not only does it provide the horse with the energy it needs to stay healthy, but it also helps to keep their digestive system functioning properly. Additionally, hay is a much safer option than fresh grass, as it is free of potential toxins and parasites.

Why Do Horses Poop in Their Hay?

So, now that we know why horses eat hay, let’s discuss why they poop in it. There are several reasons why horses may choose to poop in their hay, including:

1. Foraging Instinct:

Horses are natural foragers, and as such, they are hardwired to search for food in their environment. For horses, their hay is essentially a large buffet of food, and they may choose to snack on it throughout the day. Since horses have difficulty controlling their urge to forage, they will often end up pooping in their hay as they search for food.

2. Poor Storage Conditions:

Horses are naturally drawn to hay, and if the hay is not stored properly, it can become a magnet for pests and rodents. This can create an ideal environment for horses to forage for food, which can lead to them pooping in their hay.

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3. Insufficient Feeding Time:

Horses are grazers, meaning they are designed to eat small amounts of food throughout the day. If the horse is not given enough time to eat, they may become frustrated and take their frustration out on their hay. This can lead to them pooping in their hay, as they search for food.

How to Prevent Horses From Pooping in Their Hay

Now that we understand why horses may poop in their hay, let’s discuss how to prevent it. Here are a few tips on how to keep your horse from pooping in their hay:

1. Ensure Adequate Feeding Time:

One of the best ways to prevent horses from pooping in their hay is to ensure that they have adequate feeding time. This means providing them with enough time throughout the day to eat, so that they don’t feel the need to forage for food.

2. Provide Variety in Their Diet:

Another way to prevent horses from pooping in their hay is to provide variety in their diet. This can be done by offering different types of hay, as well as other types of feed, such as grains and pellets. Offering variety in their diet will give the horse more options for foraging, and will help to keep them from pooping in their hay.

3. Properly Store the Hay:

Finally, it’s important to properly store the hay to prevent horses from pooping in it. This means keeping the hay in a dry, well-ventilated area that is free of pests and rodents. Additionally, it’s important to make sure the hay is not exposed to direct sunlight, as this can cause it to become moldy and attract pests.


In conclusion, horses can poop in their hay for a variety of reasons, including their natural foraging instinct, poor storage conditions, and insufficient feeding time. Fortunately, by providing the horse with adequate feeding time, offering variety in their diet, and properly storing the hay, owners can help to prevent their horses from pooping in their hay.