The Importance of “Poop”

I am currently a sheep farmer and have been for seven years. Prior to being a sheep farmer I raised and trained horses. I have decades of raising horses. My favorite thing to do is to breed horses and raise foals. I love baby horses.

A daily activity that has become so routine I do not realize I am doing it most of the time is to look at the poop. Yes, I look on the ground making sure the poop is the right color, size and texture of every animal. And on the occasion I see an animal releasing poop, I watch. Sounds a little perverted, but in truth it is very helpful to a person raising animals.

Animals can not verbally speak English or other languages spoken by humans. Animals can not tell me their tummy feels bad or they feel bloated, until the pain is so extreme the cause is life threatening.

When my grandson was three years old, he was living with us. I was raising horses, we had a few foals on the ground. I was walking around using a small stick to look at the horse poop on the ground.

He asked “Granny what are you doing? That is yucky.”

I told him I was checking for worms (parasites) in the horse poop, to see if our horses had worms. Worms make horses sick. So I look for worms to know if I need to give them medicine (dewormer) so they do not get really sick.

“Oh” he replies, “What do these worms look like?”

On a different day while helping my husband put grain in buckets to feed each horse, he saw my husband put corn oil in the buckets and mix it. “What is that for Grandpa?” he asked. My husband always being humorous, replied “It makes the horses poop straight. This is their poop straight medicine.” The truth reason for putting oil in the horse feed was to make their hair coat shine.

The next day, while doing feeding and watering the horses with me, he asks, “Granny, how do you know if a horse is pooping straight? All I see are piles.”

I asked where he heard “poop straight”. After being informed of his and Grandpa’s conversation. I showed him how horse poop should look. A couple of the foals had really loose poop, so I showed him what poop looks like with they were starting or had a tummy ache. These foals had some digestive stress as their mothers were in foal heat, and it is common for foals to get running poop.

Currently, I am caring for a lamb who I purchased that does not have a mommy to nurse from. This little lamb was not doing gaining weight well with the flock. I wanted to make sure it was eating enough. When I took the lamb out of the flock, it became more stressed. The next day, the poop was runny or scours, its urine and poop were the same consistency. It is not good for a lamb to have scours, they dehydrate very quickly. I treated the lamb. Every day I check the lamb. I have started cutting the top of grass to feed the lamb. Yesterday, the lamb’s poop was not as liquidy, but still runny. A sign that things might be getting better. Today, the lamb’s poop was solid, not shaped right, but definitely not runny, a good sign.

Looking at poop tells me how the digestive system is working in the animal and if the animal is sick or not doing well.

When we go to a doctor visit, are you ever asked “How are your bowel movements?”

Poop is important for animals and humans.

amtolle