"Haylage intolerance” in horses?

Last changed: 26 April 2021
Close-up rear view of a horse with runic manure on the legs. Photo.

This research project aims to map feeding, management and faecal composition in horses showing symptoms of a condition known as free faecal liquid, and to compare them with horses free of these symptoms in a case-control study.

Some horses may react with free faecal water, or two-phase faeces with one liquid and one solid phase, particularly when fed wrapped forages. Some horses get free of the symptoms when fed hay or at pasture, while some horses do not but show the same symptoms when fed hay or when grazing. It is not known why these symptoms occurs, which background mechanisms are present, what the symptoms mean or if they may lead to health problems such as chronic diarrhoea, colic, colitis etc. The liquid phase of the affected horses poses a hygienic problem with dirty animals,  and the skin around anus and on the inside of the hindlegs may become irritated from the constant presence of faecal liquid.

We are interested in if there are any explanations to be found for the symptoms in feeding and management of the horses, and if faecal composition differs in case and control horses. This project therefore comprise both collection of feeding and management data as well as analysis of forages and faeces from case and control horses. Forage and faecal samples are analysed for chemical, biochemical and microbial composition using different techniques including classic microbial cultivation as well as DNA-sequencing. Several master student projects and minor method studies are connected to this project as well (standardization of pH-measurements in equine faeces, presence of equine corona virus in equine faecal samples etc).

Project manager:

Cecilia Müller

PhD student:

Katrin Lindroth


This project is ongoing from 2017 - 2019 and is financed by  the Swedish-Norwegian Foundation for Equine Research. The PhD-project runs from november 2016 to december 2020.