The Veterinary record2002; 151(22); 658-662; doi: 10.1136/vr.151.22.658

Study of crib-biting and gastric inflammation and ulceration in young horses.

Abstract: Nineteen young horses that had recently started to perform the stereotypy of crib-biting were compared with 16 non-stereotypic horses for 14 weeks. After initial observations of their behaviour and an endoscopic examination of the condition of their stomachs, the horses were randomly allocated to a control or an antacid diet At the start of the trial, the stomachs of the crib-biting foals were significantly more ulcerated and inflamed than the stomachs of the normal foals. In addition, the faecal pH of the crib-biting foals (6.05) was significantly lower than that of the normal foals (6.58). The antacid diet resulted in a significant improvement in the condition of the horses' stomachs. The crib-biting behaviour declined in most of the foals, regardless of their diet, but tended to decline to a greater extent in the foals on the antacid diet.
Publication Date: 2002-12-25 PubMed ID: 12498408DOI: 10.1136/vr.151.22.658Google Scholar: Lookup
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This research observes the correlation between crib-biting behavior in young horses and the condition of their stomachs, as well as the impact of an antacid diet on both.

Study Overview

  • The investigation compared nineteen young horses, which had recently developed the habit of crib-biting, with sixteen normal (non-crib-biting) horses over a period of fourteen weeks.
  • Initial behavior observations and endoscopic examination of the horses’ stomachs were carried out.
  • Subsequently, the horses were randomly assigned to two groups – one following a control diet and the other an antacid diet.

Initial Findings

  • At the study’s onset, the crib-biting horses’ stomachs were noticeably more ulcerated and inflamed compared to the normal horses’ stomachs.
  • The crib-biting horses also had a lower faecal pH of 6.05 compared to 6.58 in the non-crib biting horses.

Impact of Antacid Diet

  • After assignment to the antacid diet, it was observed there was a significant improvement in the condition of the horses’ stomachs.
  • There was also a reduction in the frequency of crib-biting behavior amongst the majority of the foals, regardless of their diet.
  • However, the study found that the horses on the antacid diet showed a greater tendency to decrease their crib-biting behavior.


  • The study discovered a link between crib-biting behavior in young horses and increased stomach ulceration and inflammation.
  • An antacid diet appears to have a beneficial effect on both reducing crib-biting behavior and improving the condition of the horse’s stomach.
  • Though crib-biting behavior reduced in majority of the foals irrespective of their diet, the reduction was more pronounced in those on the antacid diet.

Cite This Article

Nicol CJ, Davidson HP, Harris PA, Waters AJ, Wilson AD. (2002). Study of crib-biting and gastric inflammation and ulceration in young horses. Vet Rec, 151(22), 658-662.


ISSN: 0042-4900
NlmUniqueID: 0031164
Country: England
Language: English
Volume: 151
Issue: 22
Pages: 658-662

Researcher Affiliations

Nicol, C J
  • Department of Clinical Veterinary Science, University of Bristol, Langford House, Bristol BS40 5DU.
Davidson, H P D
    Harris, P A
      Waters, A J
        Wilson, A D

          MeSH Terms

          • Animal Husbandry / methods
          • Animals
          • Antacids / therapeutic use
          • Behavior, Animal
          • Diet / veterinary
          • Endoscopy, Gastrointestinal / veterinary
          • Feces / chemistry
          • Female
          • Gastritis / diet therapy
          • Gastritis / physiopathology
          • Gastritis / veterinary
          • Horse Diseases / diet therapy
          • Horse Diseases / physiopathology
          • Horse Diseases / psychology
          • Horses
          • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
          • Male
          • Random Allocation
          • Stereotyped Behavior / physiology
          • Stomach Ulcer / diet therapy
          • Stomach Ulcer / physiopathology
          • Stomach Ulcer / veterinary
          • Treatment Outcome
          • Weaning


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