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Why Poulticing a Horse's Foot with Cow Manure Can Help Abscesses

Abscesses in a horse's hoof can be extremely painful and difficult to treat. An abscess occurs when bacteria enter the sensitive laminae tissue of the hoof, often through a crack or break in the hoof wall. This causes inflammation, swelling, and a pocket of pus to form inside the hoof. One traditional remedy for stubborn hoof abscesses is a cow manure poultice. This may sound unappealing, but it can be an effective home treatment when other methods have failed. Here's why cow manure works:

  • It's a natural antibiotic. Cow manure contains beneficial bacteria and enzymes that help fight infection. These naturally occurring microbes can help kill the bacteria causing the abscess.

  • It draws out infection. The warm, moist environment created by a manure poultice helps to soften and draw out pus and debris from the abscess. This allows the infection to drain so it can start healing.

  • It reduces inflammation. Cow manure is thought to have anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce swelling and pain in the hoof tissue surrounding the abscess.

  • It softens the hoof. Soaking the hoof in a manure poultice over several days can soften and loosen dead tissue in the hoof wall and sole. This makes it easier for the abscess to burst and drain.

To make a manure poultice, simply pack fresh cow manure around the hoof and wrap it to hold it in place. Re-apply every 1-2 days until the abscess bursts and the pus drains out. Be sure to clean the hoof thoroughly first. The poultice can draw out even stubborn, chronic abscesses that failed to resolve with conventional soaking and poulticing methods. While smelly, cow manure poultices are an economical, effective natural remedy for hoof abscesses in horses. Work with your vet and farrier if your horse's abscess persists or causes lameness despite home treatments. But consider giving this traditional approach a try before turning to antibiotics or more aggressive methods.

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