Drought Weather Concerns
Posted: July 4, 2012
By: Ann Swinker, Extension Horse Specialist, PSU
During a very dry season, some plants begin to accumulate Nitrates. Slightly high nitrate concentrations can result in broodmares aborting. By the time the source of the problem is determined, the horses will have suffered severe effects. Horses avoid these types of plants under normal circumstances, but when grass is scarce or pastures are overgrazed, they will sometimes turn to them for nourishment. The best solution for ingesting these types of plants is to remove animals from affected forage.
Horses on over-grazed or
drought-stricken pastures will need to be fed hay or other alternative forage
sources to keep them from eating infected weeds or accumulator plants. Extreme weather conditions can place a heavy
strain on pastures, hay fields, and feedstuff growth, which could mean you need
to supplement your horse's diet with alternative forages.
Horses require more water during a drought because they are forced to eat more fibrous, less palatable grasses and weeds. In addition to hydration, horses require extra water to maintain normal gut function.
Drought conditions can also severely affect the water source quality. Because of evaporation, natural water sources can contain higher concentrations of minerals and/or contaminants that would be diluted under normal circumstances. Stagnant water pools are also ideal
conditions for blooms of blue-green algae, which is very toxic to horses and can even cause death. If you are concerned about water contaminants, consider having your water tested, or fence horses away from the stagnant water. You may need to apply water to dry lots. Your local extension service can help you find a lab to test your water, hay or pasture. http://extension.psu.edu/counties