Buzz From The Barn: Is your Horse ready for Spring?

Yesterday it was 36 degrees, windy and raining here in Central Texas. Today it is 65 degrees, sunshiny and calm. My horses are out napping in the sun after a miserable day yesterday locked in the barn. Drastic weather changes during the spring can take a toll on a horse’s system. Other factors, such as an increase in parasite and insect activity, can also cause problems. Here are two areas to address.

Springtime Colic
Colic is one concern with volatile spring weather. Horses, if allowed, will consume more grass or hay in anticipation of colder weather. Icy cold water may negatively affect water consumption. The extra fiber, decreased drinking and lack of mobility can all combine to create an impaction type colic. Cutting back on hay feeding as temperatures warm up is a good plan. Offering bran mashes or adding warm water to some soaked hay cubes can get extra water into a horse’s system even if you can’t heat all the drinking water. Making sure your horse gets some exercise will insure proper gut motility. Extra probiotics and digestive enzymes, combined with blue green algae helps support good digestion especially during stress from weather changes.

Steps to prevent colic during spring weather:

  • Cut back on hay feeding when temperatures turn warmer
  • Warm the drinking water or offer bran mashes or soaked hay cubes
  • Make sure your horse moves around
  • Feed probiotics and digestive enzymes

Springtime Parasites
Parasites and insects increase numbers in the spring. The warmer days combined with moisture are the best conditions for hatching new populations of these annoying creatures. Do fecal egg counts before routinely deworming horses. The best time to check fecal exams is between the new and full moon. Only deworm those horses with significant egg counts. Use the gentlest product that will be effective. Use digestive conditioning products at the rate of 15 capsules/ 1000 pounds during each full moon to increase your horse’s resistance to worms penetrating his gut wall.

Insects, such as flies and mosquitoes are annoying but most horses handle them fine. Some horses have severe allergies to gnats and this condition is called sweet itch. Insect allergies are often related to poor digestion and liver function. Blue green algae is one of the best digestive and liver support products because it is high in blood cleansing chlorophyll. As little as 4 tablets or a tsp a day can help eliminate insect allergies but it is important to feed it year round and not start only after the insect season is in full swing.

Dealing with parasites and insects:

  • Do regular fecal checks between the new and full moon
  • Deworm only horses with high egg counts
  • Use digestive conditioning to help build resistance to internal parasites
  • Feed blue green algae to help with digestive and liver function

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Unless otherwise attributed, all material is written and edited by Madalyn Ward, DVM. Copyright (c) 2018 and Madalyn Ward, DVM. All rights reserved.

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