Drought: Managing Horses in a Long Dry Spell

Drought conditions, exacerbated by the long-term effects of last year’s dry season on hay production, are making life tough for horse owners in several areas of the country. According to a May 29 report from the <A

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Drought conditions, exacerbated by the long-term effects of last year’s dry season on hay production, are making life tough for horse owners in several areas of the country. According to a May 29 report from the U.S. Drought Monitor, large areas of California, Arizona, Colorado, and Florida are in D3 (severe) drought condition. Most of the land in Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia is  categorized as D3, with the rest of the areas in these states in slightly less-severe stages of drought.


“Last year was a dry year, and it just seems to have escalated,” said Cindy McCall, PhD, professor in the animal sciences department at Auburn University and equine specialist for the state extension service.


McCall said that  Alabama pastures have all but turned to dust. According to a May 14 National Agriculture Statistics Service weekly report, there has been a 16.04-inch precipitation deficit in Alabama so far this year. Topsoil moisture that week was categorized as “very dry” or “dry” in 86% of the state. Other southeastern states are similarly affected.


“It just looks like concrete, basically,” McCall said. “There’s nothing left for the most part

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Written by:

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

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