Beyond the Drought

drought in southland

After what seems to have been the summer that never ended, the Equine Vets have been kept busy around the region tending to all things horsey.

Unknown ObjectLike other livestock species in the region, the dry summer has presented many challenges for horses from both a health and a performance point of view. While our spring was fairly typical of a Southland spring (following on from what seemed to be the longest, wettest winter) our breeding season got off to a pretty reliable start. The Standardbred breeding calendar was pretty regimented with set days of scanning and breeding and it didn't seem long before the end of January had arrived. Pregnancy rates for young fertile mares were good, with wet mares in good body condition conceiving well. Older, more difficult mares proved to be more of a challenge. As per usual, a run of grey colder days around Christmas and New Year resulted in some mares shutting down or having anovulatory follicles - temporarily putting the brakes on. In terms of foals being born, there are some stunning looking foals on the ground across all breeds, the good grass growth last summer and into winter appears to have paid off with the quality and health of foals in general. Hopefully they will continue to grow out well for all the owners. Our normal run of retained foetal membranes post foaling is a timely reminder that Southland soils are generally deficient in selenium and while mares may winter in good condition, they still require adequate trace elements during pregnancy.

The hard ground around the entire region has resulted in a number of horses ‘jarring up’ or going unsound. Modifications in shoeing, exercise regimens and the addition of joint supplements have helped these horses immensely. The lack of rain heading into the autumn has impacted those that are hunting with reports of very hard ground conditions. When our rain finally arrives, we will no doubt see the development of other problems including laminitis.

- Heather Busby


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