Ask The Vet
This is the area where you can get answers to commonly asked questions and even ask a question of your own to the Vet.
Q: When should I vaccinate my foal?
Even before the foal hits the ground newborn health can and should be assisted by vaccinating your pregnant mare prior to foaling. This will protect your foal as antibodies are provided through the first milk produced from mares that are vaccinated one month prior to foaling. The foal receives this immunity by drinking the mare’s colostrum during the first 12-24 hours of life. As the foal reaches weaning age (4 to 6 months) the maternal antibodies wane leaving them susceptible to various disease-causing agents.
At this time, we continue their protection by vaccinating foals at four to five months of age. All vaccines need a second administration several weeks later in order to stimulate an adequate immune response. It takes two to three weeks before the initial vaccination and its booster can achieve maximum protection. During this time it is important to minimize the exposure of your foal to infectious agents. We recommend that a suitable vaccination schedule be discussed and administered by your veterinarian. An allergic reaction is always possible, and a veterinarian can counteract a potential tragedy.
If you have any questions, please call our office and we will be glad to answer your questions.
Q: With cold weather coming, I am concerned that my horse does not drink much water. How can I get him to drink more?
Horses need less water during the winter, and therefore, naturally drink less. However, often they drink too little which can lead to mild dehydration and impaction colic. You can counter this by simply offering your horses warm water during the winter.
Studies have shown that horses will drink 40 percent more warm water than near-freezing water and will drink the most within three hours after feeding or after the water containers were refilled. So whether your horses likes to drink outside or inside, offer them warm water at least twice a day. If you can, water water offered at night check is also a good idea.
Turnout is a bit more challenging. Automatic waterers with a heater are a good solution for outdoor wintering horses. Make sure it is properly grounded as stray voltage will drive some horses away from water; it can be so slight that you won’t feel anything when your hand is in the water. If this is not an option, then carry buckets of warm water out twice a day.
One way to aid your horse’s thirst desire is to add a high quality powdered trace mineral supplement to their grain or water. A good product to use is Rush Creek Minerals. One or two tablespoons added to the grain usually will help with increasing water consumption. You can also provide an extra bucket in their stall that contains only the Rush Creek Supplement and let your horse have it free choice.
Increasing the amount of water a horse drinks is an easy and inexpensive way to keep your horse healthy during the winter months.
Q: Do probiotics help my horse’s digestive tract?
The horse’s digestive tract and hindgut microflora produce all the enzymes a horse needs to digest feed properly and have done so for centuries. There is no scientifically controlled data in a reasonable number of animals to demonstrate any improvement in digestibility as a result of adding enzymes to a quality, well balanced diet. It is an unnecessary expense to which too many people have fallen victim. Yeast, on the other hand has been added to horse diets over the years primarily as a B-vitamin supplement. There has been recent research studies evaluating other potential benefits such as increased fiber and phosphorus digestibility. Small improvements have been documented but is doubtful that an increase in fiber digestibility from 39% to 42% or phosphorus digestibility from 23% to 27% has any significant impact on nutrition. Is yeast harmful? Absolutely not! Should it be the main reason you buy a feed? It wouldn’t be mine. Most high quality horse feeds today contain small amounts of yeast and other cultures such as lactobacillus. History has shown that horses have grown and performed well without the addition of these products and are not a replacement for top quality feeds and good feeding management.