Drought Hurts Horses
Last year's drought was not good for the hay crop, which is the primary food source for horses.
"People faced with the shortage of hay for the horses have been buying hay and alfalfa from the states beyond Missouri and some of the alfalfa contains a lot of selenium," Dr. Philip Johnson of the MU Veterinary School said.
Johnson says selenium is a normal nutrient that can be problematic in large doses.
Some owners couldn't import hay and were forced to feed their horses the bad Missouri hay, which led to a vitamin-E deficiency in a few horses. Now horse owners are watching out for a couple of symptoms. Weight loss or the loss of hair from the mane and tail, and cracking in the feet are a few red flags that point to selenium poisoning.
Weakness, loss of muscle mass, trembling muscles and the tendency for the horse to want to get off its feet can all be signs of a vitamin-E deficiency. If your horse is showing any of these symptoms, Johnson says to take your horse to the vet. However, he also says a simple blood test may not show effects selenium has had on the horse.
"The diagnosis is based on circumstances, importation of alfalfa from a problematic area for example," Johnson said
Horse owners can look forward to a better hay crop this time around.
"As far as mineral deficiency caused by a drought, we don't see any of that this year, we don't expect it," Johnson said
Johnson also says that if a horse is showing these symptoms, all horses who are eating the same food should be tested. All of the horses effected are expected to make full recoveries.