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Drylot & Horse Health: Preserving Herd Health and Managing Urine
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Drylot & Horse Health: Preserving Herd Health and Managing Urine

In areas such as California, it’s common to find boarding facilities that don’t have available pasture. Many of these facilities are drylot confinement operations, which can create additional health concerns for owners, trainers, and veterinarians.

Confinement of horses in a drylot environment amplifies possibilities for infectious disease outbreaks, due to the close-quarters living arrangements within these facilities. With that in mind, caretakers should adhere to routine vaccination schedules for all horses on the property. Once horses create a latrine area, they tend to continue to use it unless you change your horse’s location, he alters behavior, or there is some other underlying medical factor. It is not all bad for a horse to use one general area for urination, as it often makes stall cleaning faster and easier, but it is recommendable that you use a pelleted bedding product alone or in combination with flaked shavings to soak up urine. 

Bored horses might be inclined to eat shavings, which can create digestive problems and further complications. You can use slow feeders to help minimize this tendency. If strong urine odors and ammonia levels become an issue, you can apply a commercial product to help neutralize them.

In any environment, insects are nuisances to horses and people alike. The best approach to insect control is good sanitation as the foundational strategy. Minimize the presence of standing water and moist organic matter (e.g., soiled bedding, wet waste, and feed) where insects like to breed. At least every three days, remove and compost manure to break the life cycle of fly reproduction. Apply insecticide per manufacturer's directions.

Fending for horses that don’t have pasture access requires sound management practices similar to those used with any other horse. Care and chores associated with drylot confinement, however, can be more labor-intensive for the owner. Pay attention to environmental challenges and herd health to make your job easier and help your horses to thrive physically and mentally.

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