“It is your legal responsibility to ensure that horses do not starve to death or become distressed during a drought. Therefore, doing nothing is not an option.”
Quote from “Drought Feeding and Management for Horses” by David Nash (Read PDF here)
Detailed information is available for free online on the care of horses and other equines in drought. One critical aspect is to plan in advance, so please read up on this subject and share these resources with your equine friends.
Caring for Horses in Drought
- “Drought Feeding and Management for Horses” by David Nash on the DEPI Victoria website. You can also download a copy from the RIRDC website or purchase it as a booklet which may be better for those for whom a computer version is impractical (Free PDF Download via the green button)
- “Horses, Drought and Winter” on the Victorian Department of Environment and Primary Industries website
- “Feeding Horses During Drought” published by Tania Cubitt, PhD on the feed company Hygain’s website contains some of the text from David Nash’s detailed report linked above. While this appears to be largely duplicated information it is included here as it may be easier to access for some.
Horses are more likely to eat poisonous plants as pasture availability decreases. The book “Plants Poisonous to Horses, An Australian Field Guide” is available as a free PDF Download on the RIRDC website (Green button). It is an excellent full colour guide that every horse owner should have in their files.
In some cases the decision may be necessary to rehome horses to prevent suffering, however this needs to be done carefully as no-one wants to rehome thir horses only to have them end up in a worse situation.
- “Responsible Rehoming” by Quest Equine Welfare
Horse Welfare and Rescue Organisations
Please view our directory of organisations around Australia that help horses and other equines in need. While they may not be able to take in all horses in need that come their way, particularly if there are a large number of horses affected, they may have information about other efforts to assist such as hay donation drives, rehoming services and other organisations or people offering assistance. Networking can really help in times of crisis, and it is definitely worth taking a look at what is out there on social media.
One of the most difficult decisions that any horse person has to make for the welfare of their horses is whether or not euthanasia is the best option to prevent suffering. Unfortunately in times of drought this is a very real decision that some have to face when all other options are exhausted. Relevant articles:
- “Euthanasia” by Quest Equine Welfare
Government Information and Assistance
Check your local council area and state government websites as well as information from the federal government.
- Federal Government ~ Department of Agriculture page “Drought Programs and Rural Assistance”
- NSW Department of Primary Industries ~ Drought Page
- Qld Government Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries ~ Drought page
- FarmPoint Tasmanian Government ~ Drought Page
- Drought Information for Victoria ~ DEPI Vic
If you know of additional quality resources that are freely available online that may add to this page please let us know.