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University of Minnesota Extension

Horse pasture frost and drought concerns

Quick facts

  • Be able to identify wilted leaves, such as maple and prunus species, that may harm your horse.

  • To prevent the risk of colic and founder, keep horses off of pastures for at least a week after a killing frost.

  • Sorghum-sudangrass can cause cyanide poisoning in horses after a fall frost, especially nonkilling frosts.

  • Don’t feed horses hay that contains more than 2 percent nitrate.

  • If buying sorghum-sudangrass during a drought year, test the forage for cyanide and nitrate content before feeding it.

Stress can cause changes in a plant that may put your horse’s health at risk after ingestion. Frost and drought are two common plants stressors to be aware of in Minnesota. Prevent related health issues in your horse by understanding when and which plants can be a problem.

Grazing horses after a frost


Drought concerns


Krishona Martinson, Extension equine specialist; Lynn Hovda, DVM, and Mike Murphy, DVM,  College of Veterinary Medicine; and Paul Peterson, College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resource Sciences

Reviewed in 2018

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