Texas has more horses than any other state in the nation, according to Texas Farm Bureau. They say Texas 4 times as many horses as Kentucky. Summer is close. Many horse related activities are beginning in our area. Now is a good time to update your horse vaccinations if you haven’t already done so. Vaccinations are a vital part of health maintenance for your horse. They provide an active immunity to protect the horse against diseases they are intended for. Giving vaccinations does not keep your horse from getting a disease, but it gives your horse’s immune system a head starts in fighting off the disease which usually results in less symptoms, if any at all. It is recommended to vaccinate your horse before you are showing/rodeoing or co-mingling with other outside horses.

The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) recommends that all horses be vaccinated for a core set of vaccines. They include Eastern and Western Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE and WEE respectively), Rabies, Tetanus, and West Nile Virus. Other vaccines are available and considered to be risked-based depending on the activities of the horse and/or location. According to the Texas A&M Veterinary Diagnostic Lab, TVMDL, 98 percetn of west nile cases in horses last year were in non-vaccinated horses. Texas did have some confirmed cases of EEE last year.

Each vaccination has specific guidelines although most require an annual booster. Typically, those booster vaccinations are administered in the spring before the onset of vector season.

Certain horse diseases are spread by vectors such as mosquitos and flies. Vaccinations for diseases that are spread from horse to horse should be timed according to highest exposure or travel and might require more frequent boosting than annually. Specific AAEP guidelines for each vaccination are available at http://

Most horse owners opt to get their vaccinations from their veterinarian, although some of the core vaccines are also available at feed stores/animal supply stores.

In general, you want to purchase vaccinations from a reputable source. Poor handling can lead to ineffective vaccines. Correct administration of vaccines is also paramount and should only be performed by an experienced individual like your veterinarian. Vaccines have become very convenient and are often offered in single doses that include multiple vaccines. A 5-way typically contains EEE, WEE, Tetanus, Flu, and Rhino. A 6-way has the 5-way plus West Nile Virus. Always check the label or ask questions to ensure you are vaccinating for what is recommended. Rabies is not available over the counter and must be administered by a veterinarian in a solitary dose. Start planning your horse’s vaccinations now.

Some veterinary practices offer low-cost vaccine clinics in the spring to provide convenience and savings for the horse owner. You’ll want to vaccinate at least four weeks in advance of vector season to give your horse optimal protection. Foals and young horses usually have a slightly different vaccination protocol than mature using/pleasure horses. Brood mares also have a different vaccination protocol. There is also an equine rattlesnake vaccination available now.

Check with your veterinarian, it is now possible to get a certificate of veterinary inspection (health papers) that is now valid for 6 months instead of the standard 30 days.

Again, it is best to consult your veterinarian before administering equine vaccinations. More information about health management, disease control and vaccinations is available at livestock-species/equine/publications/ under “Best Management

Practices for Equine Disease Prevention.”

Don’t forget rainwater harvesting

Efficient water use is increasing in importance. Especially when you don’t have enough. We were really starting to get dry until we received the much-needed rain a couple of weeks ago.

The question is being that the start of us getting more rain and get us caught up on annual rainfall or was that just a teaser and are we going back dry? We don’t know.

The easiest way to use stored rainwater is for landscaping. In many Texas community’s 40-60 percent of total water use during peak summer months is for landscape irrigation.

Back about eight years ago we were in a serious drought, the water level in Lake Brownwood was way low, we had water use restrictions and we lost many trees. Several folks were catching the used shower water and using it to try to keep their yard trees alive.

Rainwater harvesting allows for efficient use of this valuable resource. Rainwater is high quality water. It helps to reduce flooding and erosion.

A typical rainwater capture and storage system consists of a catchment surface, gutters, downspouts, filtration, a storage tank, and a distribution method. The amount of water caught or “yielded’ depends on the size and surface texture that the rain falls on. Most highly successful family type rainwater harvesting systems utilize the roof of a house, barn, garage, etc.

In general terms a 1-inch rainfall yields approximately 0.6 gallons of water per square foot of

roof or catchment surface. A 2-inch rainfall yields 1.3 gallons of water per square foot of catchment. Provided the catchment surface is considered a “high yield” such as a metal or composition shingle roof. Bare soil is not considered high yield.

It does not take a large catchment surface to yield quite a few gallons of water. So, make sure you plan for a large enough storage tank. For example, a 25’ X 25’ roof = 625 sq. ft. so a 1-inch rain yielding .6 gallons of water x 625 = 375 gallons of water harvested.

Before water is stored it should be filtered. A simple in-line filter is easily made and includes screens placed over gutters at the top of the downspout. A diversion made of up to 6” pvc stand pipe used as roof washing catchment that has a valve at the bottom for cleanout. The standpipe fills up first then the cleaner water is moved past the standpipe into the storage tank.

The bigger the rainfall catchment surface is the more water that can be harvested during any single rain.

Most folks that own rural land are interested in making some improvements. Adding some type of rainwater catchment for wildlife can be done without it being too cost prohibitive and elaborate. In areas where rainfall is short it is recommended to locate wildlife guzzlers within 100 acres of each other to benefit more wildlife. Many wildlife guzzlers are designed to take advantage of the topography and natural slope of the land to improve the gravity flow movement of the water captured.