Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas! Don't forget the horses!

Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you are enjoying the day with family and friends and eating plenty of those "once-a-year" goodies. Don't forget goodies for the horses either! Mine always get a bag of carrots for Christmas. If your horse is "sugar-sensitive", stay away from treats like carrots and apples. Some great low-carb treat alternatives for your horse include alfalfa cubes, hay pellets, sugar-free peppermints, prunes, celery, and commercially available low-carb treats (i.e. Skode's Horse Treats).

Please click on the link below to watch a Christmas video message from all of us here at Purina, and become our Facebook friend if you haven't already!!/video/video.php?v=1608949977072

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Monday, December 20, 2010

Where did fall go! Fall was very busy for us here at the farm, we have have worked through several studies, hosted our veterinarian conference, and have been preparing for winter. Winter has hit us already with some unseasonably low temperatures, a little snow , and some ice. Being a farm manager means thinking of your employees and animals constantly, and moreso during inclement weather. Working outdoors when temperatures are in the teens and the wind is blowing is downright uncomfortable but entirely necessary, the horses have to eat! Keeping your horses comfortable and healthy can be a bit of a challenge as well! We take breaks to warm up (and drink lots of hot coffee!) and check the horses a little more frequently to ensure they can get to water and feed without trouble. We take comfort in the fact that there are other horse people enduring the same thing we are to take care of their animals, it just comes with the territory.

Friday, December 17, 2010

American Association of Equine Practioners and Well Gel launch!

On December 4-8 our Horse Business Group headed to Baltimore, MD for the AAEP convention. We had a large booth in the trade show and we also attended various scientific sessions and meetings. It is always a busy trip for us, but a great chance to see and catch up with all the veterinarians and veterinary technicians that we work with.

Most importantly, this year we launched a new product in our WellSolve product line, WellSolve W/G Well-Gel. This product is a nutritionally complete supplement for horses that is designed for enteral or oral administration, formulated to supply 100% of the horse's nutrient requirements when fed as directed. The proprietary formula allows for easy administration through a nasogastric tube, and it will be available to veterinarians starting in January. The research on this product has been led by Dr. Kelly Vineyard and the product has been successfully tested and utilized in equine vet clinics across the country. Well-Gel will be distributed via veterinary supply houses such as MWI, Milburn Equine and others.
We had a Well-Gel "ease of tubing" demonstration going on in the booth and as long as we didn't let Randy Raub handle the tube, we all stayed pretty clean.

Once again, our horse themed bags were a hit and we gave away over 1000 of them in 3 days.
Enjoy the pics!

Mary Beth

Thursday, December 16, 2010

What May Be Floating Around in Your Barn?

Winter brings cold temperatures and inclement weather. We want to keep our horses as comfortable as possible, which to us means keeping them warm and snug indoors when the wind is howling outside. So, we blanket them, put them in a warm stall, close all the doors and windows and feed them extra hay…they will be so warm and happy, won’t they? Well, they may be warm but they may also have trouble breathing.

Barns are often built for warmth and protection more than air flow and ventilation. Measurement of respirable organic particles or particulate matter in horse barns has shown potential danger for horses housed inside. The combination of structural design, hay and bedding stored in or near the barn, tractors and equipment running through from time to time, activities such as sweeping aisles and cleaning stalls, and possibly a connecting indoor arena can result in the level of airborne organic dust reaching damaging levels. Airborne particles in numbers greater than 2.4 mg/cubic meter (M3) of air have been shown to increase the incidence of airway disease in horses. In a study measuring air quality, most horse barns measured 40 – 60 mg/M3. The breathing zone during feeding was often 30 – 40 times higher. Measured particles included dust, endotoxins, mold spores, ammonia and silica from arena dust. Hay has been measured at 19.3 mg/M3, and bedding, especially straw bedding, can be even higher, making hay and bedding major contributors. All these airborne particles can wreak havoc on respiratory function in stabled horses.

Horses have an amazing respiratory system that is exceptionally equipped to function during exercise. Respiration rate (RR) varies dramatically from rest, 10 – 12 breaths per minute (bpm), to intense exercise, where it can increase to 150 – 180 bpm. Tidal volume (TV), the volume of air that is inhaled and exhaled with a normal breath, ranges from 4 – 7 liters per breath at rest. During strenuous exercise TV increases to 10 – 12 liters. Minute volume (MV) is the total volume of air inhaled and exhaled per minute (MV=TV X RR). Horses at rest have MV averaging 100 liters per minute, but during very hard work MV averages an astounding 1500 liters per minute. Even at rest, this is a tremendous amount of air flow into and out of the lungs. When the inhaled air contains high numbers of respirable organic particles, the potential for irritation is high. Add exercise and the increased respiration rate may cause deeper penetration of particulate matter. In addition to air quality concerns, winter also brings frigid air temperature. Research has shown that cold weather exercise can cause asthma-like airway disease in performance horses. Repeated work in cold temperatures can lead to chronic airway inflammation.

Non-infectious respiratory disease with airway inflammation in horses is a common clinical problem when horses are stabled. Some studies suggest that 25 – 80% of stabled horses suffer from Recurrent Airway Obstruction (RAO), commonly known as “heaves”, and Inflammatory Airway Disease (IAD). Horses may suffer from chronic coughing, decreased performance, difficulty breathing and abnormal lung sounds. Signs do not become apparent until a large number of airways are affected, and therefore many more horses may be affected than is realized. Once particulate matter is in the lower airways, the body sees it as foreign material and mounts an immune response. Inflammation is an important immune system weapon but can have negative effects as well. Airway walls thicken, become hypersensitive, spasm and lung function is impaired. Blood oxygenation decreases which causes increased respiratory rate and tidal volume. Most horses with RAO will develop an exaggerated expiratory “push” and a “heave line” which is a ridge of muscle along the lower abdomen that develops when the horse works harder to exhale against collapsing airways.

The most effective treatment for non-infectious respiratory disease is to prevent exposure to respirable organic matter and to limit hard work during extreme cold temperatures. If horses cannot be kept outdoors, then the focus should be on reducing airborne particles in the barn. Improving ventilation and feeding low-dust feed can make a huge difference. Feeding hay in feeders at ground level instead of hay racks above the grain is one step that may help, but hay should be thoroughly soaked in water and fed wet to effectively reduce dust and molds. Affected horses may not show improvement until hay is totally replaced by feeding a complete feed with hay built in. Purina Omolene 400 and Equine Senior are low-dust feeds containing quality fiber sources to replace hay. Many horses with RAO or IAD cannot tolerate any hay, even wet hay, and do much better eating one of these products. Keep in mind that horses eating hay in adjoining stalls can still cause problems for affected horses.

Any time you notice coughing or labored breathing in your horse, make an appointment with your veterinarian for a thorough exam to determine the cause and the appropriate course of action to provide relief.