Monday, June 27, 2011

2011 Equine Science Society Symposium

Recently, the Purina team travelled to Murfreesboro, TN, for the Equine Science Society Symposium. If you’ve never heard of the Equine Science Society, you can learn more about it at their website. The Society is comprised of equine scientists from both academia and industry, and the bi-annual symposium is a place where any significant research in the fields of nutrition, reproduction, exercise physiology, genetics, management, and many other fields pertaining to equine health and management are presented. Basically, anyone doing any “real” research involving equine science will be at this meeting. Many cutting edge ideas and technologies in nutrition and other aspects of horse management are presented here first. This is why I personally had to be there, even if it meant hauling my 8-week old son along with me. He handed the trip very well, by the way, and check out the amount of stuff we needed for just 4 days (good thing we drove and did not fly)!

I also was there to present the data from two of Purina’s research studies in the poster session. One of the studies was entitled “Evaluation of the safety and performance of an enteral diet formulated specifically for horses”. This was the culmination of the research that went into the development of our new liquid diet for sick horses, Wellsolve Well-Gel, which is now currently available to veterinarians. The other study was entitled “Milk composition in mares fed a fat and fiber-added concentrate”. This data was compiled as part of the research that was done for the development of Ultium Growth. Dr. Mary Beth Gordon presented the majority of the data from the Ultium Growth project in an oral presentation, which covered the growth characteristics and the glucose/insulin dynamics of foals on the trial. She did an excellent job presenting the comprehensive data that spanned the course of two years. This data showed that feeding foals a typical sweet feed such as Omolene 300 will not cause them to become insulin resistant. Her final summarizing comment that “carbohydrates are not always evil” was met with hearty applause by the scientists in the audience! Dr. Kathy Williamson also gave a presentation that discussed our use of a GPS tracking system to assess the activity level of the foals on the Ultium Growth research trial. All of these studies were published in the May 2011 issue of the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.

In addition to me and Drs. Gordon and Williamson, Drs. Raub, Davison, and Young, several members of our sales force, and Mike and Andrea from the research farm were in attendance. I am very proud of the fact that I work for a company that remains active in equine nutrition research and emphasizes proven science over fads and hype, which seems to be the norm for many feed and supplement companies these days. I know it is often hard for horse owners to decipher what is real from what is just a “good story”, because marketers do such a good job of making outrageous claims sound so…legitimate. If you ever question the validity of a claim, just ask to be shown the science that supports that claim. At Purina, I can assure you that we go to great lengths to ensure that any claim we make is backed by solid research and proven results.

EHV-1/EHM Update

It appears that the EHV-1/EHM outbreak is coming to an end. New cases are trickling in but in the last few weeks, they have all come from herds/farms that are already under quarantine. The USDA issued its final situation report on June 24th, which is a clear indication that the spread of the disease has been stopped. California, the state which has had the most confirmed cases (22), has reported that they have had no new cases in over 2 weeks.

Horse owners are still cautioned to use common sense and utilized basic biosecurity measures when co-mingling horses, and are reminded that the proper quarantine of newly arrived horses or horses that have been travelling to shows can help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

The cooperation and quick actions on the part of the many state veterinarians’ offices, the NCHA and local equine practitioners are the reason why this didn’t turn out to be a bigger tragedy. Their efforts are to be commended.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sometimes you just need a spa day....

Its summer time in St Louis, and its always a great time to catch up on horse haircuts! Pictured here is one of our research horses at Longview, getting vacuumed and cleaned up. This horse is also doing palatability research for us right now, so it has a "tough day" of taste-testing feeds in the morning and afternoon, being turned out on a drylot/stall combo the rest of the time, with periods of grooming in between!
Notice the stacks of hay outside the stall doors- all the hay is individually weighed for each horse at each feeding. As researchers, its important for us to monitor everything going into each horse. Those piles of hay are ready for the PM feeding. All in a days work!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More research feed going out the door...

Last week, Kent Lanter and I traveled to our horse feed plant in Guilderland, NY. We were there to make a test run of a new feed formulation we are doing research on. This is a different feed than the one we made at Mulberry in April- we have lots of irons in the fire!

As usual, the plant did a great job prepping for our test and having everything on hand we needed. Its always great to work in the plants and get to be involved in the manufacturing process from set up to sewing up the bags! Special thanks to Jim Hopkins, Gary Slater and the rest of the GNY team.

After our successful manufacturing test, the feed was shipped out to 9 different farms across the country to be fed to over 100 horses. Feed is also being shipped to our research farm at Longview where it will continue in trials with our own horses.

And for those of you that know Kent Lanter (aka MacGyver), I was especially lucky to have him in my neck of the woods last week. During his visit, he helped me to feed my horses, do barn chores and fix a window in my sunroom that had been broken for quite some time. Hand him a screwdriver and that man goes to work!

Have a great day! Mary Beth

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Blog back up!!

Sorry everyone for the blog being down!

It was erroneously flagged as spam and was shut down.

We have a lot to catch up on and we will be filling you in over the next few days...

We had a great time at the Equine Science Society Conference, our summer intern has started at the farm and our team has been out and about traveling all over the country.

More to follow this week!