Friday, January 31, 2014

Budweiser Clydesdale commercial "A Hero's Welcome" for the Big Game!!!

We at Purina Animal Nutrition are so proud to be working with the folks at Budweiser and supporting the nutrition efforts of these magnificent Clydesdales!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Take a tour of our new palatability barn

We are now officially reopened for research since our ribbon cutting on Wednesday, January 15th.  For the event, we hosted a group of senior management, staff and dignitaries on a tour of our new research facility, which started in our newly renovated palatability barn.  Here are some pictures to give you a “snap shot” of the experience. 

When you walk in the front door, you are greeted with our new lab space which is over twice the size of our previous area.  On the left, we have some Quick Facts about the horse unit.  Did you know we have run over 300 tests on our high speed treadmill?  And we currently feed 570 lbs of Purina horse feed to our own horses on the farm every day? And by the way, we are expecting 10 foals this year, but our first due date is March 1.

This large room also neatly stores and organizes our microscopes, centrifuge, sampling materials, weigh stations, health supplies and more.  We have so much new space, our shelves almost look bare, but we know they will be filled in no time.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Clydesdales Check Up

A few weeks ago Mike Jerina and I traveled to Grant’s Farm to visit some of our favorite customers – the Budweiser Clydesdales.  It’s always great to play with these fabulous animals, as well as check on the new arrivals from Warm Springs Ranch (the Budweiser Clydesdale breeding farm in Boonville, Missouri) and say “good luck and see you later!” to the boys heading to Merrimack, NJ, to start training for their careers on one of the traveling hitches.

This last fall, several of my favorite boys headed to Merrimack, including Austin and Preston.  Hopefully, they will both do great in their training and I’ll get to see them pulling one of the wagons someday.  Altogether, seven horses headed east in the fall, and another four (at least) will be going in the spring. Lester Nisley (head trainer of the Clydesdales) will be very busy getting all of them ready!

Austin, when I first met him as a two year old.  Hope to see him on a hitch!
      Axel (far left) and Preston (second from right) are now at Merrimack in training.
Yes, I do kiss a lot of Clydesdales!  How can I help it?? J
As far as nutrition, we make sure that all the horses going into training are transitioned to performance diets prior to the trip to help reduce potential stress from the changing environment.  We also make sure that they are maintaining appropriate body weight and condition to prepare them for the trip to the East coast and the new work program they will be starting.  Once they arrive at Merrimack and get adjusted to their new digs, they will begin Lester’s training program.  It’s a very different lifestyle at the Merrimack facility compared to the leisure they all enjoyed at Grant’s Farm!

Several weanlings (now yearlings) arrived this fall from Warm Springs Ranch to spend the next few years growing and maturing at Grant’s Farm.  The babies are always fun to watch and interact with. They are just like all equine youngsters – playful, inquisitive, and energetic! 

Madonna is telling Blueberry to get out of her picture, and Kelly is just hoping for a carrot!
Our goal for the growing horses is to ensure that each individual’s diet is appropriate to maintain body condition as well as provide essential nutrients for optimal growth.  We want to give each youngster the best opportunity to become a member of the Budweiser Clydesdale team, whether on one of the traveling hitches, or as a broodmare back at Warm Springs Ranch.

If you get a chance to travel to St. Louis in the spring, summer or fall, be sure to visit Grant’s Farm for a tour and you can meet these lovely animals for yourself!

Friday, January 10, 2014

In the shadow of giants….

A few weeks ago, several of my co-workers and I had the opportunity to take part in a behind-the-scenes tour of Grant’s Farm, home of the up and coming and retired Budweiser Clydesdales.  Many thanks to Dr. Katie Young who organized the tour.  Dr. Young and Purina Animal Nutrition Center Equine Research Unit manager, Mike Jerina, are working closely with the managers of the Budweiser Clydesdales to optimize their nutritional programs and to learn more about how to best assess body weight and body condition in these incredible horses.  The supervisor of the Grant’s Farm facility, Amy Trout, and her assistant Michelle Speck, graciously spent over two hours with our group of Purina Animal Nutrition employees teaching us about the management of the Clydesdales, the Budweiser Clydesdale program of assessing and training the future hitch horses and many of the unique aspects of caring for and nurturing the Clydesdales young and old. 

Photo provided by:  Kent Lanter
Rudy is retired from the Budweiser Clydesdale hitch team and enjoying the “life of Riley” being pampered and adored by staff and visitors alike at Grant’s Farm.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year, Happy New Barn!

Happy New Year everyone!  You may have noticed that we didn’t have a lot of blog posts directly from the Purina Animal Nutrition Center the second half of 2013, and that is because our palatability barn looked like this: 

Our team was really put to the test in 2013 as they managed horses and research projects despite bulldozers, cranes, jackhammers and all things construction related.  Furthermore, Mike, Andrea, John, Margaret and Tim literally joined the construction crew full force and were hands-on with all kinds of day to day prep, building and finishing work.  We could not have accomplished what we did without their willingness to learn, help and jump in on all kinds of projects from tear down to grass seeding.  I have often said that we have the greatest employees in the world at the research farm, and boy did this year prove it.  So we are very excited that our palatability barn now looks like this: