Omega Fields

  • Equine Arthritis: Dealing with the Pain

    Written By Walt Friedrich

    Ask anyone who suffers from arthritis what it’s like, and you’ll hear just one word repeated and repeated – pain. And you won’t have to look very far to find people to ask. In some cases, you don’t even need to ask – you can tell just by watching them move; they don’t like to because it hurts.

    We’re not alone in coping with this painful monster – our horses, like humans, are quite prone to arthritis, and they hurt just as much as we do.

    We hope medical science will soon be able to control it, even cure it, both horse and human, but until then, because it’s a chronic degenerative disease, the prognosis isn’t good. Once it’s in our joints, it’s there for keeps, and if left untreated, it just gets worse. So we compensate: we medicate to mitigate the symptoms. We avoid activities that we know will hurt.

    Lucky us, humans can do that. Horses not so much. They rely upon us to see and recognize their symptoms, then do something about it to ease their pain, just as we do our own. Problem is, sometimes we don’t “get the message” when our horse hurts. But the clues are there, you can bet on it. We need to recognize what their body language is saying.

    Fortunately, most of us can spot a horse that’s in obvious pain, though we may not be able to pinpoint exactly where it’s centered. Here are some of the general symptoms that tell us that our horse is hurting:

    • An obvious limp • A listless, depressed attitude.

    • Decreased appetite.

    • Lies down more than usual

    • Doesn’t move around as much as usual, less interested in playing • Separates himself from his herdmates

    • When standing, eases the weight load on an involved leg by “pointing” a forefoot or “flexing” a hind foot to let the opposite leg take up the weight burden.

    • When ridden, seems stiff, may refuse certain movements such as collection, jumps, certain turns and the like.

    We get a break when examining specifically for arthritis: it is a disease that’s centered in the joints, which narrows down which areas we need to concentrate on. Here are some of the symptoms of arthritic pain:

    • Joint swelling • Warmth around a joint

    • Reduced ability to move the joint

    • Stiffness, especially in the morning

    • Misshapen joint

    • When picking his feet, you notice less dirt, hay, manure packed in

    When we do see the symptoms, we bring in the vet to do another evaluation, and if our suspicions are confirmed, our next thought is how do we get rid of the problem? Can’t we just take a pill?

    Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet – not yet, anyway, though science is trying hard to develop one. As a chronic degenerative condition quite possibly stemming from an autoimmune problem, and at this point is incurable, we can’t get rid of arthritis by any simple medication.

    Fortunately, we can deal with it and make our horse’s life immensely easier. There are effective lifestyle changes that can reduce pain, improve function, and arrest further joint damage. First, start a slimming down program if he’s overweight. That alone will greatly help joint pain in his legs and feet.

    Controlled movement will help relieve stiffness and reduce pain and fatigue. Gentle daily exercise is excellent therapy, particularly important because affected joints need plenty movement to prevent permanent restriction of motion. Thirty minutes per day of steady walking, if his lameness permits, is usually enough. It will help to pick up an affected leg frequently and flex or extend the joints a dozen times or so. Free-range turnout is an excellent lifestyle for all horses, but note that it does not replace actual therapy.

    Though inconclusive, some positive results have been reported from supplementation with bioflavonoids, and especially glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates. These two natural substances are readily available for purchase; they stimulate formation and repair of joint cartilage. In addition, add antioxidants such as vitamins C and E, plus a generous dosage of omega-3.

    Applying a liniment such as Absorbine is quite helpful. It creates a mild inflammation that increases blood flow and eases the pain. Bandaging is also helpful because it holds in heat, but it’s mostly effective only on the fetlock (ankle). Other joints are better served using Neoprene wraps, but be careful if you use Neoprene over liniment – some liniments are irritating under Neoprene, and it is important to avoid irritating the skin. Read the liniment label for warnings. Massage the dosed area for ten or fifteen minutes after applying liniment and before bandaging.

    Those sore joints will very much appreciate heat. Gentle heat is the magic touch for the pain of arthritis under everyday conditions. But his arthritis may flare up occasionally, and become much more painful. When it happens, ease up on his walking therapy, and use cold therapy instead of heat. You can use a garden hose (no nozzle), for example, and hose down a particularly sore knee. Temporary increases of antioxidants and glucosamine/chondroitin sulfate will bring some added relief. Please note that while bandaging will help control swelling, it also holds in heat, just the opposite of what you want during a flare-up, thus you may have to forego bandaging temporarily. Use discretion and never over-do.

    During a flare-up, increase the dosage of bioflavonoids, vitamin E and especially vitamin C, and be sure glucosamine and chondroitin sulfates are dosed to full recommended levels, to help minimize further joint damage.

    You can safely dose with Bute at flare-up time, but be careful. Only the worst cases require constant, repeated dosing, and that has some potentially serious side-effects. One is the suppression of an enzyme, resulting in the reduction of the stomach’s protection against ulcers. If the situation calls for frequent dosing of Bute, you can also supplement him with a half to a full cup of lecithin each day. Lecithin effectively protects the stomach wall from damage, is tasteless, and is relatively inexpensive. There are other products to control ulcer pain; discuss them with your vet.

    Once a flare-up has eased, phase out the cold therapy and get back to hand-walking for brief periods several times a day. Long-term, exercise is of paramount importance.

    If you shoe your horse, squaring the toes makes breakover easier and smoother, thus easier on arthritic joints, but be sure to keep the feet at their natural angle so you don’t complicate matters. Don’t use caulks, trailers or grabs on the shoe, and use shoe padding to raise the heel angles slightly.

    Finally, consider his nutrition. Ideally, his primary feed should be low-sugar roughage, such as a grass hay like timothy, selected for proper mineral balance and sugar content. As previously suggested, supplement it with Vitamins C and E because of their excellent anti-oxidant qualities, and with high omega-3 fatty acids such as Omega Fields’ product, HorseShine. Round it off with a cup of canola oil per day.

    Don’t expect a cure from these steps. There isn’t one. But you can most assuredly make life easier for him.

  • My Inner Fire

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    My Inner Fire I recently attended a yoga retreat. We were asked to visualize our inner fire, like as a flame or the sun. In my mind’s eye I saw this blazing orange cattle dog, this intrepid, very yang dog: Bandit. Yang means fast, solid, focused, hot, and is associated with fire, the sky, the sun, masculinity and daytime. Over the past ten years Bandit has taught me so much about life, and now he is showing me how to live (really live!) with cancer. He is my inner fire.

    Bandit, an Australian Cattle Dog, first appeared in my life just moments after my very old red and white cattle dog mix Rusty had passed away at the vet clinic. A very engaging puppy, Bandit had Rusty’s red ears and mask. I was sure that Rusty had somehow sent this solid little charmer, the only red cattle dog puppy for miles around, as a gift to help me cope with my grief.

    Two weeks later Bandit joined our family. Soon I learned that if I was going to be the pack leader, I’d better stay ahead of him. He is so smart, and good at everything, that he kept me busy as we learned many things together. When he was an adolescent, I quickly learned that I had better lead or get out of the way, thus he made me a better leader. We played ball and went for long walks every day, and completed several levels of obedience school. He passed the Canine Good Citizen test. We learned to herd livestock, including sheep, goats, and eventually cattle. We competed in agility and learned tricks in an acting class, which led to a commercial gig. Together we earned titles in obedience, Rally, agility, sheep herding, cattle herding, and versatility, and just last year trained toward a tracking title. Over the years, we earned several second place ribbons, but the only blue ribbon we ever brought home was for herding cattle. Bandit moved the cattle around the course without much help from me, except for penning them at the end. He was one proud dog that day, beaming with pride, doing what he was bred and born to do, and doing it well enough to place ahead of our instructor and her dog.

    Several times we had the opportunity to work with an entire herd of cows at a local farm. Watching this 55 pound dog move the herd across a field absolutely changed my view of life and what is possible. That can-do attitude and bullet-proof confidence goes a long way, especially when matched by ability. Once Bandit committed to moving the cattle, even a moment of hesitation could have been dangerous. He had the courage and confidence to run out in front of a cow about 30 times his weight who was breaking away from the herd. She rolled him with her nose, and he bounded right back up and bit her on the nose, turning her back to the herd. I’d been holding my breath, and as I inhaled again, relieved to see him get back up, I admired his chutzpah.

    Last spring and summer, Bandit and I spent many hours training for a tracking test. In August, when Chase was in cancer treatment, Bandit completed the Pet Partners therapy dog test with the highest marks. I thought he’d be able to substitute for Chase at our monthly library visits if Chase wasn’t feeling well. Then one September morning, the month before we had planned to take the tracking test, Bandit wasn’t able to start a track. Something was terribly wrong. We went straight to the vet and eventually he was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a systemic cancer of the blood and bone marrow. Now Bandit is living with cancer and is expected to be on daily chemo meds for the rest of his life. The average prognosis after diagnosis is 18 months. Bandit has never been average.

     

    As we’ve gotten older, life isn’t so much about participating in activities, but just being together, out for a game of ball or a run in the fields and woods, or just hanging out together, sharing our undivided attention. Bandit continues to teach me, as he has all along. Although his body has changed as he’s lost muscle mass from the medications that manage his disease, he greets each day with enthusiasm and joy. He engages me in a game of jolly ball every chance he gets. He doesn’t like it when I get sad or upset. If I cry, he consoles me by licking my face, but if I continue to be sad, he eventually gets up and walks away. He doesn’t want to feel the sadness; he wants me to be happy.

    The roller coaster ride and financial stress of Chase’s cancer treatment followed by Bandit’s cancer diagnosis has had me focused on keeping both dogs well, and worried about my finances. We’ve been to several vet clinics many, many times over the past seven months. Along with just keeping up with daily life, I got caught up in keeping the dogs healthy, helping them deal with cancer, and doing my best for them. But then that started to get in the way. At times we had to focus on treatment, but eventually we had to get back to living. I noticed that the dogs were running and playing and enjoying every day, and I needed to get back to enjoying life along with them.

    So, again I’m trying to find a balance, to focus on being well and living in the moment, enjoying what we can do today, and not focusing so much on the illness or worrying about the future. After all, not a one of us will get out of this alive. For now, both dogs are doing well. The irony is that as well as Bandit is doing, I may not be able to afford to keep him going for as long as he wants to. The costs of the monthly medications and tests are not sustainable long-term. I want to live without regrets, and one regret would be to have to let him go before he’s ready. So as long as Bandit looks and feels well, we’re not going to the vet as often, but we’re continuing the medications, trying to focus on life.

    The dogs make me think of a conversation between Pooh and Piglet:

    “What day is it?” asked Pooh

    . “It’s today.” squeaked Piglet.

    “My favorite day.” said Pooh.

    Ironically, as we have learned to live with cancer and enjoy the time we have left, Bandit’s only littermate, his brother Baron, enjoyed his last game of ball before he passed away very suddenly and unexpectedly on January 16th. Our hearts go out to Baron’s mama Bitsey as she mourns his loss. Sometimes we get a long time to say goodbye and sometimes we don’t, which encourages us even more to seize this day.

    Remembering Baron:

     

    How do I want to spend the rest of my dog’s life with him? Playing and living in the moment, right here, right now. Because this present moment is all we really have. So today is our favorite day. Every day. Soon it will be Valentine’s Day, one day of the year when we’re all focused on love. At our house, we focus on love every day. You can too.

    Recently, when the outside temperature was well below zero, I improvised, resurrecting some of our old training and tricks and nose work to keep the dogs busy in the house. Bandit was so excited to be doing his old tricks and retrieves and nose work again. He had not forgotten a thing. That’s my boy, my inner fire! Who knows, we may even get out tracking again this spring.

    Lao Tzu said, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Our dogs teach us this too. Happy Today! Happy Valentine’s Day! Share the love.

    Good nutrition, including Omega Fields Canine Shine and Omega Nuggets, has helped keep my dogs healthy while living with cancer. Follow our journey at https://www.facebook.com/jenny.pavlovic

    Next time, read about Chase and the 1st anniversary celebration of the Dog Gone Reading program at our local library.

  • Blue Chicken Eggs

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    There are basically three types of chickens that lay blue eggs - Ameraucanas, Araucanas and Easter Eggers (although Cream Legbars do lay blue eggs as well and are just becoming available in the US) - but only two of the three ALWAYS lay blue eggs, so you'll want to be sure of what you're ordering if you are determined to have blue eggs.

    AMERAUCANAS

    Ameraucanas are a pure breed recognized by the APA since 1984. They were most likely originally bred from South American blue egg laying breeds but were developed and standardized in the United States. They come in eight distinct colors including, Blue, Black, White and Wheaten, which all share these distinct Ameraucana traits:

    ● Peacomb

    ● Muffs and beard

    ● Red earlobes

    ● Tail

    ● Blue legs

    ● White foot bottoms

    ● Always lay blue eggs

    ARAUCANAS

    Araucanas are also a pure breed recognized by the APA since 1976. They originated in Chile most likely and come in five colors including black, white, duckwing silver and golden. Araucanas all share these distinct Araucana traits:

    ● Peacomb

    ● Ear tufts (this gene is lethal to developing chicks if inherited by both parents)

    ● Red earlobes

    ● Rumpless (no tail)

    ● Green or willow-colored legs

    ● Yellow foot bottoms

    ● Always lay blue eggs

    EASTER EGGERS

    Easter Eggers are not a recognized breed. They are mongrels - mixed breed chickens that do possess the blue egg gene but don't fully meet the breed specifications of either Araucanas or Ameraucanas. They can come in any color or combination of colors and share these traits:

    ● Any kind of comb

    ● Muffs/beard/ear tufts or none

    ● Any color earlobes

    ● Tail or tail-less

    ● Any color legs

    ● Any color foot bottoms

    ● Can lay blue but also sometimes lay green, tan, pink or even yellow So if you want to be guaranteed blue egg layers, you will want to raise some Araucanas or Ameraucanas; but Easter Eggers are fun because you never know what color egg each will lay until she starts laying, and even identical-looking hens often lay varying shades of bluish or greenish eggs.

  • 80% of People are Now Shopping Online. Will they Find Your Horse Business?

    Written By Randi Thompson

    Social media and SEO (search engine optimization) are more important to local horse business owners than ever

    With the recent Google search changes, social media is now the best way to get your horse business on the first page of the local search engine results. Studies show that most people do not go past that first page, so it is important that your business is listed there.

    Local Marketing with a Focus on Social Media and SEO. How people will find you

    When you enter the world of social media, you will become a part of a social network. You communicate and interact with each other through the posts that you share with each other. The more likes, shares and comments your posts and website that is connected to them gets, the higher your business will show up in the newsfeeds of anyone who interacts on it, and even more importantly, the search results.

    Some of the benefits for marketing and promoting your local horse business on social media include:

    • You can attract and target horse people in your local area.

    • Social media marketing is low cost.

    • You will become an authority in your local area and in your field.

    • You create relationships with the people who become a part of your network. Those you are interacting with begin to know, like and trust you. They can become your customers.

    • You can talk directly with potential customers or create a stronger relationship with your current ones.

    Are you ready to get started?

    Begin by choosing a social media network that features local business pages. You can start a local business page on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php If you are on Google + (of course, since it is Google, you will get the best search results there) start with a Google local business page here: http://www.google.com/+/business/

    When you go to the business start-up page you will be asked to pick a classification. Choose “local business or place” This classification will help your business rank higher in your local area. The name you choose as the title of the business page is very important. It needs to be one that people will search for. Since they probably do not know the name of your business, you can add more words to the title. For example, Sundance Stables. Conyers, Ga. Or, Sundance Stables- Horse training, boarding.

    Next, you will be asked to upload a photo for the “cover photo”. This is the image that will appear across the top of your business page. Creative business owners use their cover photos to promote their sales or share photos that focus on their business and the customers who make it special.

    You will also need a smaller “profile image”. It is the profile image that will show up on any of posts you share. Many business owners use their logo as their profile image so that people can recognize their business.

    The “About “section” is designed so that your business name and website (if you have one) can be found in the search engine results. It is very important and often over looked by business owners who do not realize its value. With Facebook and Google+ local business pages you can also add your location, phone number, website and other information that people will be looking for in a local business.

    Once your business page is set up, make sure to add its icon, a clickable image, to your website. By doing this, your website will have more value as your activity on social media will be noticed by Google and your website will be listed higher in the search results.

    How to Find the Local People Who Are Interested In What Your Business Has to Offer

    Social media is all about connecting to people with similar interests. Your goal will want to find where they are on other social media pages, groups or communities. To find them go to the search bar on the top of the page and type in the words that people in the horse world are using. This is called “targeting”. For example, you can start with the word, horses, and see who turns up. To narrow your search down even more you can type in AQHA, dressage, horse training or whatever words are related to what you are doing in the horse business. To find out who is in your area, type in those words and add your city and state. You can also go to your competitor’s pages to see who is there and target the people who are there that you would like to get to know better. All you need to do is click on their profile image and you will be magically transported to their business page or personal profile where you can start having conversations with them on the posts they have shared. This makes them feel valued and they will often click on your profile image to see who you are and what you are doing. If they like what you are doing, they will become a part of your social network.

    How to Get People Talking About Your Business

    There is a reason it is called social media. It’s all about being social. You will be using the posts you share and the comments you add to other people’s posts to create conversations with other people. Especially those who are interested in your field or what you have to offer.

    • To start, you will need to reach out to your prospective clients, or the people with lots of connections related to what you are offering in your business, by going to their posts and business pages.

    • Add interesting comments to the posts that they are sharing. Your goal is to get them to respond to you.

    • Post from your business page when you are on other business pages so that those who are there begin to recognize your business from your profile image

    • The more people you can get to like, share or comment on your posts, the higher your business page, and as a result, your webpage, will appear in the search results. To do this, share interesting posts, photos, or videos to attract their attention.

    When do You Promote Your Business?

    Every time you post from your business page you are promoting your business. It is important to keep most of your posts, or comments, conversational, entertaining, or educational. At least 90% of your posts should be posts that people want to interact on or respond to. You can also use your posts to promote your business directly. The trick is in making that post more than just another ad that no one will look at. To do this you can ask questions or experiment with what people will respond to. Less than 10% of what you share on social media should be focused on direct advertising. You can also target local horse people directly with Facebook and Google Ads.

    Can Anyone Find You’re Business When They Do a Search?

    Your prospective customers are now searching online for what they want locally. Will they be able to find your horse business?

    Randi Thompson is internationally recognized in social media for her award winning “Horse and Rider Awareness" and “How to Market Your Horse Business”. She is a keynote speaker at national events, author, and expert legal consultant for the horse industry.

       

    How to Market Your Horse Business

    Horse and Rider Awareness

  • Colic Prevention Part 2

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    This month we will finish our discussion of common causes of colic in the equine, and what you might do to prevent them. Previously we discussed the importance of having a thorough emergency plan in place in order to make a potential colic less stressful for you. We followed that with a discussion of the most common management practices which will help minimize your horse’s risk of colic. These included quality and consistency of the diet, proper hydration and parasite control to name a few. This month we will focus on some of the less common reasons horses may colic. Although less common, they are no less important for the owner to be aware of these possibilities.

    The sex of your horse may increase its likelihood of colic. Remember that colic just refers to general abdominal pain. Some mares experience discomfort relative to their estrous cycle. If your mare routinely shows mild colic at three week intervals, her ovaries may be the culprit. Normally cycling mares will ovulate every 21 to 23 days and this event can be associated with discomfort. Having a reproductive exam can also rule out if she has an ovarian dysfunction exacerbating her discomfort. If you choose to breed your mare, you must also be aware of the possibilities of colic associated with pregnancy. During gestation, the mare may experience colicky symptoms due to movement of the fetus. That does not mean that colic signs during gestation should be discounted. Follow your normal procedures of a thorough exam and consult with your veterinarian. Finally, mares are often crampy after foaling, as the uterus continues to contract in order to expel the placenta. Additionally there is a greater potential for twisted bowels post foaling due to the extra “room” in the abdominal tract. Typically these mares will experience very severe pain. As I have personally had to suffer the loss of a mare with a new foal at her side, realize that these are very real possibilities. Monitoring mares closely in the post foaling period may allow you to catch symptoms early and perhaps save her life. All in all, realize that there are risks one has to assume when choosing to breed horses.

    The lifestyle of your horse may also cause it to colic. Some horses experience far more stress due to competition or travel than other horses. Some horses dislike horse shows or competitions so intensely that they work themselves into spasmodic colic. If this is true, you really need to closely examine why your horse is experiencing stress. Are you asking too much of them? Do you warm-up or ask the horse to perform at a different level than at which you train? Is the change in environment or the close proximity of other horses too much? Try to acclimate the horse gradually to stressful scenarios. Be reasonable in your expectations of your horse. Consider how nervous or anxious you may be at shows. Isn’t it likely that your horse may also experience anxiety (albeit for perhaps different reasons)? Ultimately, it may be possible that that type of career may not be a great fit for your horse. Consider a less stressful type of competition or even re-homing the horse where it may be more comfortable. After all, competitions and events serve as recreation for most horse owners. Is it really fun if your partner is miserable?

    When traveling to events, also consider how long the horse is in the trailer. Hauling in a horse trailer for long periods of time is actually fairly tiring for the horse. Ideally you should let the horse rest every 5-6 hours. Coupling that with a change in a horse’s normal feeding schedule and reduced access to water, can set the horse up for colic. At rest stops, consider offering your horse flavored water to ensure he maintains his water intake. Begin to accustom him to the flavoring at home to ensure he actually likes it. This is especially critical in hot weather, when the temperature in the trailer can exceed the external temperature. Horses may lose a substantial amount of water through sweating that they may not have the opportunity to replenish. Horses may also be more likely to develop respiratory issues while confined in a trailer as well. While we often try to help the horse by keeping hay in front of them, open windows or sides can force dust and particulate matter into the horse’s airways. This can cause the horse to develop pleuritis, which is inflammation of the lungs. While it is a respiratory issue, the horse may still show colic-like symptoms. All in all, plan your travel with your horse’s comfort and health in mind.

    What breed your horse is may also pre-dispose him to certain gastrointestinal disorders. Arabians and Arabian crosses are more likely to develop enteroliths than other breeds of horses. Enteroliths are essentially an accumulation of mineral within the intestine which forms a rock-like object. This can range in size from very small to the size of a softball or larger. While the reason is not yet known, this risk increases when these horses are fed alfalfa. This is especially true in the California and in other parts of the Southwest. However, this does not mean that a Quarter Horse in Iowa can’t develop an enterolith, they are just less likely to do so. High alfalfa diets are thought to cause enteroliths due to the high level of magnesium and protein combining to form crystals which make up the enteroliths. Diets higher in wheat bran have high levels of phosphorous which also contribute to enterolith formation. It is also possible that feeding highly digestible, lower fiber feeds like alfalfa may reduce gastric motility, allowing crystals to form more easily. Other lifestyle factors which lower gastric motility, such as lack of exercise or low frequency of feeding, increase the risk factor of enteroliths. Even the type of bedding chosen to be used can affect a horse’s risk of developing enteroliths. Horses on straw bedding, which allows an opportunity to nibble on high fiber feedstuffs, experience less enteroliths. While many believe that adding vinegar to the horse’s diet to lower colon pH may prevent enterolith formation, this has not been proven. Ideally, lower the amount of alfalfa in the horse’s diet, feed frequently and allow ample exercise are the best management choices.

    While we can never completely ensure that our horses will never colic, following practical management strategies can lower these risks. Informed horse owners are those whose horses usually experience less health issues. Hopefully if you follow these tips from our last series you can have a colic free 2014! Until next month, enjoy some winter riding!

  • Goat Industry 2013: Why and Wherefores

    Written By Janice Spaulding , www.GoatSchool.com

    My husband and I just returned from a whirl-wind Goat School® tour that took us from our home base in Saint Albans Maine all the way across Canada to Taylor British Columbia (approximately 30 kilometers north of Dawson Creek) then back to the United States for a weekend Goat School® in Hillsboro Ohio. The entire trip took 21 days and encompassed just under 8000 miles in our 2006 GMC.

    For those who have attended Goat School® here at our Maine farm you know that our primary focus is on raising and breeding top quality disease, resistant animals, that will not only be easy keepers but also productive and profitable additions to any farm operation. At the special request of our British Columbia sponsors we changed our usual format and spent the entire first day on explaining the “why and wherefores” of the goat industry in 2013. The presentation was so well received in Canada that we incorporated it into the Hillsboro Ohio event as well. (First time Ken ever got a standing ovation for a presentation). While the information focused mainly on what is happening in Canada there are also implications as to what is taking place in the United States. Here is some of what we discussed:

    There has been a longstanding joke in the goat business, “ How do you make a million dollars selling goats?” simple answer “ you start off with 2 million dollars!”

    At first glance this might seem to be an off the shoulder remark but there is a certain amount of truth to it. In a real way it takes money to make money. It is very rare for someone to fall into a money making, get rich quick scheme. Most always it involves lots of blood, sweat and tears. That's where the 2 million dollars comes in. You must do your due diligence; you must determine your goals, you must (within reason) come up with a business plan. Business plans are not carved in stone they must have a real basis but must also be flexible enough to change as your situation changes. You must do your homework and you must research as fully as possible the market you plan to serve. It does you no good to spend all your time investigating the goat markets in Arizona if your operation is going to be located in Maryland.

    The situation in British Columbia is ideal for an expanded goat presence. The infrastructure is already in place, due to a thriving beef cattle industry. So it is a simple matter of identifying potential markets and adding goats, in proper numbers, to the existing herds.

    Why are goats and more importantly goat meat (Chevon) becoming so popular in both the United States and Canada. The answer is, changes in immigration policies in both countries.

    Legal immigrants in the United States are at the highest number ever at 37,000,000. Since the year 2000 the number of immigrants to the US has averaged 1,000,000 per year. In 2006 the percentage of the US population consisting of foreign born was at 12.5% and the Canadian rate was 19.8%.

    Who are these immigrants? They are described statistically as the “visible minority” and defined by the Employment Equity Act as “ persons, other than Aboriginal peoples, who are non-Caucasian in race or non-white in color.” The visible minority consists mainly of the following groups: Chinese, South Asian, Black, Arab, West Asian, Filipino, Southeast Asian, Latin American, Japanese, and Korean. While this may be a somewhat complex definition, for our purposes and in no way meant to be offensive, these are people whose primary dietary protein is goat meat.

    One important fact to note is that the newer immigrants, unlike their predecessors, do not look upon the idea of assimilating into the culture of their new country. They no longer come to Canada to become Canadians or to the US to become Americans. They bring their religion and cultures along with them and are looking at the freedom to be who they are and not who someone wants them to be. For someone in the business of raising meat goats this is the perfect scenario! These folks are your potential and existing customers. Religious belief and cultural traditions are a fundamental and unchanging part of the daily lives of this visible minority.

    What drives this desire for goat meat and why can't the new immigrants simply adjust their eating habits to a “beefier” diet?

    Dietary preferences are part of our being and at the very core of our existence. Prior to the 1990's the majority of immigrants to the US and Canada were of European descent. Stop and ponder this; Europe, much like the Northern US and especially Canada, is a relatively cold climate. We have ice; and what does ice give us? Ice gives us the ability to preserve and keep large pieces of protein; beef! We can process a 1200 pound beef critter and preserve it for long periods of time. We have adjusted our diets accordingly. People defined as the “visible minority” typically come from fairly warm climates; that means no ice, no refrigeration, perhaps no electricity and no ability to preserve large portions of protein. It is for that primary reason goats have for millennium been the main protein source.

    Now that we've identified our market how do we go about tapping into it you ask? Here are a few thoughts: Raising goats involves a great deal of common sense and surprisingly when it comes to livestock many folks particularly city dwellers don't have it. To successfully raise goats you need to develop a “gut instinct”. You need to pay attention to how they move, eat, rest, get from location to location and watch what they don't eat. You need to learn to think like a goat. If it's easy or cheap it's probably not going to work with goats. When you decide to become a goat herder you can forget about having days off. There are no holidays, sick days or paid vacations. Raising goats becomes your life and your lifestyle. Goats can not be successfully raised by an absentee landlord. While it may be possible to raise goats “just for the money” it likely will not be an enjoyable experience for you and probably not for the goats either.

    Choose your mentors carefully. Don't blindly do what your friends or neighbors are doing. You must educate yourself with the best information possible. Don't get advice from someone raising show goats if you're not raising show goats. They may be experts in the “show ring” but have an entirely different regimen on diet and nutrition than what you need to keep commercial meat goats thriving and healthy.

    You are not going to make much if any money for several years because of start-up costs like buying land, fencing and of course, goats. This is true in any business. If you don't have enough money to survive for up to three years without taking money out of the business you are not likely to be successful. There are no “quick fixes” in the goat business. The problems you may encounter are usually not a result of the particular breed of goat but rather your particular management style. Where you are located does make a difference. If your pastures can not support 100 goats you can not raise 100 goats. With proper management, land, facilities and nutrition you can raise any breed of goat to a healthy marketability.

    If you are interested in learning more about owning and caring for goats visit our website www.goatschool.com!

     

  • My Greatest Gifts

    Written By Jenny Pavlovic

    I don’t participate in the sales, the super shopping, running around completely stressed, many of the things we’re ‘supposed’ to do during this holiday season. I think Christmas is supposed to be about love, and I don’t know how buying stuff for people became equated with love. It’s a misguided notion that helps drive the economy, but puts a lot of stress on people.

    I avoid Black Friday like the plague, especially this year when I've taken on the excessive financial burden of vet bills for cancer treatments. I know Black Friday is intended to boost the economy. But people get so stressed out during this season (trying to buy just the right gifts) that they often forget to be kind to one another, battling for choice parking spots, fighting over stuff to buy. Let's not forget that it's supposed to be about love. Get the good deals if you must. But even though Thanksgiving is over, take a few moments each day to be thankful for what you already have.

    Which brings me to my dogs, and my deep gratitude for their presence and well-being. In July, Chase was diagnosed with colonic adenocarcinoma, with a prognosis of 4 to 6 months, even with treatment. But we caught this insidious cancer in stage one, and in October, after 21 radiation therapy treatments, a CT scan showed ‘no evidence of disease’, which felt like a miracle. We’re not completely out of the woods yet, because small seeds of cancer can escape detection by a CT scan. We will need to do another CT scan by year-end, to make sure Chase’s insides still look good.

    On the outside, Chase’s hair is growing back where he had radiation therapy. Five months after his diagnosis, he’s full of energy, running and playing each day. He’s back at the library, where the kids read to him once a month. Although I have faith in miracles and Chase’s cure wasn’t cheap, I’m still very grateful and amazed that he’s doing so well today. I don’t take him for granted.

    In September, the day after Chase sailed through a two-week follow-up appointment for his radiation therapy, Bandit was unable to work. We had been training all spring and summer toward a tracking title, and that day he just wasn’t able to start a track. Bandit is usually an intrepid worker, so I knew something was terribly wrong. Not long after, Bandit was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a completely different kind of cancer. With daily chemo pills and other medications, the average prognosis for canine multiple myeloma patients is 18 months. But Bandit began to rapidly lose weight, losing eight of his 55 pounds in less than six weeks. I was scared that he might starve to death and I might not be able to help him. But by focusing on good nutrition (including Canine Shine and Omega Nuggets), healthy fats, and whole foods, I eventually got his weight back up. At his most recent check-up, Bandit’s weight was up to 53 from 47 pounds, his blood work was back in the normal range for the first time since his diagnosis and his urine proteins (a sign of the disease) had also moved much closer to normal. He seems to be stabilizing, which feels like another miracle. He runs and plays each day, engaging me in several games of jolly ball. We celebrated his 10th birthday on November 13th.

    Throughout these past few months, I’ve learned to live more in the moment with the dogs, not knowing how many more moments we will have together. I’ve watched them truly live each day to the fullest. They live like they’re living, not like they’re dying. And for today they are living. I know they won’t be here forever, but I wanted to give each of them the best chance to fight cancer. So far, it seems to be working. This is one of my greatest gifts.

    Several people in my life have passed on or suffered major illnesses this year. One dear family friend passed on at only 61 years old. He was out running his dogs when he had a stroke, which he never recovered from. We lost him a month later. Our memories of him, one of our greatest gifts, are of his true character and the good times we spent with him. Nothing about those great memories has to do with ‘stuff’.

    Here we are at the end of a very trying year, one that most certainly has built character. Maybe you can understand now how running around buying stuff has completely lost its point for me.

    Before our November library day, Chase had to have a bath. He didn't really want to take a bath, but when I told him he needed a bath so he could visit the kids at the library, he walked into the bathroom and climbed into the tub by himself. I kid you not. On our library day we had fun with the regular kids that we know. We also met a new little boy who loves dogs and is a great reader. He told me about his dog Sadie, who is "up there" and he pointed up to heaven.  Chase snuggled in to him and he hugged Chase for a long time after he was done reading. The reading is so important, but I’ve learned that it’s about so much more than just the reading. Another of my greatest gifts.

    Spend the time. Have the experiences. Make the memories. Forget the stuff. Live in the moment. Play. Laugh. Love.
    And let somebody else have that parking spot. You won’t regret it.

    8 State Hurricane Kate: The Journey and Legacy of a Katrina Cattle Dog is now available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00GWAZFAW.
    To help pay the vet bills, I’m selling the rest of my inventory of Not Without My Dog Resource & Record books at a steep discount. I have a limited number of these hard cover, journal-style books with photo pages. They make great Christmas gifts for the dog lovers in your life, and are $15 each, plus shipping (or contact me for discounts on quantities of 10 or more). I will sign them personally if you wish. Learn more and order online at: http://www.8statekate.net/wordpress/?page_id=1542
    To donate towards cancer care: http://tinyurl.com/bentleys-aglow Thank

        

  • Strategies to Reduce your Horse's Chance of Colic

    Written By Dr. Kris Hiney

    Last month I encouraged all horse owner’s to develop a preparedness plan in the event their horse colics.  This month we will discuss strategies that will hopefully minimize the chance that you will need that plan.  We will discuss feeding strategies as well as other important management techniques that will help keep your horse happy and healthy.

    Feeding your horse properly is one of the easiest ways to help prevent episodes of colic.  Remember  the digestive anatomy of the horse, with its small stomach and large hindgut for digesting forage does not often fit well with  modern management practices.   The horse is designed to forage continuously throughout the day, typically for almost 18 hours.  This provides a continuous input of material to the hindgut without overwhelming the stomach.

    1.Maximize intake of good quality forage.

    To mimic nature, ideally a horse should consume 2% of its body weight in high quality forage per day.  This allows the best match to the horse’s normal feeding strategies.  Remember high quality forage does not necessarily mean rich or high energy forages which can lead to obesity.   Simply put, high quality hays do not contain molds, potentially toxic weeds or insects, or are not excessively coarse and stemmy.  Of course, toxins and molds can easily cause digestive upsets or result in feed refusals.

    2.Avoid very coarse hay or staw as feed.

    Excessively coarse hay may be harder for the horse to masticate and may lead to impactions.

    3.Prolong feeding/chewing  time.

    If your horse needs to consume less than 2% of its body weight due to the need to maintain proper body condition, using a slow feeding hay net will help prolong the horse’s feeding time.  As we increase the amount of time the horse spends chewing, more saliva will enter the stomach and buffer the acid that is continually secreted.  As horses only salivate with oral stimulation, this increase in chew time is extremely important.  This helps to maintain a healthy stomach and avoid ulcer formation.

    4.Split up concentrate meals to smaller portions.

    If the horse needs substantial amounts of concentrates in order to maintain body condition or support athletic performance, be sure to spread feedings into smaller amounts.  High volumes of concentrate may overwhelm the horse’s ability to digest it properly in the small intestine.  When concentrates escape to the hindgut they are fermented by a type of bacteria which produces organic acids and lowers the pH of the horse’s gut.  By lowering the volume fed at one time, this will avoid fluctuations in pH of the horse’s tract and promote a healthier population of microflora.

    5.Slowly introduce new feeds.

    If new types of feeds are to be introduced to the horse’s diet, be sure to do so gradually to allow time for bacteria to adjust.   Due to the ability of bacteria to either proliferate or reduce in population with changes in substrate offered to them, a change in the horse’s diet can wreak havoc in bacterial populations. Often this is what results in the overproduction of gas, a frequent cause of colic.

    6. Maintain a consistent feeding schedule.

    If your horse does not have free choice access to hay or pasture, be sure to maintain a consistent feeding schedule.  Horses are certainly creatures of habit that do best with consistent schedules.  This will avoid periods of time with the horses’ stomach in an unnatural empty state, or overeating due to excitement of feeding.
    7.Avoid feeding horses off the ground.

    Ingestion of sand can lead to the development of impactions or colitis from irritation of the gut wall.  Routine feeding of psyllium can aid in sand removal from the hind gut.  Feeding off the ground will also limit the exposure to parasites which are a frequent cause of colic through either blockages or disruption of blood flow.

    8. Practice strategic deworming and parasite management.

    Regular parasite control is therefore key to colic prevention.  Remember from previous articles that this does not mean indiscriminate deworming of horses without knowledge of their true parasite load.  In fact, an increase in colic in young horses due to ascarid impactions may be in part due to the anthelmentic resistance occurring in these worms.   Rather, remember to follow strategic deworming practices in consultation with your veterinarian.   Follow good pasture management practices and avoid overgrazing. This will help to limit your horse’s exposure to parasites.

    9. Allow adequate water intake.

    As winter approaches, it is especially important to remember that proper water intake is vital to maintaining normal flow of digesta through the horse’s tract.  Normally horse’s drink about 8-12 gallons of water per day.  We often think about increasing a horse’s water intake when it is hot or the horse is heavily working, but fail to think about water intake in the winter.  Horse’s actually don’t like cold water, and will greatly reduce their water intake if not offered warmer water.  Providing a heated bucket or tank will encourage your horse to drink water at the same rate throughout winter.  Be sure that it isn’t sending off any stray shocks however!  That will easily lead to dehydration as the horse is too frightened to drink!  You can also increase a horse’s water intake by offering a mashed feed.  Don’t forget however not to rapidly alter his diet!

    10. Provide regular dental care.

    While all of these tips primarily refer to the feeding management of the horse, other factors can influence his risk of colic.  Providing regular teeth maintenance will allow your horse to chew his feed properly.  As mentioned previously, coarse hay or poorly chewed hay can create impactions in the horse’s tract.

    11. Exercise the horse on a consistent schedule.

    Regular exercise for stalled horses is equally key.  Horses naturally travel several miles per day while foraging. We have created a rather artificial, sedentary life style for most of our horses. It is up to us to help provide a form of regular exercise and stick to a schedule.  While this may be difficult owners, it truly is best for the horse.   In fact, some companies are working towards creating automatic feeders which force a horse to travel through its paddock to obtain its feed. Such systems also have the added benefit of prolonging feeding time as well.

    Next month we will discuss additional management strategies that will reduce your horse’s risk of colic which are linked to your horse’s lifestyle, breed or even sex!

  • Scratch Sunflower Nut Edible Treat Wreath for Chickens

    Written By Lisa Steele, Fresh Eggs Daily

    As many of you know, I enjoy adapting ideas I see online and elsewhere for the enjoyment of our chickens. I have seen several versions of birdseed wreaths for wild birds on Pinterest HERE, HERE and HERE and decided to make my own chicken version.

    My first two attempts didn't work very well - don't trust everything you read online! - and fell apart, but this, my third attempt turned out perfectly. Easy, quick, held together well and the chickens loved it!

    Here's how to make one for your girls.

    You'll need:

    Cooking spray
    Bundt Pan
    1/2 Cup cool water
    3 envelopes Knox unflavored gelatin
    1-1/2 Cups Boiling water
    1 Cup bacon, suet or hamburg grease, heated to liquify
    8 Cups of a mixture of scratch, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, raisins, nuts or seeds
    20 fresh or frozen cranberries
    Ribbon

    How to:

    Spray Bundt pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a measuring cup, dissolve the gelatin in the cool water and let sit for a minute. Pour the boiling water into a medium bowl and whisk in the gelatin to combine.

     

    In a large mixing bowl, combine the seeds and nuts, stir in the grease and then pour in the liquid gelatin. Mix well with a wooden spoon to be sure all the nuts and seeds are well-coated and all the liquid is absorbed.

     

    Place the cranberries in rows in the indentations in the pan (I used three in half the indentations and two in every other indentation) and then carefully spoon the seed mixture into the pan. Press down with the spoon to pack it well.

    Put the Bundt pan in the refrigerator overnight to set. The next day, take the wreath out of the refrigerator and let come to room temperature. Invert and tap gently on the countertop to unmold.

     

    Tie a pretty ribbon in a bow at the top and then attach the wreath to your run fencing for your chickens or to a tree or fence to treat the wild birds.
    I did switch out the fancy ribbon for a plain one when I hung the wreath in the run.

  • Equine Vaccine Tips and Strategies

    Written By: Dr. Tom Schell

    If you own a horse, one of the most important things you can do to maintain health is vaccinations, but it can also be a costly endeavor.  Everyone seems to have a strategy or recommendation, but the question is 'what is right for your horse?'.  Well, that depends on many factors including location, exposure to other horses as well as general risk factors.  Another thing to consider is that vaccines are not without harm and over administration of vaccines can prove to be harmful in some circumstances.  Let's explore the options and recommendations.

    When viewing vaccines and establishing a protocol, we must remember that each horse is an individual and that no one perfect protocol exists.  It is also not generally necessary to implement the same protocol in every horse just because they are in the same barn.

    Here are the main points we should consider when establishing a vaccine protocol:

    • Risk factors associated with the particular horse (including housing, exposure to other horses, environment, age and geographic location)
    • Impact of the particular disease we are targeting including mortality/morbidity rate and risk of spread to other animals and species (including humans)
    • Possible negative side effects of vaccine
    • Cost implications to the owner
    Some basic considerations that we always need to remember include:
    • No vaccine is 100% effective in preventing disease
    • Vaccines are designed or intended to reduce morbidity or clinical signs of disease
    • No vaccines is 100% safe and risk free
    • Vaccines are not generally protective until 10 days or greater post administration
    • Most vaccines require an initial booster series to build an antibody titer and establish protection
    • Many vaccines come combined with many antigens

    So, now let's start with the basics in terms of equine vaccines.  In most cases, we generally have the core or basic vaccines, as defined by the AAEP.
    1. Tetanus  (annual vaccine)
    2. Rabies     (annual vaccine)
    3. Eastern/ Western encephalomyelitis (annual vaccine in spring)
    4. West Nile  (annual vaccine in spring)
    After the core vaccines, we then have what is called 'risk based' vaccines which include:  (Based on AAEP Guidelines)
    1. Influenza  (annual to biannual vaccine)
    2. Rhinopneumonitis (EHV)  (not necessary, annual or biannual dependent on situation and in pregnant mares)
    3. Potomac Horse Fever  (not necessary, annual, biannual or more frequent dependent on situation)
    4. Strangles  (not necessary, annual or biannual dependent on situation)
    5. Rotavirus  (pregnant mares at 8,9,10 months gestation)
    6. Botulism  (annual and one month prior to foaling)
    7. Anthrax  (annual vaccine)
    8. Equine Viral Arteritis  (check with state guidelines)

    In most cases, the core vaccines are vital and given to every horse.  The big question comes as to what other risk factors are involved, which determines if other vaccines are necessary.  Such risk factors include exposure to other horses such as boarding facilities, traveling and competition, but also include issues concerned with breeding operations.  We always have to remember that not every horse responds appropriately to the vaccines, meaning that some develop protective titers while others do not.  In larger facilities, it is generally easy enough to keep most if not all of the horses on the same protocol due to ease of record keeping, but also by doing this we can hopefully minimize disease prevalence and thereby protecting those other horses that may not be responding to the vaccines appropriately.  We also have to take into consideration age of the animal at the time of vaccine as older horses tend to be less predisposed to various illnesses such as EHV, which according to the AAEP is less frequently seen in those horses over the age of 5, unless we have other known risk factors included such as a breeding operation or frequent movement of animals.

    How are vaccines administered and how often?

    In most instances, vaccines are administered by intra-muscular injection, usually in the neck region, pectorals or the thigh muscle.  Some vaccines, such as Strangles, Influenza and some EHV vaccines may be administered intra-nasally. In adult horses that are unvaccinated, it is generally recommended that they receive at least a 2 injection series, spaced apart by 4-6 weeks.  In foals, vaccines are generally started around 3 months of age and given as a series of 3 injections spaced 4 weeks apart.  Pregnant mares are generally advised to receive a full 'core' vaccine series about one month prior to foaling in order to help build passive transfer for the foal.  Other vaccines such as EHV are given at specific intervals during the second and third trimester.  Most of the core vaccines, once initiated, are administered on an annual basis.

    What are the side effects to the vaccines?

    No vaccines are completely safe nor void of any risk!  That being said, most vaccines are administered without any problems but the most common side effect seen is general malaise, body aches and a slight fever 24-48 hours after administration.  Dependent on where they were given, we will often see sore necks and even swollen injection sites.  In most of these cases, the signs resolve within a couple of days with no harm to the horse.  It is generally not advised to compete or even work the horse for a couple days post vaccine due to side effects noted.  Some vaccines are more prone to developing side effects than others and in my experience, the Tetanus and Rabies vaccine are the most common.  Vaccines that are administered by the intra-nasal route commonly produce a mild sneeze or even slight clear drainage for a couple days post administration.  In more severe cases, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication may be administered to help alleviate the clinical signs.
    More serious or adverse reactions have been noted included anaphylactic reactions (some life threatening), localized infection, scar tissue deposition generalized hypersensitivities.

    Why do some horses respond differently to the vaccines?

    We have to determine what is a favorable response to a vaccine?  Ideally, it would be one void of any side effect and one that establishes a protective antibody titer.  In most instances, the horses do respond well to the vaccines and without any side effects, but determining the proper antibody titer is difficult to do in most cases.  In the ideal world, we would perform antibody titers to determine who is and who is not responding well to the vaccines, which might help us to focus on more in need horses, but this is costly.

    Given, in my experience, that 9 out of 10 horses respond with no noted side effects, the question comes as to why that 10th horse reacted negatively.  Did they have a reaction to the vaccine?  What was that reaction?  A fever, general malaise or worse?  I really begin to question things when I have vaccinated a particular horse routinely year after year, using the same vaccine brand, and yet, this horse reacts negatively.  We can speculate, but really we don't have any pinpoint answers.
    In the world of small animal veterinary medicine, we almost always perform a basic physical exam prior to the administration of vaccines.  The purpose of the physical is to pinpoint any health problems and determine if there is any fever present, which may also indicate a health concern.  In the world of equine veterinary medicine, the individual physical exam is performed but not that often, especially on larger farms due to time constraints and cost.  Often, the vaccines are administered one horse at a time while working the way down a barn isle way.  The horses are often given a quick once over looking for the obvious, but sometimes details are missed.

    We have to remember that the purpose of a vaccine is to stimulate an immune response to a specific antigen.  If a horse is sick or not feeling well, then not only would it be possible that their immune system may not respond appropriately, but we may also actually do harm to that animal. It is generally not a good idea to vaccinate a sick animal for these reasons.  We are often better to wait, let them recover and then vaccinate when it is more appropriate.

    Other reasons that a horse may not respond appropriately include concurrent diseases that may be impacting the immune response which may include things like insulin resistance and Cushing's disease.  Age also plays a role in the immune response and many older horses fail to respond appropriately for this very reason due to a failing or debilitated immune system for various reasons.

    Now, one area of interest to me is those horses that tend to develop signs of laminitis within 2-3 days post vaccination.  We all see it as a veterinarian, but the reasoning as to why it happens has yet to be determined.  Personally, I tend to feel that these horses are more predisposed to metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and even Cushing's disease, but have yet to be diagnosed.  In reality, most of these 'laminitic reactors' are the easy keepers of the group, more likely to be overweight and often have a history of laminitis.  So, what causes them to be pushed over the edge?  Again, in my opinion, it is linked to an ongoing inflammatory cascade that is occurring within that particular animal.  The vaccine can be seen as fuel added to a glowing ember, soon igniting it into a flame.  I often view those horses as ticking time bombs of inflammation, waiting for the right situation to get flared up.  Vaccines are the perfect medium to achieve this.

    General Recommendations:

    As a veterinarian and horse owner, I do believe in administering the core vaccines to every horse.  Does that mean that every horse in my practice gets those core vaccines?  The answer is 'NO'. Does that mean that I see more clinical sickness in those horses that have NOT been vaccinated?  The answer here is "NO" again.  I believe in vaccinating for those illnesses that have a high mortality rate, which includes tetanus, rabies and encephalitis.  Dependent on the situation and geographic location, these core diseases can be readily prevalent, very costly and difficult to treat and yet so easy to prevent. I also believe in risk based vaccines in the right situations, but not in all situations.

    As any horse owner can testify, there are many cases of equine infectious diseases ranging from Influenza to Rhinopneumonitis in horses that have been vaccinated properly.  Here again, we have to raise the question as to why this occurs?  First, as stated, no vaccine is 100% effective in preventing disease.  The goal with any vaccine should be to reduce clinical morbidity.  Second, we have to take into consideration the amount of stress that some of these horses are under at the time of vaccination as well as during competition.  Stress in the competitive horse has been discussed in another article, but sometimes their stress levels can impact the immune function, making them more prone to various diseases.  Sometimes, I think it is better to keep these particular horses healthy with immune supportive herbs as well as adaptogens to help counter the stress, than it is to overwhelm them with vaccines.

    If we have a horse that is turned out on pasture 24/7, they are often less prone to infectious disease development than those that are stalled constantly or in training/competition.  Again...we have to take into consideration the impact of stress.  I feel it is more important to address these horses through nutrition and herbal supplementation, keeping the immune system strong, trying to offset the impact of their current conditions.

    I believe that we really need to evaluate each horse as an individual, taking into consideration all of the factors mentioned above.  The AAEP recommends this approach to us, as veterinarians, but all too often we fail to follow these guidelines due to time constraints and other factors.  If I have a horse on a farm that never leaves and is never exposed to other horses, I am going to vaccinate them differently than one that is competing at different locations once monthly.  The risk factors are different and taking into consideration that no vaccine is completely without harm, we want to minimize risk.

    I also think we need to evaluate those horses that react negatively to vaccines more thoroughly.  If a horse has an allergic reaction to a vaccine, we need to question why.  Was it the brand of vaccine?  Was it the location where it was injected?  Was the horse sick at the time?  We need to figure out why and not just treat and move on to the next year.  We also need to investigate those horses that develop signs of lethargy or even laminitis, by looking a little deeper for underlying health concerns.  At the very least, we need to stagger vaccines by 2-3 weeks, instead of potentially overloading these particular horses with 4-5 antigens at one time.  Not only does this reduce the antigen load and immune challenge to the horse, but it may also allow us to pinpoint which vaccine is causing the reaction.

    In the end, vaccines are a vital part of maintaining equine health.  This being said, they are not without harm and consideration needs to be given to make sure they are administered appropriately, at the right time and at the right intervals, taking into consideration the many risk factors involved.  Be an astute horse owner!  Take into consideration the many variables when deciding what your horse should be vaccinated against!

    Dr. Tom Schell has over 18 years of equine medicine and surgery, as well as being head of research and development for Nouvelle Research, Inc.  Dr. Schell may be reached by email at tschelldvm@nouvelleresearch.com
    Nouvelle Research, Inc. is the developer and manufacturer of the Cur-OST line of equine anti-inflammatory products, the only equine supplement using Curcumin as the primary ingredient to reduce inflammation, enhance health and performance for over 7 years.  Our goal at Nouvelle Research, Inc. is to enhance the health of our equine companions naturally and effectively, while also providing a source of information for the horse owner.  These and other articles may be seen on our website at: http://nouvelleresearch.com/index.php/articles
    For more information about Nouvelle Research, Inc, please visit:  www.nouvelleresearch.com or call 1-800-476-4702

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