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Potential for Anthrax

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   December 3, 2011 09:33

     Since widespread flooding has occurred on the Prairies this year, livestock producers and horse owners living near areas where anthrax cases were previously reported may be considering vaccinations as a preventive measure.

But before horse owners make a decision about vaccinating, Dr. Chris Clark of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM) recommends that they talk to their veterinarians first.

“Horses are relatively resistant to anthrax, and they’re even more unlikely to get exposed to the bacteria because of the way most owners keep their horses in smaller pastures or paddocks. Consequently the risk is typically very low,” explains Clark, a specialist in large animal medicine who has been involved in previous anthrax investigations in the United Kingdom and in Western Canada.

     “Only people who live in high risk areas and manage horses like cattle and other livestock are at a high risk for anthrax.”

Anthrax is a reportable disease in Canada that’s caused by the bacteria Bacillus anthracis whose spores can survive in soil for decades. Cattle, horses, bison or deer can ingest anthrax when they graze in areas where flooding or digging has brought the bacterial spores to the surface.

Once ingested, the spores germinate and grow in an animal’s intestinal tract — releasing potent toxins that cause the animal to die if left untreated. Clinical signs of anthrax include bloody discharge from the animal’s nose, mouth, anus or vagina, abdominal swelling and a carcass that decomposes very quickly. The mortality rate in the early stages of an anthrax outbreak is nearly 100 per cent.

According to veterinarians at the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), anthrax is different from other reportable diseases. It’s considered to be an environmental disease since its spores are in the soil and they’re available in a wide, geographic region.

Although anthrax is a non-contagious disease, the bacterial spores can “spread” to other areas through scavengers, migrating birds or flies. Excessive moisture and flooding can also wash anthrax spores from one area to another.

The only anthrax vaccine that’s licensed in North America is manufactured by the Colorado Serum Company (www.colorado-serum.com). The vaccine is available for cattle, horses, mules, sheep, goats and pigs, while off-label use can be considered for bison and farmed elk and deer. The live culture anthrax spore vaccine, which was introduced in the 1950s, is highly effective and considered to be safe with minimal risk to animals and to humans.

However, Clark points out that the anthrax vaccine typically causes significant reaction (such as local swelling) at the injection site — an issue that can be particularly upsetting for horse owners. As well, the vaccine company and the WCVM advise owners of miniature horses and young foals to use other alternatives for preventing the disease.

Once animals receive the vaccine, it takes from seven to eight days for them to build up enough immunity against the disease. In circumstances where an animal is already exposed to anthrax, Clark says that it’s better to treat with antibiotics such as oxytetracycline or penicillin, then vaccinate the animal later. “What’s important to remember is that you can not give the vaccine and treat with antibiotics at the same time.”

Visit the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (www.inspection.gc.ca) for more information. 

Reprinted with permission from Horse Health Lines, publication for the Western College of Veterinary Medicine’s Equine Health Research Fund. Visit www.ehrf.usask.ca to sign up for our e-newsletter.



Natural Science Equine Display

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   December 2, 2011 07:26

Hyracotherium - today's equine ancestor

Dinohippus -


Today's horse

Tags: , , , , , ,

General | history

Interpreting Feed Test Results

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   November 12, 2011 08:23

by:Chelsey Carruthers, M.Sc., AAg

Regional Livestock Specialist, Saskatchewan Ministry of Agriculture


It’s that time of year again when cows are coming in from pasture, and beef producers must begin the task of planning their winter feeding strategy. A great first step is to have forages tested by an accredited laboratory. A standard forage quality test provides the information necessary to decide whether the feed you have available will meet the requirements of the cow herd during the winter months. You can then decide when each feed can be used to best meet the cows’ requirements, and if supplementation of energy, protein, or minerals will be necessary.

Forage tests provide information on the moisture, energy, fiber, protein and mineral content of feeds. These may be reported on an “as is” or “as received” basis, or on a “dry matter” basis. Dry matter values are reported as if the feed contained no moisture, and this is important when comparing values between feeds that have different moisture contents. The values discussed in this article are reported on a dry matter basis.

Energy is reported in feed tests in a number of ways: total digestible nutrients (TDN), digestible energy, and relative feed value. TDN is the most common, and is expressed as a percentage. On average, mature beef cows require 55 per cent TDN in mid pregnancy, 60 per cent in late pregnancy, and 65 per cent after calving in order to maintain their body condition. Energy requirements will be higher during very cold weather, for cows that are underweight, and for young cows that are still growing. Average quality hay often contains 50 to 60 per cent TDN, while poor quality hay can be less than 45 per cent. Straw contains 35 to 40 per cent TDN. If cows are fed a diet containing only forage, that forage must meet their energy requirement. If not, feeds higher in energy (such as grain or pellets) can be added to the diet to provide the energy required.

The fiber content of feed is related to the amount of energy that is available to the cows. Fiber is expressed on forage test results as neutral detergent fiber (NDF). A higher number indicates more fiber in the feed. When NDF is higher than 60 per cent the feed will be very fibrous and bulky. Cows may have trouble physically consuming enough feed to meet their energy requirement.

Protein is measured as crude protein (CP). Cows require approximately 7 per cent CP in mid-pregnancy, 9 per cent in late pregnancy, and 11 per cent after calving. Forages will vary greatly in protein content, but in general, legume hay such as alfalfa or clover will be higher protein than grass hay, and cereal green feeds will be lower in protein than hay. Grains are also relatively low in protein. Protein is often supplemented in the form of pellets or lick tanks, which can be used to increase the protein content of the total diet. It is important to keep in mind that protein supplements will not compensate for forage that does not contain sufficient energy.

Most feed tests also report the mineral content of the forage. Calcium and phosphorus are the most important minerals to consider. The complete diet should contain at least 0.25 per cent calcium and 0.17 per cent phosphorus. More importantly, the diet should contain at least 1.5

times more calcium than phosphorus. Minerals often need to be supplemented using one of the many products available. Speaking with a nutritionist can solve the mystery of which mineral supplement to use with your forages.

As with many things, the first step to planning a winter feeding program is to know what you have to work with. Forage testing is a valuable tool for determining the most effective way to use your feed resources.

For more information on this or other topics please call me at (306) 946-3237, the Agriculture Knowledge Centre at 1-866-457-2377 or visit our website: http://www.agriculture.gov.sk.ca/


Biosecurity - Operational Management

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 21, 2011 06:16

Properly dispose of deadstock

Plan and control the disposal of carcasses according to municipal and provincial regulations. Carcasses should be disposed of in a timely manner.

Manage manure according to regulations

Plan and control manure management according to municipal and provincial regulations. Planning should include measures for collecting, storing, moving, and disposing of manure in ways that minimize the chance of spreading any disease organisms.

Keep the premises, buildings, equipment and vehicles clean

Buildings, equipment and vehicles should be cleaned regularly to prevent the introduction of disease and pests. Consider applying disinfectants when practical.

Maintain the facilities in a state of good repair

Maintain all facilities in a state of good repair so that your biosecurity plan can be effectively implemented.

This may include:

  • buildings and fences to prevent wildlife and people from entering the premises,
  • feed storage areas to prevent access by wildlife and vermin, and
  • laneways to allow for cleaning and disinfecting vehicles.

Obtain production inputs from a reliable source

Purchase production inputs such as feed and bedding from reliable sources. Ensure the water supply is free of contamination.

Control pests

Ensure a pest management program is in place to prevent the spread of disease.

Plan and train

Have a written biosecurity plan that is updated regularly. Ensure that employees receive proper training and training materials so they can continue to follow the plan.

 for more information http://www.inspection.gc.ca

Biosecurity - Establish Response Plan

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 21, 2011 06:14

Establish response plans for potential disease situations

Contact a veterinarian if you see unusual rates of disease or death.

Work with your veterinarian to have a "disease response plan" in place for suspected cases of contagious or reportable diseases. A disease response plan should include:

  • triggers for the response plan (for example, numerous animals showing signs of disease, a significant decrease in production, a lack of response to routine treatments, unanticipated mortality rates),
  • details of whom to contact,
  • plans for limiting movements of animals, people or vehicles on or off the premises, and
  • other measures determined by you and your veterinarian.
  • for more information http://www.inspection.gc.ca


Biosecurity - Observe Horses (animals) for Signs of Disease

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 20, 2011 15:39

Observe animals for signs of disease

Ensure workers are knowledgeable and experienced in recognizing signs of disease. They should be able to do this by observing animals’ production levels, behaviour, clinical signs, and feed and water consumption.

for more information:   http://www.inspection.gc.ca



Animal Health Management

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 20, 2011 15:36

Manage animal movements

Plan animal introductions, their movement within the premises and their removal from the premises. This includes using management strategies such as:

  • permanently identifying all animals and keeping records for traceability,
  • testing animals before introduction,
  • following post arrival isolation procedures,
  • scheduling animal movements ahead of time, and
  • maximizing downtime in production areas between animal groups.

Practice animal identification and good record keeping. It is important to participate in traceability systems where available.

for more information :  http://www.inspection.gc.ca



Equine Biosecurity

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 20, 2011 15:27

Basic Principles of Biosecurity

Putting preventive measures in place to keep animals healthy has been a long-standing and successful practice on Canadian farms. These measures form a biosecurity plan. A biosecurity plan should address how you manage animal, vehicle and human access on the farm; animal health; and operations.

By following the principles below and working with a veterinarian you can play a significant role in keeping your animals and your industry as healthy as possible.

Access Management

Designate distinct zones

Establish distinct zones where varying levels of protection are needed. Define these zones with fences (or other features) and identify them with signs.

Control movements in and between designated zones

Control movements of people, animals, equipment and vehicles

  • into a designated zone,
  • out of a designated zone, and
  • between the designated zones.

This can be done through the use of controlled access points.

for more information http://www/inspection.gc.ca





Equine Infectious Anemia in Western Canada (aka EIA, Swamp Fever)

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 20, 2011 10:59

Ottawa, September 7, 2011: Canada's control program for equine infectious anemia (EIA) has made significant progress in reducing the prevalence of the disease in Canada. However, despite the best efforts of the horse industry and governments, EIA continues to be detected in Western Canada, particularly in the northern parts of British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as in Yukon.

Infected animals that leave these areas pose a significant risk to other animals.

Horse owners and owners of properties where horses co-mingle should take measures to protect their animals—particularly if they are purchasing or receiving animals from the areas mentioned above.

Horse owners should consult their veterinarian and take appropriate steps to prevent the disease, such as

  • having horses from these geographic areas or horses of unknown origin tested for EIA
  • applying appropriate biosecurity measures to minimize the risk of EIA

EIA is a viral disease of horses transmitted mainly via

  • insects that bite
  • equipment (needles, dental tools) contaminated with blood containing the virus
  • breeding

EIA poses no risk to people, but infected horses carry the virus for life. There is no treatment or vaccine for this disease.

By the end of 2011, the CFIA intends to initiate a comprehensive review of Canada's EIA control program with industry.

For more information on EIA, please visit www.inspection.gc.ca or call the CFIA at 1-800-442-2342.


CFIA Guide to Protecting Your Horses (animals) Health

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   September 20, 2011 10:45

Observe animals for signs of disease

Monitoring the appearance and behaviour of your animals is one of the many things you can do to protect animal health. If you do observe any signs of disease among your animals consult with a veterinarian or the nearest CFIA office as soon as possible.

Observe your animals' production levels, behaviour, clinical signs and feed and water consumption. Signs of disease could include:

  • loss of appetite,
  • weight loss,
  • abnormal behavior, and
  • unexplained death.

Keep up to date about any disease in your area. The more information you have, the better able you will be to respond. A disease event in your area should increase your level of biosecurity preparedness or even trigger your disease response plan.

The CFIA's activities include:

  • Disease control to guard against the entry of foreign animal diseases and to prevent the spread of certain domestic animal diseases.
  • Disease surveillance to recognize and deal with emerging animal disease problems in Canada.

for more information:  http://www.inspection.gc.ca