Sunday, December 4, 2011

Changes in the status of horse slaughter

This is a tough subject. There has been a lot of inaccurate or incomplete reporting, but here is a good summary of the facts. If you really want to do something about what happens to unwanted horses see and its Unwanted Horse Project

From the AAEP:

Congress Passes USDA Appropriations Bill - USDA Inspection of Horse Processing Allowed to Resume

A provision that had prohibited USDA funds being used for personnel inspecting the slaughter process at horse processing facilities was not included in the Fiscal Year 2012 Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science, and Transportation/Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bills signed into law by President Obama on Nov. 18. The appropriations bill passed the House on a vote of 298-121, while the Senate voted 70-30 in favor of the bill. The bill funds a variety of federal programs and agencies and is not solely a bill addressing horse processing.

What does the passing of this bill mean for horse processing?

It means that USDA can now pay inspectors to inspect horses and meat that may be processed for human consumption at U.S. plants.

This bill does not, however, appropriate any new money to pay for these inspections. The USDA would have to find the money in the funds appropriated in the FY' 12 bill.

Is there a federal law that has been reversed?

No. There has been no law passed or changed dealing with processing itself. There is no current prohibition on the processing of horses in the U.S. The federal bills introduced in Congress to prohibit this are still before Congress. The only change is that for the past five years the USDA was not allowed to fund the inspection of horses at the plants - even though no plants were open - and now they are should a plant begin operating.

Will horse processing plants open?

While a plant could open and start processing horses, it should be understood that this appropriations bill is only good until September 30, 2012. In addition, as mentioned above, there are two bills currently in Congress proposing to ban horse processing in the U.S.: H.R. 2966 and S. 1176.

Due to state laws passed in Texas and Illinois, the home of the last plants to process horses in the U.S. in 2007, the processing of horses for human consumption in those states, even with USDA inspections allowed, will not be possible. Horse processing also is banned in California.

Does AAEP support the reopening of processing plants in the U.S?

With challenging economic times continuing to impact the United States, the large number of horses in our country that are considered unwanted and without viable care options remains a tremendous concern. Because of the increased potential for abuse, neglect and abandonment faced by this population of horses combined with the lack of financial resources for their long-term care, the AAEP does not oppose the reopening of processing facilities in the United States provided the facilities meet the following provisions:

1. Strict oversight of operations by the U.S. Department of Agriculture under the Commercial Transport of Horses to Slaughter Act and the regulations there under, including the presence of and inspections by USDA veterinarians at the facilities.

2. Horses are euthanized by trained personnel in a humane manner in accordance with the requirements of federal law and guidelines established by the American Veterinary Medical Association.

3. Transportation to the production facility is conducted according to the law and guidelines established by the USDA.

When other humane options do not exist, the AAEP supports processing as an acceptable form of euthanasia under these controlled conditions.

Additional Resources:

History of USDA inspection funding
Since 2007, no federal money has been allowed to be used to inspect horse slaughter facilities in the U.S., as stipulated in the Agricultural Appropriations bill over the past five years. Without U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) inspections, horse processing facilities could not process horses for human consumption because the meat could not be shipped internationally or interstate and a majority of the market for horse meat is overseas. Although this clause had support due to the undesirable idea of horse meat for human consumption in the U.S., many, including the AAEP, believe the ban had "unintended consequences" and this was again emphasized in a June 22, 2011 report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) titled - "Horse Welfare: Action Needed to Address Unintended Consequences from Cessation of Domestic Slaughter."

Monday, November 21, 2011

Red Maple Toxicity

Red maple Leaves can be extremely toxic to horses, but the frequency of clinical problems is fairly low. Silver maples can also be involved. These trees are very common and often have been in the horse's paddocks for many years. The toxic principal has not been identified but causes rupture of red blood cells(hemolysis) and methemaglobinemia (...

AAEP White Paper on Theraputics for Performance Horses

This is a consensus paper from the AAEP and is a pretty uncompromising viewpoint. We should all aspire to a mindset where we depend on training and not pharmacology to aid our horses in performing to the best of their ability. It is no favor to the ho...

USEF NSAID rules change as of 12/1/11

A reminder that the rule allowing two NSAIDs expires 11/30/11. After that date only one NSAID is allowed. See

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

West Nile in Frederick, MD

From the Maryland Department of Agriculture:

WNV: A 2 year-old pony at a Frederick County farm is the state's first probable WNV equine case of 2011. The pony's onset was Sept. 26 and clinical signs included ataxia, depression, staggering, and muscle fasciculations. The pony presented with a mildly elevated temperature, which gradually decreased over the next few days. The pony had no prior vaccination history for WNV or EEE, but was previously vaccinated against rabies. No travel history was noted, although other horses did regularly come and go from the property. A serum specimen tested positive at 1:400 dilution via IgM-capture ELISA at the Virginia Dept of Agriculture Animal Health Laboratory. The pony was treated with Acyclovir, DMSO, and Marquis and has since made a nearly full recovery. No other illness was re-ported in other animals on the farm.

In addition to the probable equine WNV infection, Maryland has also reported: 19 human WNV cases, 17 WNV-positive mosquito pools (including 11 reported by the Department of Defense), six WNV-positive birds, and three mosquito pools positive for Cache Valley virus.

Even though West Nile has decreased in incidence, it is still with us, it is worth noting that the pony was unvaccinated.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Horse dewormers and dogs - a bad combination

Common dewormers, particularly ivermectin (Eqvalan,Zimectrin) and moxidectin (Quest, Quest Plus) are toxic to dogs and cats in surprisingly small quantities. Symptoms include blindness, unsteadiness, inability to walk , and even death. There is no specific antidote but most will recover with supportive care. The active drugs in both are used in these species therapeutically but at much smaller doses than are in even a drop of dewormer. Collies and collie type dogs such as Aussies are even more susceptible. Do not allow dogs to eat horse dewormer that has been spit out during attempted administration, do not leave unopened packages where a curious puppy could chew on them, and dispose of the used dose syringes in a secure manner.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Equine Veterinary Exhibition at NIH

A rainy day project:

NLM announces new exhibition on the history of horse veterinary medicine

From July 11 through October 7, the National Library of Medicine, a component of the National Institutes of Health, is hosting a new exhibition, "From Craft to Profession: The Transition from Horse Farrier to Professional Veterinarian," in the NLM History of Medicine Reading Room, Building 38, on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Md. This exhibition showcases original illustrated manuscripts and early printed books from the Library's collections featuring the care and treatment of horses over the past five centuries.

AAEP White Paper on Wild Horses

While this will not satisfy people interested in alternatives to capture, it is a comprehensive look at the present methods of capture and subsequent treatment of wild horses and burros. It is worth noting that with the downturn in the economy, the adoption of wild horses has dropped and many are being maintained in a semi wild state for their lifetime.

Infectious Disease Update

Eastern Equine Encephalitis has been reported in Wisconsin and North Carolina. A case of West Nile Encephalitis has been reported in California. These are sporadic outbreaks which do not spread from horse to horse and will probably always be with us. Vaccination is protective.

Forty horses on an Arkansas farm died or were euthanized due Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA). The disease is rare but if a positive case is on a farm unnoticed the results can be devastating.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

University of Maryland College of Agriculture and Natural Resources Open House

The University of Maryland, College of Agriculture and Natural Resources’ (AGNR) Open House will be held on Saturday, October 1, 2011, from 10:00 am. – 3:00 p.m., at the Central Maryland Research and Education Center – Clarksville Facility, 4240 Folly Quarter Road, Ellicott City, in Howard County, Maryland.  It’s FREE and open to the 
public – rain or shine.

Prepare for a day of fun and learning for the whole family – regardless of age! Interactive and educational displays will show the wide array of programs AGNR has to offer. From formal instruction in the classroom to informal instruction in the community, and from research in the field to the laboratory, attendees will find the College is so much more than traditional agriculture.

See the horses (our Equine Rotational Grazing Demonstration Site is located here!), cows, chicks, and the wide variety of programs for 4-H youth...make gummy bears...take a hay wagon farm  tour...visit displays and exhibits on everything from food safety to environmental research...participate in numerous hands-on activities...get a glimpse of what our students are with an AGNR representative...and get your plant questions answered by a Master Gardener!

Passports are the way to go when there is so much for kids to see and do - get all of the stations punched on the passport and get a prize. Learning has never been so much fun!

Visit WWW.AGNROPENHOUSE.UMD.EDU or call 301-596-9330 for more information.

Please forward this to your family, friends, and community groups. It's a great way to give them insight into what we do and how all the components in the College work together to serve the citizens of Maryland and beyond! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

New lab test for Lyme Disease at Cornell

Cornell has announced a new test for Lyme disease in horses and dogs.    This is a step forward and is probably superior to other available tests but will not resolve all of the ambiguity involved in testing for Lyme disease in horses.