Friday, January 29, 2010

Some Headlines To Share...

Lots going on in the animal world, some funny, some tragic and some hopeful...browse the stories and share your thoughts...

World's Animal Groups Work To Help Animals In Haiti
Three cheers for the animal rescue and aid organizations for working together for the animals of Haiti, which in turn helps the people of Haiti...and the rest of us!  

New Zealand Dog Shooting - Dispute Between Neighbors
Since when does a 'dispute' between neighbors lead to the shooting of dogs?  This has folks riled up from the top down.

Chicken Plays Chicken in CA
Should the Rescue Ink guys or some Manitoba Chicken catchers head down to help out?  One black chicken is giving some pretty 'black' eyes in a California town.

Expanded Animal Shelter in Windsor room to care for animals is a good thing...

BLM Finds Round Up Stress
Are they following the spirit or the letter of the law?  Is it about what is best for the horses and the land?  How can 22 horses die in a round up that is supposed to be humane?

Acton School Vandals Kill Fish
Fish? C'mon! What did the fish do to them?

D.C. Animal Watch
A smattering of what our D.C. friends deal with...

China Changing The Menu?
Controversy surrounds movement in China to remove dog and cat from menus...for the animals or for the politics?

OSPCA Retains Reins to Humane Society
The troubled Toronto Humane Society will remain under the watchful eye of the OSPCA.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Wintering Well

“Wintering Well”

 We’ve had a few successive “soft” winters, but this year we’re starting off with what’s looking like one of the old fashioned kind. November has been overcast, blustery, quite cool, and we have nearly two feet (60 cm. plus) of snow on the level in our neck of the woods.  Good sleighing - poor trucking!

Recollecting life on the homestead in northeast Saskatchewan in the early 1940’s, I remember bands of horses ranging free in winter, travelling through the yard, and on to the stubble fields or next hay meadow. In the spring, “winter lumberjacks” would become “summer stubble jumpers“, catching up and laying claim to an outfit for seeding, haying, bindering, stook threshing, perhaps hauling wood, before turning the horses loose, and themselves heading back  to the winter bush camps. We had our feed stacks fenced in next to the barn, protected and handy for Mom and her wee boys to feed our own stock, horses haltered and housed, handled  and hitched every day.  Quite a contrast, but those running out and those stabled in all seemed to prosper! I’m recounting this because it seems we are now in an age of “free expression” on standards of equine care. “Those who think they know may be a source of some annoyance to those of you who do!”

The “Recommended Code of Practice for the Care and Handling of Horses”, developed in 1998 and currently under review, remains a voluntary educational tool, promoting sound management and welfare practices. The recommendations cover a wide gamut of horse husbandry levels of care, based on the best knowledge currently available. Recognition of the basic elements of responsible care: comfort and shelter, water and diet for full health and vigor, opportunity for reasonable movement, the company of others of like kind, the opportunity to exhibit normal patterns of behavior, prevention or rapid diagnosis and treatment of abnormal behavior, injury and disease, emergency procedures to cover outbreaks of fire, the breakdown of essential mechanical services and the disruption of supplies ….these constitute the starting point of this 34 page document with which all
horse persons should be familiar.

Knowledgeable experienced horse people will generally be aware. “Fair weather” horse people, inexperienced owners, and those who have become “horse poor” are more likely to make judgment errors negatively affecting their animals over winter.

Horses should be in good body condition and health going into winter. We need to plan for them, because they can’t plan for themselves. If they are going to range out, they need range with enough residual to maintain weight with the higher energy requirements of the season. They need salt, mineral, and a source of water, especially in the transition period between freeze up and sufficient snowfall for them to meet their fluid needs. They should have been de-wormed after the first good killing frost to deal especially with large and small strongyles, pinworms and bots. Any dental problems need to have been checked out. All in a band should be reasonably compatible, with the very young and old grouped separately. Hooves trimmed, halters off and kept under a watchful eye.

Young horses in training, horses in everyday use may be kept at home, fed and exercised outside or stabled all or part time. I believe horses are by and large healthier and happier kept out. Fewer respiratory problems, fewer vices and boredom habits, a better attitude and a whole lot less work result. You need a well ventilated stable.  You need the very best of high quality dust and mould free preferably grass-legume hay. You need clean heavy weed-seed free oats. Barley and wheat are down the list as suitable horse feed unless you‘re planning on sending them to Japan. And you may need some oat straw for them to chew on to balance out the need for adequate roughage in the ration. A little flax seed will put a shine on the coats. A horse should be groomed from the inside out and the outside in!

Now, it’s a matter of your eye. You will know which one’s are easy keepers. You don’t want them to get too fat. Rest and fat are the two worst enemies of the horse (and us too!). Some will be hard keepers and take more to keep them up.  Sometimes there’s a reason for this (bad teeth, parasitism, nervous temperament, bottom end of the pecking order, poor digestion, heaves, overwork, manger fever, altitude disease, not all correctable). Sometimes that’s just their metabolism and you’ve got to feed them more.

Watch their eye, which should always be bright and full. Watch their eating, drinking habits, level of physical activity, and the degree of interaction with others. Note body eliminations for volume, consistency and colour. When you put him to work, does he stay the course? Along with coat and hoof health you’ll have a measure of overall wellness.

Next spring when he’s shed all that hair and you’ve found your horse again, let’s hope he’s wintered well!

B.W.R. Rothwell, D.V.M

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Winter Feeding Tips

Courtesy Dr. Brynne Rothwell and Kathy Hyland

Winter-feeding of livestock

Livestock can adapt to living outside during the cold season; however, owners must be vigilant to ensure the welfare of their animals.

          ¯  Livestock feel the cold - provide shelter from wind and rain, snow or ice

¯  Livestock need energy to stay warm – increase feed rations at low outside  

¯  Livestock can only eat so much – provide supplemental feeds if roughage   
   (hay) does not meet the animals’ energy needs

¯ Livestock need water – provide water regularly or consider heated water
    sources. Check water sources daily. Snow is not an acceptable source of         

¯  Livestock shouldn’t lose weight – observe animals closely and address
     weight loss immediately

Keepin’ Up the BTU’s

Three to the barn for oats and hay
           Orderly entering their stalls
A morning routine, pampered
           Creatures of habit in every way

Two hours in, then out to play
            Happy, curried and fed
Packed snow shed, from hooves
             Two harnessed and hitched to the sleigh

Two stand too close! TIMBER! Not understood
              As I fall and block
Split and pile, harvest
               Dead standing wood

Three follow me, axe in hand
                I open a hole in the ice
Each drinks in respectful turn
                “Order of rank” in the band

Atop the dugout mound of clay
                Three stand sleepily content
Broadside to the warming winter sun
                 On this clear crisp November day
                                                                          Rothwell 2006”

Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada

Not that long ago, when all the furor arose about the horse meat and horse slaughter industry, a group of concerned and caring horse people in Canada came together. 

Their goal, much like that of their counterparts in the US, was to create a united voice to provide information and increase knowledge about the horse industry in Canada.  There are many welfare issues concerning horses in Canada, and by education and advocating the people within the industry can provide information and support towards better care for all horses, across Canada and provide an example for the rest of the world.

Towards that end they have formed the Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada which has a website, Horse Welfare Alliance,  and has many articles and resources posted.  The objectives of the HWAC are simple: 

The communication of correct information related to the Canadian horse industry to horse owners and the general public.


The Horse Welfare Alliance of Canada will:
  1. support the existing education programs of each of its partners
  2. promote humane handling of horses throughout all of their life stages.
  3. inform its constituents and partners of matters and issues related to the welfare of the horse population.
  4. enhance public awareness of matters and issues relating to the welfare of the horse and the horse industry.
  5. strive to network with other organizations who might assist the Alliance in the achievement of its purpose and objectives.
I would encourage you to check out their site, and also cross link and share resources.  Informed people make informed decisions!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A thought for a new year...

...wouldn't it be great to not need rescue groups, animal shelters or humane societies?  Wouldn't it be great to not need someone to tell us how to farm, eat, play, or enjoy our animal friends?  Wouldn't it be a great new year if all old dogs got homes?  Wouldn't it be great__________________________(fill in your blank).

Sadly, this probably won't be the year that this wish comes true, so instead we all continue to work together to make things better for animals when their worlds are no longer safe or kind to them.  I am sitting at my computer with our special dog friends around me, our animals are outside enjoying abundant hay, fluffy bedding and fresh, clean water.  The bird feeders are full, the suet cakes are fresh and the cats smell like the hay stack (sorry mice you don't get much but thanks for being a good snack :-) ).  How many animals, though, within a few miles of us are sucking on dry, cold snow?  Pawing at the ground for meager bits of winter grass?  Huddling against whatever offers even a slight break from the cold wind?  If there is even one it's one too many...

We did our family Christmas photos by the old farm truck and another set out in the bush.  Earl built a fire, we had our photos, cleaned up some deadwood and roasted hot dogs for a snack.  The cattle and horses eyed the fire and as it burnt down we watched them from the warmth of the house...the horses stood close to the embers for the warmth.  The cows sniffed around and then stood heads down over the last bits of the smoke. The cold ashes the next morning showed many signs of curious noses and hooves...used to summer smudges they were very interested in this winter fire.

How are your animals faring?  Have you noticed any who are needing some extra care?  What were you able to do to help them?  Let's make this a year which has fewer animals in need of urgent rescue and a year where more people become educated and proactive when it comes to animal welfare - for all animals, all the time.