Monday, August 20, 2018

Understanding and Preventing Sleeping Sickness

Eileen Coite, Sampson County Cooperative Extension

Since we have seen several cases of Eastern Equine Encephalomyelitis (EEE) in the area this summer, I thought it may be helpful to spend a few minutes reviewing the disease, how it affects horses, and how it can be prevented.

Encephalomyelitis, or commonly known as sleeping sickness, is a disease of the nervous system in horses, but can also be a threat to humans.  There are three strains of the disease, Eastern, Western, and Venezuelan.  Horses are the last host in the Eastern and Western strain, so disease will not spread from them.  The Venezuelan strain can spread from horse to horse, or horse to human.  Mosquitos are the primary vector which transmit the disease, while birds and wild animals can carry the disease and act as a reservoir.

Possible symptoms of the disease are fever, neurological problems, such as wandering, staggering, vision problems, droopy lip, and teeth grinding.  Paralysis may occur with disease progression.  Slow recovery may occur over several weeks, but each strain of encephalomyelitis may be fatal.  Unfortunately, over 90% with EEE will die, 25-50% with WEE, and 75% with VEE.  There is no treatment for the disease, other than supportive veterinary care. 

What’s most important to remember is that Encephalomyelitis is preventable, through vaccination.  It is recommended to vaccinate twice a year (spring and fall) for EEE in our region of the US.  Vaccines are highly effective, affordable, and may be combined with other vaccines.  Vaccines are readily available at many feed and animal health supply stores, and are certainly available through large animal or equine veterinarians.  Please make sure to schedule a fall and spring vaccination for your equines, every year, and follow your veterinarian’s advice. 

Monday, August 13, 2018

EEE Alert!

With the onset of the sixth confirmed Eastern Equine Encephalitis case in NC this year, we hope everyone has their equines vaccinated!  Please help us spread the word across North Carolina, particularly in the east with the rainy weather we have had, and hurricane season upon us.   The following update was recently sent by NCDA&CS regarding recent, unfortunate cases of EEE:

NC Cooperative Extension Forage Resources

If you are considering planting a new pasture, doing pasture renovation or overseeding existing pasture you might need a little guidance.  Did you know that NC Cooperative Extension has free publications on almost every aspect of getting pasture established?  Here are some of my favorite forage related publications, but make sure you check out what else NC Cooperative Extension has to offer!

As always if you need any help with your forages, call your local Extension Agent!

Friday, August 10, 2018

THURSDAY, AUG. 9, 2018

CONTACT:Dr. Michael Neault, director of livestock health programs
NCDA&CS Veterinary Division

Troxler encourages horse owners to vaccinate against EEE
Cases on the rise; mosquito-borne disease usually deadly to equine

RALEIGH – The N.C. Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services recently confirmed a sixth positive case of 
Eastern Equine Encephalitis for 2018. In the last month there have been confirmed cases in Richmond, Onslow, 
Duplin, Craven and Carteret counties. In all cases, the equines had no records of vaccinations or were not vaccinated 
by a licensed veterinarian.

“Last year we didn’t reach six cases of EEE in the state until October,” said Agriculture Commissioner Steve Troxler. “The 
excess rain this year, or just an increase in mosquito population, could be attributing to the early onset of cases.

 “EEE is a mosquito-borne disease that causes inflammation or swelling of the brain and spinal cord in equine and is 
usually fatal,” he said. “The disease is preventable by vaccination. If you haven’t already vaccinated your horses, 
mules and donkeys, contact your veterinarian to make sure your animals are protected.”

Symptoms of EEE include impaired vision, aimless wandering, head pressing, circling, inability to swallow, irregular 
staggering gait, paralysis, convulsions and death. Once a horse has been bitten by an infected mosquito, it may take 
three to10 days for symptoms to appear.If your horses or other equine animals exhibit any symptoms of EEE, 
contact your veterinarian immediately.

Troxler recommends that equine owners talk to their veterinarians about an effective vaccination protocol to protect 
horses from EEE and another mosquito-borne disease, West Nile virus. There is a combination vaccine for these two 
diseases that initially requires two doses, 30 days apart, for horses, mules and donkeys that have no prior vaccination 
history. Troxler recommends equine owners work with their veterinarian to develop an appropriate plan for booster 

People, horses and birds can become infected from a bite by a mosquito carrying the diseases, but there is no evidence that 
horses can transmit the viruses to other horses, birds or people through direct contact.

NCDA&CS Public Affairs Division, Andrea Ashby, Director
Mailing Address:1001 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1001
Physical Address: 2 West Edenton Street, Raleigh NC 27601
Phone: (919) 707-3001; FAX: (919) 733-5047

Monday, August 6, 2018

To Graze or Not to Graze

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For most horses, spending time grazing in the pasture is natural.  However, for some horses that is not what the doctor ordered.  Some metabolic disorders can be made worse by grazing.  Here are some articles that may help you determine what is best for your horse. 

A study was done a few years back in England to determine the efficacy of grazing muzzles.  The study used four ponies as opposed to full size horses.  Pasture intake was allowed on four, three-hour occasions.  Results indicated that grazing muzzles reduced the forage intake by 83% over the three hour grazing event.  This suggests that forage intake by ponies can be reduced through the use of grazing muzzles. 

Monday, July 30, 2018

Horse Pasture Planning & Design

Designing horse pastures from a blank canvas can be overwhelming.  How do you know where to put fence, gates, dry lots, run-in sheds, barns, and waterers?  A lot depends on the acreage, number of horses, grazing goals, and horse management.  Will the pasture be a major feed source or more for exercise?  Do you want to rotate pastures for better grazing management?  Here are a few tips to keep in mind when you start planning your horse pastures:

1.      Barn/Facility Location: Choose a central location that is on high ground for your main facilities that you pastures can lead back into.  Never put a barn in a low area that does not drain well or on the other side of your property where it is hard to get to.
2.      Pastures: Plan your pastures based on your stocking rates (how many horses you have per acre) and also your grazing goals.  If a horse is given 24/7 turnout on one pasture, you will likely need 2-3 acres per horse to avoid overgrazing and so there is enough to graze throughout the year.  If you are able to design multiple pastures with a dry lot, you can increase your stocking rate but keep in mind your grazing management will also increase.  It is ideal to rotate horses from one pasture to another once the grass is grazed down so the grass can rest and regrow.  This helps prevent overgrazing, weeds, selective grazing, and other issues associated with grazing the same pasture 24/7 with no rest.

3.      Consider the Environment/Topography:  Avoid fencing in areas that contain a pond, creek, or wetlands.  This is to protect the horse but also to protect water quality.  Wet areas can harbor bacteria, insects, and weeds.  Horses can also get injured in those area if they get stuck or fall.  Also, make sure you plan pastures according to topography.  If an area is too steep or rocky, avoid using that area because it will not make a productive pasture and can be hard to manage.
4.      Dry Lot: Dry lots are recommended (area free of vegetation with stable footing and a shelter) for most horse farms for better horse and pasture management.  If a horse needs restricted turnout or is injured, a dry lot is a safe place that can provide some exercise and socialization with other horses.  If pastures need rest or maintenance, horses can be placed on a dry lot and given hay until the pastures are ready to graze again.

5.      Gates, Fencing, Water, Shelter: Place gates in easy access walking areas, avoid corners and low areas.  Make sure the gate is at least 12 feet wide so equipment can go through the opening.  Smaller gate openings can also be dangerous for walking horses through.  Perimeter fencing should be woven wire, wooden, or electric fencing to provide a good barrier.  Internal fencing can be temporary electric fencing.  Only use electric fencing if horses are trained to it and maintenance is kept up.  Avoid using barb wire fencing.  Water placement should be near a common area where it is convenient to check and clean.  Ideally, you want water placed where it can serve multiple pastures (such as a dry lot area).  Either natural or man-made shelter should be available in each pasture (or each pasture have access back to a dry lot or shelter).

6.      Safety:  Pastures should be rectangle if possible to encourage exercise and to avoid injury.  Consider your horse’s safety in every aspect of pasture and facility planning.

These are just a few tips to get you started in the planning process when it comes to designing horse pastures.  Consider talking with your Extension Agent for further information and a farm visit to work on the design process together.  Setting up your horse farm for success takes time and careful planning, do not cut corners and rush the process!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Senior Horse Feed

When it comes to feeding our older horses, there are many factors to consider.  NC State's Dr. Shannon Pratt-Phillips provides some excellent advice in this article when selecting feeds for your senior horses: