Sunday, June 26, 2022

Drones for monitoring feral horses

© Mantvydas Krikstaponis Dreamstime.com
 Drones provide a way to monitor feral horse populations while causing only low levels of disturbance.

Javier Lenzi and co-workers at the Department of Biology, University of North Dakota, evaluated the behavioural response of feral horses in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, to a fixed wing drone (Trimble UX5), as part of larger surveying project. 

 

The drone has a 1 metre wingspan, a rear propellor and weighs 2.5 kg. It was flown directly above the animals at an altitude of 120m. Video recordings were analysed by the research team in ten second sections.

            

They found that, although horses did respond to the presence of the drone, they did not show escape responses, which would have been expected in ground surveys or traditional low-level aerial surveys. Feeding, traveling, and vigilance behaviours increased, while resting and grooming decreased in response to the drone flight.

 

The researchers also observed the reaction of bison to the drone. Bison also showed increased feeding and travelling and decreased resting and grooming.

 

Reporting their findings in the journal Drones, the authors suggest that “the drone used in this study might have been perceived by horses and bison as low risk, possibly given the high altitude and small drone size. Our results showed that individuals did not display escape behaviour, and even increased feeding activities in response to drone flights at 120 m above ground level.”

 

They conclude that that drones “may serve as an appropriate tool for surveys of these species with low levels of disturbance, unlike other stressful sources.”

 

For more details, see:

 

Feral Horses and Bison at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (North Dakota, United States) Exhibit Shifts in Behaviors during Drone Flights 

Javier Lenzi, Christopher J. Felege, Robert Newman, Blake McCann and Susan N. Ellis-Felege

Drones (2022), 6(6), 136.

https://doi.org/10.3390/drones6060136

Obesity and cardiovascular changes

 Obesity has a significant impact on the structural changes in cardiovascular tissue in horses, a recent study has found.

Obesity is known to have significant adverse effects on horse health.  Laminitis is an obvious example, but it can also contribute to other problems such as those affecting soundness or fertility

 

In humans, obesity is recognised as a risk factor for cardiovascular problems. However, until now there has been little research into the effect of obesity on the wider cardiovascular tissues of horses. 

 

A recent study by Natalia Siwinska and colleagues at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Wroclaw University of Environmental and Life Sciences assessed the impact of obesity on the microscopic structure of the heart muscle and selected arteries in horses.

 

They conducted post-mortem examinations on 19 draft slaughter horses, comparing specimens from twelve extremely obese (body condition score (BCS 9/9) and seven with normal body condition (BCS 4-5/9). They examined specimens of heart muscle and major blood vessels (aorta, pulmonary, coronary and palmar arteries). A report of the work is published in the journal Animals.

 

The researchers found significant changes in the heart muscle and vessels in obese horses compared with those in normal condition. 

 

Obese animals had increased amounts of pericardial and cardiac fat, and the intima (the inner layer) of the pulmonary artery, coronary arteries and palmar arteries was thicker, compared with the healthy animals. They also found changes in palmar arteries in obese horses, which had a larger lumen diameter and the lumen-to-total diameter ratio compared to the control group.

 

The structural changes that they found are like those observed in people. The researchers suggest that these changes “may be an indicator of subclinical dysfunction, which could lead to severe disease.” 

 

They suggest that the direct effects of obesity on cardiovascular health and function in horses require further exploration

 

 

For more details, see:

 

Influence of Obesity on Histological Tissue Structure of the Cardiovascular System in Horses. 

Siwinska, N.; Janus, I.; Zak-Bochenek, A.; Noszczyk-Nowak, A. 

Animals 2022, 12, 732.

https://doi.org/10.3390/ani12060732

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Worm control in Hungary

For some time now, experts have advocated a targeted or strategic approach to worm control, rather than relying on treatment at regular intervals, because of the growing threat of anthelmintic resistance. 

 

A traditional approach to equine parasite control, involving rotating anthelmintic treatments at regular intervals, is still widely used in Hungary, according to a recent report. Almost no farms utilize faecal egg counts (FECs) on a regular basis to guide deworming treatments. 

 

Kinga Joó and her co-workers conducted a study to investigate risk factors associated with strongylid egg counts.The work is reported in Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports.

 

The research team collected faecal samples from 216 sport and pleasure horses, kept on 13 farms in Hungary. The horses ranged from 5 months to 30 years of age, and had last received anthelmintic (dewormer) treatment at least 60 days previously.

 

None of the farms involved in the study had previously used FECs to guide deworming treatments on a regular basis. 

 

Analysis of the results showed:

  • most of the faecal worm egg production was due to a limited number of horses. Only 22% of horses were responsible for 80% of the total strongyle egg output. This is in line with findings of other studies.
  • young horses (less than 5 years of age) had significantly higher FECs than horses 5–17 years old and those aged over 17 years.
  • horses treated with benzimidazoles (eg fenbendazole) at least once a year had significantly higher FECs than equids that had not received benzimidazoles.
  • horses kept at very high stocking densities (>30 horses/ha) had significantly higher EPG-values than horses kept at lower stocking densities.

 

They conclude “the results demonstrate the value of FEC monitoring and indicate that the efficacy of benzimidazoles should be investigated in Hungary. Moreover, our findings demonstrate that reducing stocking density should be considered in cases of high strongylid FECs.”

 

 

For more details, see:

 

Evaluation of risk factors affecting strongylid egg shedding on Hungarian horse farms

Kinga Joó, Roxána L Trúzsi, Csenge Zs Kálmán, Virág Ács, Szilárd Jakab, András Bába, Martin K Nielsen.

Vet Parasitol Reg Stud Reports (2022) 27:100663


doi: 10.1016/j.vprsr.2021.100663

Friday, June 24, 2022

Can probiotics help reduce parasite shedding in foals?

Probiotics are frequently added to horses’ diets with the goal of promoting a healthy microbial environment in the intestinal tract. But does their use have any effect on the worm burden in the gut?

 Research by Dr Robert Jacobs and colleagues at the Purina Animal Nutrition Center suggests that giving probiotics to foals may reduce the number of intestinal parasites they carry.

 

The research was presented at the 2021 virtual Equine Science Symposium. An abstract is published in the Journal of Equine Veterinary Science.

 

Twenty-nine quarter horse foals took part in the study over three consecutive foaling seasons.  Fifteen foals chosen at random were given a probiotic paste twice daily for eight days starting two days after being born. Fourteen foals received no probiotic.

 

(Each dose of probiotic paste contained 2.5 × 109 cfu each of B. subtilis, B. infantis, and L. acidophilus.)

 

The groups were managed similarly – being fed twice daily and being turned out into dry lots during the day.

 

When the foals were 150 days old, the researchers collected faecal samples. The foals had not received any anthelmintic before then. 

 

Analysis showed that “foals in the treatment group had fewer strongyle (1.07 vs 4.57/gm of feces; P = 0.02) and roundworm eggs (101.33 vs 216.00/gm of feces; P = 0.01) than those from the control group.”

 

The authors conclude “that the administration of the probiotic paste to otherwise identically managed groups of foals may reduce their overall parasite load. “

 

They suggest that “further research is needed to understand the mechanisms by which this is occurring and to determine if these effects persist.”

 

For more details, see:

 

Probiotic administration post-foaling may reduce parasite shedding in foals

R.D.Jacobs, M.L.Jerina, B.A.Tremayne

Journal of Equine Veterinary Science (2021)

Volume 100, May 2021, 103565

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jevs.2021.103565

Smoothing the transition for retired Australian racehorses

What physical and behavioural qualities are desired in retired racehorses to help them adapt to a new equestrian career? 

Mollie Buckley, at the Charles Sturt School of Agricultural, Environmental and Veterinary Sciences, in Australia, is conducting research to address the current lack of knowledge about what makes former racehorses succeed in their new occupations. 

 

She is looking for owners of retired racehorses in Australia to take part in an online survey. The project aims to identify attributes shown in retired racehorses (Thoroughbred and Standardbred) that are enjoying a successful post-racing career.

 

The survey will ask questions related to the characteristics and temperament of the retired racehorse, both on the ground and when ridden.

 

Buckley hopes that this research will help the Australian racing industry smooth the process of re-homing racehorses after they retire from the track.

All previous and current owners of retired racehorses are encouraged to participate in the research.

 

The online survey closes on Monday 25 July, and takes approximately 20 minutes to complete.

 

For more details, and to complete the survey, go to:

 

https://www.research.net/r/Retired-Racehorses

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Eriskay Ponies sought for genetic study

© Thomas Langlands | Dreamstime.com
 Eriskay pony owners are asked to take part in a genetic study to help protect this critically endangered
native breed.

The Eriskay Pony Society is working with genetics experts at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) and the Rare Breeds Survival Trust (RBST) to carry out the biggest ever survey of Eriskay Pony DNA.

 

The Eriskay is a small pony, standing 124-138cm (12.0-13.2 hands) high. Traditionally they worked on the crofts (smallholdings), carrying loads such as seaweed, and peat, in baskets (“creels”) slung over their backs. They were also used for light draught work. 

 

Eriskay ponies are among the last representatives of the original native ponies of the Western Isles of Scotland, and are probably one of the oldest and purest breeds in the United Kingdom. 

 

Their isolation on the remote island of Eriskay in the Outer Hebrides helped protect them from introduction of other breeds. On many of the Scottish islands, native ponies were “improved” by breeding with larger stallions. This did not happen on Eriskay, leaving a stock of pure-bred ponies.

 

By the early 1970’s the Eriskay Pony population had dwindled to about 20 animals. Controlled breeding programmes have restored the population to over 400 animals around the world. However, the Eriskay Pony is still classed as “critical” by the Rare Breeds Survival Trust,

 

The DNA analysis, being carried out by NTU’s Medical Technologies Innovation Facility and School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences, involves Professor Philippe Wilson, Dr Samuel White and Dr Andy Dell. The work is supported by funding from the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

 

Professor Wilson explained: “We will be employing state of the art genotyping technologies in order to support a detailed understanding of the genetic status of the Eriskay and will work closely with the breed society to really deliver impact directly to the breeders.”

 

The results of the analysis will be used, in conjunction with the Rare Breed Survival Trust’s Equine Conservation project, to help inform future breeding plans and decision making for this critically endangered breed.

 

Catriona Rowan, Chair of the Eriskay Pony Society explained: “This is a very welcome step forward in our efforts to protect and promote this ancient yet versatile breed.

 

“With such a small gene pool we cannot just rely on the look of ponies and studbook information to make our breeding matches. 

 

She explained “This study, which is open to ANY Eriskay Pony registered with a recognised Eriskay breed Society, either The Eriskay Pony Society or Comann Each Nan Eilean (CENE), will give us a great foundation with which to work. It will be a baseline of information for use in our work with the RBST’s Equine Conservation Project which requires us to provide complex information about our genetic profiles. 

 

“Our work with Nottingham Trent University will give us assessment of genetic variation and molecular basis of inbreeding within the Eriskay Pony breed which will then be collated in an Eriskay Pony Genetic Archive. 

 

“It’s easy for Eriskay owners to get involved. Simply apply to us by emailing info@eriskaypony.org for a testing kit and we will send it free of charge. It’s a simple process using a hair sample, which must be returned to us by the end of July. 

 

“The more samples we have the better the overall picture we can build of the breed and the more useful the information will be. And ANY registered Eriskay Pony can make a contribution, no matter the age or breeding status, so it’s a great way for all owners to support the future of the breed.

 

For more details, or to order a free DNA kit, contact info@eriskaypony.org. Samples must be returned by the end of July.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Signs of moxidectin resistance

https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-grazing-horses-farm-ranch-herd-autumn-daylight-image47393544#res1853317
 Experts have been warning for some time of the danger of ending up with no effective
anthelmintics (dewormers). 

All the available classes of anthelmintic have shown declining efficacy as worms, particularly the cyathostomins (small redworms), become resistant. Moxidectin, a more recent addition to the arsenal is particularly useful for its action against encysted larvae. Until now it has remained relatively unscathed in the battle to hold back the advance of anthelmintic resistance. 

 

However, it seems now that the doomsday scenario is getting nearer as researchers in Australia have shown signs of resistance to moxidectin and combinations of anthelmintics.

 

Ghazanfar Abbas and co-workers conducted a study to assess the efficacy of commonly used anthelmintics against cyathostomins in Australian thoroughbred horses.

They carried out drug efficacy trials on two Thoroughbred stud farms in Victoria, Australia.

Horses were treated with single and combinations of anthelmintics. The researchers used the faecal egg count reduction test (FECRT) to assess the efficacy and egg reappearance period (ERP) of the anthelmintics. 

 

After treatment with an effective anthelmintic the faecal worm egg count (FEC) would be expected to be substantially reduced a couple of weeks later. So, for moxidectin, anything less than a 95% reduction in FEC two weeks after treatment would be taken as an indication of resistance.

 

The worm egg reappearance period (ERP) is the time taken for eggs to reappear in the faeces after successful treatment. It gives an early indication of the development of resistance. 

 

The research team found resistance to various anthelmintics and anthelmintic combinations, (including oxfendazole, abermectin and an oxfendazole/pyrantel combination).  

 

Although moxidectin was highly effective in one farm, producing a 100%  reduction in egg count two weeks after treatment, it showed a shortened ERP. (5 weeks – compared with the expected ERP when the drug is effective of 10 – 12 weeks). Resistance to moxidectin was found on the second farm with reduced efficacy of 90%.


A full report is published in Parasites and Vectors.

 

The authors conclude that the study provides the first evidence of moxidectin and multidrug-resistant (abermectin and combinations of anthelmintics) in cyathostomins in Australia. They suggest the need for continuous surveillance of the efficacy of currently effective anthelmintics and large-scale investigations to assess the ERP for various anthelmintics.

 

For more details, see:

 

Cyathostomin resistance to moxidectin and combinations of anthelmintics in Australian horses

Ghazanfar Abbas, Abdul Ghafar, John Hurley, Jenni Bauquier, Anne Beasley, Edwina J. A. Wilkes, Caroline Jacobson, Charles El-Hage, Lucy Cudmore, Peter Carrigan, Brett Tennent-Brown, Charles G. Gauci, Martin K. Nielsen, Kristopher J. Hughes, Ian Beveridge & Abdul Jabbar 

Parasites & Vectors volume 14, Article number: 597 (2021)

https://doi.org/10.1186/s13071-021-05103-8

 

See also the American Association of Equine Practitioners Parasite Control Guidelines: 

 

https://aaep.org/sites/default/files/Guidelines/AAEPParasiteControlGuidelines_0.pdf

Treating sarcoids with IL-2

A feline interleukin-2 immunomodulator (ALVAC-fIL2) shows promise as a possible treatment for equine sarcoid, a pilot study has shown.

Sarcoids are the most common skin tumour in horses. Currently there is no universally effective treatment, and if treatment fails the sarcoids will often come back worse than they were in the first place. Although the disease is rarely life-threatening, many horses with sarcoids are euthanased because the condition is untreatable or because the horse is unsellable. 

 

Interleukin (IL)-2 is one of the key cytokines (proteins involved in cell signalling). It stimulates cell mediated immunity, activating a range of T-cells. IL-2 is used in human medicine, including for treating cancerous conditions such as metastatic renal cell carcinomas and metastatic melanoma.

 

A canarypox virus vector, which has been genetically modified to contain a gene to produce IL-2, was used in the study. (The product is licenced for use in the treatment of fibrosarcoma in cats.) The technology is widely used in the production of vaccines for horses and other species, including some equine influenza and West Nile virus vaccines.

 

Corey Saba, of the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, Athens Georgia, and colleagues conducted a pilot study, which has been reported in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine. The work was funded by Boehringer Ingelheim. 

 

Fourteen otherwise healthy horses were included in the study. For a start, each sarcoid was measured and photographed, then injected with 1ml ALVAC-fIL2 divided between four or five different sites. Treatment was repeated 1,3 and 7 weeks later.

 

The research team monitored the response for at least a year after the final treatment. They found that size of the sarcoid reduced in 12 of the 14 horses in the study, with complete remission occurring in seven cases (50%). Partial remission occurred in a further five (35%) 

 

An initial response was noted 34 – 406 days (median 89 days) after starting the treatment, and the best response occurred after 56 – 406 days (median 211 days). 

 

Other than transient mild-moderate focal inflammation in two horses, the injections were well-tolerated.

 

The researchers conclude “our results provide evidence that ALVAC-fIL2 is a safe, cosmetic, and effective treatment for sarcoid tumors in horses. Furthermore, our results provide a basis for a larger, placebo-controlled study to better define the role of this treatment in sarcoid tumors in horses.”

 

For more details, see:

 

ALVAC-fIL2, a feline interleukin-2 immunomodulator, as a treatment for sarcoids in horses: A pilot study

Corey Saba, Randall Eggleston, Andrew Parks, John Peroni, Eric Sjoberg, Shelbe Rice, Jesse Tyma, Jarred Williams, Deborah Grosenbaugh, A. Timothy Leard

Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine (2022);1–6.

https://doi.org/10.1111/jvim.16425 

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Wild parsnip and photo-dermatitis

https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-parsnip-wild-pastinaca-sativa-yellow-head-seeds-poisonous-weed-growing-alongside-country-road-much-july-image74016242#res1853317
Wild parsnip has been implicated as a cause of photodermatitis in horses.

 

Clinicians at the Freie Universität Berlin in Germany investigated a series of cases in which horses showed signs of inflammation of unpigmented skin.

 

Judith Winter and colleagues examined nine horses from stables in Berlin and Brandenburg, Germany, which showed variable degrees of erythema, scaling, crusting and necrosis of unpigmented skin on the head and prepuce. Most horses also showed signs of eye involvement: including conjunctivitis, photophobia and blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids).

 

The clinicians found that, although the horses came from three separate yards, all stables were provided with hay from the same supplier.

 

Analysis of the hay showed that it contained large amounts of wild parsnip plants, including seeds and roots.

 

Wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is widespread in Europe. It contains photodynamic pigments, known as furocoumarins. Contact with parts of the plant that contain the toxins, followed by exposure to sunlight, may cause photodermatitis, keratoconjunctivitis and uveitis. It is thought that lesions can occur due to both systemic uptake and direct topical contact.

 

Horses were treated with systemic anti-inflammatory medication as necessary, combined with topical treatment. They were protected from sunlight by being kept in a dark environment or by being treated with sunscreen and facemasks. Depending on the severity of the signs, treatment lasted from 6–30 days

 

Full details of the cases are published in BMC Veterinary Research. 

 

 

For more details, see: 

 

Photodermatitis and ocular changes in nine horses after ingestion of wild parsnip (pastinaca sativa)

JC Winter, K Thieme, JC Eule, E-M Saliu, O Kershaw, H Gehlen (2022).

BMC Vet Res 18, 80 

https://doi.org/10.1186/s12917-022-03162-2








Thursday, May 19, 2022

Investigating worm control measures

 Horses and foals can carry many different parasitic worms in their intestines, some of which can cause severe disease. 

 

 Over recent years it has become recognised that some of the more important worms are developing resistance to the anthelmintics (dewormers) that are used to control them.

 

The seriousness of the problem is highlighted by the fact that resistance to all currently available classes of anthelmintics has been reported in both the cyathostomins (small redworm) and ascarids (large roundworm). Furthermore, there is currently no prospect of any new drugs in the pipeline.

 

It is becoming accepted that we need to adopt a more sustainable approach to deworming.

 

In a letter to the Veterinary Record, Dr Tim Mair and colleagues announced the launch of a collaborative project (ProjectWORMS) which they hope will produce recommendations about the best and safest way to prevent serious worm infestations, whilst limiting the further development of resistance to wormers.

 

The first step is to investigate current thinking and management practices with two online questionnaires – one for horse owner/keepers and one for stud owner/managers. This information is important to be able to develop and promote new and alternative ways of controlling worms that do not add to the problem of anthelmintic resistance

 

Dave Rendle, President Elect of the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) said: “BEVA are pleased to be able to support this important piece of work which will inform decision-making around anthelmintic stewardship going forward. Anthelmintic resistance presents a serious and imminent threat to the equine industry."

 

To take part in the online survey, and for more information, see:

For horse owners/keepers: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WORMSowner

And 

For stud owners/managers: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WORMSstud

US vets help sought for back pain study

 Equine veterinarians in the United States are asked to complete a short online survey on the diagnosis, treatment and management of primary back pain.

 Marianne E. Marshall-Gibson is conducting the research as part of her American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine & Rehabilitation residency studies.

 

The goal is to determine 1) the preference of practitioners when treating primary back pain and 2) the preference of practitioners for treating impinging spinous processes ("kissing spine") in horses in the United States.

 

The survey is open until May 31st, and can be accessed by the following link:

 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeaseBD40iLcO2VEO3B8zsMkO-4heQ-IfcqDEmM6sS_Lb-6hQ/viewform

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Do ponies avoid salt in drinking water?

 Ponies accept drinking water containing low levels of salt and this could potentially be used to help rehydration, according to a recent study.

 Horses lose heat by sweating and in doing so lose sodium as well as water. Sodium plays an important role in numerous functions throughout the body. An increase in plasma sodium concentration is a trigger for thirst.

 

Horse sweat contains high levels of sodium (Na). Excessive sweating may result in the loss of so much sodium that the plasma sodium concentration does not increase enough to trigger drinking. So heavily sweating horses may not voluntarily drink enough water to replenish their body fluids.

 

Could dilute saline solutions be used as drinking water to help combat sodium loss and dehydration? 

 

A study in Germany by Nick Enke and colleagues assessed whether Shetland ponies would notice and tolerate different salt (NaCl) concentrations in their drinking water.

 

Six non-pregnant and non-lactating mares were enrolled in the study, which consisted of three phases. In the first phase only fresh water was provided, as a control. In the second phase, a pairwise-preference test, ponies were given a choice between fresh water and one of six different saline solutions. Finally, the ponies were offered a choice of fresh water and five different NaCl concentrations at the same time.

 

A full report of the work is published in the Animal Science Journal.

 

The researchers report that during the pairwise test, the ponies did not distinguish between fresh water and 0.25% NaCl-water, but demonstrated a clear preference for water containing 0.5%NaCl. Ponies consistently avoided NaCl concentrations above 0.75%. During the free-choice test, the ponies showed a pronounced preference of fresh over saline water. 

 

They noted that sodium intake from a salt lick was not reduced in response to higher sodium intakes in the water. 

 

They conclude: “The ponies exhibited a remarkable sensory discrimination capacity to detect different NaCl concentrations in their drinking water. The acceptance of solutions with low NaCl levels (0.25/0.5%) without adverse effects demonstrates potential as rehydration solution for voluntary intake.”

 

 

For more details, see:

 

Sensitivity of ponies to sodium in the drinking water

Nick Enke, Lea Brinkmann, Karl-Heinz Südekum, Ernst Tholen, Martina Gerken

Anim Sci J (2022);  93(1):e13697.

https://doi.org/10.1111/asj.13697

Friday, April 22, 2022

Effect of blue light on pregnancy outcomes

A horse wearing a mobile light mask
 It has been known for a long time that changing daylength influences equine reproduction. 

The natural breeding season for horses occurs during the brighter months of the year (April onwards in the northern hemisphere). This presents a challenge for breeders that require foals to be born early in the year, and has led to the search for ways to advance the onset of reproductive activity

 

Using stable lighting to artificially prolong the daylight to 16 hours from mid December onwards has been used to stimulate the onset of oestrus activity in mares. Research by Dr Barbara Murphy demonstrated that a similar effect could be produced by shining a low intensity blue light into one eye.

Professor Christine Aurich and her research team at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria have been investigating the effect of blue light treatment on gestation length, and pregnancy outcome. A full report is published in Domestic Animal Endocrinology.

Twenty pregnant Warmblood mares, each carrying a single pregnancy completed the study, which covered two consecutive years. The mares were kept at the Brandenburg State Stud at Neustadt, Germany. During one pregnancy the mares wore a mask* which directed 50 lux blue LED light (468nm) into one eye from 08.00 to 23.00 daily from mid- December onwards. During the second pregnancy the same mares received no treatment, and so acted as controls.

 

The researchers found that pregnancy length was shorter in blue LED light-treated mares than in controls. Foals born to blue LED light-treated mares had lower wither heights, but were of similar weights and took less time to stand after birth than did control foals. 

 

They also noticed differences in hair growth. Foals born to light-treated mares had reduced hair length compared to controls and hair regrowth in treated mares was reduced.

 

They conclude: “foaling can be advanced with head-worn masks emitting blue LED light to a single eye without negative effects on foal maturity. Blue LED light resulted in the birth of slightly smaller foals compared to controls. Furthermore, foals born to blue LED light-treated mares had a shorter hair coat than control foals, demonstrating that artificial light directed at the mare does reach its fetus and accelerates fetal maturation.”

 

* Equilume Light Mask

 

For more details, see:

 

Effects of blue monochromatic light directed at one eye of pregnant horse mares on gestation, parturition and foal maturity

A Lutzer, C Nagel, B A Murphy, J Aurich, M Wulf, C Gautier, Christine Aurich 

Domest Anim Endocrinol (2022)78:106675.

https:doi.org/10.1016/j.domaniend.2021.106675


Thursday, April 21, 2022

Effect of temperature on cyathostomin larval development

The cyathostomins (small strongyles) are the most important group of intestinal parasites of the horse - both numerically, and through their ability to cause disease. Furthermore, they are becoming increasingly difficult to control as they develop resistance to the drugs used against them. 

 Infected horses pass eggs in the manure, contaminating the pasture. These eggs are not infective straight away but need time to develop into the infective third stage larvae (L3).

 

In a laboratory study, researchers investigated the effect of different temperatures on the minimum time taken by cyathostomin eggs to develop into first/second stage larvae (L1/L2), and into infective third stage larvae (L3) in horse faeces.

 

Dr Aurélie Merlin and colleagues assessed the effect of three constant temperatures (10°C, 23°C, 30°C) under laboratory conditions and one fluctuating temperature (mean: 17 ± 4 °C) under outdoor conditions.

 

Their results, published in Veterinary Parasitology: Regional Studies and Reports, show that, depending on temperature, the minimum time taken by eggs to develop into L1/L2 was between 1 and 3 days. The minimum time to develop into L3 was between 4 and 22 days. Development of the eggs to infective L3 larvae was slowest at 10°C and fastest at 30°C.

 

The researchers suggest that their findings will help improve mathematical modelling of parasitic risks in grazing horses.

 

The results support the practice of removing droppings at least twice a week, which should prevent significant contamination of the pasture.

 

 

For more details, see:

 

Effect of temperature on the development of the free-living stages of horse cyathostomins

A Merlin, N Ravinet, C Sévin , M Bernez-Romand, S Petry, M Delerue, L Briot, A Chauvin, J Tapprest, L Hébert 

Vet Parasitol Reg Stud Reports (2022) 28:100687

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vprsr.2022.100687

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Prospect of easier remote monitoring

Purdue University biomedical engineers and veterinarians have developed a remote horse slicker that can be used to monitor a horse’s respiratory, cardiac and muscular systems. The horse slicker is being tested by a horse on a treadmill. (Purdue University photo)
 Remote monitoring of heart, muscle and breathing conditions may become easier following the development of an e-textile slicker (or rug) at Purdue University. 

Biomedical engineers and veterinarians have collaborated to produce the system that can monitor a horse’s cardiac, respiratory and muscular systems using Bluetooth technology. The e-textile garment can be used for long-term management of chronic health conditions in large animals, with the goal to have a version for human use.

 

Another advantage of the e-textile is that veterinarians and their support staff won’t have to shave the horse’s hair or use adhesives to place electrodes on the horse’s skin, which should make it more comfortable for the horse.

 

Findings of how the e-textile works is featured in a study published in the journal Advanced Materials.


Chi Hwan Lee, the Leslie A. Geddes associate professor of biomedical engineering in Purdue’s Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering, said the Purdue team developed a dual regime spray and technique to directly embed a pre-programmed pattern of functional nanomaterials into the fabric to add the e-textile capabilities.

 

“These specially designed e-textiles can comfortably fit to the body of humans or large animals under ambulatory conditions to collect bio-signals from the skin such as heart activity from the chest, muscle activity from the limbs, respiration rate from the abdomen or other vital signs in an extremely slight manner,” Lee said. “Our technology will significantly extend the utility of e-textiles into many applications in clinical settings.”

 

The team’s next steps involve developing continuous 24-hour monitoring of horses with chronic disease or those receiving care in a veterinary ICU.

 

“We believe that our technology will be helpful in diagnosis or management of chronic diseases,” Lee said, especially as demand increases for remote health monitoring.

 

“Remote health monitoring under ambulatory conditions would be useful for farm and household animals, as it could potentially minimize clinic visits, especially in rural areas. It would also increase the efficiency in managing a large number of farm/household animals at once from a distance, even overnight,” he added.

 

A real-life example would be the ability to monitor severe equine asthma, which affects 14% of adult horses.

 

“Continuous monitoring would allow early detection of disease flair-up before it gets serious, offering an opportunity to nip it in the bud,” said Laurent Couëtil, a professor of large animal internal medicine in Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine and collaborator in the study. “Remote monitoring opens the possibility of sending vital information to the veterinarian to help make timely and informed treatment decisions.”

 

For more details, see:

 

A Programmable Dual-Regime Spray for Large-Scale and Custom-Designed Electronic Textiles

Taehoo Chang, Semih Akin, Min Ku Kim, Laura Murray, Bongjoong Kim, Seungse Cho, Sena Huh, Sengul Teke, Laurent Couetil, Martin Byung-Guk Jun, Chi Hwan Lee

Advanced materials (2022) Vol 34, 2108021

https://doi.org/10.1002/adma.202108021

Friday, April 15, 2022

Is your mare due to foal?

Researchers at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatoon, Canada, would like your help.

They are investigating how umbilical cord variations relate to  foal health. In particular, they are interested in the length of the cord, and the number and type of twists present in it. 


In light horses, the umbilical cord is usually between 30 and 80 cm long and may be twisted a few times. Excessively long cords, or those with numerous twists, may limit blood flow and affect the foal’s health.

 

Dr. Madison Ricard, a veterinary anatomic pathology resident, who is leading the study, is looking for owners of pregnant mares to take part in the research. 

 

Participation in the study will involve measuring the length of the umbilical cord after foaling and taking a photo of the umbilical cord. 

 

Information will be recorded about the mare, the foaling process, and the foal’s health at birth. There will be follow up surveys regarding the foal’s health at 7 and 30 days after birth.

 

To participate in the study, or for more details, go to:


https://wcvm-equs.ca

Thursday, April 14, 2022

Have you organized an equestrian event in Ontario?

 
The COVID-19 pandemic and recent Equine Herpes virus outbreaks have highlighted the need for enhanced biosecurity at equine events. 

An Ontario Veterinary College research study would like to interview equestrian competition organizers (within the past 5 years) about their experiences and perspectives towards biosecurity at equestrian events in Ontario, Canada.

 

If you are interested in participating in this study, they ask that you read the full details and complete the pre-interview questionnaire:

 

https://uoguelph.eu.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_cZ2dgMpIFSy0Prg?jfefe=new