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Equine Health Blog

Click here for more info on the latest effort to ban soring.

Published in Legislative

Click here for more info on the National Forest Trails bill.

Published in Legislative

Under Maryland law, you must have a Nutrient Management Plan on file with the State, unless you are:

"(1) An agricultural operation with less than $2,500 in gross income; or (2) A livestock operation with less than eight animal units defined as 1,000  pounds of live animal weight per animal unit."

Click here to read, courtesy of the University of Maryland Ag Law Blog, how recents efforts in the last legislative session to loosen the rules governing privacy protection for those plans failed.

Published in Legislative

On Thursday, Aprl 23, 2015, The Maryland Department of Agriculture announced that Secretary Joe Bartenfelder has promoted Maryland Department of Agriculture Field Veterinarian Michael Radebaugh, VMD to State Veterinarian, a position that was left vacant after the retirement of Dr. Guy Hohenhaus about a year ago.

“The State Veterinarian is an extremely important and challenging position, responsible for safeguarding animal health and the economic security of our animal industries,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “I am very pleased to appoint Dr. Radebaugh, who has a long and vast array of experiences in the field as well as an obvious dedication to Maryland agriculture.”

Dr. Radebaugh is the fourth out of the last five generations in his family to be working in agriculture. He has been a field veterinarian with MDA on the Eastern Shore and in Southern Maryland since 2011 where he was responsible for all regulatory, emergency and other service operations in the region. He has also served as an advisor on poultry health and poultry regulatory programs, particularly avian influenza. Dr. Radebaugh has more than 41 years experience in the veterinary field, including 34 years as a large animal veterinarian. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor’s degree in Dairy Sciences and earned his VMD at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia.

“I sincerely thank Dr. N. Jo Chapman, assistant chief of Animal Health, who has served as Acting State Veterinarian during the interim,” said Secretary Bartenfelder. “Dr. Chapman’s willingness to step up to lead the state’s animal health program during a very busy last year is a tribute to her dedication to Maryland agriculture.”

MDA’s Animal Health Program works to prevent and control infectious and contagious diseases in Maryland livestock and poultry with particular emphasis on those diseases that threaten public health, endanger food supplies or threaten the economic security of the animal industries. In addition to a sizeable field staff, the section also has two veterinary diagnostic laboratories, one in Salisbury and one in Frederick.

The Equiery tips its hat to Dr. Radebaugh, who is willing to take on the top vet job in the state on the heels of an EHV-1 outbreak! It’s not like he doesn’t know what he is getting into!

Published in Equine Health

Michael D. Erskine, DVM, Dipl. ABVP, of Mount Airy, Maryland, has been named director of Virginia Tech’s Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center (EMC) after serving as the interim director since May 2013.

Located in Leesburg, Virginia, the center is a campus of the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine at Virginia Tech.

Erskine will begin his new position effective April 25.

“Over the last 18 months, I have worked closely with Dr. Erskine and others from the college to conduct a comprehensive review and planning process with the goal of developing a more sustainable business model for the equine medical center,” noted Cyril Clarke, BVSc, MS, PhD. Dipl. ACVCP, dean of the veterinary college. “He has been instrumental in moving forward several high-priority projects that already are making a positive impact on the center’s performance and financial standing. I consider him to be very well-qualified to serve the college in his new position.”

A full-service equine hospital, the center offers advanced specialty care, 24-hour emergency treatment, and diagnostic services for all ages and breeds of horses. Just a short drive from the major stables, courses, and tracks in both Virginia and Maryland, the facility also offers cutting-edge research for the advancement of the equine industry and specialized training for veterinary students.

Erskine most recently practiced with Damascus Equine Associates in Mount Airy, a group of private ambulatory equine practitioners who serve a wide variety of clients and their horses in Maryland and the surrounding area. He has a special interest in sport and pleasure horses.

“He has been a veterinary practice owner for over 25 years and a strong supporter of the EMC as both a referring clinician and a member of the EMC Council and Veterinary Advisory Board,” Clarke added. “His career includes a wide range of distinguished veterinary service, practice management, administration, and service to the veterinary profession.”

Erskine majored in biology as an undergraduate at Virginia Tech from 1981 to 1984 and earned his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the veterinary college in 1988. He is board-certified in equine practice by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners. He also is past president of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners, the Maryland Veterinary Medical Association, and the Maryland Horse Council, as well as chair of the Maryland Veterinary Foundation.

Published in Equine Health

With thanks to our friends at the UMD Ag Law blog, click here for some info on how to find out how your property is zoned.

Published in Legislative

Thanks, once again, to our friends at UMD Ag Law blog. Click here to find out if you qualify as a "family farm" under Maryland law.

Published in Legislative

This is an abstract of a paper from Equine Veterinary Journal about magnetic blankets. While it doesn't say conclusively that they are of no benefit, it does show that they do not work a commonly believed, by increasing circulation:

Does a magnetic blanket induce changes in muscular blood flow, skin temperature and muscular tension in horses?

Authors: A. Edner, L.-G. Lindberg, H. Broström, A. Bergh

Reasons for performing study

Static magnetic blankets are often claimed to induce increases in blood flow, reduce muscle tension and tenderness, and be beneficial in both prevention and treatment of musculoskeletal injuries in horses. However, there are no studies that confirm alleged beneficial effects of magnets on muscles of the back in healthy horses.

Objectives

To investigate whether static magnets sewn into a blanket affect back muscle blood flow, skin temperature, mechanical nociceptive threshold (MNT) and behaviour in healthy horses.

Study design

Prospective, randomised, blinded, placebo-controlled crossover study.

Methods

The following outcome measurements of the back of 10 healthy horses were performed; blood flow by photoplethysmography, skin temperature by use of thermistors in conjunction with digital infrared thermography, and MNTs by algometry. The horses’ behaviour was filmed during the procedure and scored on an ethogram. Measurements were performed repeatedly for a 30 min baseline period. Thereafter a blanket with active, static magnets (900 gauss) or placebo magnets was placed on the horse and measurements were performed for a 60 min treatment period and a 30 min post treatment period. The study procedure was repeated on the consecutive day, when the horse received the alternative treatment.

Results

Blood flow in muscle, skin temperatures, MNTs and behavioural traits did not differ between active and placebo magnetic blankets. Skin temperature increased similarly during both active and placebo blanket treatment.
Conclusions

In healthy horses, magnetic blankets did not induce additional significant effects on muscle blood flow, skin temperature, MNTs and behaviour when compared with nonmagnetic blankets.

Published in Equine Health

According to the Maryland Department of Agriculture, a horse that was at the same breeding facility as a Montgomery County horse that was recently diagnosed with the mutant neurotropic form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) has tested positive for EHV-1. This second horse, which is still at the breeding facility, had no symptoms and was diagnosed as the result of lab tests. Both EHV-1 positive horses are under care by private veterinarians and are in strict isolation, according to protocol.

The Montgomery County horse had been at the breeding facility for more than two weeks before returning home on Monday. While at the breeding facility and during her first day home, she exhibited no signs of illness. On Tuesday, the horse began showing mild respiratory and neurological signs and was seen by a private veterinarian, who reported the suspected neurological illness to the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA), as is required by law. Laboratory tests conducted by MDA confirmed the diagnosis. Following a Disease Investigation Protocol, MDA tested horses that were in close contact with the sick horse at the breeding facility. That investigation discovered the second positive horse.

All horses that were exposed to the two positive horses are currently free of symptoms and are being monitored daily. All appear healthy. Both farms will remain under quarantine to ensure the virus is contained. As of today, MDA believes the virus is contained to these two farms and is not aware of any other EHV-1 cases in the state.

MDA’s Animal Health Program continues to monitor the situation closely. Owners should contact their private veterinarians to arrange for EVH testing if a horse exhibits significant temperature elevations or neurologic signs. Veterinarians are required to report equine neurologic syndrome to MDA.

Published in Equine Health

As the voice of all of Maryland’s equestrian community and horse industry, MHC has closed the book on another legislative session in Annapolis. Often exciting and always exhausting, this legislative session was a particularly rewarding one for MHC. Aided by the outstanding leadership and guidance of our lobbyist Frank Boston and his superb Annapolis team, we were successful in virtually all our legislative initiatives.

During the course of the 3 month session, MHC closely monitored 42 bills and resolutions that could have an effect on horse people, their farms, businesses and even their pets. We testified at numerous hearings, wrote and submitted written testimony on several bills, and took formal positions without testimony on many others. We traveled to Annapolis over and over again to meet with key legislators and county delegations. Huge thanks are owed to the dedicated MHC members who disrupted their daily lives and schedules to come to Annapolis whenever called upon, and who helped organize our grass roots efforts. Special thanks to the many of your who made phone calls, wrote emails and otherwise lobbied your representatives to support our causes. Your persistent and effective efforts did not go unnoticed in the halls of the Legislature, as we were often greeted by legislators with: “I know, I know - I’ve heard from your people!

Here are some go the things we worked on:

We worked closely with the ASPCA and other stakeholders in crafting amendments to a bill that would authorize a court to order a defendant convicted of animal cruelty, as a condition of sentencing, to pay, in addition to any other fines and costs, all reasonable costs incurred in removing, housing, treating, or euthanizing an animal confiscated from the defendant, and establishing other procedural requirements. (SB393/HB362). As of this writing, differences between the House and Senate versions, both of which passed both chambers, are under review by an appointed Conference Committee. The House bill contains caps on the amount a defendant can be required to pay, and sets requirements for the notice that must be given to a person when his animals are confiscated; the Senate version did not include these elements.

As in recent years, a big part of our efforts was devoted to stopping the advance of Sunday hunting. Prior to 2002, no hunting on Sundays was the law of the land throughout the state of Maryland, meaning that Sundays were preserved as a day of “quiet enjoyment” of the outdoors for others: horseback riders, hikers, birdwatchers, etc. Beginning in 2002, a number of attempts were made in the Legislature to open Sundays to hunting on a statewide basis. When these statewide bills were unsuccessful, a new tactic was developed by Sunday hunting proponents: chipping away at the no-Sundays rule, one county at a time. This tactic has proved successful because these bills were often introduced by the entire county delegation, and as such were treated as “courtesy bills” - receiving favorable consideration as a matter of course.

MHC has begun to fight back in earnest against this “county courtesy” tactic, and we have had some successes. Last year we were successful in Anne Arundel (although we were unsuccessful in blocking a bill that allowed expansion in Allegany, Frederick, Garrett and Washington Counties). This year, we successfully blocked expanded Sunday hunting in Baltimore (HB18/SB378), Calvert and Dorchester (HB285/SB117), Calvert, Caroline, Carroll, Charles, Dorchester, Harford, Queen Anne’s, St. Mary’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico, and Worcester counties (HB411), Harford (HB655), as well as a statewide bill (HB414). We also worked successfully with Senate leadership in securing the repeal of a bill passed last year that added 3 months, including Sundays, to the hunting season in Charles and St. Mary’s Counties (SB68)

Our most successful defense against these “county courtesy” bills is vigilance at the county level itself. When county officials considering legislative initiatives hear from their constituents that a proposal is unpopular, that will often be the end of it. If you would be willing to monitor the agenda of your County Council, Commission or other governing body, to alert your fellow equestrians about measures that might affect them, please let us know! It will only take a few minutes of your time to check your county’s website periodically and it could make a big difference. If you can help, please contact admin@mdhorsecouncil.org.

The Department of Natural Resources has long taken the position that recreational hunting, including Sundays, is their most effective tool in controlling the burgeoning white-tail deer population. However, as anyone who owns a farm or garden can attest, the deer population continues to grow exponentially in most areas of the state, causing huge losses to crops, landscapes and forests, as well as increasing incidence of Lyme disease and vehicle collisions.

This year, MHC in collaboration with the Maryland Farm Bureau, introduced a bill (SB748) that proposed a more effective solution, allowing the sale of venison from deer taken under crop damage permits issued to farmers who can demonstrate deer damage to their crops. We crafted this bill as a pilot program, and because it represents a unique approach (Maryland would be the first state to allow the commercial sale of wild venison, although other states are considering it), we did not expect passage this year. Nevertheless, we are pleased with the discussion that the bill provoked, and will take these new ideas and suggestions into account as we work on a new version to be introduced next year. Consistent with our support of farmers in their fight against deer damage, we also supported a bill that would allow the use of rifles under crop damage permits in Frederick County (SB844). The bill passed.

We submitted written testimony expressing concerns about a bill (HB 151) that would prohibit a person from buying, selling, transporting, or offering or receiving for sale or transportation any equine or equine carcass or the meat of any equine if the person knows or reasonably should know that the equine, carcass or meat will be used for human consumption. MHC strongly supports education efforts for the care and welfare of horses, and supports the development of an infrastructure for humane end-of-life options for horses. However, we were not convinced that this bill, as written, was the best solution at the present time for the problem of unwanted horses and the abuse and neglect they may suffer, especially considering that, as the premise of the bill was based on knowledge and intent at the time of a transaction, it would seem that enforcement of its provisions would be difficult, if not impossible. The bill did not pass.

Here are some other bills that we took positions on:

HB153 - Would prohibit leaving a dog restrained and unattended for longer than 15 minutes when a hazardous weather warning is in effect or for longer than 1 hour when temperature is below 33 degrees or above 99 degrees. Opposed; did not pass. We opposed this and other similar bills (HB956; SB26) because they did not take into account their application to pets who live on farms, or kenneled Foxhounds. These bills did not pass.

HB536/SB345 - Would give tax benefit to purchase of livestock manure loading and hauling equipment. Supported; did not pass.

HB928 - Would have repealed the sales tax exemption for the purchase of agricultural inputs. Opposed; did not pass.

HB946 - Would make all noncompete and conflict of interest provisions in employment contracts null and void. Opposed; did not pass.

HJ5/SJ5 - Resolution urging MD Congressional Delegation to work with Congress and Dept. of Interior to extend goose and duck hunting season through February. Opposed; did not pass.

If you have any questions about any of these bills, please let us know. You can get full information about any of them, including their full texts, any amendments, which legislators voted for/against, etc. by going to mgaleg.maryland.gov and typing in the bill number in the “Find legislation by number” box at the top of the home page. We have been updating our website; copies of any written testimony submitted by MHC this session will be posted to our Legislative page soon.

Finally, MHC, in conjunction with the Maryland Horse Industry Board hosted our very first MD Horse Industry Day in Annapolis on March 23, 2015. Numerous promotional events, including videotaped interviews with some of Maryland’s horse industry leaders that appeared on centermaryland.com, newspaper coverage, MHC visits to some county delegations, etc. preceded a terrific happy hour for legislators at the Calvert House in Annapolis. Although it was very late in the session and the legislators’ schedules were tight, we had a great turnout of MD Senators, Delegates, Cabinet Secretaries and other Hogan Administration officials and horse industry leaders from across the entire spectrum of our diverse industry - all coming together to make the point that Maryland’s horse industry is wide, deep and strong. Next year we are looking forward to an even bigger and better event, and we hope you can join us in making our voice heard to our legislators!

Published in Legislative
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