By Kathy Carter
We scour the equestrian world for news and views on veterinary matters, to give you the latest information.
New database promised
Britain is to get a new central equine database that operates as an equine ID system, to meet new EU regulations that will apply from January 1st 2015.
The last centralised system, the National Equine Database, closed two years ago to much outcry, and the new database is said be part of a more enforceable horse passport system.
Equine Sector Council Chair, Jeanette Allen, told The Farmers Guardian magazine that the Council welcomed the proposals for a new database, and that a central database across Europe would help to improve traceability and equine disease control.
The new EU regulations that will apply from January 1st 2015 will require foals to be issued with a single passport with a unique identification number before their first birthday. All horses born after July 1st 2009 will need to be micro-chipped.
It is thought that Defra and / or the Government will fund the database, now required for all EU member states, however no confirmation of the UK database’s funding status has been released, at the time of writing.
Vets in danger
Being an equine vet appears to carry the highest risk of injury of any civilian occupation in the UK, according to researchers at the Institute of Health and Wellbeing, and the School of Veterinary Medicine, both institutes at the University of Glasgow. A British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA)-commissioned study aimed at quantifying and qualifying the risks to vets, as well as sourcing ways to make equine veterinary practice safer, found that an average equine vet could expect to sustain between seven and eight work-related injuries that impeded veterinary practice during a 30-year working life.
The most common site of injury was the vet’s leg (29%), while the main cause of injury was a kick from a hind limb (49%). BEVA will now work with organisations including the UK’s Health and Safety Executive to help develop policies to mitigate the risk of serious injury for equine vets.
A possible alternative to antibiotics?
The wound-healing powers of raw honey has been confirmed by researchers in Sweden. Their research included an experiment in which honey, fortified with bacteria, was applied to persistent wounds on ten horses. All of the horses’ wounds were healed by the mixture, the researchers from Lund University reported. Importantly, the bacteria also counteracted MRSA in laboratory experiments
Microbiologists including Tobias Olofsson focused their research on the thirteen lactic acid bacteria that were identified in the ‘honey stomach’ of bees, which produce active antimicrobial compounds. The next step is further studies to investigate honey’s wider clinical use, particularly against antibiotic resistance. The study details, published in the ‘International Wound Journal’, may be found at www.lunduniversity.lu.se
To rug or not to rug?
Norwegian researchers recently taught a group of study horses to express a preference to have their rug put on, taken off, or not changed, aiming to ascertain whether horses actually want to be rugged up. The horses’ preferences were tested under differing weather conditions, including sunshine, wind, rain/snow and temperatures ranging from -15 to +20 degrees Celsius.
While researchers including Cecilie Mejdell at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences found that cold-blooded breeds were more likely to opt to go without a cover than their chillier Warmblood relations, the study is perhaps more interesting in its use of visual symbols used as a means of communication by the horses – further, more robust studies using this method are surely imminent.