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|Show Animal Health|
|We tend to forget that show animals are just production animals that have qualities that make them show-worthy. Families spend tremendous amounts of money purchasing and caring for various species of show animals and as a result, the animals are treated much differently than their counter-parts in the production world. As advisors for these families, we are often called to sort through what is scientifically sound advice and wives-tales that are filled with speculation and perhaps even dangerous for the animals that are being raised. This can be a very difficult task and will, at times, be overwhelming. This paper is intended to give an overview of some of the health issues that will be encountered when dealing with the over-all picture of raising and competing in the animal showing industry. You will have to modify the program to meet the unique situations that will arise with varied geographic locations and trends that the show industry will encounter.|
I. ARRIVAL & PREMISE PREPARATION
A. Clean environment and comfortable living area.
1. Environment standards.
a.Cleaned from the las show season and free from fecal and urine contamination.
b. Low Dust.
c. Protected from excess sun and wind.
d. Well ventilated.
e. Large enough for reasonable room to explore and exercise.
f. Easy to clean and disinfect.
g. East access to water and feed containers, and be able to closely monitor consumption of each.
h. Trailers used for transportation should be cleaned from the excrement of previous occupants before loading.
2. Many of the health problems that we encounter in the life of a show animal are attributable to the way we handle them early in the transition period. As animals are moved to new environments, they are stressed. This stress leads to problems that can decrease the ability of the animal to fight off the diseases they will be exposed to. Usually there is much mixing and mingling of animals during this phase of their lives. This mixing leads to exposure to large numbers of diseases causing pathogens and, when coupled the immuno-suppression that comes with stress, can lead to devastating effects on the animalís health. Anything we can do to decrease the stress in the animals will help decrease the amount of sickness.
3. Minimal mixing and a clean, comfortable environment will get the animals off to a good start and make the rest of the feeding period more productive.
B. Processing-Initial procedures done to arriving show animals.
1. Move to a permanent home as soon as possible. Cut down on the number of stops between the purchasing point and future home.
2. Give a couple of days of rest and adjustment before giving vaccinations or castrating.
3. Offer fresh water as well as electrolyte water for 3-5 days post arrival.
4. It is often a good idea to give prophylactic antibiotics during this period of time. Drugs such as Penicillin and Tetracycline are often used for such situations. An injection of B-vitamins can also be helpful.
5. Start off on a mild ration with gradual changes to hotter nutritional plan.
6. After a couple of days, give the required vaccines and do any surgical procedures such as castration or dehorning the may be required.
7. Have the owner take the animals temperature and make any notes of abnormal findings. Temperature often rises a day or two before clinical signs of sickness appear.
8. Require people to step in a foot bath with 1 part bleach in 9 parts water or a 3 ounce per gallon solution of Nolvasan before entering and leaving the farm. Most diseases are carried from farm to farm on peopleís feet or clothes. Surgical things such as castration and dehorning often require a group of people going from farm to farm and can be the vector for spreading diseases from place to place.
9. Feed additives such as Probiotics and a balanced vitamin/mineral package can have a positive effect during the transition time and make available more of the nutrients required for a good immune response to the vaccines.
II. FEEDING/GROWING PERIOD
A. Animals should be kept in a clean environment with comfortable living conditions in order to get maximal performance. If the pens and holding areas are not kept clean there will be excessive fly numbers and larger numbers of overall pathogens in the environment.
B. Animals should be fed in a consistent fashion and changes in feed should be done gradually to avoid intestinal upsets and performance problems.
C. Deworming and control of external parasites should be done at routine intervals during the feeding period.
III. SHOWING PERIOD
A. Any time that animals that have not been previously exposed to one another are brought together, there is a large chance for sickness to develop. Terminal shows are not as big of a problem as county and local shows which usually results in the animals coming back home. Stress is often at an all time high for the animals due to the feeding and water activities that often go on at the show. Most animals are intentionally dehydrated and fed a ration that may be lacking in some of the needed nutrients in order to have them physically at their best. Dehydration can be detrimental to some of the animals inherent defense mechanisms and result in a larger susceptibility to infection.
1. Isolate animals returning from a show from animals that stayed at home. This isolation means that they cannot touch noses or share food or water utensils.
2. Some people give metaphylactic antibiotics prior to showing and then again after returning home. (Not recommended for terminal shows due to withdrawal periods.)
3. Upon return to the farm, animals should be treated as they were when they first arrive. See arrival.
Many of the diseases that we encounter will be much easier to treat or not show up at all if we will take proper measures in how we handle and care for the animal.
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