Pearl Snaps

Stories of a cowgirl living life by her own lights

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In case you missed it…

Here are links to my first column for Feedstuffs from last week:

Are ‘ag gag’ laws sending right message?

by Jesse Bussard

It seems like every time I look at the latest agricultural news, another state is proposing an “ag gag” bill.

You may have even heard about the recent passage of one such bill in Iowa. Iowa’s governor signed the bill into law, making it a crime for a person to gain fraudulent access to a farm with the intention of causing harm (Feedstuffs, March 12).

The law aims to prevent what it calls “agricultural production facility fraud” by making it a misdemeanor offense for individuals to obtain employment on farms through false or misrepresented information.

Contrary to what many believe, it does not specifically ban filming undercover video but seeks only to prevent the individuals, such as animal rights activists, who produce such videos from gaining farm employment via fraudulent means.

In addition to Iowa, ag gag bills also have been introduced in Utah, Nebraska, Minnesota, Missouri, Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Florida and New York. The Illinois legislation has been tabled for the time being.

Read the entire column by clicking here.

And my latest Beef Producer blog post:

Consider the Meat of Ethics

by Jesse Bussard

Recently the New York Times announced a contest calling all meat eaters to explain why they believe it is ethical to eat meat. At first I was intrigued by this contest, but after reading further I began to smell a rat.

What they call “a veritable murderer’s row of judges” is no less than just that.

The line-up features the father of animal rights himself, Peter Singer, along with Michael Pollan, Johnathan Safran Foer, Mark Bittman, and Andrew Light.

I find it disturbing and intentional that there is not even one representative of animal agriculture represented in this line-up. No one ever said the New York Times was fair and balanced.

To read the entire post click here.

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Are you ready for show season?

by Jesse Bussard

Well are you?  It may only be March, but in a few short weeks the show circuit will be heating up.  In many southern states it already has.  Along with this wonderful season, comes a lot of travel and stress.  To help manage this there are a few tips that will help to lighten the load and make matters more manageable for horse owners.


Maintaining biosecurity measures should by far be the number one priority during before, during, and after show season.  Make sure trailers are cleaned and disinfected between haulings, especially if someone else used your trailer or you hauled strange horses in it.  When at the show some commonsense things you can do are not letting your horse touch noses with other horses, not sharing equipment with strange horses, and washing your hands after helping with other horses.

Probably one of the most important aspects of biosecurity and show season preparation is an effective vaccination program for your horses.  Horse shows pose one of the greatest biosecurity risks because horses are exposed to new environments and other equines that they may never have been around before.  This exposure can lead to your horse bringing home germs and sharing them with his pasture mates.  By having a vaccination program in place you are doing yourself and your horses a favor by greatly reducing their risk of in­fectious disease and lessening your veteri­nary expenses.  Consult with your veterinarian to find out what vaccinations would be the best for your horses in your area.

Trailer Prep

Once the horse is taken care of, the next thing to consider is the horse trailer.  It’s a good idea to annually inspect your trailer and this yearly checkup could potentially save you a lot of money and headaches in the long haul.  Not to mention, it might just help your trailer last a few more years.  The important areas to look at during a trailer inspection include the overall trailer structure, the undercarriage, the floor, tires, lights and brakes.

For trailers with living quarters it’s important to remember to “unwinterize” the living quarters.  This includes checking the water pump, air conditioner, and hot water heater to make sure they’re in good working order.  Also don’t forget to check the awnings for any wear and tear if your trailer has one.  The last thing you can do is give your trailer a good wash and wax.  If your trailer has sits outside all winter long this will help to extend the exterior finish and make it look good in the process.

First Aid

Having a horse first aid kit in your trailer can be a lifesaver in the incident of an unexpected injury or illness.  We all hope and pray that we won’t have to deal with something like that, but it’s always good to be prepared for those “what-ifs” in life.  The items in your first aid kit should help you to take care fo the most common problems you can deal with yourself, and help you cope with and injury until the veterinarian can get there.

A good first aid kit will include several key items.  A mercury or digital thermometer is a must and will quickly tell you if your horse is running an elevated temperature, which is a sure sign something is wrong.  Antiseptic wound cleaner and ointment are useful for washing and treating nicks, cuts, and scrapes.  Gamgee cloth, guaze diapers, cottons, or other forms of absorbent padding are useful for padding under leg wraps or wound dressing.  Self-sticking bandages, like Vetwrap or Coflex, are useful to hold wound dressings in place and work well as temporary leg wraps.  Clean leg wraps should also be included as they may be more suitable for some wrapping in some instances versus temporary bandages.  Don’t forget the scissors to cut bandages and wound dressing!   Lastly a good veterinary first aid book might be good to keep handy in case you encounter an issue you’re not sure how to deal with.

These are just a few of the many important things to consider when preparing for the upcoming horse show season.  My hope though is that by reading this you’ll think a little more intently about the things you need to do to do to be prepared when it comes time to load up the horse and head off to the show and being a little less stressed in the process.

This article was originally featured as my March horse care column for Tack ‘n Togs. You can access the online pdf version here.

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Know Conditions for Grass Tetany

Here’s my latest Fodder for Thought post for Beef Producer Magazine:

It seems spring has arrived early this year. I spent the past week visiting my family in south-central Pennsylvania for spring break and it certainly felt like spring. Instead of the normal cool, rainy weather we have in March, we had temperatures in the 60s and 70s and it was continually sunny every day.

You’d have never guessed that exactly a year ago half the farm was under water due to flooding from torrential rains.

Our mama cows will be calving soon and the cool-season grasses are already off to a good start with the mild weather. This early lush forage growth coupled with calving sets the stage for grass tetany.

If you are unfamiliar with grass tetany, this ailment is caused by a low level of magnesium (Mg) in the plant, which leads a magnesium deficiency to develop in the bovine consuming the forage.

To read the entire post on Fodder for Thought click here.


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