What’s Up with Daylight Saving Time?

Time.  It’s complicated.  Some days it moves slowly, other days we wish we had more of it.  This Sunday, March 11, we lose an hour of it.  Daylight Saving Time will begin and continue until we “fall back” in October.  But what is the reason behind this tradition?

Spoiler alert:  It’s not for farmers!  If you’ve heard that before, it’s purely a myth!  Farmers have always been opposed to the idea.  Why you ask?  Because plants and animals don’t read clocks!  Farming schedules are set by the sun, not the clock, and changing time around twice a year can be confusing and make it difficult to get work done.

There are a few individuals in history who all had a general idea of daylight saving time.  Benjamin Franklin is often given all the credit, but what he proposed (rather sarcastically) was that people just wake up earlier in the summer.  In 1895, George Hudson, an entomologist from New Zealand, proposed a two-hour time shift that would allow him more time for bug hunting.  Not many years later, William Willet in Great Britain was inspired to conserve daylight while out horseback riding one morning.  He is the one who officially proposed legislation to British Parliament.  It was not a smashing hit with lawmakers, however, and didn’t really go anywhere at the time.

In 1916, two years into World War II, the German government needed to find ways to save energy.  They thought back to Willet’s idea of moving the clock to have more daylight working hours, and gave it a try.  During this time, coal was the primary power source, and there was a measurable savings in energy usage by changing clocks to capture more daylight hours.  In 1918, the United States first implemented Daylight Saving Time as part of the war effort.  The Standard Time Act that Congress passed including Daylight Saving Time, and also defined time zones within the United States.

After the war ended, so did the federal Daylight Saving Time, and things were left to local governments.  It got a little out of hand, and Time Magazine described the system as ”a chaos of clocks.”  In 1965, there were 23 different start and end dates just in the state of Iowa!

The biggest complaints came from the transportation industry.  They pushed the hardest for federal regulation, which resulting in the Uniform Time Act of 1966.  This established a permanent Daylight Saving schedule for everyone, starting on the last Sunday in April and ending on the last Sunday in October.  States can opt out, but the entire state has to do so (as opposed to city or county) and Congress has to sign off.  In 1986, Daylight Saving Time was extended to the first Sunday in April.  In 2005, it was extended to begin the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November.

Who in the government is in charge of regulating Daylight Saving Time?  The Department of Transportation.  The Chamber of Commerce is also a big supporter of Daylight Saving Time, because if there is still daylight after we leave work, we are more likely to go somewhere and spend money!  Don’t be fooled, studies have shown that Daylight Savings Time does not actually save any energy in the modern day.

Are you a fan of Daylight Saving Time?  It depends on how you like to spend your day.  Would you rather have a brighter morning or a brighter evening?

Those who are big fans of Daylight Saving Time most likely live in a northerly place.  That’s because the farther you live from the Equator, the more drastic your seasons will be.  The top and bottom parts of the globe receive drastically different amounts of daylight based on the time of year.  In Fairbanks, Alaska, the longest day has 22 hours of daylight, and the shortest day has only 3 hours.  This is very different from locations closer to the Equator.  In St. Augustine, Florida, the longest day has 14 hours of daylight, and the shortest day has about 10 hours.

Arizona does not observe Daylight Saving Time.  That’s because is so darn hot!  During the summer, the only time it’s bearable to be outside is at night.  Residents prefer the sun to set early, so they can leave the house comfortably.

Hawaii, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands do not observe Daylight Saving Time.  They are all located relatively close to the Equator, so the length of daylight is pretty consistent year-round.  Changing clocks is basically just an inconvenience.

Observing Daylight Saving Time continues to be controversial.  More and more people are wondering why we do it, and wonder if we should keep doing it.  More and more state governments are bringing it up as a point of discussion.  Will this tradition continue?  Only time will tell.

In Case of Emergency

Hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, fires.  It’s not a matter of if these things happen, it’s only a matter of when.  Being prepared for emergency situations is absolutely vital, and being a livestock owner presents a unique set of challenges.  What can you do to help keep your horses safe in an emergency?

First and foremost, your priority is you and your family.  Do you have everything you need to be prepared?  If you yourself aren’t taken care of, how can you possibly take care of your animals?  After you get your personal emergency kit and your plan all settled, turn your focus to preparing your animals.

9 Key Concepts to Help You Prepare

Make sure you have multiple forms of identification.  There are plenty of options available.  It is best to use several in case one fails.  Having identification is extremely important, in the case that you become separated from your animals.  It is not uncommon for good Samaritans to load up trailers with whatever horses they can, without knowing who they belong to, and owners are faced with tracking down their horses afterwards.

  • Microchip your horse, just as you would a dog or cat.  The chip is permanent, long term, cannot be tampered with, and cannot be misplaced in the chaos of an emergency.
  • Attach ID tags on halters, neck bands, and/or leg bands.  These items will include your emergency contact information, are designed to stay on your horse, and have a safety breakaway feature.
horse id collar
ID collars similar to this are available online and very helpful in emergencies.
  • Note any tattoos and brands.  Previously raced horses should all have a unique tattoo inside their upper lip.  BLM mustangs will all have a unique freeze brand on their neck.  Horses coming from large ranches may even have a traditional brand identifying which ranch they came from.  These features are permanent and a quick way to help identify your horse.
shoulder brand, freeze brand, horse id
A freeze brand on the shoulder is a very unique feature that will help id your horse.
  • Record your horse’s breed, size, color, markings, scars, cowlicks, whorls, and any other unique features.  How would you describe your horse over the phone to a stranger?  Let’s say they’re looking at two similar chestnut geldings, how can they tell which is yours?
  • Take full frame, close up photos of your horse.  Get each side and front and back views.
  • In a real pinch, get creative.  Take a permanent marker and write your information on your horse’s hooves.  Grab spray paint or Blu Kote and spray your phone number on to your horse’s side.
horse emergency id
Make sure you can be reached if you and your horse become separated.

Have at least one halter and one lead rope available for each horse.

  • Keep them close to the horse’s stall.
  • In fire risk areas, make sure the halter is leather and the lead rope is cotton.  Believe it or not, a standard nylon halter could melt.
  • Store extra halters and leads in the tack room, truck, or trailer.  Just in case.

Keep medical records, photos, and proof of ownership stored safely.  These can help keep your horse safe while it is evacuated.  Is your horse on medication?  Do they have any allergies or medical conditions?  What do they normally eat?  Is your horse a stallion, or a pregnant mare?  These pieces of information will help keep them be cared for after they’ve been removed from the immediate danger.  You may also need to prove that your horse belongs to you, in the unfortunate situation that there are any disputes of ownership.

  • Have physical copies stored in a water tight bag, somewhere safe but convenient.
  • Give copies out to friends and family.
  • Keep digital copies accessible online in the cloud

Have a transportation plan for evacuation.

  • Have your own truck and trailer?  Keep them both maintained and road-ready by conducting periodic checks.
  • No trailer of your own?  Make arrangements with a reliable neighbor of friend who has one.
  • Plan out multiple exit routes and have a prearranged evacuation site.

Practice loading and unloading.

  • Your horse MUST get in the trailer.  During an emergency, there will be added stress.  Make it easier on your horse and on you, by practicing loading and unloading often.
horse trailer evacuation
Get your horse comfortable loading into a trailer, so you can evacuate quickly.

Evacuate early.

  • Don’t wait until the last minute.
  • Roads can close, conditions can change.  If you wait too long, you run the risk of being forced to leave your horses behind.

Have a multiple back-up plans.

  • When do emergencies go according to plan?  Basically never.
  • Include a last resort “shelter in place” plan.  What will you do in case you can’t get your horses out?  Where will they be safest on the property?

Communicate your plan.

  • Share your plan with family and friends.
  • If you operate a facility, discuss your plan with the local fire department.
  • Have instructions posted in the barn in case you are not able to be there during an emergency.

Have your supply kits ready and stocked.

  • Keep 72 hours worth of feed and water.
  • Don’t forget equipment like water buckets and hay nets.
  • Have a first aid kit made with supplies for treating physical injuries and internal illnesses.
  • A flashlight, wire cutters, and a sharp knife can really come in handy!

Always Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: Part 2

Like we mentioned in Part 1, horses have long teeth that continuously erupt out of the gums throughout their lifetime.  It’s good that their teeth are constantly “growing” because their natural food source – grasses, hays, and forages – are very fibrous and abrasive, and chewing causes the teeth to wear down.

Here you can see the portion of molar that is below the gum line. It will eventually make its way to the surface as the teeth wear down.

A horse’s upper molars are slightly father apart than their lower molars.  This leads to uneven wear across the surface of the molars, and can cause sharp ridges or points on the teeth.  These points can be as sharp as razors, and in the very least, will cause your horse discomfort.  At most, the sharp teeth can cut your horse’s cheeks, the teeth could fracture or become infected, or they could even fall out of the jaw.  A horse with poor dental condition may be losing weight due to not being able to comfortably eat.  They may also show signs of discomfort while being handled or ridden, for example head tossing while carrying a bit.  This is why routine dental exams and maintenance are key to horse health.

An average adult horse should have dental maintenance about every two years.  Horse’s with dental abnormalities, like overbites, may require more frequent exams.  A veterinarian or equine dentist will perform a process called “floating.”  This is basically a process of filing down the edges and points of the teeth, and making minor adjustments to the alignment of the teeth.  The procedure is not painful for the horse, but for ease of handling and manipulating the horse’s jaw, it is common to see horses given a sedative.  The purpose of floating teeth is not to make the teeth perfectly flat, as they need some irregular surface to grind up food, but rather to create a fairly level match between upper and lower teeth, without any waves or points.

Getting a good look inside a horse’s mouth

Always Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth: Part 1

We wanted to write a short little article about your horse’s teeth, but as we were researching, we realized there was more to discuss than we thought!  As it turns out, there’s a lot going on in your horse’s mouth.  In Part 1, we’ll introduce you to the anatomy of a horse’s mouth, and what’s going on with those teeth.  In Part 2, we’ll discuss why your horse requires routine dental work to maintain health and wellness.

OK, so here we go.  Your horse’s teeth, starting from the beginning.

By the time a horse is 2 weeks old, it has 16 baby teeth.  It is important for them to be examined early on.  If a horse is born with an underbite or overbite, it could create challenges while nursing, or lead to a lifetime of dental abnormalities.

horse teeth 1 year
A horse’s teeth at 1 year of age. Image source www.localriding.com

By 9 months of age, a horse will have all 24 baby teeth in place.  Most horses will also have 2 wolf teeth and the first set of permanent molars coming in at this age.

Between 2 to 3 1/2 years of age, a horse will be replacing most of his baby teeth with permanent teeth, and growing in additional permanent adult molars.  In a span of 1 1/2 years, a horse will have grown in up to 24 permanent teeth.

horse teeth 2 years
A horse’s teeth at about 2 1/2 years old. Image source www.localriding.com

As you can see, there’s a lot of changes going on in your young horse’s mouth.  If you notice them being fussy, unwilling, or uncomfortable, take a peak in their mouth and see what’s going on.  Just like in human infants, having new teeth come in can feel unpleasant or painful.

A horse will lose all of his baby teeth by about 5 years old.  Think about that next time you’re training and bitting young horses – they still have baby teeth and new teeth coming in!  By 6 years old, all 36-40 of the permanent teeth are in position and in use.

horse teeth 5 years
A horse’s teeth at 5 years old. Image source www.localriding.com

Horse’s adult teeth are called hypsodont teeth, or long teeth.  This means that there is tooth below the gum’s surface that will emerge and be used throughout the horse’s lifetime.  As a horse chews on their coarse, fibrous forage material, the tooth is worn down, and new tooth will emerge to replace it.  A horse’s teeth are about 4 inches long, with most of the tooth hidden below the surface of the gums.  By considering the average wearing down and replacement of tooth material, experts have calculated that horses have about 25 years of use out of their adult teeth.   As the tooth begins to run out, senior horses become prone to dental problems such as gum disease, diseased roots, fractured teeth, or loose teeth.

horse teeth in skull
A horse’s teeth go beneath the gum line and are about 4 inches long.
horse teeth 10 years
A horse’s teeth at 10 years old. Image source www.localriding.com
horse teeth 15 years
A horse’s teeth at 15 years old. Image source www.localriding.com
horse teeth 20 years
A horse’s teeth at 20 years old. Image source www.localriding.com

Check out Part 2, where we’ll discuss more in detail how the wearing down of a horse’s permanent teeth changes their shape, and what maintenance is required to maintain health.

 

Fly Control: A Comprehensive Battle Plan

If they haven’t already arrived, they’ll be at your barn soon! Flies are not only annoying to you and your horses, they can also bite and spread disease. Every summer is a battle to control the fly population and keep them from bugging your horses. There are several methods of fighting flies out there. The best approach is to use the methods that work best for you, and in combination with each other. If you attack the flies on multiple fronts, you won’t kill every single one, but you should still emerge victorious!

horse needs fly mask
This horse needs a fly mask to protect his eyes!

Bolster Your Defenses:  Prevent Fly Populations From Growing

Implement good stable management practices to make your facility as inhospitable as possible.

  • Manage and remove manure, the housefly’s favorite meal. Clean stalls daily, and don’t let your manure pile get too big. If you’re working with a pasture situation, spread manure so that it can dry out and break down quickly.
  • Reduce wet areas, which draw in insects. Repair leaky plumbing, keep stalls dry, and eliminate standing water in drainage areas.
  • Increase airflow around the barn by installing fans.
  • Quickly dispose of garbage and keep any food in secure containers.

Attack With Effective Anti-Fly Tools

Common ways to protect your horses and control the fly population at the same time.

  • Create a physical barrier between your horse and the flies using fly masks, sheets, and boots.  Fly masks are the most popular warm weather accessory for horses (If only they made it through the whole season without being destroyed!  If only they stayed on your horse’s head and off the ground!).  These mesh items are lightweight and breathable, protecting your horse from being bitten.   There is also the additional benefit of some UV ray protection for horses with light skin prone to sunburn, or dark coats prone to sun bleaching.
  • Attract and kill adult flies using fly traps.  There are several different kinds of traps available, so experiment and find out what suits you best.  These can be very effective, but also pretty unsavory to handle and dispose of.
  • Make your horse less attractive to flies by applying topicals.  These can be sprays, roll-ons, spot-ons, or shampoos.  They can be composed of natural or synthetic insecticides, and there are dozens and dozens of options available.  Fly spray is a staple item found in the barn.  It works quickly and is effective in the short term, however if your horse is bathed or sweats frequently, the product can be short lived.
  • Go biological by releasing fly parasites.  These are good bugs that seek out and eat fly larvae, preventing them from ever becoming adult flies.  This method is very effective at preventing future fly generations from developing, but does not get rid of adult flies.

Take a further look in to these options and decide what methods will work best for you.  Deciding factors might include where your horses are kept, the type of flies in your area, your budget, and maintenance level.  Dealing with flies just comes with the territory of horse ownership, but you don’t have to take them lying down!

Unconventional & Alternative Watchdogs

Keeping animals on your property, whether they be birds, rabbits, goats, sheep, cattle, horses, or any combination in between, will attract outside visitors. They might be small prey animals looking for a peaceful nibble of your livestock feed, or larger predators looking to make a meal out of your animals. You may want to consider getting a guard dog or watchdog to protect your herd. Who better suited for the job then, well, a dog? There are a few alternatives that might surprise you.

Guinea Fowl

guinea fowl
Guinea Fowl make great livestock guards

Guinea Fowl are incredibly noisy birds, and make excellent alarm systems. Fans of guinea fowl claim that they are able to recognize familiar faces, and will alert the arrival of any strangers. They are also incredibly brave, and are not phased one bit when standing up against cats, dogs, even people. One especially great quality of guinea fowl is that they will even take on snakes!

Geese

geese
Geese are notoriously territorial!

Anyone who’s ever met a goose knows that these birds are all business. They are alert, with keen eyesight and hearing, and can detect unwanted visitors quickly. They will sound the alarm, and honk loudly when they sense something suspcious, easily heard by even a sleeping human. Geese are also notoriously territorial, and aren’t afraid to stand their ground. Their first instinct is not to run, but to confront, and they will hiss and bite in defense.

Llamas

llama
Llamas will spit, scream, bite, and kick at intruders

Llamas have been used to guard small flocks on farms for years, and farmers will a good guard llama will tell you they’re worth their weight in gold. Not all llamas will have great guarding instincts, but those that do will not only alert you to intruders, but handle the intruders all on their own. There are numerous accounts of llamas battling with coyotes, foxes, or dogs to protect their herds. It is advised to only have a single llama on guard, as having two means they will ignore the herd and just hang out with each other.

Donkeys

donkey guard dog
Donkeys make great guardians for sheep or goats

Donkeys are a great option for guarding grazing animals like goats or sheep, because they have very similar care requirements. Donkeys are the silent guard animal, and will rarely notify their humans of intruders. Instead, they will fiercely protect the herd themselves, using kicks and strikes with their hooves and bites with their large teeth. Not only are these territorial animals excellent for guarding, but they can also function as pack animals, making them useful in more ways than one!

Ostriches & Emus

ostrich emu
Ostriches and emus can be very intimidating to intruders!

If you’re looking for something really exotic, how about getting an ostrich or emu to guard your herds? Standing over 6 feet tall and weighing over 150 pounds, these birds are incredibly intimidating! They can run over 40 miles per hour, and can deliver deadly kicks with their strong, powerful legs.

What to Feed Your Horse: Factors to Consider

When first designing a feeding program for your horse, the endless options can seem overwhelming.  There are so many choices available, how do you decide?

First things first.  You’ll want to evaluate your horse’s current situation.  Here’s a few factors to consider:

  • Body Weight.  What is your horse’s current approximate weight?  How tall is your horse?  What body type does your horse have?  Believe it or not, when owners “eyeball” or “guesstimate” these measurements, they’re usually way off track!  It would be a better idea to use a horse weight tape or, if possible, a scale.
  • Body Condition Score.  Evaluating your horse’s body condition score is an essential tool in making feed decisions.  This system is a 1 – 9 scale, with 1 being emaciated skin and bone, and 9 being extremely obese.  Ideally, you’ll want your horse to be a score of 5.  Read more about Body Condition Scoring here.
  • Hay & Forage.  Research different types of legume and grass forages available, and how they differ in nutrient content.  As an example, alfalfa is a legume forage that is higher in protein and lower in fiber than timothy grass.  The form of forage is also important.  Does your horse have access to grazing pasture, or are they fed meals?  If your horse is meal fed, you have options like hay, pellets, or cubes.
  • Additional Feeds.  When it comes to supplementing your horse’s diet with additional feeds, there are many different schools of thought.  Do some research, consult with your veterinarian, and be sure to read feed labels.  There are dozens of products on the market, each one differing in ingredients and nutrition.  Take in to account your horse’s lifestage and workload, and choose a feed that meets your horse’s needs.
  • Exercise.  Evaluate how frequently and how vigorously your horse is currently being exercised.  The amount of physical activity your horse engages in regularly will affect their needs nutritionally.

Secondly, identify some goals for you and your horse.  Thinking about where you and your horse are headed together will help guide you in any adjustments you make to your feeding program.  Your goals might include:

  • Gaining or losing weight
  • Building muscle and endurance
  • Transitioning from idle to active
  • Preparing for a competition
  • Maintain current weight and stamina

There may be so many different feed options out there that it gets a bit confusing, but the good thing about having all of those options is that you can create a feeding program that is very well tailored to your horse’s needs.