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Environmental Testing for Racing and Performance Horses

Racing Yards

Pathogenic fungi and bacteria, when present in large numbers, can greatly affect the respiratory system of a horse and therefore performance. An example of this is the fungus Aspergillus. Aspergillus, which can be present in any harvested food or bedding product and in damp storage areas and boxes, is one of the main causes of RAO (Recurrent Airway Obstruction), EIPH (bleeding) and immune suppression, all of which can greatly affect the performance of the racehorse. Yards which are contaminated with a pathogen of this kind will suffer from the direct respiratory effect, but will also suffer from recurring bouts of secondary bacterial and viral infections due to the immune suppression. Until the pathogen is found and removed, achieving consistency of performance is very difficult.

The basis of our work is to improve the general environment in relation to stable and exercise areas within racing establishments. This is achieved by testing of feed, fodder and bedding for quality and reviewing how and where they are stored. Improving ventilation, yard layout, isolation units, exercise areas and disinfection routines greatly influence the overall health and, therefore, performance in racehorses. By improving stable environment, consistency of health will be achieved and there will be less use of medication which leads to a better season long performance.

The service is not expensive and, when used properly, has a very positive cost/benefit outcome due to the fact that problems are prevented before they begin. The testing service includes a full review of the overall yard operations during the first visit which will recommend any requisite changes. Ongoing testing is then advised on a regular basis to ensure the environment remains pathogen-free.

The Environmental Testing service is available in Ireland, the UK and France. We recommend yards are tested at the start of each season, twice mid-season and two weeks before the big festivals (such as Cheltenham or Royal Ascot) to ensure horses race with the best possible chance.

Stud farms

An environmental testing service is also provided to the veterinary and stud farm sector. The IEC investigates outbreaks of scour and respiratory disease such as those caused by the bacterial pathogens R.equi, Salmonella, Clostridia, etc. The service can identify the type and source of pathogen, advice on their removal and recommend the necessary disinfection systems and processes which aid future prevention at source level.

Fodder and Farming

The Centre works with the farming community in ensuring the best possible standard of fodder is available to the equine community. This is achieved by giving advice on improving methods of preservation and storage as well as pre-sale testing of produce.

Stable design

Advice is given to stud farms, trainers and all horse owners on stable design and equestrian premises layout and orientation from an environmental and biosecurity point of view.

For more information please contact Alan Creighton on +353 86 820 1711.