New Research into Reducing the Incidence of Shipping Fever

Livestock Transport News Article - More News2008-06-02
Shipping horses is not a new thing. Before there were planes and vehicles, horses were transported from one destination to another using boats and trains. The only thing that is different today is that people know more about how to properly take care of horses during their journey. Researchers have already gone to great lengths to learn how heat affects the health of horses. In 1999, several researchers were brought together to review the different types of studies and other forms of literature that could be used to relieve the stress of shipping on horses. However, even with expanded knowledge of horse travel, thousands of horses still experience shipping fever after a long journey.

Many researchers are now spending a great amount of time and effort trying to understand the exact causes of shipping fever and ways in which the illness can be reduced or eliminated. Current and past research has already shown that the quality of air that the horse breathes while traveling plays a large role in whether the horse will develop shipping fever. The cleaner the air inside the trailer or transport vehicle, the better off the horse will be. This is because there will be fewer particles and bacteria that will be able to settle in the horses lungs.

It is a known fact that the only way a horse is able to clear its airway of the particles that it has inhaled is to lower its head. When owners tie their horses inside the trailer, the horse cannot lower its head to clear its airway and the inhaled particles and bacteria have a much better chance of settling in the horse’s lungs.

Current research strongly suggests that there needs to be a better type of ventilation system installed in trailers and other transport vehicles. Today’s researchers do not understand the complex aerodynamics that is needed to reduce particulate matter inside a trailer or inside an air stable on airplanes.

It is also important to give horses enough time to recover from a long journey. Many individuals think that stopping for thirty minutes every few hours during a trip will reduce the chances of a horse developing shipping fever; however, past research has shown that this simply is not enough time for a horse to recover from a long journey. Ideally, a horse should be allowed to rest and recover over night, usually six to eight hours, from a long journey.

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