REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — The state’s livestock care board met for the first time under the direction of Ohio Agriculture Director David Daniels March 20. It was the first of three required meetings per year, now that all specie standards are in place.
Daniels, a longtime family farmer from Highland County, said he grew up with the same mindset other farmers had — that they didn’t want outsiders telling them what to do. But, as time went by, he and others saw a need for improvement.
“The state of Ohio needed to do something and I think we’re better for it,” he said. “The exercise that we’ve done has certainly put Ohio’s agriculture industry in a good light.”
Like his predecessor, Daniels said the care board has provided a good model for legislation moving through the Statehouse, dealing with the control of “dangerous wild animals.”
“What you’ve actually done is provide the blueprint for how we’re going to move forward on those things,” he said.
The main purpose of the meeting was to review care standards already put into place — to determine whether updates were necessary based on newly available information. The statutes of the care board provide for a minimum of three annual meetings, to ensure standards are up to date.
Euthanasia got the most attention. Members revised the euthanasia standards to require use of a solid point bullet, as opposed to a hollow-point, because it is believed the solid bullet provides a more humane death.
“They just don’t get the good penetration with the expansion of that hollow-point,” said Dave Glauer, technical writer.
The minimum size gun is a 22 caliber long rifle, and a 22 magnum is required for larger, mature animals like cattle and swine. Glauer said the gun is effective, and is likely the most popular gun to be found on a farm.
In other matters, state veterinarian Tony Forshey, who served as interim ag director following Zehringer’s move to ODNR, said there have been 38 livestock care investigations, with 18 violations and eight that will require follow-up.
Most violations dealt with feed and water issues, he said. The top investigations have been with equine (14), beef cattle (10), chickens (6), and sheep (5).
If a violation is found during an investigation, a set time is given for the issue to be corrected, based on the severity of the violation. Follow-ups are conducted to assure compliance.
So far, no fines have been issued, Forshey said. Most of the complaints have come from small farms, and what he said were “backyard flocks and herds,” often with mixed species.
He’s been encouraging owners to work with their veterinarians, he said, to correct issues of care and housing, but many do not have regular veterinarians.
“Most of these do not have veterinarians, so it’s hart to call somebody and get them in to take a look,” he said.
Forshey was asked about the increased workload of enforcing the standards and conducting inspections. He said his staff is keeping up, but it has definitely added to their duties.
He said part of what investigators do is educate, so people know what the standards are and what they need to do in order to comply. Some complaints have turned out to be “false-alarms,” he said, and in some cases, there have been several false-alarms filed over the same property.
Livestock care has been especially challenging the past few months, he said, because of unusual weather events, which led to increased rain, mud and temperature change.
“Any time when we have a winter like we just had, where it was cold for a little bit and the next day it’s 60, you’ve got health issues and a lot of different issues,” he said.
Forshey has been designated as the 2012 vice chairman to the board, continuing the role he held prior to serving as interim agriculture director. Board member Dominic Marchese has been approved to a new three-year term, following an appointment by House Speaker William Batchelder.
Three other board members’ terms expired Jan. 15. They can continue serving for 180 days, or until they are reappointed or another appointment is made.
The board is tentatively planning to meet again in August and November. Additional specie standards will be reviewed at those meetings.
Revisions to all standards will be voted on at the end of the year, in one package, before being sent through the state’s rule making process to become part of the livestock care rules.