Members of the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board, and Executive Director Mike Bailey, attended the Nov. 1 meeting, marking the first time they’ve met under the newly effective standards.
REYNOLDSBURG, Ohio — With its standards for livestock care in place and effective for more than a month, the Ohio Livestock Care Standards Board is chartering a slightly more relaxed schedule for the new year.
The board will hold a spring meeting in March, followed by a summer meeting and a meeting sometime in the fall — keeping with the statutory requirement to hold a minimum of three meetings per year. Additional meetings could be held as necessary and during urgent situations.
The board met Tuesday, Nov. 1 to discuss proceedings since the Sept. 29 effective date of the new standards, and the half-dozen or so animal care complaints that fall under the new rules.
State Veterinarian Tony Forshey reviewed the complaints, telling the board five already have been resolved with the owners’ cooperation, and no fines were issued. Three of the complaints involved proper use of euthanasia for chickens, and another involved a complaint that some dairy cattle were not being properly fed.
Forshey said his staff visited the dairy farm and determined the cattle had been receiving feed before, during and after the inspection.
Another complaint concerned the housing of some horses and muddy conditions at a farm near Norton. Forshey said the muddy pasture could have been the result of a very wet year, but said a notice was made with the owner to improve the quality of the drinking water after a high concentration of algae was found in the pond where the horses were drinking.
The horses were deemed healthy, according to the inspector’s records, but the owner was advised to also fix some issues with exposed nails and jagged edges in the housing and fencing structures.
Forshey said he expects complaints will continue at about the same pace, and said a universal complaint form is provided by the department. For a copy of the complaint, the care board’s web site suggests calling the division of animal health at 614-728-6220.
So far, Forshey hasn’t seen any resistance to correcting the issues upon the department’s request.
“People know what the right thing to do is, they just need a little prodding to get it done,” he said.
If an issue is not corrected within the time given, civil penalties and fines can be imposed. Minor violations cost $500 for the first minor offense, and up to $1,000 for subsequent minor offenses occurring within a 60-month period. Major offenses carry fines of up to $5,000 for the first offense, and up to $10,000 for subsequent offenses.
Agriculture Director James Zehringer said he expects farmers will continue to follow the rules, and make corrections when asked.
“I believe that the farmers in Ohio are experts in animal husbandry and there are always going to be certain cases out there that we need to look at, but for the most part, we do a very good job in the state of Ohio,” he said.
Zehringer also said he’s confident in the department’s staff of 50 veterinarians and inspectors who are “experts in animal care” and trained to investigate the complaints.
Although the standards are now official, they will be revisited during future meetings to determine whether they should be kept the same, or updated, based on new information and science.
“That’s the beauty of the way this is set up,” he said. “Nothing’s in stone that we can’t add and remove.”
The board also recognized four reappointments lasting to 2014. Gov. John Kasich reappointed Ohio State University’s Agriculture Dean, Bobby Moser; Montpelier dairyman Leon Weaver; Newark family farmer Stacey Atherton; and Lisa M. Hamler-Fugitt, who is director of the Ohio Association of Second Harvest Foodbanks.
Zehringer called the four “great assets” and said they were selected among 40 applicants. Additional appointments will soon be made, to fill four more positions that expire Jan. 25.
Note: Check back later for a proclamation presented to the board’s technical writer, former state veterinarian Dave Glauer.