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Health Law Monitor

Kentucky State Veterinarian Recommends Best Practices and Breeding Shed Guidelines for Horse Farms and Veterinarians

March 25, 2020

By: Chacey R. Malhouitre and Jay E. Ingle

The Kentucky Department of Agriculture’s Office of State Veterinarian released guidance for Kentucky’s equine industry today.  In addition to following the general Coronavirus Guidelines for America and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control, the State Veterinarian recommended the following best practices:

  1. Barns should be open to allow as much exchange of fresh air as possible.
  2. Equipment (leads, shanks, twitches, grooming, etc.): Should be assigned to a barn and not passed to different individuals. This equipment should be cleaned and disinfected daily.
  3. Surfaces (desk, rails, gates, etc.) having contact with individuals or equipment should be cleaned and disinfected frequently.
  4. Paperwork: Paperwork should be completed and submitted electronically.
  5. Communication should be via phone call, email, or text.
  6. Veterinarians/Veterinary Assistants (and others who visit farms daily): Limit the number of individuals assisting the veterinarian. Veterinarians and other individuals who visit multiple facilities daily must understand and accept the additional steps they must take to avoid becoming contaminated and potentially transferring the contagion to other environments
    1. Veterinarians, assistants, and others should take their temperature twice daily and not report to work if an elevated fever is detected. Any fever detected should be reported to a supervisor or manager.
    2. Veterinarians, assistants, and others should wear gloves, coveralls, and consider wearing a mask when deemed appropriate. These would be changed between farms and cleansed for reuse at end of day.
    3. When feasible, the veterinary assistant should be the individual holding/restraining the horse.
    4. Palpation – The manner by which you palpate or examine a mare is based on your assessment and familiarity with the individual animal. Ideally, the tail would be pulled and tied or the assistant wearing gloves would hold the tail. Alternatively, a farm employee could serve this role so long as he or she has the proper PPE while maintaining the defined social distance. Our objective is to minimize the number of individuals working in close proximity.
    5. The veterinarian assistant should cleanse the gloved hand or use new gloves moving horse to horse. The veterinarian should change or cleanse gloves between horses.
    6. Avoid transfer of paperwork – reports support contagions are easily transferred to/from paper products. All administrative processes should be completed electronically when possible. This includes daily worksheets, payment.
  7. Farm Employees (there should be no physical contact between individuals and they should practice social distancing).
    1. Farm employees should check their temperatures twice daily and if an elevated fever is detected they should report the fever to their supervisor and not interact with veterinarian.
    2. Where possible, employees working on the farm should be “consistently compartmentalized,” meaning individuals’ day-to-day routines should be that they work with the same people daily, and do not work different shifts having interaction with new or different individuals.
    3. Ideally, there would be one farm employee per barn working with the veterinarian. This individual should be at or near the head of the horse and away from the veterinarian. The veterinarian or accompanying assistant is holding tail.
    4. Foals requiring restraint will be attended to by the veterinarian's assistant.

The State Veterinarian also issued minimum guidelines for Breeding Shed Activity, which have been recommended by The Jockey Club and can be found here.

If you have questions about your workforce, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, or other impacts of COVID-19, please visit Jackson Kelly’s COVID-19 Legal Resource Center or contact a member of our Equine Law Team.


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