|Mike Rowe of Discovery Channel’s “Dirty Jobs” learns new skills at Kentucky Equine Research. Photo courtesy KER.|
Kentucky Equine Research (KER) will be featured on the Discovery Channel’s hit series “Dirty Jobs,” airing on Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2010, at 9 p.m. EST.
While “Dirty Jobs” was initially interested in KER’s research because of feeding trials that involve the collection of fresh urine and feces from horses, the production staff soon realized that the science behind KER’s work was just as interesting as the dirty jobs they hoped to find there.
Dave Barsky, head producer of “Dirty Jobs,” wasn’t very far into the day’s filming when he told KER Global Marketing Manager Kim Brown that he thought the Discovery Channel audience would love the educational slant of what KER did, as well as the dirty aspect. He believed a one-hour show would evolve rather than the usual 30-minute segment.
And, it did!
The new season’s shows began airing on Nov. 19. Tune in on Nov. 30 and watch Mike, Dave, and the whole crew get down and dirty with the KER research horses, the research barn staff and KER veterinarian Dr. Bryan Waldridge. Set a reminder to watch this episode.
Collecting excrement was only one of Mike’s jobs, though, as he performed several other duties that are part of everyday life at the KER research farm. He especially enjoyed working with the horses on the high-speed treadmill.
“The KER staff really appreciated the professionalism and dedication of getting just the right shot during the long day of filming,” said Brown. “The crew was fun, friendly, and had a good time while they learned about equine nutrition and exercise physiology.”
Months of preparation led up to the filming in mid-July. The KER staff was sworn to secrecy, and the farm was closed to outside visitors for two days while the “Dirty Jobs” crew was on-site.
A Little About KER
KER was founded in 1988 by Dr. Joe D. Pagan. After earning his doctorate degree from Cornell University in equine nutrition and exercise physiology, Pagan spent a couple of years in the horse feed industry. He realized then that the results of quality research on equine nutrition and exercise physiology were not being disseminated to the individuals who needed them most: feed manufacturers and horse owners. Since the company began, filling that void has been a priority for KER.
The company accomplishes this in several ways. First and foremost, it serves as a consultant to feed manufacturers. KER has developed strategic partnerships with feed manufacturers globally to formulate top-quality feeds that complement typical forages found in the locale. KER now works with feed manufacturers on six continents.
KER is also the official nutritionist of the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF), which oversees most equestrian sport in the United States. KER holds the same designation for the Equestrian Federation of Australia.
Because of its expertise in equine nutrition, KER has been commissioned to oversee feed acquisition for horses competing at the last four Olympic Games, the 2010 World Equestrian Games, and the 2010 Asian Games.
KER is also heavily involved in Thoroughbred racing worldwide. Over half of the last dozen Kentucky Derby winners have been fueled by KER’s partner feed manufacturers, and all three Thoroughbred classic winners (Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont) in 2010 had connections to KER through their feeding programs.
KER conducts its research at a 144-acre facility located in the Bluegrass Region of Kentucky, often called the “Horse Capital of the World.” Research completed at KER has helped set the standards by which horses are fed around the world.
At KER’s research center, various studies are staged to answer important questions about how best to feed and train horses. These studies are carried out by KER’s staff using equipment designed specifically for equine research.
KER’s staff members consist of nutritionists holding doctorate degrees in equine nutrition, board certified veterinary specialists, students studying equine nutrition, and experienced horse owners. KER’s equine staff consists of 25 research horses that are vital members of the team. These horses are all owned by KER, and they either devote their entire careers to equine research or they go on to have second careers as sport horses or racehorses.
The health and well-being of KER’s research horses is a top priority, and every study is designed to ensure their safety. Some horses in KER’s herd were foaled on the farm in the early 1990s and have spent their entire lives helping KER answer important questions about equine nutrition. As foals these horses helped KER develop milk-replacer formulas for orphans, and as adult athletes they participated in exercise trials on KER’s high-speed treadmill. Now, as senior citizens, they help KER understand how nutrient requirements change for geriatric horses. This is an extremely important area of research since horses, like humans, are living longer due to advances in nutrition and medical care.
Other KER research horses spend the first four to five years of their careers with KER before leaving to pursue second careers in sport horse disciplines. Several former KER research horses are now winning ribbons as show horses.