Weekly livestock news: April 8, 2024

Guidelines offer advice on using veterinary technicians in bovine practice

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners has created a board-approved set of guidelines to assist members in using credentialed technicians in bovine practice. According to the guidelines, a veterinary technician is a graduate of an AVMA CVTEA-accredited or Canadian Veterinary Medical Association-accredited program in veterinary technology. “Veterinary technician educational programs may prioritize skills needed for small animal practice because that is where the positions are, so only a minority of graduates have significant food animal training,” said AABP President Dr. Michael Capel. “As use of CVTs increases in bovine practice, the needs of the practice and the needs of the student and educational programs should coalesce.” Bovine Veterinarian reports.

How are avian flu dairy cow cases impacting herds?

The USDA has found positive cases of highly pathogenic avian influenza in dairy herds in six states. The spread of symptoms among Michigan cattle indicates avian flu transmission between the animals can’t be ruled out. While the illness is often fatal and highly contagious for domestic poultry like chicken, in cattle it causes symptoms such as low appetite and decreased milk production in older dairy cows. The USDA says sick animals have recovered after isolation with little to no associated deaths reported, KOSU reports. At least one person in Texas was diagnosed with bird flu after having contact with dairy cows presumed to be infected.

How automated calf feeders can help speed diagnoses

A University of Guelph researcher is using automated feeders to screen calves for disease, Bovine Veterinarian reports. According to Melissa Cantor, a postdoctoral fellow in the University of Guelph’s Department of Population Medicine, most producers aren’t using calf feeders to their full potential. Information such as each calf’s milk intake, drinking speed and visits can be valuable disease indicators. Cantor co-led a study that found indicators such as reduced feed intake and decreased activity in calves affected by bovine respiratory disease were seen as soon as five days earlier than the actual diagnosis. With this information, Cantor said, producers can know when the calf is getting sick rather than waiting for visual cues.

Cal-Maine bird flu outbreak could affect egg prices

Cal-Maine Foods, the largest producer of fresh eggs in the United States, temporarily halted production at one of its facilities in Texas after detecting highly pathogenic avian influenza there, the company announced. The company said it depopulated about 1.6 million laying hens and 337,000 pullets, or about 3.6% of its flock, as a result of the outbreak. Cal-Maine Foods said it was “working to secure production from other facilities to minimize disruption to its customers.” But it’s possible the depopulation at the Texas location could lead to higher egg prices at the grocery store, “because you’re taking a large number of egg-laying birds out of production all at once,” Amy Hagerman, an associate professor of agricultural economics at Oklahoma State University, told NPR.

Economics are a key factor in rural vet shortage, Illinois professor says

Jim Lowe, a veterinarian and professor at the University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine, says that despite an uptick in enrollment, there’s still a shortage of rural large-animal practitioners. There are better economic opportunities in areas that are willing to pay more for companion animal care, he told Brownfield Ag News: “Our new graduates in companion animal are making 50% more than our pig veterinarians are.” Given the rising cost of tuition, it makes sense that students are attracted to the more lucrative opportunities. Student demographics are also changing, he said. “Our applicant pool is decidedly urban/suburban. Those students that are from rural areas tend to go back to rural areas, but we don’t have many of those in the applicant pool and therefore we don’t have as many of those in veterinary classes and hence in our graduates.”

Small dairies in Oregon continue with lawsuit over proposed CAFO regulations

A group of small dairy farms in Oregon is proceeding with a federal lawsuit against the state over a rescinded requirement that small operators seek a permit usually intended for large animal-feeding farms. The dairies contend that the Oregon Department of Agriculture’s policy change would have unconstitutionally placed an undue burden on some farmers. Last year, the department reinterpreted its definition of a confined animal feeding operation to include small dairy farms, requiring them to follow plans previously imposed on large commercial operations to protect surface water and groundwater from pollution. The small dairy operators complained the rule would have required them to install expensive drainage systems, put in wastewater holding tanks and pay hefty fees just to milk a handful of cows. Although the ODA has withdrawn its policy, the lawsuit will continue since the withdrawal was only temporary and the department didn’t concede that it lacked the power to enforce the new requirements, Western Farm Press reports.

New SoundByte: Y-Tex

Y-Tex’s four-year insecticide tag rotation program is a key part of an effective pest control plan, the company says. Pest control, which is critical for animal production and welfare, helps reduce the $1 billion U.S. cattle producers lose each year because of horn flies and other pests. Learn more and find sales tips in the SoundByte featured in Veterinary Advantage.