Weekly livestock news: June 12, 2023

Nebraska scientists near development of universal swine flu vaccine

Nebraska scientists appear to be closer to developing a safe, long-lasting and potentially universal vaccine against swine flu. Pork producers currently try to manage swine flu by using commercially available vaccines derived from whole inactivated viruses and weakened live viruses. As of 2008, about half the vaccines in use in the United States have been custom-made for specific herds, which has been expensive, time-consuming and ineffective because of the rapidity with which swine influenza evolves. The new vaccine could be significant for both the pork industry and human health: Because pigs act as mixing vessels, various swine and bird influenza strains can reconfigure and become transmissible to humans.

NPPC leaders outline pork industry priorities

National Pork Producers Council board officers and experts at the 2023 World Pork Expo discussed current industry priorities. Top issues noted by panelists include preparing for and preventing foreign animal diseases, addressing the agricultural labor shortage and increasing exports. After the recent Supreme Court decision upholding California Proposition 12, NPPC wants to work with the state’s Department of Food and Agriculture to ensure a smooth transition for farmers and consumers.

New tool aims to help breeders produce cows that burp less methane without affecting milk production

The first genetic evaluation in the world to help select low-methane dairy cows is expected to help reduce farm greenhouse gas emissions without affecting milk production, the University of Guelph reports. Based on the university’s research, the tool is being used to estimate how much methane will be produced by each of the 700,000 registered dairy cows on farms across Canada. Breeders can now predict which cows will produce calves that, when fully grown, will belch out less methane while still producing as much or more milk. Researchers consider this a positive step toward slowing the influence of animal agriculture on global warming.

Manitoba ranchers work to keep livestock safe during spring heat dome

Facing a prolonged spring heat dome, cattle ranchers in Manitoba are taking extra precautions to ensure the safety of their livestock herds, Global News reports. That means moving cattle to paddocks early in the morning when it’s cooler, double-checking water sources, ensuring animals have access to shade and watching for signs of heat stress and dehydration. Heat stress is known to impact the well-being of cattle, leading some farmers to resort to fans and sprinkler systems in their barns.

Churchill Downs and HISA announce new horse racing safety measures

Following the death of a dozen race horses, Churchill Downs and the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority have announced new safety measures, including: additional layer of post-entry screening by a HISA director to evaluate the horse’s ability to race; collection of blood and hair samples for all fatalities involving covered horses by the Horseracing Integrity and Welfare Unit; and additional review of all necropsies performed on covered horses by a HISA-appointed equine forensic specialist. Churchill Downs will implement its own changes, such as restricting horses to four starts during a rolling eight-week period, implementing ineligibility standards for poor performance and pausing track-based incentives, the Courier Journal reports.