Weekly livestock news: June 3, 2024

U.S. and European nations consider bird flu worker vaccination plan

In a move experts say could curb the threat of a pandemic, the United States and Europe are taking steps to acquire or manufacture H5N1 bird flu vaccines that could be used to protect at-risk poultry and dairy workers, veterinarians and lab technicians, Reuters reports. U.S officials have reported they’re moving bulk vaccine that closely matches the current virus into finished shots that could provide 4.8 million doses of vaccine, and officials in several other countries are discussing how to proceed acquiring and making vaccines. Also recently, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania found that an experimental mRNA vaccine against the H5N1 virus is highly effective in preventing severe illness and death in preclinical models.

Avian flu vaccines for laying hens prove effective in practice, research finds

Bird flu vaccines for laying hens are effective in practice, the Dutch government announced. Reuters reports that the government confirmed plans to vaccinate poultry against the virus. Research in the laboratory of Wageningen Bioveterinary Research had already demonstrated that two vaccines against bird flu, produced by France’s Ceva Animal Health and Germany’s Boehringer Ingelheim, were effective against the virus, but there had been no experiment on a farm. “In September 2023, 1,800 day-old chicks were vaccinated against bird flu. The results show that the two tested vaccines are effective against infection with the virus eight weeks after vaccination,” the Dutch agriculture ministry said. “The fact that the vaccines work in practice is a very important step towards the large-scale vaccination of poultry against the bird flu virus.”

Farmers set to cull 4.2 million chickens after bird flu hits Iowa egg farm

Approximately 4.2 million chickens in Iowa were set to be killed after a case of highly pathogenic avian flu was detected at a large egg farm, The Associated Press reports, citing a state announcement. Crews were in the process of killing the chickens after the disease was found at a farm in Sioux County. Recently, the virus was confirmed at an egg farm west of Minneapolis, leading to the slaughter of nearly 1.4 million chickens. Overall, 92.34 million birds have been killed since the outbreak began in 2022, according to the USDA.

Elanco: Methane-reducing feed additive Bovaer is safe for use in dairy cows, FDA says

Elanco Animal Health announced the FDA has completed its comprehensive, multi-year review of Bovaer, a methane-reducing feed ingredient, and determined the product meets safety and efficacy requirements for use in lactating dairy cattle. Feeding one tablespoon of Bovaer per lactating dairy cow each day can reduce methane emissions about 30% or by about 1.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions annually, while creating opportunity for dairy farmers to be financially rewarded for reducing their dairy’s carbon footprint, according to Elanco.

Feral ‘super pigs’ could enter the U.S. from Canada, study says

There is high potential for hogs that have gone feral in Canada to cross into South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Minnesota, where the pigs could inflict billions of dollars in damage, according to a new study. The feral “super pigs” are a mixed population of domestic swine, wild boar and hybrids of the two, Live Science reports. According to the study, keepers released the boars and some pigs when the market for boar meat plunged in the early 2000s, thinking the animals wouldn’t survive the harsh Canadian prairie winter and deep snow. As it turns out, the pigs are resistant to the cold and have thrived. “These pigs have high reproductive rates, are very mobile and have a high capacity to spread,” said study co-author Ryan Brook, a professor of animal and poultry science at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada.

As pig transport rises, U.S. swine industry needs new disease surveillance system, Iowa State University researcher says

Iowa State University professor and veterinarian Jeffrey Zimmerman has argued the U.S. swine industry needs a new surveillance approach. Producers’ successes have translated into more meat and pigs being shipped internationally today than ever before. For example, 15 times more pork and byproducts and 14 times more live pigs were transported globally in 2022 compared to 1961. “With so many pigs moving so quickly across the U.S., we have little time to detect and stop the spread of a foreign disease, like [African swine fever virus] or [classical swine fever virus], before it is spread across the country,” Zimmerman said. While the U.S. has conducted eradication programs in the past and continues surveillance for CSFV, pseudorabies and other diseases, Zimmerman believes the creation of the U.S. Swine Health Improvement Plan offers an opportunity for a new surveillance plan to be established, National Hog Farmer reports.