Weekly livestock news: November 13, 2023

1 million chickens to be killed on Minnesota farm after bird flu outbreak

Nearly 1 million chickens on a Minnesota egg farm were set to be slaughtered to help limit the spread of bird flu after it was confirmed there, The Associated Press reports, citing the USDA. The agency announced that the virus was found at a farm in Wright County, Minnesota, as well as in three smaller flocks in South Dakota and Iowa. Whenever the virus is detected on a farm, the entire flock is killed in order to keep it from spreading to other farms. In addition to the Minnesota case, the USDA said about 26,800 turkeys will be killed on a farm in McPherson County in South Dakota and nearly 17,000 birds will be slaughtered on two farms in Iowa’s Clay County. The virus also recently struck the first commercial poultry flock in Alabama, less than a week after it struck a commercial upland gamebird operation in the state, WattAgNet reports.

Legislation aims to combat xylazine misuse while protecting bovine veterinarians’ access to drug

Xylazine, an animal sedative used in almost every sector of veterinary medicine, including in beef and dairy production, is increasingly showing up in street drugs. Legislation proposed earlier this year and supported by the AVMA and the American Association of Bovine Practitioners would help combat the emerging threat posed by illicit xylazine while protecting veterinarians’ ability to legitimately use the product, Bovine Veterinarian reports. “This is critical to bovine veterinarians and cattle producers, and we’ve spent a lot of effort this year addressing the issue,” said Dr. Fred Gingrich, executive director of AABP. “Dairy veterinarians administer it to sedate calves for disbudding, or we’ll use a small dose on a very fractious animal to keep their feet on the ground. Beef veterinarians use it for disbudding or dehorning, and C-sections are another very common use. We really don’t have any alternatives in bovine practice.”

FDA moves to pull common drug used by pork industry, citing human cancer risk

A common veterinary drug used by U.S. pork farms could soon be pulled from the market due to concerns it could pose a cancer risk in humans, the FDA announced this week. The agency’s move comes nearly a decade after it first began a renewed probe into safety concerns over the drug, carbadox, which is added to feed given to pigs to combat infections and help fatten them up. Pork contaminated with carcinogenic residues from the drug could wind up in foods like hot dogs and lunchmeat. “Potential cancer risks are based on an assumed lifetime of consuming pork liver or other pork products containing carbadox residues,” the FDA said in a 2016 news release announcing its first formal steps toward taking the drug off the market. It’s not clear why the FDA didn’t move to pull carbadox sooner after its 2016 warning, CBS News reports.

Northern Ontario livestock veterinarian juggles multiple jobs even amid a shortage of care

Long-time veterinarian Dan Matyasovszky says managing a practice in Northern Ontario is a challenge because there isn’t always enough work to keep a livestock veterinarian going full-steam on a year-round basis. So he runs a farm on the side. “I’m pretty busy (with vet calls) for about six months of the year, but there’s not enough work for me to be able to hire someone,” he told The Chronicle Journal. “So if you have to leave (the area), there’s nobody to fill in.” The province pledged to alleviate a shortage of veterinarians in rural and underserviced regions by offering $50,000 over five years to newly licensed veterinarians willing to serve in those areas. But Matyasovszky doubts graduates fresh out of veterinary school would have the confidence to work on their own in rural Northern Ontario. The job involves a round-the-clock lifestyle that younger veterinarians don’t necessarily want to emulate, he said.

Veterinarian Zooms knowledge from Iowa to pig farmers in Ukraine

With grain markets in Ukraine unreliable and the supply chain for grain unstable, many farmers in the country are turning to swine to make a living. But raising pigs can be complicated, so they’ve turned to a teacher from Iowa. Dr. Justin Brown, an assistant professor and veterinarian at Iowa State University, has been known to wake up as early as 2 a.m. to Zoom with pig farmers in Ukraine, teaching them how to raise pigs. There’s an urgent need for swine education in Ukraine right now. Experts say that at the beginning of the invasion by Russian forces, about 15% of the swine supply in Ukraine was lost. Now farmers are using excess grain to bring hog numbers back up. That’s where Brown comes in. “They reached out to us, and I agreed to help them out,” he told Modern Farmer.

Calf jackets could help improve health and growth for young cows during winter

Calf jackets have proved to help young calves tolerate cold stress and improve health and growth during the winter months, Bovine Veterinarian reports. Young calves don’t have large body fat reserves to convert for body temperature regulation. Their large percentage of surface area relative to total body size also causes them to lose body heat quickly at low ambient temperatures. A recent study in the United Kingdom compared 40 Holstein calves reared from December through February. Half received calf jackets from two to 12 weeks of age, and half did not. The researchers found that the calves with jackets gained an average of 11.68 pounds more than those without. In addition, the calves with jackets ate less, resulting in savings; had increased last rib girth measurement, indicating improved rumen development; and had higher fecal scores and a lower incidence of scours.