Weekly livestock news: October 23, 2023

Lawmakers oppose action on Prop 12 in upcoming farm bill

Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding California’s Proposition 12, members of Congress have struggled to coalesce around a legislative response, National Hog Farmer reports. The Ending Agricultural Trade Suppression Act has received support from farm groups such as the National Pork Producers Council and American Farm Bureau Federation. While the EATS Act has garnered 34 House cosponsors and 13 in the Senate, others are pushing back against its inclusion in an upcoming farm bill. Recently, a group of 16 Republican lawmakers sent a letter to House Agriculture Committee Chairman Glenn Thompson and Ranking Member David Scott opposing the EATS Act. The letter states their concern that the bill “is at odds with our foundational Republican principles of states’ rights, national sovereignty, and fair competition” and that China could use the EATS Act to its advantage.

Lawmakers need to focus on African swine fever prevention and preparedness in farm bill: NPPC president

October is National Pork Month, highlighting the need to recognize the importance of protecting U.S. pigs from foreign animal diseases, writes National Pork Producers Council President Scott Hays. According to an Iowa State University study, an African swine fever outbreak in this country could cost the U.S. pork industry more than $75 billion over 10 years. Other agricultural sectors also would suffer as feed grain use would decline and livestock employment would fall. Pork exports valued at $7.7 billion in 2022 would stop, forcing farmers out of business. This topic is especially timely given ongoing negotiations on the 2023 farm bill and efforts underway by U.S. pork producers to strengthen the nation’s swine traceability standards, Hays says. “It’s vital that lawmakers prioritize funding in the 2023 farm bill for prevention and preparedness efforts,” he writes in National Hog Farmer.

K-State Swine Day scheduled for November 16

Kansas State University’s Swine Day, scheduled for November 16, will focus on improving nutrition and mitigating risk in the swine industry. The event will include a technology trade show with over 30 vendors, Morning Ag Clips reports. The morning session will feature the latest research updates applied to swine nutrition, highlighting nutrition, management, feed processing and feed safety. The afternoon program includes a presentation by Wayne Cast, a nutritionist at Value Added Science and Technologies in Princeton, Missouri, titled “Lessons from a Legacy in the Swine Industry.” A new program—K-State Swine Day Student Edition—connects youth to career paths as well as leaders in animal agriculture.

New bird flu outbreaks prompt safety recommendations from University of Arkansas

H5N1 bird flu has been detected in poultry flocks in eight states over the past few months, most recently in Carter County, Oklahoma, about 300 miles from the Arkansas border, the University of Arkansas Extension reports. Dustin Clark, extension poultry health veterinarian for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture, said the disease is present in wild waterfowl and that the current fall migration poses risks to both commercial and small hobby flocks. He recommended several biosecurity measures to keep small flocks safe. Birds should be kept in clean, covered pens to protect them from wild bird feces or water sources wild waterfowl may visit. New or sick birds should be quarantined from healthy poultry for at least three weeks. Unnecessary visitors should be kept away. And any signs of illness should be reported to a veterinarian.

Research aims to improve nonverbal communication between veterinarians and dairy farmers

A recent study in the Journal of Dairy Science aims to provide a first step toward measuring and understanding unspoken communication between dairy veterinarians and farmers, paving the way for more effective on-farm conversations and improved outcomes. Fiona MacGillivray, a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, and the study team analyzed video recordings of 11 routine dairy herd consultations made using GoPro cameras worn by the veterinarian, farmer and an observer of their interactions. The recordings were broken down and analyzed, enabling the team to develop a framework for coding and measuring different forms of nonverbal communication between veterinarian and farmer. “We think veterinarians can benefit from having an awareness of the impact nonverbal cues can have and use these findings immediately in their practice, as many aspects of nonverbal communication are likely to influence their ability to effect change on-farm,” MacGillivray said.

Michigan State University researcher aims to reduce cattle methane emissions

Michigan State University’s Dairy Cattle Teaching and Research Center has a new machine for its cows that could help farmers fight climate change worldwide. The machine, which dispenses treats for cows and analyzes their output, is part of an ongoing climate change project led by MSU animal science professor Dr. Mike Vandehaar. The project aims to discover how different types of cattle feed affect the amount of methane cows produce. The machine enabling Vandehaar’s research is about the size of a large wardrobe and has an opening for cows to place their heads. Once their heads are in, the machine dispenses molasses pellets—treats for the cows. As the cows eat, the machine analyzes the amount of methane they burp out. In Vandehaar’s upcoming study, cows will be fed supplements containing fatty acids. Preliminary research shows these supplements could reduce cow methane emissions by about 20%, he said. The State News reports.