Weekly livestock and equine news: October 2, 2023

USDA to host third African Swine Fever Action Week

The USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service is hosting its third annual African Swine Fever Action Week October 2-6. APHIS is encouraging U.S. swine producers, small farms and pig owners to learn about ASF and what they can do to help protect the U.S. swine herd. ASF has never been detected in the United States, but since its detection in the Dominican Republic and Haiti in 2021, the USDA has partnered with industry and states to enhance safeguards to protect U.S. swine. “The longer ASF continues to circulate around the globe, the greater the threat to the U.S. swine industry,” said Dr. Rosemary Sifford, APHIS veterinary services deputy administrator and chief veterinary officer. “If it were to become endemic, it could take us more than 10 years and about $75 billion to eradicate.”

Second patient receives genetically modified pig’s heart

Surgeons in Baltimore have transplanted the heart of a genetically altered pig into a man with terminal heart disease who had no other hope for treatment, the University of Maryland Medical Center announced. It’s the second such procedure performed by surgeons. The first patient, David Bennett, 57, died two months after his transplant, but the pig heart functioned well and there were no signs of acute organ rejection, a major risk in such procedures. The second patient, Lawrence Faucette, 58, a Navy veteran in Frederick, Maryland, underwent the transplant surgery September 20 and was recovering well and communicating with his loved ones, according to the medical center. Mr. Faucette, who had terminal heart disease and other complicated medical conditions, was so sick that he had been rejected from all transplant programs that use human donor organs, The New York Times reports.

Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods under federal inquiry over reports of illegal child labor

The Labor Department is investigating Perdue Farms and Tyson Foods after reports that migrant children as young as 13 have been working overnight shifts to clean the companies’ plants, NPR reports. The inquiry follows a New York Times Magazine article documenting the story of a 14-year-old boy whose arm was nearly torn off while working at a Perdue slaughterhouse on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. According to the Times, the boy, Marcos Cux, was hired by one of Perdue’s contractors tasked with cleaning operations. He and other middle- and high school-aged children made up about a third of the overnight shifts at the plant, handling acid and pressure hoses to wash away blood and meat scraps from industrial machines. This comes about seven months after the Biden administration issued a $1.5 million fine to Packers Sanitation Services Inc. for using child labor but didn’t pursue food corporations that had benefited.

Merck Animal Health awards $90,000 in scholarships to future bovine veterinarians

Merck Animal Health announced it has awarded $90,000 in scholarships to 18 bovine veterinary students in partnership with the American Association of Bovine Practitioners. Scholarship recipients were selected based on their academic achievements, career goals, work experience and interest in veterinary medicine. The scholarships were awarded at the recent 2023 AABP Annual Conference. “Merck Animal Health is proud to honor these veterinary students who represent the future of our field and the cattle industry,” said Dr. Justin Welsh, executive director of livestock technical services at Merck Animal Health.

Raleigh biotech company raises $2.5 million to reduce methane emissions in cattle

A Raleigh-based biotechnology startup that wants to reduce methane emissions in cattle has raised $2.5 million as part of its pre-seed funding and is looking to raise another $2 million, according to a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. Hoofprint Biome received an approximately $2.4 million investment from AgriZeroNZ, a New Zealand-based investment firm. Good Growth Capital and Ponderosa Ventures, two firms that also invest in agricultural technology, invested money in the round as well. Hoofprint, a North Carolina State University spinout, develops cattle probiotics and natural enzymes that improve cattle health and digestive efficiency by eliminating methane. WRAL TechWire reports.

New SoundByte: VETERA® from Boehringer Ingelheim

VETERA® is the only vaccine portfolio that has demonstrated duration of immunity in horses of at least six months to a Florida sublineage clade 1 equine influenza virus and at least 12 months for West Nile virus, according to manufacturer Boehringer Ingelheim. Find out more in the SoundByte from Veterinary Advantage.