Weekly livestock and equine news: September 14, 2020

Thick clouds of mosquitoes kill livestock after hurricane

Clouds of mosquitoes have been so thick in southwest Louisiana that they’re killing cattle and horses, the Associated Press reports. Farmers in a five-parish area east and northeast of the parishes where the storm made landfall have probably lost 300 to 400 cattle, said Dr. Craig Fontenot, a large-animal veterinarian based in Ville Platte. He said the swarms are so thick that the vast number of bites leave horses and cattle anemic and bleeding under their skins. The animals also become exhausted from constantly moving to avoid the biting insects, he said. He added that only a few horses and no goats have died, likely because they’re generally kept in stalls which can be sprayed with insecticide, while cattle may graze in 50- or 100-acre pastures.

Arrest made in million-dollar equine drug theft


An illicit, eight-year, million-dollar equine drug operation that endangered the lives of countless horses has ended in an arrest, Veterinary Practice News reports. Federal courts apprehended and arraigned Gregory Settino, the production supervisor of manufacturing for New York’s Luitpold Pharmaceuticals (now American Regent) on charges of theft of medical products and making a false statement to a federal agent. Between 2012 and January 2020, Settino is alleged to have stolen thousands of bottles, valued at more than $1 million, of Adequan, a proprietary injectable drug manufactured by Luitpold/American Regent, which he then sold to horse trainers and veterinarians at New York racetracks for more than $600,000. The medication, which is administered to horses with degenerative joint disease, was not maintained, stored or transported in accordance with proper procedures for ensuring its safety, effectiveness and efficacy, the indictment alleges.

Coccidiosis cases are becoming more common in swine, vets say

Coccidiosis is a little discussed but growing problem in swine, two veterinarians said during a recent webinar, reported on by National Hog Farmer. They’ve seen the enteric parasite play a major role in increasing morbidity and poor weight gain in suckling pigs, nurseries and wean-to-finish. “In my experience, I’ve seen pretty high morbidity, up to 90% but low mortality and very few cases that I have pigs actually die from it,” said veterinarian Amber Stricker. “It’s more likely they’re euthanized because they failed to make weight at weaning, and it builds up over time in the environment, especially if there is no treatment or sanitation intervention.” Jeremy Pittman added that “the recent interest in coccidiosis, specifically for us…[has] been focused around the importance of wean weight and as we’ve changed contracts and how we would pay contract growers based on a weaned pig, weight becomes more important.”

Microbes, pigs and antimicrobial resistance

While antimicrobial resistance is often thought of on a large scale, a group of researchers wanted to look at it within individual pigs. They studied porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome in growing pigs, following them from weaning to market to characterize shifts in their fecal microbiome and resistome (antibiotic resistance genes) as they transitioned between various production phases, and as they confronted disease challenges and antibiotic exposures. So far, the researchers write in National Hog Farmer, they’ve found that weaning, transport and commingling of litters appear to massively shift piglets’ fecal microbial profile, corresponding with a significant shift in the AMR genes harbored by the fecal microbes. Additionally, the fecal microbiome and resistome “seem to shift quite substantially when pigs are challenged with PRRSV,” they write. “It appears that these disease-associated changes are just as large as the changes that occur during antibiotic exposures in the same pigs.”

Germany reports suspected case of African swine fever

Germany’s Ministry of Food and Agriculture said it had a suspected case of African swine fever in a wild boar in the eastern state of Brandenburg, Reuters reports. The suspected case concerned a wild boar carcass found near the German-Polish border. A sample of the carcass was being taken for tests at the Friedrich-Loeffler-Institut laboratory, the ministry said in a statement. Germany had feared a spread of the disease after cases were confirmed in wild boars in west Poland in past months and one Polish case found only about 10 kilometers (6.21 miles) from the German border.

Climate neutrality within reach for California dairy sector, researchers say

Climate neutrality is within reach for California’s dairy sector, according to researchers from the University of California, Davis, who say methane needs to be viewed from a different angle. “We have been looking at methane incorrectly when it comes to reducing warming,” said professor Frank Mitloehner. “While more potent than the most prevalent greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, methane is a short-lived climate pollutant, staying in our atmosphere for about 12 years before it’s broken down and removed. On the other hand, carbon dioxide remains in our atmosphere for centuries, with new emissions accumulating on top of those previously emitted, making it the main driver of climate change.” According to the team’s white paper, California dairy farms have already stabilized methane emissions, which is critical to achieve carbon neutrality. They say that as dairies continue reducing methane emissions, they can create negative warming, aka “cooling.”