Weekly livestock and equine news: September 18, 2023

Lawmakers propose livestock industry consolidation study

Representatives Randy Feenstra of Iowa and Elissa Slotkin of Michigan recently introduced legislation to quantify how industry consolidation is affecting the livestock industry. The Livestock Consolidation Research Act would direct the USDA’s Economic Research Service to study the issue and report back to Congress. According to Feenstra, a comprehensive study will help legislators understand what is truly happening in the industry and root out any discriminatory practices. The bill would require the Economic Research Service administrator to publish a report on consolidation and concentration in the livestock industry no later than one year after the latest Census of Agriculture is released. The study would specifically focus on beef, dairy, pork and poultry production, including broilers, eggs and turkeys. It would report size and location changes of ranches, farms, processing facilities and packers across the country. Farm Progress reports.

Groups sue EPA in effort to strengthen oversight of livestock operations

A coalition of environmental groups is seeking to force the Environmental Protection Agency to strengthen its regulation of large livestock operations that release pollutants into waterways, The Associated Press reports. Food & Water Watch and a dozen other environmental and community groups filed a lawsuit September 8 in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The lawsuit came nearly a month after the EPA denied two petitions filed by the groups in 2017 that sought tighter oversight of the largest U.S. hog, cattle and chicken operations. The suit asks the court to reconsider changes the groups sought in those petitions, including clarification about what farms must comply with federal regulations and what kinds of discharges are exempt from regulations. The EPA responded to the groups that it would study its program for regulating the livestock farms and existing pollution limits before deciding whether it should change its regulations.

Kansas State releases app for cattle record-keeping

Kansas State University agricultural economics and veterinary medicine staff are taking their knowledge on animal record-keeping to smartphones with an app that is now available to cattle producers. The app, called CalfDex, was developed by agricultural economist master’s graduate Jake Hefley (who now works at the University of Missouri), master’s candidate Audrey Marchek, K-State veterinarian Bob Larson and K-State livestock economist Ted Schroeder. The project was funded by a grant from the USDA Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program. Schroeder said CalfDex, designed for use in the field even where phone service isn’t available, enables producers to maintain efficient and accurate calving, weaning and treatment records, mitigating the risk of clutter, data loss and misplacement often seen with paper records.

Health and well-being of dairy cows is related to that of their caretakers, evidence shows

There is growing evidence that the health and welfare of dairy cows is related to the well-being of dairy farmers. For instance, research completed in Canada suggests herd lameness prevalence is related to farmer stress and anxiety scores. In a study from Norway, dairy farmers who felt stressed or lonely scored lower on their animal welfare indicator (an overall score looking at production, culling and cow health). On the other hand, herds received a better animal welfare score when the farmer had greater occupational well-being. Housing, feeding, heat and handling can all be sources of stress for dairy cows. When considering ways to reduce stress for animals, farmers should focus on improving their own well-being as well, including reducing stress induced by management (grouping and regrouping animals). Hoard’s Dairyman reports.

Beef cattle producers optimistic amid high cattle prices and consumer demand

Beef cattle producers from around the country attending the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course were optimistic for two reasons: high cattle prices and continued consumer demand despite higher beef prices. Unlike in previous decades, Americans today eat higher-grade beef and pay a premium for it. Three market issues will determine where the beef industry moves in the longer term, according to David Anderson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock market specialist and professor in the Texas A&M College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Department of Agricultural Economics: demand, drought and speed of rebuilding. Moving forward, Anderson said, drought and feed costs will determine the speed of rebuilding the herd, affecting how soon prices come back down. The Eagle has more.

Zomedica launches point-of-care assay to diagnose Cushing disease in horses

Zomedica has launched a new assay that tests for endogenous adrenocorticotropic hormone (eACTH) in equine plasma, dvm360 reports. “This assay enables equine veterinarians in the clinic or at the stall to diagnose equine [Cushing] disease, known clinically as pituitary pars intermedia dysfunction (PPID), and monitor positive patients as they titrate therapy,” said Larry Heaton, CEO for Zomedica. PPID or Cushing’s disease is one of the most common endocrine disorders in horses and ponies. Although it affects all equine breeds, PPID is diagnosed in ponies and Morgan horses at a higher rate. More than 85% of equines diagnosed with the condition are 15 years or older, with the average age of these patients being 20 years.