Weekly livestock news: April 1, 2024

Avian flu detected in milk, but nation’s supply is safe: USDA

Samples of milk collected from sick cattle in Kansas and Texas tested positive for avian flu, but the nation’s milk supply is safe, the USDA reported. The USDA, FDA and CDC are investigating dairy cows in Kansas, Texas and New Mexico with symptoms including decreased milk production and low appetite. Based on findings from Texas, wild birds, which spread the virus globally, appear to have introduced the virus to cattle. Testing indicates the risk of human infection is low, according to the USDA. The government said milk from sick cows is being diverted or destroyed so it doesn’t enter the food supply. Pasteurization is required for milk entering interstate commerce, a process that kills bacteria and viruses such as flu. The agency said there should be no impact on prices for milk or other dairy products. Reuters has more.

Texas A&M warns livestock owners of respiratory disease risk for animals after wildfires

Following the wildfires in the Texas Panhandle, the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory is alerting livestock owners to watch their surviving livestock for respiratory issues, Bovine Veterinarian reports. Dr. Alexis Thompson, veterinary diagnostician at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory in Canyon, said the lab expects to see an uptick in samples from livestock that were near the flames or smoke from the wildfires. “Those on the ground are now reporting respiratory signs such as heavy breathing and wet coughs from cattle,” Thompson said. “Smoke has a high concentration of fine particulate matter, which can lead to respiratory irritation in animals, as well as humans.” The warm to hot air from wildfires can lead to damage in the respiratory tract as well, Thompson said. The combination of these factors can damage the integrity of the respiratory lining and lead to pulmonary edema.

Researcher develops new bovine respiratory disease vaccine

A researcher at Louisiana State University has developed a new vaccine to fight bovine respiratory disease. BRD can kill up to 8 million calves each year, costing the U.S. cattle industry more than $1 billion. LSU professor of veterinary medicine Shafiqul Chowdhury said the vaccine is safer than other vaccines currently available. His research involved taking bovine herpes virus type 1 and genetically modifying it to provide the protective proteins of other bovine respiratory viruses, including bovine viral diarrhea virus type 1 and 2 and bovine respiratory syncytial virus, to help prevent BRD. The work took Chowdhury 10 years to develop, and he currently has applied for a patent for the vaccine. Once the patent is acquired, a commercial company will manufacture the vaccine, as a licensing agreement has already been signed, Progressive Farmer reports.

Chick-Fil-A backtracks from no antibiotics pledge amid projected shortage

After announcing in 2014 it would no longer serve chicken that was fed antibiotics, Chick-fil-A will back off its pledge due to the diminishing chicken supply, CNN reports. The pledge was intended to help prevent human antibiotic resistance linked to the rampant use of the drugs in livestock production. Moving forward, the company will embrace a looser industry standard: “no antibiotics important to human medicine.” The change comes after Tyson, the United States’ biggest poultry company, last summer ended its eight-year-pledge to keep antibiotics out of its chicken. Like Chick-fil-A, Tyson said it will ensure the chicken it produces is not fed antibiotics that are important to the treatment of humans—a standard recognized by the USDA and the World Health Organization. As for other meat processors, Pilgrim’s Pride says it uses some antibiotics, while Perdue still says it doesn’t.

Oregon’s agriculture department reverses CAFO requirement for small dairy farms

The Oregon Department of Agriculture announced it’s withdrawing its decision to require small dairy operations to apply for a permit usually intended for larger commercial farms, Oregon Public Broadcasting reports. Some farmers believed the state policy change would have been too burdensome. Last year, the department reinterpreted its definition of a confined animal feeding operation, or CAFO, to include small dairy farms. A CAFO permit is an enforceable plan farms must follow to protect surface and groundwaters from pollution, such as manure produced by cows. The change came after dairy industry lobbyists complained that some small dairy farms had an unfair advantage over bigger dairy farms that had to follow state regulations and pay annual fees.

Matching herds to landscape could support animal growth, ecological needs: study

Not all cattle are the same when it comes to grazing. Recognizing personality differences could help ranchers select herds that best meet grazing needs on rangelands, leading to better animal health and environmental conditions, according to a University of California, Davis research paper. “Cattle can actually be beneficial for the rangelands,” said lead author Maggie Creamer. “Vegetation in rangelands need these kinds of disturbances like grazing.” Ranchers can add elements to the rangeland such as water and fencing to influence where cattle graze, but little research has been done on how those efforts affect individual cows. “Any time we can improve our understanding of cattle behavior, it can improve how we handle livestock and manage the landscape,” said Dan Macon, a livestock and natural resources Cooperative Extension adviser in Placer and Nevada counties for UC Agriculture and Natural Resources.

New SoundByte: Y-TEX

Y-TEX offers a four-year, four-chemical class insecticide tag rotation program for cattle, allowing producers to stay on top of pest resistance, the company says. The program offers five premium insecticide ear tag options, which producers can use as part of an effective pest control plan. Find out more in the SoundByte from Veterinary Advantage.