Weekly livestock news: December 13, 2021

California’s dairy farmers struggle to stay in business amid drought and rising feed costs

Dairy farmers in California, the top U.S. milk producer, face an existential crisis amid rising costs, increasingly complex environmental regulations and historic drought, The Wall Street Journal reports. California is the country’s biggest agricultural state, and dairy is the top farm industry by revenue in the state. The drought has left farmers short on feed, meaning they have to purchase it from elsewhere in a year when feed costs have increased. “We’re getting weekly fliers of sellouts,” said Frank Mendonsa, a dairy farmer in Tulare County, the United States’ largest dairy county. To reduce expenses, he’s sending more young animals to slaughter that would become dairy cows when bred. “I need the price of feed to turn around or I’ll be another person with his name on a flier,” he said. Milk production increases in 25 other states outpaced California’s over the past decade, USDA data shows. From 2010 to 2020, California’s output grew 2% while Colorado’s increased 83% and Texas’ grew 68%.

Virbac enters U.S. large animal health market with Tulissin

Virbac announced the launch of its first product in the U.S. large animal market, after the FDA approved Tulissin Injectable Solution for treatment of respiratory disease in cattle and swine. The product will be available in concentrations of 100 mg/ml and 25 mg/ml. Virbac will market the cattle products with its own sales force, while Pharmgate will market the swine products.

California isn’t planning strong enough animal protections under Proposition 12, welfare groups say in lawsuit

Several animal welfare groups are suing California’s government over its animal confinement law, saying the state’s proposed regulations to implement the policy won’t appropriately protect animals. The California Department of Food and Agriculture’s newly proposed regulations “conflict with the legislation implementing Proposition 12 by failing to account for the full range of harmful impacts of industrialized systems of animal confinement that have long dominated U.S. meat and egg production,” according to the suit filed by Animal Wellness Action, the Center for a Humane Economy and others. This comes as the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether to accept a challenge to the new rule by the National Pork Producers Council and the American Farm Bureau Federation. Proposition 12, set to take effect January 1, will prohibit the sale of pork from sows raised in pens less than 24 square feet in size, among other things. California accounts for 13% of the nation’s pork consumption and imports nearly 100% of its pork, Feedstuffs reports.

U.K. faces ‘phenomenal level’ of avian influenza in massive outbreak, chief veterinarian says

The United Kingdom has a “phenomenal level” of avian influenza, the country’s chief veterinary officer told the BBC. Tens of thousands of farmed birds have already been culled as the “largest number of premises ever” in an avian influenza outbreak are infected, U.K. chief veterinarian Christine Middlemiss said. “It has huge human, animal and trade implications,” she said. As of December 8, there were 38 confirmed infected premises in the country, compared to a total last year of 26 confirmed cases. The disease is largely spread by migratory wild birds, and Middlemiss noted the United Kingdom is only a few weeks into the migratory season, which normally lasts until March. “We are going to need to keep up these levels of heightened biosecurity for all that time,” she said.

Kansas State researchers analyze potential points of contamination to prepare for a U.S. African swine fever outbreak

Researchers at Kansas State University have received a National Pork Board grant for a $513,000 research project focusing on African swine fever survival once the virus has arrived on the farm. Assistant professor Megan Niederwerder is leading the study to ensure U.S. farms are prepared for an outbreak. Her research focuses on common contamination points such as pens and manure secretions, and ways the virus can be eliminated from those contamination points. “African swine fever is very stable under certain conditions and in certain materials, so decontaminating the environment is critical to reducing the time and spread of an outbreak,” Niederwerder said. “If we can shorten the period from when the first infected animal is identified to the time when the farm is ready to repopulate and raise healthy pigs, this reduces the economic impact on pork producers.” She noted a 10-year African swine fever outbreak could cost the industry about $50 billion, while a two-year outbreak would cost the industry about $15 billion. Successful Farming reports.

New SoundByte: Bovilis

Merck Animal Health’s Bovilis line offers 27 vaccines for respiratory, reproductive, clostridial and other conditions in cattle. Merck has developed new vaccine technology including intranasal delivery, and the company has focused on minimizing post-vaccination reactions. More information is available in the SoundByte from Veterinary Advantage.