Weekly livestock news: February 27, 2023

Global leaders look to vaccination to prevent bird flu, but the United States is holding out

Governments around the world are warming to the idea of vaccinating birds to prevent the spread of avian influenza. Countries have resisted vaccinations due to concerns they could mask the spread of the virus and hit exports to countries that have banned vaccinated poultry. But the spread of bird flu around the world since last year has pushed leaders to change their thinking on vaccination. Still, while other countries launch vaccination campaigns, officials in the United States—the biggest exporter of poultry meat—are holding out, Reuters reports.

Bird flu kills sea lions and thousands of pelicans in Peru’s protected areas

Bird flu has killed tens of thousands of birds, mostly pelicans, and more than 700 sea lions in protected areas across Peru, officials said. The country recorded its first case of the virus in November in birds in the north of the country. Since then, it has killed 63,000 birds, according to government data. Cases have been detected across South America, though Brazil, the world’s largest poultry exporter, still hasn’t confirmed any cases, according to Reuters.

Ohio farmers worry about damage to operations after train derailment

After officials burned off the toxic chemical cargo of a derailed freight train in Ohio, farmers in the area near the Pennsylvania border worry for their health and that of their animals and crops. Officials said the chemical burn was necessary to avoid a more harmful explosion and that initial tests had found the air and water to be safe. Pam Mibuck said one of her turkeys was put on antibiotics for respiratory problems after the chemicals were released, and her chickens laid eggs with an unsettling purple hue, The New York Times reports.

USDA and other groups partner on initiative to prevent African swine fever from entering the United States

Pork and agriculture industry groups have joined in a partnership to prevent African swine fever from entering the United States. The USDA, the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, the National Pork Board and the National Pork Producers Council announced the partnership at the recent NASDA Winter Policy Conference. The initiative connects pork producers with federal officials and enables a response plan to prevent the spread of ASF and to recover from it if an outbreak does occur, according to Meat + Poultry.

Company gets patent for oral vaccine against porcine epidemic diarrhea virus

Mazen Animal Health, an Iowa-based agricultural biotechnology company, has received a patent for its technology to produce oral animal vaccines, WRAL TechWire reports. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a patent covering foundational technology for the company’s first product, a vaccine against porcine epidemic diarrhea virus. The vaccine’s antigen will be grown in genetically modified corn and then mixed into corn feed, which will be dosed to cows during gestation, providing immunity to their piglets through breast milk. The vaccine is expected to be commercially available in 2024.

USDA announces $59 million in grants to independent meat processors

The USDA announced an investment of $59 million in grants to five independent meat processors under the Meat and Poultry Processing Expansion Program. Grants include $3.6 million to Virginia-based Shenandoah Valley Organic LLC to expand an organic chicken processing facility; $25 million to Idaho-based Riverbend Meats LLC to help build an environmentally friendly beef processing plant; and $3.3 million to South Dakota-based CNF Enterprises LLC to help build a new processing facility.