Livestock News for week of August 26

Veterinarians in short supply, leaving Missouri clinics and farms scrambling for care

At least one Missouri animal hospital has shortened its hours, and farmers are struggling to care for sick cows and horses, due to a shortage of rural veterinarians, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. While animals often need to see a veterinarian immediately in an emergency, this is a problem in places like Vernon County, which has only one veterinarian for every 206,000 food animals, according to documents filed with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. According to documents filed by the former acting state veterinarian, the greatest need appears to be for veterinarians who care for cattle, horses and pigs in rural areas, but the shortage has extended to other areas, including St. Louis County, where a formerly 24-hour animal hospital and urgent care center shortened its hours. One large-animal owner said he relies on a vet from a neighboring county. Some clinics will treat large animals but won’t send vets out to farms, he said, making it difficult to find care.

U.S. has first virulent Newcastle disease case since June

Virulent Newcastle disease has been found in the United States for the first time since June, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service reported. According to the agency, one new premises has tested positive for the disease in San Bernardino County, California. It was detected in a retail feed store; this is the third time it’s been found in a feed store. Most cases have occurred in backyard poultry, and the outbreak has also hit California’s commercial egg industry, costing an estimated 1.1 million chickens, WattAgNet reports. The current outbreak began in May 2018, and the vast majority of cases have been in California, with one case each in Utah and Arizona. A total of 449 premises have been affected. Before 2018, the last time virulent Newcastle disease had been detected in the United States was 2003.

Ag economists study benefits and challenges of animal traceability

Kansas State University researchers have found that the food producing animal industry is still trying to figure out the balance between effective tracking of animals and making that practice profitable for producers. “When we think about traceability, program designers with the U.S. Department of Agriculture are concerned about decreasing our response time to diseases and preventing losses, but those in the cattle industry are concerned about making money,” one researcher said. “So, you have this conflicting story of trying to make an effective traceability program but also trying to incentivize people to use this program, because for animal traceability to be effective, you need high enrollment of animals and producers.” The Kansas State team surveyed producers to find what premiums cow/calf producers need to adopt a program like this, “and is that premium even feasible for a feedlot to pay to receive cattle with that same form of traceability?” the researcher said.

Cargill partners with University of Illinois on Innovation Lab

Cargill and the University of Illinois are partnering to form the Cargill Innovation Lab at the university’s Urbana-Champaign campus. As part of the partnership, students and staff at the lab will work with Cargill business leaders, operations teams and customers. The lab “is expected to provide Cargill with a pipeline of talented software engineering and data science students and graduates ready to modernize agricultural supply chains and food systems across the globe,” Meat + Poultry reports. The lab is located in a part of the campus considered a “technology hub” for startup companies and corporate research and development operations. It will officially open later this fall, after the first phase of the partnership, which includes a 12-week internship program. “We are on a constant search for new innovations and talent,” said Keith Narr, vice president of Cargill’s digital labs team. The University of Illinois’ strong engineering and computer science program makes it “an ideal partner to spur the growth and innovation in our digital business,” he said.

Reviewing humane swine euthanasia protocols

Unresolvable health problems and injuries are inevitable in any swine operation, and producers need to have a plan to humanely deal with these issues, including having a specific written protocol for euthanasia, livestock specialist Heidi Carroll writes. Carroll focuses here on a specific Pork Checkoff rule that requires producers to have euthanasia protocols in place that are written, accessible and up to the standards of the American Association of Swine Veterinarians. Carroll describes what producers should ensure and look out for when forming their protocols so they can meet this requirement. “A euthanasia plan should be written down as an SOP in order to meet the PQA Plus Site Assessment criteria,” Carroll writes. “Simply having the equipment and the knowledge of how to euthanize a pig is not enough.” Templates are available online to guide producers.