Daily Archives: February 17, 2006

Identification of Johne’s Disease is not easy

Identification of Johne’s Disease is not easy

By ANDREA JOHNSON, Assistant Editor
Thursday, February 16, 2006 11:47 AM CST

Two cattle – a healthy looking bull and a razor thin cow with severe scours. Which one has Johne’s Disease?

Both of them.

An infected animal may harbor the organism for two to five years before testing positive or developing disease signs.

Johne’s Disease is a chronic, contagious inflammation of the intestine characterized by persistent and progressive diarrhea, weight loss, debilitation and eventually death.

More than 20 percent of dairy herds across the U.S. are infected with the organism that causes Johne’s disease.

The infection causes the walls of the small intestine to thicken to the point that the bovine cannot absorb nutrients.

According to the Johne’s Information Center, University of Wisconsin, animals infected with the M. paratuberculosis bacteria usually develop diarrhea and lose weight.

Because of the slowly progressive nature of the infection, signs of Johne’s disease are usually not seen until animals are adults. Signs tend to start within a few weeks after calving but could happen anytime in the cow’s reproduction cycle.

“The rule of thumb is when you have one clinically affected animal, there are five to seven animals that are subclinical and 10-15 others that are in some earlier stage of infection,” said Dr. Steve Just, a federal district veterinarian with the Minnesota Board of Animal Health. Just works out of Morris, Minn.

“When you see that one animal that has scours and is very thin, that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Just, speaking at Minnesota Cow/Calf Days in Glenwood. “You also have reduced production, decreased milk production – because they are not getting all the nutrients and it’s not going to the calves, and you get lower weaning weights.”

Just encourages producers to compare weaning weight records over the years. Even though Johne’s may not be causing death loss, the disease could still be affecting the herd’s performance.

It is estimated that a 10 percent level of Johne’s infection in a 100-cow dairy results in the loss of $20,000 each year, and the disease often leads to premature culling and decreased cull value.

“Also, the increased replacement cost and increased disease susceptibility,” said Just. “When an animal is not on a good nutritional plane, their immune system is going to be suppressed and they are going to be vulnerable to all other infections.”

Minnesota dairy and beef producers are invited to participate in a voluntary control program for Johne’s, said Just. The purpose of the program is to help producers eliminate the disease from their herds and prevent introduction of the disease from other sources.

According to Minnesota Board of Animal Health information, Minnesota is recognized as a national leader in Johne’s disease control.

The state instituted its volunteer program in 1998, and since that time, over 435,000 cattle have been tested in approximately 5,606 herds.

Minnesota Board of Animal Health offers free on-farm consultations called risk assessments. Either a state or federal district veterinarian, such as Just, or a trained veterinarian in private practice completes the risk assessments.

The goal is to identify a producer’s highest risks for spreading the disease.

The veterinarian then works with the producer to develop a herd plan that can help stop the spread of Johne’s.

The state pays for some testing to help producers identify infected animals, said Just.

Those herds that do not have Johne’s can participate in the Test Negative Status Program. The state offers free risk assessments to help these herds remain free of infection. The program also covers fees and testing for some animals at the beginning of the program.

“Status Program Herd replacement animals have brought premiums,” said Just, and he encourages producers to work with the Board of Animal Health to minimize Johne’s in Minnesota.

For more information, call the Minnesota Board of Animal Health at 651-296-2942. You may also visit: http://www.johnes.org/ or http://www.bah.state.mn.us/diseases/johnes/johnes_disease.htm for more information.

U.S. disqualifies plant as processor of beef for shipment to Japan

U.S. disqualifies plant as processor of beef for shipment to Japan


(Japan Economic Newswire Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)TOKYO, Feb. 16_(Kyodo) _ The U.S. government has informed Japan that it has disqualified major U.S. meat packer Swift Beef Co.’s plant in Nebraska as a processor of beef for export to Japan due to a violation of procedures, the Japanese government said Thursday.

The Nebraska plant is one of the 38 slaughterhouses authorized to process beef for shipments to Japan.

According to the information from Washington, Swift Beef has presented the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a quality control program stating that its head office would designate suppliers of cattle whose ages can be confirmed in compliance with conditions set by the Japanese government, said the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

It turned out, however, that the Nebraska plant made the designation on its own, the ministries said.

In mid-December, Japan lifted a two-year-old ban on U.S. beef imports it imposed due to mad cow disease concerns. Conditions set by Japan limit imports to meat from cattle aged up to 20 months and require the removal of brains, spinal cords and other materials that could transmit the disease before shipping.

But the Japanese government reintroduced the ban on Jan. 20 after a prohibited backbone was found in a shipment of beef from the United States.

The procedural violation by the Nebraska plant was found through a U.S. government investigation conducted under terms agreed upon by Tokyo and Washington for the resumption of American beef imports.

While the Nebraska plant has shipped some 30 tons of beef to Japan since last December, production data recovered by U.S. government investigators show that the shipments cleared the Japanese conditions for imports, the ministries said.




A proposed beef processing plant will create additional jobs beyond the plant gates, backers say.

Community leaders in Aberdeen, S.D., claim that a beef processing plant–if built–will create as many as 250 jobs in spin-off industries. A decision on the proposed multi-million-dollar beef-processing plant is expected within weeks.

Aberdeen would have no major capital costs related to the plant. “We are not at the point where the city has a crucial role in this proposal,” said Mayor Mike Levsen. The city has not offered the plant investors any incentives, Levsen added.

“But I personally wouldn’t rule that out,” he said. “In situations where participation is crucial for the city, we would have to consider that. But, ideally, things should be able to stand on their own two feet if they are a good investment.”

Jim Barringer, executive vice president of Aberdeen Development Corp., one of the investors in the proposed plant, said the plant will likely create spin-off industries and will boost the price that local ranchers receive for their cattle. Barringer explained that the processing plant will need finished cattle, which means feedlots will be built in the region, he said. Also, byproducts from the beef plant could spawn new businesses such as tanning and petfood canning. And byproducts from area ethanol plants could be fed to cattle being finished in feedlots.

“[The proposed plant] would be a tremendous boost to the whole beef industry in northeast and north-central South Dakota and south-central North Dakota,” Levsen said. “It would enhance the overall economic base so much that we can’t think of this as an Aberdeen project.”

Swift says beef plant stopped from serving Japan

Swift says beef plant stopped from serving Japan


Thu Feb 16, 2006 11:23 AM ET

CHICAGO (Reuters) – U.S. beef and pork company Swift & Co. said on Thursday that its Grand Island, Nebraska, beef plant has been declared ineligible to ship beef to Japan due to a procedural issue, but that no consumers were at risk.

“We will confirm the Grand Island plant has been delisted,” said Swift spokesman Sean McHugh. “We have not received notification in writing from USDA. Upon receipt we will respond and take whatever action is necessary.”

McHugh said the beef prepared at the plant for Japan fully conformed to rules regarding that market and “consumers were not at risk.”

The problems apparently involved administrative procedures regarding the approval of cattle suppliers and were discovered during a recent government audit.

“The audit review found that all product that was shipped to Japan during the recent export window fully conformed to established export program standards,” said McHugh.

Japan suspended purchases of U.S. beef in late January, about a month after ending a two-year ban on U.S. beef. The two-year ban was imposed due to a 2003 U.S. case of mad cow disease.

The latest ban was in reaction to a shipment of veal from New York that contained banned cattle parts.

Beef on the way to Japan from Swift will either be redirected to the United States or to other international customers, said McHugh.

Feedlot cattle consume more feed in cold weather

Feedlot cattle consume more feed in cold weather

By Wendy Sweeter, Editor
Wednesday, February 15, 2006 3:16 PM CST
Tri-State Neighbor

VERDIGRE, Neb. – With just 2 inches of snow in the last two weeks and temperatures into the 30s, Nebraska winter producer reporters Roger and Julie Johnsons’ feedlot cattle seem to be growing.

“The feedlot cattle have increased their feed consumption since the temps have gone down,” they said.

Their feeder cattle have pretty much remained the same in the last two weeks with no illnesses detected. The Johnsons can definitely tell the cattle are gaining.

Some producers in the area have re-implanted their fat cattle, but the Johnsons decided not to re-implant this year.

The Johnsons worked cows, with daughter, Jessica, and sons, Clayton and Shane, coming home to help.

“Jessica came home from school at noon to help and she probably clipped half the cows. Roger ran the chute, Julie gave three shots and Clayton and Shane brought the cows in,” the Johnsons said.

Their 2-year-olds started calving about two weeks early, but all the calves seem OK.

“It seems that as soon as the weather starts to get colder and wetter then the calves start to come,” they said.

Combined U.S./Canada cattle and hog inventories grow

Combined U.S./Canada cattle and hog inventories grow

Wednesday, February 15, 2006, 4:17 PM

by John Perkins
Brownfield Network

A joint report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Statistics Canada shows that total cattle and calf inventories in those nations on January 1, 2006 were 1% larger than a year ago at 111.932 million head. For the United States, total cattle and calves were up 2% at 97.102 million head, while Canadian inventory was down 2% at 14.830 million.

All cows and heifers than have calved were reported at 48.639 million head, up 1% from a year ago. Beef cows accounted for 38.532 million head of that total and milk cows made up the remaining 10.107 million. In the U.S., total cows and heifers that have calved came out at 42.311 million head, compared to 41.920 million a year ago. U.S. beef cows totaled 33.253 million and milk cows that have calved were reported at 9.058 million. For Canada, all cows and heifers that have calved were pegged at 6.328 million, down 1% from last year. Beef cows accounted for the bulk of the total at 5.279 million head and milk cows came out at 1.049 million.

All other U.S. and Canadian cattle totaled 63.293 million head, compared to 62.217 million on January 1, 2005.

U.S. heifers 500 lbs. and over were reported at 19.978 million head, 2% bigger than a year ago. Replacement beef cows were 4% higher at 5.905 million head. Milk replacement cows were also up 4% at 4.278 million. Other heifers totaled 9.795 million head, basically unchanged from the previous report.

Canadian heifers one year of age and older came out at 2.148 million head, compared to 2.115 million a year ago. Beef replacement heifers were down 2% at 650,000 head. Milk replacement heifers were unchanged at 498,000. Other heifers were 5% higher at 1 million head.

U.S. steers 500 pounds and over were up 3% at 16.293 million head, bulls 500 lbs. and larger were 2% higher at 2.263 million and calves less than 500 lbs. came out at 15.626 million, up 2%.


Agri-Tech: Tool to measure intramuscular fat could revolutionize industry

Agri-Tech: Tool to measure intramuscular fat could revolutionize industry

By Andrea Johnson, For Lee Agri-Media
Tri State Neighbor
Wednesday, February 15, 2006 3:19 PM CST

A central Iowa company hopes their product can make pork even tastier tomorrow than it is today.

Biotronics, Inc. recently introduced the BioSoft© Toolbox for Swine, an ultrasound image capturing and interpretation system. Developers say the software program is the first of its kind to accurately predict the percentage of intramuscular fat, or marbling, in live pigs.

In the past 15 to 20 years, hog farmers have done a great job of breeding pigs that are lean and muscular.

One of the tools they’ve used is ultrasound technology that has allowed them to measure backfat in live animals and select sires that stay lean. But reducing backfat has also led to less marbling, less intramuscular fat. More marbling is needed to keep pork juicy and tasty.

“The industry is interested in bringing some of that intramuscular fat back. You don’t need high levels, but for consumer acceptability you need to have at least 2.5 percent intramuscular fat in the tissue,” said Doyle Wilson, president of Biotronics.

Few breeds today have that level of intramuscular fat tissue, said Wilson. The Berkshire and Duroc breeds come closest.

Wilson said that using ultrasound technology to measure intramuscular fat will likely be cheaper and easier than conducting carcass tests.

“We just scan the breeding stock when they are at a young age – about market weight – and select those that have higher levels of intramuscular fat to produce the next generation of pigs,” Wilson said.

Biotronics was founded in Ames, Iowa, in 1998. The company develops software products and services to aid in the ultrasound evaluation of body composition and meat quality in live swine and beef cattle, as well as in carcasses.

Calving system fights scours by age segregation in clean pastures

Calving system fights scours by age segregation in clean pastures

By Donna Farris, Special Sections Editor
Wednesday, February 15, 2006 3:09 PM CST
Tri-State Neighbor

A new approach to fighting calf scours in the Nebraska Sandhills seems to be working and could be applied in other regions as well.

David Smith, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources veterinary scientist, said the long-term success rate of the Sandhills Calving System introduced in 2000 is yet to be seen.

But with positive results over the past five years, he’s confident it’s making a difference.

One test herd of 300 to 400 cows went from a 6.5 mortality rate in 1999 with 28 calf deaths and a 11.9 percent mortality rate in 2000 with 48 deaths to death rates of 2.8 percent or less in the four years after implementing the Sandhills Calving System.