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Articles from 2019 In January

International antimicrobial stewardship consortium formed

AndreyPopov/iStock green light bulb_AndreyPopov_iStock_465462611.jpg

The Foundation for Food & Agriculture Research (FFAR) launched Jan. 30 the International Consortium for Antimicrobial Stewardship in Agriculture (ICASA), a public/private partnership to advance research on antimicrobial stewardship in animal agriculture and improve animal health and welfare.

Antibiotics are extremely valuable tools in the effort to protect animal health, FFAR said in its Jan. 30 announcement. Maintaining the efficacy of antibiotics is a highly complex issue affecting both human and animal health and it is a top priority for veterinarians and livestock producers.

The responsible and judicious use of antibiotics is key to addressing this challenge, which affects the entire supply chain and is further complicated by factors that influence animal health, including genetics, nutrition, infectious diseases, environmental stressors and other factors, FFAR said.

ICASA was formed to accelerate innovation and improve antibiotic stewardship by building the cross-sector partnerships critical to making advances on a broad scale. The consortium will uncover long-term solutions to major drivers of antibiotic use by field testing new technologies and management practices, FFAR said.

Ultimately, the consortium aims to develop and publish results that improve animal health and welfare, promote responsible and judicious antibiotic use and benefit animal agriculture as well as the general public.

“ICASA has the potential to have extraordinary impact. The collaborative framework brings together exceptional expertise and significant resources to tackle major challenges in livestock production. Working together is critical to improving animal health and welfare and preserving the efficacy of antibiotics for both animals and people,” FFAR scientific program director Tim Kurt said.

Collectively, ICASA member organizations represent approximately 40% of all fed beef cattle marketed in the U.S., through operations that feed more than 2.75 million head of cattle and provide veterinary services to an additional 2 million head of cattle, the announcement said. The consortium also includes three of the world’s largest companies that process or sell beef, pork and chicken products, along with two livestock associations that together represent more than 85,000 producers.

The National Pork Board, which has ex-officio status in ICASA, told Feedstuffs that the consortium allows members to pool research funding for big projects that extend across species, production systems and companies.

ICASA is the first research consortium to bring together participants representing all stages of the U.S. livestock supply chain, from producers to restaurant chains, to accelerate improvement in animal welfare and judicious antibiotic use, FFAR said.

Private-sector participants are matching FFAR’s initial $7.5 million investment in ICASA, resulting in a total investment of $15 million towards innovative animal health and antimicrobial stewardship research.

ICASA projects will initially focus on animal health issues that underlie significant challenges to welfare and reduce the need for antimicrobial use in beef and pork, FFAR said. ICASA will also support cross-species projects focused on animal health and welfare monitoring.

Understanding the diseases that drive antibiotic use will allow producers to find alternatives while maintaining animal health.

Dr. Heather Fowler, director of producer and public health at the National Pork Board, said these projects may look at antibiotic alternatives, management practices and husbandry, decision-making tools and economic trade-offs to using various options.

“It’s a truly unique opportunity when 12 organizations work together to solve major industry challenges,” FFAR executive director Sally Rockey said. “Not only does ICASA represent one of the largest investments in antibiotic stewardship and livestock welfare research; it’s bringing the right people to the table. ICASA has the potential to advance animal agriculture in amazing ways.”

In addition to FFAR and the National Pork Board, ICASA’s founding participants include: Advanced Animal Diagnostics, Beef Alliance, Cactus Research, HyPlains Feedyard, JBS USA, McDonald’s, National Cattlemen’s Beef Assn., Noble Research Institute, Tyson Foods and Veterinary Research & Consulting Services.

ICASA is recruiting additional partners to join the effort. More information is available at the group's website.

Feed biosecurity guidelines updated amid African swine fever concerns

DaveMcDPhoto-iStock-Thinkstock Feed mill

In light of the recent outbreaks of African swine fever and other animal diseases, the American Feed Industry Association has been working on a multi-pronged action plan to: research science-based solutions for mitigating the risks of virus transmission through feed, and communicate any new information and recommendations to the industry and producer groups. As part of this effort, the AFIA announced today that it has released an updated version of its biosecurity guidelines.

“AFIA’s biosecurity guidelines were originally written to help safeguard manufacturing facilities following 9/11, but were always meant to serve as a ‘living document’ that could be updated based on what we know about new and emerging threats,” says Paul Davis, Ph.D., AFIA’s director of quality, animal food safety and education. “While some threats aren’t at the back door yet, it doesn’t mean we can leave the door unlocked. Our industry must be vigilant about continually improving its biosecurity programs for the protection of animal and human health.” 

AFIA has been closely coordinating with representatives from the pork industry, government and academia for the past several months to update the biosecurity guidelines based on new information regarding how viruses can potentially spread throughout the feed manufacturing process. The updated guidance provides recommendations for how facilities can better set-up an onsite biosecurity program, more thoroughly evaluate and verify their suppliers, work with their shippers, and train on and communicate best practices to all facility personnel and visitors. Of note, the updated guidance also includes a definition for “biosecure,” given there is currently no regulatory definition for the term, yet many segments of the industry have been requesting to only source products from biosecure facilities. 

Apart from updating the industry’s biosecurity guidelines, the AFIA is also working with its public charity, the Institute for Feed Education and Research, on supporting research in this area. One such project is aimed at analyzing potential risk mitigation measures and testing the effectiveness of proposed holding times for feed specifically in response to the recent ASF outbreaks. South Dakota State University is leading this research project, which is being co-funded with the Swine Health Information Center. The project partners should have preliminary results for review later this year.

Source: American Feed Industry Association, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Jan. 31, 2019

The NCBA convention is happening in New Orleans. Jennifer Houston, from Tennessee, is the new president.

Foxcon, Taiwan electronics giant, says it won't build a plant in Wisconsin, employing 13,000 blue collar workers. 

Do you remember lining up for a sugar cube containing a polio vaccine? There's been a polio-like illness showing up across the country. It's called AFM, and a fourth case has been confirmed in Nebraska.

It's time for Prairie Farmer's annual "Favorite Farm Dog" contest. Enter the contest.


Photo: debibishop/Getty Images

Digestibility, retention of Ca and P in sows changes during gestation

National Hog Farmer gilts at a feeder

By Su A Lee and Hans H. Stein, University of Illinois
Digestibility of calcium and phosphorous has been determined for most Ca and P containing ingredients fed to growing pigs, but the digestibility of Ca and P in sows in mid-gestation are less than in growing pigs (Lee et al., 2018). As a consequence, if diets for gestating sows are formulated using digestibility values determined in growing pigs, provisions of digestible Ca may be less than anticipated.

The efficacy of phytase to release Ca and P is believed to be influenced by the physiological state of pigs with phytase fed to sows in mid-gestation releasing less Ca and P compared with growing pigs or sows in late-gestation. However, it is not known if values for digestibility of Ca and P that are measured in one period of gestation are representative for the entire gestation period. Therefore, an experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis that the digestibility and retention of Ca and P and the response to microbial phytase on digestibility and retention of Ca and P in corn and limestone-based diets fed to gestating sows are constant throughout the gestating period for sows.

Experimental diets included a corn-based diet in which limestone was the sole source of Ca and a Ca-free diet. Each diet was prepared with no microbial phytase and also with addition of 500 units of phytase, a product from AB Vista. Daily feed allowance was 1.5 times the maintenance energy requirement for gestating sows based on the body weight of sows. Daily feed allotments were provided in two equal meals. Water was available at all times.

Sows were housed individually in gestation stalls throughout gestation with the exception that from Day 7 to 20 (early-gestation), Day 49 to 62 (mid-gestation) and again from Day 91 to 104 (late-gestation), sows were housed individually in metabolism crates, where they were fed one of the four experimental diets. Feces and urine were quantitatively collected to calculate digestibility and retention of Ca and P.

Supplementation of microbial phytase decreased the basal endogenous loss of Ca (Table 1). The basal endogenous loss of Ca was greatest by sows in early-gestation, followed by sows in mid- and late-gestation periods, respectively.

Table 1: Basal endogenous loss of Ca from early-, mid- and late-gestating  sows fed Ca-free diet

Phytase effects on the basal endogenous loss of Ca, digestibility of dry matter, Ca and P and retention of Ca and P did not change during gestation, and no interactions between phytase and gestation period were observed.

Supplementation of microbial phytase did not affect the digestibility of DM, Ca and P or retention of Ca and P (Table 2). The digestibility of DM was not affected by the period of gestation. However, the digestibility of Ca for sows in mid-gestation was lower than for sows in early- or late-gestation. The digestibility of P and retention of Ca were least in mid-gestation, followed by early- and late-gestation, respectively. Phosphorus retention was greater in late-gestation than in the earlier periods. Thus, these data indicate that digestibility and retention of Ca and P changes during gestation.

Table 2: Digestibility and retention of Ca and P in experimental diets fed to gestating sows

In conclusion, to accurately predict Ca and P absorption in gestating sows, it appears that it is necessary to assume different digestibility and retention values for Ca and P in late-gestation compared with early- or mid-gestation. The response to microbial phytase on digestibility and retention of Ca and P in Ca- and P-adequate-corn-based diets fed to gestating sows is less predictable than in diets fed to growing pigs.

Sources: Su A Lee and Hans H. Stein with the University of Illinois, who are solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly own the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

With meat supplies at all-time highs, opportunity lies in exports

National Pork Board Variety of pork cuts in a meat case signifying U.S. meat.

Per capita animal protein consumption in the United States is set to reach to an all-time high in 2019, however the animal protein sector will soon be entering a period of transition as four consecutive years of significant domestic consumption growth is now beginning to pressure prices and producers’ bottom lines, according to a new report from CoBank’s Knowledge Exchange Division.

“The domestic consumption growth rate animal protein has experienced over the last five years is expected to plateau soon,” says Will Sawyer, animal protein economist with CoBank’s KED. “With the cow herd at multi-year highs and pork and poultry processors expanding capacity, exports will likely underpin further industry expansion for the U.S. in the years ahead.”

Sawyer says export growth will be key for U.S. beef, pork and chicken producers as growing meat supplies and processing capacity outstrip domestic demand. In 2018, the U.S. exported 12% of beef production, 16% of chicken production and 23% of pork production. While these figures are far higher than where the industry was 20 years ago, further growth in exports will be needed if U.S. producers want to expand production in the coming years.

“While the need for increasing exports is clear, it’s frequently met with concern or skepticism among producers and all links throughout the supply chain,” Sawyer says. “Concerns lie primarily in the fear that the more exports play a role in supply and demand, the more exposure producers and industry participants have to increased market volatility and lower margins.”

Bigger risk, bigger reward
Greater reliance on export markets has resulted in higher prices for the animal protein sectors in other exporting nations, including Australia, Brazil and Canada. However, analysis shows that greater profitability has offset that price volatility for beef, pork and poultry producers in each of those countries, despite declining domestic consumption in both Australia and Canada.

In the comparison of Brazilian poultry to U.S. poultry, Brazilian poultry price volatility over the last 15 years has averaged approximately 15% per year, while in the United States it has been slightly less at around 12%. Conversely, over that same time period Brazil’s poultry producers have seen an average increase in prices of 6%, while prices for U.S. producers have increased just 2.6%.

“In other words, Brazilian producers experience just 2.5% of price volatility for every percent increase in prices while U.S. producers endure 4.5% of price volatility for the same degree of price change,” Sawyer says.

This superior risk-to-reward level is also true for Canadian pork and Australian beef relative to the United States. In the case of Australia, fed cattle prices have been slightly less volatile than what U.S. producers have experienced over the last 15 years, all while having a slightly higher rate of return. This is significant as Australia exported 71% of its production in 2018 while the United States exported just 12%, which were all-time high levels for both markets.

Growth opportunities involving exports can carry significant risks as demonstrated during recent trade disputes between the United States and some of the most important international customers for U.S. animal protein. However, those who accept these risks are often rewarded, according to Sawyer.

“Profitable growth has always been at the core of the industry, and has enabled producers and processors to recover from the historic volatility and costs from 2007 through 2012,” Sawyer says. “The groundwork has already been laid from the supply chain to industry representation to let trade drive the industry forward over the next decade. Long-term, exports will be the key driver for further expansion across the animal protein sector.”

With meat supplies back at all-time highs, opportunity for growth lies in international markets, Sawyer concludes. The increased market volatility that comes with greater exposure to export markets is offset by higher prices and improved profitability for producers.

Source: CoBank, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.

MORNING Midwest Digest, Jan. 31, 2019

Cancelling classes used to rarely happen. But with this polar vortex, many schools cancelled classes, from elementary to universities.

Twenty-two states saw sub-zero temperatures during the weather events. Ten states had mail delivery suspended. Six states had colder weather than the south pole.

Tyson Foods is recalling 18 tons of chicken nuggets because they may be contaminated with rubber. They were manufactured in November.

Nebraska chose its next state poet.


Photo: cmannphoto/Getty Images

Farm Progress America, Jan. 31, 2019

Max Armstrong continues his look at Jennifer Houston, the incoming president of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association with a look at her ideas and how she sees the role of the organization. Houston shares a look at key topics the organization will approach in the coming year.

Farm Progress America is a daily look at key issues in agriculture. It is produced and presented by Max Armstrong, veteran farm broadcaster and host of This Week in Agribusiness.

Photo: NCBA

MIDDAY Midwest Digest, Jan. 30, 2019

Relief from the cold will happen this weekend when temps rise above freezing across the Midwest.

Th Foxcon project in southeast Wisconsin to construct a plant to employ 13,000 workers is now being reconsidered by the Taiwan-based company. The construction is already underway.

Every year the winter wheat crop is damaged in some places. This year, some of the crop has no insulating snow cover.

More and more, big drugstore chains want to do more and more. Walgreens is planning to move into the dental realm, offering services for cleanings and crowns. 


Photo: ipopba/Getty Images 

Being a good neighbor goes a long way

Cooper Farms Through its videos, Cooper Farms hopes to show its intricate process of choosing sites for new barns, and how management seeks quality contract growers to run the sites.
Through its videos, Cooper Farms hopes to show its intricate process of choosing sites for new barns, and how management seeks quality contract growers to run the sites.

Most neighbors today don’t put out the welcome mat and bring over a plate of cookies when a new sow farm goes up in their community. More often, complaints and concerns are spread around the township or county before the cement is even poured.

Cooper Farms recognizes that.

“We’re growing. We’re always getting new neighbors, and we want to be clear to those people, and with those who already know us, about what it is we do,” says Terry Wehrkamp, director of live production for Cooper Farms.

The family-owned and -operated turkey, chicken and hog producer based out of northwest and west-central Ohio is expanding, putting up a new sow barn this spring and adding more growers to its current 110-hog contract family farm system. Ever since the Cooper family decided to enter the hog business in 1994, the family has made it a point to reach across the fence at all of their farms, which together produce 200 million pounds of live hogs per year.

“We have a reputation of being good neighbors,” says Wehrkamp. “It’s not just something we say, it’s something we do. We want to be transparent with our neighbors and show them that we want to do things the right way.”

As the Clemens Food Group partner expands north, it realizes reputation hasn’t been established yet in those communities, and it will be some time before Cooper Farms is ready to host its traditional open houses and invite the public in. To address some of those questions and concerns head-on, the pork producer decided not to waste any time, and to take the community behind the scenes now with some of its well-respected growers.

Lights, camera, action
The first of a five-part video series, “Becoming a Cooper Farms Grower, was released through social media platforms and YouTube on Dec. 5, and it has already garnered thousands of views. One new video will be released each month until April, just prior to the completion of the new sow farm.

The video series covers the procedures the company follows to have the least possible impact on the environment and the neighboring communities. Cassie Jo Arend, corporate communication manager for Cooper Farms, says this is an important aspect of the films, as water quality has become an increasing concern in this particular area of the state.

“We really want to make sure on the farm we are doing things the right way, but also then as we are doing that, to tell people ‘This is what we are doing to make sure we are doing it the right way,’ ” Arend says. “We want to leave things as good or better for the next generation. This is a way to open that conversation and tell our side of the story.”

Through the videos, Cooper Farms also hopes to show the intricate process for choosing not only its sites for new barns, but the type of quality contract growers its management seeks to run them.

“When we enter into a partnership with a grower, it’s a decades-long partnership,” says Wehrkamp. “Because of that, we put a lot of effort into getting to know each other up front and getting to know the management style of that farmer.”

Ever since the Coopers decided to enter the hog business in 1994, they’ve made it a point to reach across the fence at all of their farms, which together produce 200 million pounds of live hogs per year.

Ever since the Coopers decided to enter the hog business in 1994, they’ve made it a point to reach across the fence at all of their farms, which together produce 200 million pounds of live hogs per year.

Transparency: True, trusted method
Arend says while the contract growers that participated in the video series may have been a bit apprehensive getting in front of a camera, they have had their fair share of practice telling their story. Eight years ago, the pig and poultry producer started adding observation rooms at several of its grow-out farms, and even has one now on a sow farm. Arend says the plexiglass windows have been very beneficial, allowing the public to see inside the barn without the grower having to worry about the biosecurity risk the visitors may be carrying.

Another way Cooper Farms has opened up its barns is through virtual farm tours on both its turkey and hog farms. This allows the grower to stay in the barn and give a virtual tour to students sitting in the classroom.

“That’s not really new in the hog industry, but we are trying to do that from a Cooper perspective by keeping it local with our schools that are nearby,” Arend says. “There are a lot of kids in this area that don’t know much about farming and animal agriculture. They have a better understanding of grain farming in a lot of these areas than they do about livestock.”

Since many of Cooper Farms’ contract growers are next door to others involved in the agriculture industry and farming, Arend challenged the participating growers before filming the series to think like a consumer — and not a farmer.

“How does a community member that doesn’t know anything about farming see things? What do they think when they look at your barn and have never been inside one?” Arend says. “Put yourself in that mindset and if you can do that, you can tell your story in a way that speaks to those people. If you say it like you are talking to your buddy, who already understands, it’s not going to be the same type of conversation.”

Nothing to hide
While the video series is just the start to building community relations, Arend says she hopes it opens up some dialogue.

“We do want to hear if they have concerns, but also to know who we are, how we operate, and to trust that we are trying to do everything the best way we possibly can at all times,” Arend says.

It’s an approach Cooper Farms took from the start, and it hasn’t failed yet.

“We just want to give back, because we really care about these communities, and it has helped us to be successful. Being proactive in telling our story and having open houses and things like that have never proved to be harmful, so we want to continue to do that and help make people feel good,” Arend says. “A large part of it is your reputation in the community, and have you proven you’re going to do things the right way and shown that you are not hiding anything.”

More than 9,300 feral hogs removed from Missouri in 2018

Missouri Department of Conservation MDC and partners have implemented a new strategy to feral hog elimination.

The Missouri Department of Conservation has tallied up 2018 feral hog elimination numbers. With the assistance of partner agencies and private landowners, the MDC removed 9,365 feral hogs from the state’s landscape — a large increase from the 6,561 feral hogs that were removed in 2017.

MDC and partners have implemented a new strategy to feral hog elimination, dividing the areas where feral hogs are present into elimination areas 1 through 6. Trapping is currently ongoing in each zone. Zone 1, near the Harry S. Truman Reservoir and Stockton Lake, is benefiting from a significantly reduced population of feral hogs. The goal continues to be complete elimination of feral hogs from Missouri.

Mark McLain, MDC’s feral hog elimination team leader, says MDC is partnering with many agricultural and conservation groups, as well as hundreds of private landowners, who are all committed to eliminating feral hogs from Missouri. Landowners and the public are a crucial element of this effort, especially since most land in Missouri is privately owned. 

“With one sounder of hogs capable of damaging 10-25 acres in a single night, feral hogs impact the productivity and profitability of Missouri farmers and ranchers,” says Gary Marshall, chairman of agriculture coalition for Missouri Farmers Care. “The success of MDC and partners reducing hog numbers, especially around the Warsaw area, has provided relief to landowners. We look forward to continued collaboration leading to additional hog population reductions in 2019.”

“We’ve been very strategic in our efforts, focusing on removal of whole groups of feral hogs at a time, before moving onto another area,” says McLain. “This strategic approach is important because if we leave even a few feral hogs behind in an area, they can reproduce quickly and put us back where we started.”

McLain says it’s important that the public understand why feral hogs must be eliminated.

“Feral hogs are a destructive, invasive species that don’t belong here; they’re not a native species,” McLain says. “They out-compete native wildlife for habitat and food. For example, places with a lot of feral hogs will see their wild turkey and deer populations diminish.”

McLain says feral hogs are known to carry diseases that could possibly spread to humans, pets and livestock. He hopes the message that hunting is not an effective method for eliminating feral hog populations is starting to be better understood across Missouri.

“For over 20 years, unregulated hunting of feral hogs was allowed in Missouri, during which time our feral hog population expanded from a few counties to over 30 counties,” he says.

In 2017, MDC, the Corps of Engineers, and the L-A-D Foundation established regulations against feral hog hunting on lands owned and managed by these three organizations. Other agencies have passed regulations similar to MDC’s to eliminate hog hunting on land they own.

“A persistent piece of this story is continued illegal releases of feral hogs, which establishes populations and further spreads the problem,” McLain says. “This is illegal and when caught, those who release feral hogs face hefty fines. Landowners who’ve experienced feral hogs on their land have learned that hunting feral hogs, especially with dogs, pushes them onto neighboring property, which causes problems for their neighbors.”

When neighboring landowners try to control feral hogs through hunting, the hogs simply travel back and forth between the properties, escaping and causing more damage. Trapping with no hunting interference is the best method to eliminate them. Landowners can seek help from MDC and USDA such as technical advice, on-site visits, loaning equipment and training.

Feral hogs are not wildlife and are a serious threat to fish, forests and wildlife as well as agricultural resources. Feral hogs damage property, agriculture and natural resources by their aggressive rooting of soil in addition to their trampling and consumption of crops as part of their daily search for food.

Feral hogs have expanded their range in the United States from 17 to 38 states over the past 30 years. Their populations grow rapidly because feral hogs can breed any time of year and produce two litters of one to seven piglets every 12 to 15 months. Feral hogs are also known to carry diseases such as swine brucellosis, pseudorabies, trichinosis and leptospirosis, which are a threat to Missouri agriculture and human health.

Source: Missouri Department of Conservation, which is solely responsible for the information provided, and wholly owns the information. Informa Business Media and all its subsidiaries are not responsible for any of the content contained in this information asset.