» 2001

Animal Health News & Notes for June 8, 2001 6/8/2001

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Brakke Consulting’s
Animal Health News & Notes for June 8, 2001
Copyright © Brakke Consulting, Inc.
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Company News Releases

>  The FDA has approved ProHeart 6, the first long-term injectable drug to prevent heartworm in dogs. One injection provides six months of heartworm protection.  The new drug, ProHeart 6, provides an alternative to current heartworm drugs that involve pills taken daily or monthly. ProHeart 6 is made by Fort Dodge Animal Health. The drug will be available by prescription from a licensed veterinarian. It is approved for use in dogs 6 months of age and older and also treats existing hookworm infections. (AP)

>  Lohmann Animal Health International is adding the Tad Lohmann line of vaccines to its existing Maine Biological Laboratories and Vineland Laboratories lines in the Americas, effective July 1.  LAHI will also introduce a new label this year to bring Lohmann AG's red trademark color into its Main Biological (green) and Vineland (blue) color schemes. (Feedstuffs)

>  International Absorbents Inc. announced a marketing alliance with Supreme Petfoods, Ltd., makers of the No. 1 small animal food brand in the United Kingdom.  The two companies will co-brand products and act as each other's Master Distributor in their respective regions.  International Absorbents' wholly owned subsidiary, Absorption Corp, will sell Supreme Petfoods' line of small animal food, led by its flagship brand, Russel Rabbit, throughout North America.  Supreme will sell the Company's CareFRESH small animal bedding in the UK and Western Europe. (PRNewswire)

>  Farnam Companies announced that Andy Deer, president of Farnam Pet Products, is retiring Dec. 31 after 18 years with the company.  A member of the American Pet Product Manufacturer's Association's Board of Directors from 1987-1994, Deer served as APPMA President from 1990-1991 and is active in many pet industry associations. Deer is credited with developing Farnam's Pet Products Division, which accounts for more than 16 percent of the company's total sales volume.  Named as Deer's successor is Doug Bertram, formerly chief executive officer of finance and technology for Farnam Companies. (company press release)

>  Farnam Horse Products announced that it has sold its Pro Equine Protective Sport Boot line to EasyCare, Inc., which is expanding its horse accessory product line. EasyCare manufactures the E-Z Ride Stirrup, EasyIce Boots, EasyCare Hoof Pads, EasyCare Heart Rate Monitors and the EasyCare textile line of products. By acquiring Pro Equine, EasyCare picks up a line of advanced horsemanship products that have been developed and tested under actual competitive conditions.  (company press release)

>  Tyson Foods, Inc. broke ground on a state-of-the-art, $5.2 million food safety laboratory expansion in Springdale, Ark.  The new facility will more than double the size of the existing facility with a 17,500-square-foot expansion, dramatically increasing Tyson's testing capabilities by allowing for the implementation of new "high tech" procedures, which are not possible in the current laboratory.  The USDA-certified Corporate Laboratory currently has capabilities that range from nutritional analyses to residue analyses to pathogen detection. The lab expansion is projected to be complete by autumn 2002. (PRNewswire)

>  Tyson Foods, Inc. announced that it is moving forward with its strategy to grow the company's chicken business internationally with two major acquisitions in Mexico, groundbreaking of a joint venture in the People's Republic of China, and the opening of a joint venture facility in Panama. In Mexico, Tyson has entered into an agreement that allows Tyson to purchase the
interests of the Villegas family in Tyson de Mexico.  With the acquisition of the interests of the Villegas family, Tyson will own 95% of the common stock of Tyson de Mexico.  Additionally, Tyson de Mexico has purchased the poultry assets of Nochistongo S.P.R. de R.L., a fully integrated broiler production operation marketing products under the Kory brand. Tyson has also signed a joint venture agreement with Chinese partner Zhucheng  Da Long Enterprises Co., Ltd. to own and operate a further processing plant in China.  The plant is expected to be operational in September of this year. Tyson Foods' joint venture operation in Panama City, Panama with Alimentos Procesados Melo, S.A., announced in April of 2000, has begun processing in a
new facility.  (PRNewswire)

>  Archer Daniels Midland Company and Ag Processing Inc. jointly announced that ADM intends to acquire the U.S. and Caribbean operations of Consolidated Nutrition.  ADM and AGP expect the transaction to be effective July 1, 2001. Consolidated Nutrition, a leading animal feed manufacturer in the United States, has been operating as a partnership owned 50% each by AGP and ADM since its formation on November 1, 1994.  As part of the transaction, AGP intends to acquire ADM's 50% interest in AGP, Inc., which markets under the brand name of Masterfeeds in Canada.  Terms of the transaction were not disclosed. (Emarkets – PRNewswire)

>  PetQuarters, Inc. announced that it has received a commitment from Los Angeles-based Zcapital for $2.5 million to be used for strategic acquisitions.  The terms and conditions of any funding would be negotiated and agreed upon by PetQuarters and Zcapital at the time of a transaction. There are no plans for any particular acquisition at this time. (PRNewswire)

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  FMD:  How Would It Impact U.S.?

More than 120 people from the livestock, animal health, food, pet food and related industries attended the Summit on FMD (Foot-And-Mouth Disease) presented by Watt and Vance Publishing Companies in Chicago yesterday.

An excellent roster of speakers presented a thorough but compact overview of the disease, the recent outbreak in the UK, the potential impact on the US, and what is being done to keep FMD out of the North America.

Some highlights:

•   FMD is a devastating viral disease that spreads like wildfire throughout the livestock population.  It is easily transmitted through farm visits, animal and vehicle movement through the livestock marketing system, and from farm to farm through the air.
•   FMD is endemic in much of the world.  The US is one of the few countries that has been free of the disease for a number of years.  (Our last outbreak was in 1929.)  Others include Mexico, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
•   Since February of this year, the UK has experienced nearly 1,700 diagnosed outbreaks of the disease.  More than 3 million animals have been slaughtered, including 5 percent of the sheep population.
•   FMD spread so quickly in the UK because the disease was well established before it was first diagnosed.  Yet it could have been much worse.  Much of the pig-producing areas in the eastern part of England largely have been spared.  At least so far.
•   If the US experienced a similar outbreak it would have an immediate and disastrous impact on the livestock industry and those who depend on it for meat and milk, as well as for inputs and services.  A prominent economist estimates that the potential damage could exceed $14 billion, depending on the nature of the outbreak.
•   The largest losses caused by an FMD outbreak in the US would be the immediate loss of the export market, as well as a significant decline in US meat consumption.  Exports accounts for 10 percent of beef production and 7 percent of hog production, and are growing at a rate of 15 percent a year.  Livestock represent 20 percent of US agricultural exports.
•   Although the US is "just one tourist away from FMD," the current UK outbreak has not significantly increased the risk of the disease hitting the US.  Import of livestock and livestock products from the EU were already severely limited due to the presence of several livestock diseases, including BSE (Mad Cow Disease) in cattle and scrapie in sheep.
•   The speed and severity of the UK outbreak has served as a valuable wake-up call to the US to evaluate and improve its livestock disease vigilance.  In reality, US defenses are not as strong as they should be.  Nor is the US as well-equipped as it should be to deal with an outbreak of such a
serious disease.
•   The cost of prevention of FMD (keeping it from our shores) is a tiny fraction of the losses it would cause and the cost of eliminating it once it's here.

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Animal Health News

>  US   The FDA's Center for Veterinary Medicine has told biotech companies Infigen Inc., and Advanced Cell Technology Inc. that it considers their cloned cattle and pigs to be experimental.  The agency is asking the National Academy of Sciences to prepare a report to assess what risks these clones may pose to humans, the environment and animal welfare. That report would be released early next year.  While there are clones on some farms, none are of an age to go to market, or even produce milk to be sold in the case of dairy cattle. The FDA has not made recommendations concerning cloned animals before, but the action comes after high-profile hearings earlier this year that focused on human cloning. (DirectAg)

>  UK   Nearly two million animals have allegedly been left out of the official foot-and-mouth slaughter statistics. Apparently, the Ministry of Agriculture has not been counting calves or lambs in the cull total unless the animals have been weaned from their mother.  Official figures state that 3,145,909 animals have been killed altogether, but data compiled by the Scottish Executive suggest that the real total could be 70% higher.  Scottish figures on the cull in Dumfries and Galloway state that 554,309 animals have been slaughtered while the ministry's tally for the same cluster is 332,516. The disease command center in Scotland puts the number of cattle slaughtered in the area at 72,700, 71% more than MAFF's figure of 42,372. (AnimalNet - The British Times)

>  KOREA   South Korea's Agriculture Ministry has banned imports of frozen poultry from China because it reportedly discovered avian flu virus in imported Chinese geese.  The virus was found as a result of enhanced government inspections into imported poultry from China after an outbreak of the same kind of virus occurred in Hong Kong last month.  Hong Kong slaughtered all of its 1.2 million live poultry and enforced a territory-wide cleaning of vending stalls last month to halt the spread of avian flu.  (AnimalNet – Reuters)

>  SCOTLAND   Officials in Scotland have confirmed their first case of swine post-weaning multisystemic wasting syndrome (PMWS), a wasting disease closely associated with a similar problem, dermatitis nephropathy syndrome (PDNS).  PDNS has been detected in the Scottish herd in recent years.  PMWS was first diagnosed in Canada in 1991 and spread to several countries including the U.S., France, Spain, Ireland and the Netherlands before being confirmed for the first time in the United Kingdom in late 1999.  (AgWeb)

>  KOREA   Korean authorities will slaughter 1200 head of Australian cattle exported last month after two tested positive to the bluetongue virus.  The move has shocked Australian producers and effectively ended short-term hopes of re-establishing the live cattle trade with Korea, suspended in the 1980s.  The trade was potentially worth several million dollars a year.  Meat and Livestock Australia's Korean manager told ABC radio the slaughter was an extreme reaction caused by fears about the safety of beef products after recent disease scares in Europe. (AnimalNet - The Age)

>  US   the USDA's Economic Research Service (ERS) released a report suggesting that antibiotic use in animals, in addition to safeguarding animals from diseases, provides economic benefits to consumers and livestock producers.  The report, titled "Antimicrobial Drug Use and Veterinary Costs in U.S. Livestock Production," also suggests that discontinuing the use of antibiotics in hog production would "decrease feed efficiency, raise feed costs, reduce production and raise prices to consumers," according to the Animal Health Institute (AHI).  In compiling its report, USDA referenced previously conducted studies on the economic effects that a hypothetical ban or partial ban on antibiotics would have on producers and consumers. The two most recent studies referenced in the report show that producers would suffer higher production costs and consumers would see higher prices at the supermarket. (DirectAg)

>  US   The USDA wants to hire 300 new veterinarians and inspection personnel to strengthen U.S. defenses against foot-and-mouth and BSE.  The White House has asked Congress for $35 million to pay for the new employees, as well as buy new X-ray machines and train more dogs to inspect luggage at airports.  Among other duties, the new personnel are to inspect farms that feed food waste to hogs, considered a likely way to spread foot-and-mouth disease.  Swill feeding is legal in 33 states and Puerto Rico.   Earlier, Veneman authorized $32 million in new spending to hire 350 additional inspectors and dog teams. (AP)

>  New research shows that Blocare, a product used to control cattle bloat in Australia and New Zealand for over 20 years, could allow safe grazing of alfalfa in North America.   In recent studies, scientists examined the effects of Blocare on cattle and sheep grazing alfalfa for short durations. They found that if Blocare is adequately consumed, it is 100% effective for controlling bloat, without reducing productivity.  Blocare is a combination of alcohol ethoxylate and pluronic detergents.  (AnimalNet - Lethbridge Research Centre Report)

>  AUSTRALIA   Australian farmers are signing up their sheep and cattle in droves to take part in a proposed methane vaccine program offered by CSIRO Livestock Industries. Over 635,000 sheep and 410,000 cattle have so far been signed on to participate in the proposed program that will involve use of a commercial methane vaccine.  The methane vaccine discourages 'methanogenic archae' - ancient living organisms which inhabit the animal's rumen and produce methane by breaking down feed.  The commercial vaccine is expected to reduce methane emissions by about 20% in the animals.  (AnimalNet - CSIRO Media Release)

>  A new study reported in New Scientist magazine looked at the behavior patterns of over 1,500 bulls in auction rings in Texas and Colorado.  At the same time, the  researchers noted the position of a swirl of hair known as a facial hair whorl.  Some cattle carried the whorl high on
their foreheads, but others wore their whorl below their eyes. Some 10% of the cattle were completely whorl-less.  The researchers discovered that animals with whorls high on their heads or none at all were more likely to become agitated in the auction ring.  Over half the animals with the highest temperament scores had no whorl, while very few animals with high whorls kept their cool.  The whorls form from the same layer of cells in the embryo as the nervous system. (AnimalNet - Ontario Farmer Daily)

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Brakke Consulting Viewpoint

Our hats are off to Watt Publishing and Vance Food Systems Group for organizing an outstanding symposium on Foot-and-Mouth Disease.  Attendees were rewarded with an excellent program.  We also compliment several animal health companies for sponsoring the event.  These include Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Ecolab, Farnam, Intervet and Merial.  The Summit provided valuable information and perspective on a disease that has grabbed the attention of producers and consumers in Western Europe, North America and other parts of the world.

Could it happen here?  Yes.  Is it likely?  Perhaps not.  But it only takes a single exposure to this very virulent virus to touch off an outbreak too devastating to imagine.  As one government official said, "I don't worry too much about BSE.  We can handle that with management.  It's FMD that keeps me awake at night."  Cuts in the USDA/APHIS budget over the last several years have lowered our preparedness in preventing such a disease from invading the US.  Can we really afford that?

[John Volk]

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