For many years, the pork industry has attempted to deal with and decrease lameness in all classes of hogs. The pork industry estimates that over 80% of all hogs are affected by lameness, and lameness is one of the primary reasons for culling sows from herds. Also, lameness negatively affects a large number of 4-H and FFA show pigs across the country every year.
Lameness, or osteochondrosis, is the failure of cartilage to fully develop into bone, which leaves the cartilage area exposed and susceptible to damage. The condition is very painful because of the large amount of nerve endings that are vital to maintain balance and movement. The two primary changes in cartilage that have been identified with osteochondrosis are the loss of proteoglycans and collagen type II (two of the proteins within cartilage). When these two proteins are present in lower-than-normal quantities, the ability of the cartilage to repair itself is severely impaired. Then, abnormalities form in the joints that reduce the ability of the joint surface to support the weight of the pig. The protein deficiency causes structural change of the main cartilage.
Research with growing/finishing pigs suggests that nutritional supplements may reduce the incidence of osteochondrosis. Pigs fed diets containing fish oil or silicon tend to have a higher severity score for abnormalities when compared with pigs fed other diets. Pigs fed high levels of methionine and threonine, or copper manganese, tend to have lower cartilage lesion severity scores compared with pigs fed other diets. Also, pigs fed high levels of methionine and threonine tend to have lower total severity scores than pigs fed diets with fish oil.
It should be noted that lameness in pigs initially can be caused by the presence of disease organisms in joints. The disease can be treated and even eliminated in many cases. However, damage done to the joints and cartilage while the disease was present may not allow for the pig to overcome the lameness. In these cases, dietary supplementation of high levels of certain amino acids (methionine and threonine) and minerals (copper, manganese) may be of some benefit in reducing the severity of the lameness by promoting more healthy cartilage and bone metabolism. As always, consult your veterinarian before instituting any treatments to show pigs.
Although not foolproof, purchasing show pigs that are sound from the ground up can significantly reduce lameness problems as pigs grow and become heavier. Never purchase show pigs with soundness problems. They never get better; they only get worse.
Dr. Ross Pruitt
The August 30 edition of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s Daily Livestock Report discussed the estimated gross margins for processors in the beef and pork industries, which have experienced a bumpy ride in 2011. While there is not a publicly available estimate of gross margins for the broiler chicken industry, the industry is in the red given the cutbacks in production that have occurred and lower-than-year-ago prices for broiler meat. Sanderson Farms recently announced its production cuts will be extended indefinitely while Cagle’s was expected to be producing at 22% below capacity by the end of August. High feed costs are impacting this industry like the cattle feeding industry, but production cuts are just now beginning to be reflected in weekly production data. Year-to-date broiler chicken production is 2.1% higher than last year.
Composite broiler prices and breast prices in July were below year-ago levels, underscoring the situation that the broiler industry finds itself in. Boneless skinless breast prices were 26% lower in July 2011 than July 2010. Other component prices such as legs, gizzards and thighs are higher than a year ago but cannot overcome the weakness present in the breast market. Prices did see a seasonal increase starting in May, but those increases were short lived. From an export perspective, broiler exports for the first half of 2011 are only 1.7% lower than 2010 but are 8.2% lower than the same time period in 2009. There is some good news in that exports for the first half of 2011 were 7% higher than the 2004-08 average.
At the end of August, U.S. broiler egg sets were 6-7% below last year, and chick broiler placements 5-6% lower than a year ago. There is a three-week lag between the time the egg is set and the chick hatches and at least five weeks from chick placement until slaughter with some birds not harvested until nine weeks after placement. Of the first seven months of 2011, only April and July saw decreases in production relative to the corresponding month in 2010. The reduction in chick placements in the past few weeks will result in tangible production reductions as September closes, but that is only if average live weight does not continue its year-on-year increases. It was the last week of August 2010 when there was at least a 1% decrease in average live weight relative to the previous year. The contractual nature of the marketing agreements vertically integrated firms have with retailers may be contributing to the average live weight not decreasing. Additionally, integrators started to shift production toward larger birds, reflecting the softness of the fast food market for smaller birds. While some integrators reporting feed costs are 60% higher than a year ago, the integrators seem to be aware of the financial strain that contract growers experience from large production costs. As a result, integrators are trying to ease the financial strain experienced by growers, but there is no guarantee this will continue.
Forecasts for broiler chicken production are split at this point for next year. The Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) is projecting a decrease of 2.2% in 2012 with no year-on-year increases in production until the 4th quarter. USDA’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates is more optimistic with a 1% increase in 2012 broiler chicken production. USDA may revise their number downward in the coming months, partially due to expected increases in the price of feed grains. For now, the broiler chicken industry is going to continue to have a bumpy road to economic recovery.
Dr. Christine Navarre
What is BQA?Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) is a nationally coordinated, state-implemented program. The program provides systematic information to U.S. beef producers, and beef consumers, on how commonsense husbandry techniques can be coupled with accepted scientific knowledge to raise cattle under optimum management and environmental conditions. The program raises consumer confidence through offering proper management techniques and a commitment to quality within every segment of the beef industry. BQA guidelines are designed to make certain all beef consumers can trust and have confidence in the entire beef industry and its beef products.
The BQA program is a cooperative effort among beef producers, veterinarians, nutritionists, extension staff and other professionals. BQA programs include best practices, which can result in more profits for producers. Through BQA programs, producers recognize the economic value of committing to quality beef production at every level - not just at the feedlot or packing plant, but within every segment of the cattle industry. When better-quality cattle leave the farm and reach the marketplace, the producer, packer and consumer all benefit. When better-quality beef reaches the supermarket, consumers are more confident in the beef they are buying, which increases beef consumption.
BQA's Value to the Beef IndustryBQA has helped beef producers capture more value from their cattle and enhance herd profitability through better management. Also, BQA has helped project a positive public image and improved consumer confidence in the beef industry. This has become increasingly more important because of increased public attention to animal welfare. BQA has been instrumental in rebuilding and maintaining beef demand and provided cattlemen an important tool in avoiding additional government regulation.
Louisiana BQA ProgramBecause of the diverse nature of the beef industry, each state is allowed to tailor the BQA program to its unique needs. However, accountability of the beef industry is becoming increasingly important. Since each state has its own program, it is difficult to account for the quality and consistency of the programs from state to state, or account for the total number of producers certified across the United States. Having accountability of quality and producer buy-in on a national basis would make it easier for beef industry leaders to assure consumer confidence. In other words, quality assurance for the quality assurance program would be beneficial to beef producers. For this reason, a new and more comprehensive national program was adopted for states to use if they so choose.
Like many states, Louisiana has had its own BQA program based on the national guidelines. After considering many options, Louisiana has decided to adopt the new, more comprehensive national program. This program allows Louisiana producers to join ranks with producers from across the U.S. to guarantee accountability and quality training of the entire beef industry.
BQA certification meetings will be scheduled in regions throughout the state each year. Certification of producers through these meetings will be free of charge. Producers also may get certified individually, either online or by CDrom (individual producer certification is $25). Please contact the Louisiana BQA coordinator for more information: Dr. Christine Navarre. For more information about BQA go to www.bqa.org.
Weather-related events – floods, hurricanes, tornadoes, tropical storms and fires – can have devastating effects on people and their animals. Despite Louisiana’s history of catastrophic weather events, many horse owners do not expect to fall victim to a weather-related emergency, leaving them unprepared in the midst of a disaster. One of the greatest costs of being unprepared is the loss of an animal. Additionally, the lack of planning puts excessive stress on rescue workers when they are faced with unmarked, untamed and potentially unwanted horses. As horse owners, we have a responsibility to plan ahead and to be prepared for the worst-case scenario.
Being prepared for an emergency means developing a plan that will help you deal with potential hazards that can threaten the safety of your horse. Important questions to ask yourself are:
The saying “it is better to be safe than sorry” should be your motto when it comes to preparing for disasters. Be proactive and protect yourself and your horses before a disaster happens.
In drought situations, such as the extended one we are facing, it can be difficult to find quality forages for a cow herd. In the search for feed resources, cattle producers have resorted to using forages such as wheat straw, milo and corn stubble, drought-stressed sorghum and corn, and Johnson grass. The problem that arises with utilizing these resources is that some of them are likely to have high nitrate and/or Prussic acid concentrations.
If you recently purchased hay that you think may be at risk, properly sampling it and having it analyzed at an accredited lab (see lab info below) is a must. This is the only way of knowing the full extent of the problem.
LSU AgCenter’s Ag Chemistry LabDepartment of Agricultural ChemistryRoom 102 AG Chemistry Building, LSUBaton Rouge, LA 70803Phone (225) 342-5812Fax (225) 342-0027Current cost is $15 dollars, and a gallon-size plastic bag with representative sample is required.
If the forage has not been baled, collecting representative samples from the field may prevent you from wasting the time and money involved in putting up hay that is not safe and is risky to feed to the herd. (Disclaimer: Even though you may take the time, effort, and money to sample potential at-risk feedstuffs, you must understand that there could be a huge variation in concentrations within a field that will not be seen in a laboratory test. Thus, you may not catch a problem bale.) In other words, even after you have done everything to make sure you will not have a problem, unless you analyze every bale you feed; you may still be at risk. The range of nitrates (ppm) that are considered safe or unsafe for use in livestock is in Table 1. Any sample analysis that returns with a level of 3,000 ppm of nitrates or less is considered to be safe. If your forage contains 3,000-6,000 nitrates (ppm), it is usable but should be no more than 50% of the animal’s diet. If the test comes back in the range of 6,000-9,000 nitrates (ppm), it becomes very tricky to incorporate this forage into the herd’s diet. It is hard to guarantee, or control, the amount of forage they will consume unless being fed in a Total Mixed ration. If forages are in this range, free choice is not a method of delivery to be used.
Table 1. Nitrate levels in forage (dry matter basis) and level of concern for use in livestock feeds
Effect on Animals
Moderately Safe; limit to 50% of diet in stressed animals
Potentially toxic to cattle should not be the only source of feed.
9,000 and greater
Dangerous to cattle
Adapted from Nitrate and Prussic Acid Toxicity in Forage, KSU Cooperative Extension Service MF-1018
When forage samples are analyzed the results should be reported as nitrate (ppm). If they are not reported as nitrate, use the conversions in Table 2.
Table 2. Conversion factors for expressing nitrate content forages
Potassium nitrate X 0.61
= Nitrate (ppm)
Nitrate-Nitrogen X 4.42
% Nitrate x 10,000
If you have any questions about nitrate toxicity, prussic acid poisoning, or sampling and analyzing your feed sources, feel free to contact your local county agent or Karl Harborth (225-578-2416).
Tips for managing potential Nitrate or Prussic acid issues1. Do not allow animals to graze suspect forages.2. Test the forage before baling if possible.3. Sample standing forages at the same level they will be harvested (preferably at least 6 inches above the ground as nitrates accumulate in the base of the plant).4. Do not feed at-risk feeds to stressed or hungry cattle.5. Provide clean water.6. Check water for high nitrates.7. Post-harvest, proper curing can reduce Prussic acid levels.8. High nitrate levels in roughages can only be potentially reduced by ensiling.9. Bales that are stored will leech, and concentrations of the nitrate can build up in the bottom half of the bales,10. If at all possible, do not take the risk.
The Class I price for September was announced at $25.58, an increase of $0.35 from August. Pay prices to producers were extremely good in August and the Class I price for September looks promising. However, the recent declines in the spot cheese and butter markets could mean reduced prices in the other classes of milk that will result in a lower uniform blend price for September.
According to the latest USDA’s Milk Production report, U.S. milk production during August 2011 was estimated to be 16.4 billion pounds, which is 2.1 percent more than a year ago. After four consecutive months of growth below 2 percent, and warmer than normal temperatures in parts of the United States during August, this increased productivity was unexpected by industry analysts. Eight of the top 23 milk producing states experienced lower milk production compared to 2010, yet large growth from states west of the Mississippi River drove the overall increase. California had the largest increase in milk production (100 million pounds or 2.9 percent) followed by Texas (78 million pounds or 11 percent) and Idaho (45 million pounds or 4 percent).
Cow numbers, which were estimated at 9.217 million head, continued to grow relative to the previous year and month (up 94,000 and 2,000 head, respectively). For the past 11 months cow numbers have grown or remained unchanged compared to the prior month. While the dairy herd grew once again, the primary reason for the increase of total milk production above 2 percent was that milk production per cow rebounded relative to the prior month. After posting a decline in July of 0.2 percent compared to 2010, August milk per cow increased 19 pounds (1.1 percent) to 1,783 pounds. The August number ended a period of four months where milk per cow growth was less than 1 percent. This was driven by a seasonal July to August decrease that was half of the previous five-year average. From 2006 through 2010, U.S. production per cow decreased an average of 23 pounds per day from July to August. This year, the reported decrease was only 13 pounds. Of the top 23 states, eight states reported August milk per cow declines from August 2010, while 15 states had stable or increased productivity.
Fluid milk demand for school systemsThe demand for fluid milk for school systems this year may be lower than in previous years. Some school systems have opted to discontinue offering chocolate milk, or any flavored milk, to students. Flavored milk is being discontinued due to sugar content and the push to limit childhood obesity. Studies have shown that when only white milk is offered in the school system, total milk consumption declines 35%. This is not only for a short period of time, but reports indicate that it continues for more than a year after the studies have been completed. Information from the School of Psychology & Sports Sciences, from Northumbria University, indicates that chocolate milk outperforms two major sports drinks for recovery after strenuous exercise. Furthermore, comparing 8 oz. of 1% chocolate milk to the same amount of 2% white milk and juice drinks, we see some interesting statistics in sugar content. Sugar content is the main issue here with the push to fight childhood obesity. Eight ounces of 1% chocolate milk contains 25 grams of sugar, and 8 oz. of 2% white milk contains 12 grams of sugar, while four of the more popular juice drinks contain higher levels of sugar per volume. Capri-Sun contains 26.4 grams sugar in 8 oz., Sunny D contains 30 grams, Kool-aid contains 29.6 grams, and Apple Juice contains 25.6 grams.The bottom line: If milk consumption declines due to children only having the choice of white milk, they will drink something else. Other products may have some nutritional value, but also may have higher sugar content - which is the primary reason for wanting to discontinue chocolate milk consumption.
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