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Animal Industry News Update December 2011


biosecurity sign

Dr. Christine Navarre

No preventive herd health plan is complete without a biosecurity plan. With the increased movement of cattle due to the drought, the risk of introducing diseases is increased. A sound biosecurity plan will minimize this risk.

Introduction of New Animals

There are two ways to diminish the risk of introducing diseases with new purchases. First, quarantine new arrivals for at least four weeks. The quarantine herd should be separated from the original herd by at least 10 feet of space. This eliminates two modes of disease transmission (aerosol and direct contact), and in doing so eliminates transmission of several diseases. Second, test for diseases based on recommendations from the herd veterinarian. Embryo recipients, leased animals, etc. should be treated the same as new arrivals.

Show Animals

Show animals returning home from an event represent a significant biosecurity risk. Young, stressed cattle get commingled with hundreds of animals representing multiple herds. Show animals can become infected with viruses and shed them for a few weeks even if they do not look sick. Show animals should be treated like new purchases and quarantined on arrival back home.

Fence Line Contact

Just like new purchases, livestock across the fence that have nose to nose contact are a risk. Herds should be separated by at least 10 feet of space, and fences should be secure to prevent animals from straying onto or off of the property.

Sharing Breeding Males

Breeding males can carry diseases from herd to herd. This practice should only be performed if the risks are clearly identified and discussed with all parties.

Reuse of Needles

Several diseases can be transmitted through blood (anaplasmosis in cattle for example). Reusing needles can transfer enough blood from one animal to another to transmit diseases. A new needle should be used on each animal when vaccinating or medicating.


With much of the population unfamiliar with agricultural practices, we should encourage visitors to livestock operations. However, precautions must be taken. All visitors should sign a registry and be escorted on visits. Non-agriculture visitor groups, especially youth groups, are unlikely to bring diseases onto the farm, but they are at risk of leaving with a zoonotic disease (a disease that infects both animals and people). People that have not worked with livestock will have little immunity to zoonotic diseases and are more likely to become sick. Visitors should be advised to “look but not touch” and should have a place to wash their hands at the end of the farm tour.

International visitors and U.S. livestock producers traveling internationally pose a risk of introducing a foreign animal disease into the United States. Producers should talk to their veterinarian about ways to minimize these risks.

Poor Sanitation

Biosecurity is not just about preventing diseases from entering a livestock operation; it also is preventing spread of diseases already on the farm. This is accomplished through good sanitation practices.

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There are many aspects of the pig project that are important such as selection, facilities, nutrition, and water, but one of the most important is sometimes overlooked. Proper vaccinations will lead to healthier pigs and a more enjoyable and educational experience for 4-H members. As agents, one of the most frustrating phone calls that you get concerns sick livestock projects. Vaccinating for the right disease(s) at the right time can alleviate many of those phone calls.

Pigs should be vaccinated before they get sick from a disease. It normally takes about two weeks after vaccination for the pig to develop immunity. Some pig diseases should be vaccinated against (such as scours) by vaccinating the sow before farrowing. While you cannot vaccinate against every disease, you can vaccinate against the diseases that our Louisiana show pigs are at high risk for. Remember, some vaccines require a booster. Always read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendation for administration and timing. As an agent, you also should develop a relationship with a local veterinarian. You do not have to call them every time an animal is sick, but it is nice to be able to pick up the phone when you need help with a health problem.

Some show pig producers vaccinate their pigs before selling them to 4-H members. However, vaccines are relatively inexpensive and even though a breeder says that the pigs are vaccinated, 4-H exhibitors should revaccinate their pigs.

Louisiana show pigs should be vaccinated against the following diseases: Mycoplasma, mycoplasma pneumonia, haemophilus parasuis, parvovirus, erysipelas, and porcine circovirus associated diseases. Vaccines are available through your local veterinarian and/or feed stores. Some vaccines can be ordered online or by catalog. There are a number of reputable companies that produce quality pig vaccines such as Pfizer, Elanco, and Scherring- Plough Animal Health.

Show pig projects are more successful and enjoyable when disease is prevented, versus treating diseases that will reduce health status, performance, growth, and muscle tissue deposition.

Dr. Neely Heidorn

Overuse of equine de-worming products is playing an important role in the development of parasite resistance. This has led veterinarians to recommend a more efficient deworming program based on your individual horse’s needs. Research has proven that 20% of horses in a herd can carry 80% of the parasites. Therefore, some horses only may need to be treated twice a year.

Veterinarians are now recommending that a fecal exam be conducted on each of your horses twice a year. The fecal egg count will help determine the number of eggs per gram (EPG) shed in your horse’s manure. Once your veterinarian knows your horse’s parasite burden, they can classify your horse into one of three categories: Low shedder (<200 EPG), Moderate shedder (200-500 EPG), or High shedder (>500 EPG). Once your horse has been categorized, an individual deworming program can be recommended that will target parasites at specific parasite life cycle stages.

Adult horses in the southern U.S. can use the following protocol:


October: Perform fecal analysis, treat with Ivermectin

January: Perform fecal analysis, treat with Moxidectin plus praziquantel


October: Perform fecal analysis, treat with Moxidectin

January: Perform fecal analysis, treat with Moxidectin plus praziquantel


October: Perform fecal analysis, treat with Moxidectin

January: Perform fecal analysis, treat with Moxidectin plus praziquantel

April: Treat with Oxibendazole and/ or pyrantel or fenbendazole at a double dose for five days

No treatments are required throughout the summer months (May – September). Most worm eggs will not develop into larvae due to the extreme heat and those that do die in temperatures above 90 ◦F. By developing a new deworming protocol that includes fecal analysis and veterinarian recommended procedures, you can reduce annual spending and parasite resistance in your herd. Other recommendations to help reduce parasite burden within your herd include:

  • Rotating pastures
  • Cross grazing pastures with ruminants
  • Removing manure
  • Avoid overstocking pastures (1 horse/1-2 acres)

Dr. Ross Pruitt

The U.S. beef herd has been declining twelve of the past fourteen years and January 1, 2012 estimates of the number of cattle in the country are expected to show another decline. Despite sluggish domestic demand, prices for fed and feeder cattle as well as calves have exploded higher this year as the decreases in inventory numbers has started to be reflected in available beef supplies. Strong export demand also has contributed to a reduction in available domestic beef supplies which contributed to the strength in feeder and fed cattle prices. Retail beef prices have moved higher through the course of the year reflecting higher costs of production and tightening inventories occurring at the farm level, but demand has improved every quarter since the fourth quarter of 2010 (relative to the corresponding quarter in the previous year).

In spite of the decline in the cattle inventory, feedlot placements have been above year ago levels for much of this year. May 2011 placements were 11% below last year, the only month where placements were not at least 99% of the previous year. This year’s drought sent many cattle to the feedlots earlier than expected, most notably when July placements were 121% of the previous year. Drought conditions extended into northern Mexico contributing to an increase of Mexican feeder cattle imports in 2011.

Placements may be beginning to decline below year ago levels as 2011 closes. Feeder cattle supplies outside of feedlots from the July 1st Cattle inventory published by USDA NASS confirmed that the increased placement levels would not continue indefinitely. There was a 2.5% decline in this number from July 2010 to 2011. While imports of Mexican feeder cattle have risen (12% above year ago), feeder cattle imports from Canada are 62% lower year-to-date 2011 than 2010. The strength of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar, a decline in the total Canadian cattle inventory, and cheaper feedstuffs has contributed to a decline in the number of Canadian feeder cattle coming to U.S. feedlots.

As the number of animals going into feedlots slows, what about the number of animals going to slaughter? The number of federally inspected (FI) steers and heifers going to slaughter is only one percent below last year based on data available through the middle of November. Percentage wise, weekly FI steer and heifer slaughter has been below year ago levels since mid August. Barring no disruptions, this is likely going to continue through the end of 2011.

However, the surge in July feedlot placements was driven by animals weighing less than 600 pounds. These animals will likely reach slaughter weight sometime in mid- to late-February and may pressure fed cattle prices temporarily. Once the July 2011 placements go to slaughter, show lists in the Southern Plains, which are already below year ago levels, will see a further decline and continue support for fed cattle prices.

The one caveat to the above analysis is the fact that beef in cold storage has been above year ago levels for much of 2011. This partially reflects the strength of the export markets as beef is temporarily put in cold storage prior to going overseas. October 2011 stocks were roughly on par with October 2010 stocks. If beef stocks in cold storage begin to build, this certainly could weigh on beef and cattle prices as domestic demand is still skittish and boxed beef prices approach the once unthinkable level of $200/cwt.

Dr. Karl Harborth

As we prepare for the holidays and look to the New Year, one thing that some do to start the year off is to make a list of New Year’s resolutions. While things are pretty good in the cattle industry with demand strong and supply reduced due to the drought, we can look forward to what should be a good year. While the value of our calves looks good for the next year, the cost of production will at best stay at its current level. In order to maximize profits in this situation we must be cognizant of areas where we can save money or do things more efficiently. While you are making your New Year’s resolutions throw in a couple to address an area in your operation that could use a little attention. A short list of possible areas to improve is below.

1. Keep production records

  • Unless you have a baseline of your current production levels you will not be able to determine if the changes you have made are working.

2. Know your herds nutrient requirements

  • The only way to accurately feed your herd is to know their weight. The approximate nutrient requirements for a 1200 lb. cow are:
    • A dry cow that weighs 1,200 pounds needs 7% crude protein and a 50 % TDN, to maintain her weight.
    • That same size cow in early lactation needs a dietary crude protein percentage of 9.5 and a TDN level of 56 % to maintain their current status.

3. Reduce hay and feed waste

  • Hay is arguably more valuable this year than it has ever been. Utilizing hay rings and feeding hay more efficiently is a must.

4. Nutrient test hay and other variable feedstuffs

  • There is a large amount of low quality forage being utilized this winter. The only way to properly supplement forages is to test them to get an idea of what their nutrient values are.

5. Add value to the new calf crop

  • Use a controlled or shortened calving season to increase management and marketing efficiency.
  • Source and age.
  • Dehorn and castrate early in life.

Cowherd Winter Tips - December/January Checklist

The list below has a few things that you need to think about during the winter months.

1. Plan holiday labor schedule

2. Turn out bulls and monitor breeding activities in herds being exposed for fall calving

3. Prepare for spring calving

a. Gather and sanitize obstetric equipment

b. Purchase tags for calves

c. Start checking two weeks prior to first due date

4. Start winter feeding when needed (hay, protein supplement, hi-mag mineral for cows on ryegrass, minerals)

5. Ensure adequate, sanitary water supply - while most of the state has had relief from the drought, a clean water supply is still a must even when water requirements are lower due to cooler weather

6. Fertilize ryegrass

7. Move stocker cattle, fall pairs and replacement heifers to ryegrass, and check cattle that were recently put on ryegrass for signs of grass tetany

8. Gather records for tax purposes

9. Be prepared to handle severe weather conditions

If you are interested in the entire Beef Cattle Management Calendar & Handbook, it can be found on the LSU AgCenter website.

Dr. Charlie Hutchison

On December 19th USDA released the November Milk Production Report. In this report, for the top 23 states (which represent more than 90 % of total U.S. milk production) November milk production increased 315 million pounds (2.2 %) to 14.7 billion pounds compared to November 2010. Seventeen states increased production compared to last year. Texas had the largest percentage increase at 8.4 %, up 61million pounds to 787 million pounds and has increased 16 of the past 17 months compared to the prior year. Since January, Texas milk production has increased double digits four times. California (which represents more than 20 % of U.S. milk production) increased 77 million pounds (2.4 %) to 3.3 billion pounds compared to last November.

Total U.S. milk production was estimated at 15.8 billion pounds, up 277 million pounds (1.8 %) from the same time last year. This is the 22nd consecutive month that milk production has increased compared to the previous year. Year-to-date milk production is 2.9 billion pounds (1.6 %) greater than January through November 2010.

November cow numbers for the 23 reported states increased 108,000 head, up 1.3 % from last year to 8.5 million head but was unchanged from October 2011. Colorado has had the largest percentage increase in cow numbers, up 7.4 % or 9,000 head, compared to November last year. Colorado has consistently increased cow numbers above 6 % since December 2010. California’s dairy herd of 1.8 million increased 27,000 head, the largest increase of all 23 states reported.

The U.S. dairy herd size decreased 1,000 head from October, but increased 91,000 head (1 %) from November last year to 9.216 million head. Cow numbers have increased compared to the previous year for 15 consecutive months. However, the increase in the number of head has flattened since mid-year. In the June-November period, 50-state cow numbers were up just 8,000 head after expanding by 7,000 head per month for the previous year-and-a-half, according to USDA’s latest “Milk Production” report.

November milk per cow for the 23 states reported was 1,738 pounds per cow (the largest November milk per cow reported on record). This is 16 pounds more than November last year. Since April 2004, milk per cow has only declined twice, most recently in July. New Mexico continues to report the largest production per cow at 2,020 pounds each. This is the eighth consecutive month New Mexico has had the largest production per cow.

According to the most recent USDA Cow Slaughter report, 61,000 dairy cows were slaughtered for the week ending December 3. This is 300 head (0.5 %) less than the same week last year. States west of the Mississippi River reported a 1.2 % increase in dairy cow slaughter compared to last year. Region 6, which includes the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico, increased cow slaughter 700 head (17.1 %) to 4,800 head. This is the largest slaughter number for this region since March. The Eastern states reported a 1.7 % decline. Region 5, which contains the states of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota, decreased 4.4 %, down 1,000 head from the same week last year. U.S. dairy cow slaughter increased significantly from the week ending November 26, up 13,900 head (30 %), primarily due to observance of the Thanksgiving holiday. To date, 2.7 million cows have been slaughtered, 111,500 more cows (4.3 %) than the same period last year.

The price of dairy products has fallen from their November monthly average, with the exception of dry whey which has held near $0.64 per pound which is favorable for the Class III milk price. But, on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME), cheese prices have fallen. The November 40-pound block price averaged $1.87 per pound; was $1.77 at the start of December, and as of December 22nd was $1.5625. The CME barrel price averaged $1.90 per pound for November; was $1.71 the start of December, and was $1.56 as of December 22nd.

The NASS cheese prices used to calculate the Class III price lag CME prices and, with the price of dry whey holding, the December Class III price may be near $18.70/cwt compared to $19.07/cwt for November. The average Class III price for the year will be near $18.30/cwt, compared to $14.41/cwt for 2010.

Cheese prices may well recover some by mid-January and February, but the Class III price for first quarter of 2012 could average near $16.75/cwt. Also, with lower nonfat dry milk prices, dry whey prices will likely show some weakness. Some forecast lower Class III prices, but total cheese stocks have improved with October 31 stocks being 4.3% lower than a year ago. October cheddar cheese production was 5.8% below a year ago and total cheese production just 1.7% higher. Cheese exports continue to be favorable with October exports 22% higher than a year ago and up 31% for the year.

CME butter averaged $1.74 per pound for November, started December at $1.64 per pound and was $1.5950 as of December 22nd. Butter production has been well above a year ago, being up 19.6% in October. October 31 stocks were 19.3% above a year ago, but still 19.2% below the five-year average for this date. Butter exports, which were running well above a year ago until fall, were 37% lower than a year ago in October but still 17% higher than a year ago for the year. Nonfat dry milk prices were as high as $1.68 per pound this summer, are now $1.40 per pound.

The December Class IV price will be near $17 down from $17.87 in November. The average for the year will be near $19, compared to $15.09 in 2010. With higher average Class III and Class IV prices, the U.S. All-Milk Price will average near $20 for the year, compared to $16.26 in 2010.

According to Dr. Bob Cropp, how milk prices play out in 2012 depends heavily upon the level of milk production and the level of dairy exports. Lower milk prices for the start of the year, along with relatively high feed cost, could stop the increase in cow numbers and dampen increases in milk per cow.

USDA’s outlook report for November milk production showed cow numbers declined only slightly for the past two months, down 4,000 head from September, but still 1.0% more than a year ago. Compared to a year ago, November milk production was 2.2% higher for the 23 reporting states and estimated 1.8% higher for the U.S. The increase in milk per cow continued to run below normal trend at just 0.8%.

It now appears that U.S. milk production for the year will be up about 1.7% from 2010.

USDA expects dairy exports to decline some, especially for cheese and butter, but remain favorable. If this holds, and milk production slows, milk prices could well improve the second half of 2012, but are likely to still average below 2011 for the year.

Last Updated: 2/16/2012 3:18:04 PM
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