Animal Industry News Update - June 2014

Theresia Lavergne, Page, Timothy G., Harborth, Karl, Navarre, Christine B., Walker, Neely, Pruitt, J. Ross  |  6/23/2014 3:02:39 PM

Horses and Hurricanes


Dr. Neely Walker  

The 2014 Atlantic hurricane season began on Sunday, June 1, and is expected to be a near-normal to below-average season. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is forecasting 8-13 named storms; 3-6 of which are predicted to become hurricanes, with 1-2 having potential to become a Category 3 or higher. Despite predictions of a below-average hurricane season, it is never too early to start preparing your horses for potential storms.

Planning is the key to keeping your horses safe. Ensure that your horse is up to date on all vaccines. Create a “plan” with neighbors and surrounding farm owners and identify available resources in the surrounding areas. This includes an evacuation route, stabling locations, feed availability, emergency kits and ensuring your horses are trained to load in a trailer if needed. If you are planning on evacuating, leave early enough to prevent traffic delays. Keep in mind that during evacuation, management practices may change; monitor your horses closely for dehydration and signs colic or intestinal distress.

If you plan to weather the storm at home, here are some suggestions that may help keep you and your horse safe.

  • Have a minimum of two weeks supply of hay/feed stored in watertight containers. Place these supplies in the highest and driest area possible.
  • You will need a minimum of 10 gallons of water per horse per day. Fill clean plastic barrels with water, secure the tops, and store them in a safe place near your animals.
  • Prepare an emergency barn kit that includes a light source, batteries, rope, chain saw, fuel, hammers, saw, nails, screws, spray paint and fencing materials. Keep this kit in a secure place before the storm.
  • Notify neighbors and family where you will be during the storm.
  • Collect identifying records for each animal, including recent photo of each horse with a family member in the photo, medical documents, special needs, tattoos, microchips, brands, scars or any other permanent identification, owner information and veterinarian contact information. Place this in a secure location that you can reach AFTER the hurricane. You may even consider sending a copy of these documents to a friend out of hurricane reach that can be accessed later.
  • Attach identification to all horses (fetlock ID tags, tags on halters, spray paint phone numbers on horse or tie waterproof bag containing ownership information in the mane).
  • Turn off circuit breakers to the barn or area where horses will be kept (a power surge could cause sparks or a fire).
  • Provide hay/water for each horse during the storm.
  • Remove any hazards from the area where the horse will be kept.
  • If horses are kept outside, allow them access to higher ground.

The destruction each hurricane can cause is unpredictable. While there is no way to know for certain if you will be affected by a hurricane, creating a plan will prepare you to handle any situation that occurs.

Recapping the 2012 U.S. Census of Agriculture


Dr. Ross Pruitt  

In May of this year, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service released the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which provides insight into the structure of U.S. agriculture. The census may not be market sensitive, but it does provide an overview on how agriculture has changed over the past five years. Many of the major trends in U.S. agriculture are reflected in the statistics published for Louisiana.

The total number of U.S. farms fell by 4.3% over the past five years, offsetting the gain that occurred between 2002 and 2007. Total acreage devoted to agriculture also fell by 0.8% between 2007 and 2012. The average age of farmers rose to 58.3 years, just over a one-year increase in the average age since 2007. As has been the case in the last two censuses, over 82% of principal farm operators are at least 45 years old, with the 2012 census showing a slight increase in this category relative to the 2007 census. Approximately three-quarters of U.S. principal farm operators have been on their present farm at least ten years for the last three censuses compared to 3% having been on their current farm for less than two years. Just over half of the principal operators of U.S. farms were primarily employed off-farm, down slightly from 2007, but still well above the 2002 Census of Agriculture when 42.5% of principal operators being primarily employed off the farm.

Louisiana followed many of the national trends with regards to the number of farms and total acreage. The total number of Louisiana farms was down 6.7%, with total acreage 2.6% lower. Although total acreage in Louisiana was lower, acreage devoted to woodlands and permanent pasture increased by 5.6% and 12.6%, respectively, for the state. Total pastureland acreage in Louisiana was 8.7% lower due to a 67% decline in cropland pasture acres. Similar patterns were seen at the national level with regards to lower total pastureland and cropland pasture. Not surprisingly, the number of Louisiana cattle operations declined 2.8%, with the number of beef cattle operations falling 1.9%. The average Louisiana beef cow herd size fell from approximately 41 cows to 36 cows between 2007 and 2012.

The total number of U.S. farms with broiler chickens increased by over 21%, likely driven by increases in small flocks. Farms that sold fewer than 2,000 birds and 200,000 to 300,000 birds saw increases between 2007 and 2012, with other farms of other sizes exhibiting decreases. Total poultry farms in Louisiana increased, with layer farms seeing the largest increase.

Although the long-term trend of fewer U.S. farms and increasing average farm size continues, U.S. agricultural productivity increases have offset the decline in total farms and farm acreage. While the average age of U.S. farmers has increased, the percentage of farmers less than 35 years of age has stayed relatively constant at approximately 6% over the last three censuses. What happens between now and the next Census of Agriculture is uncertain, but productivity and efficiency will continue to shape the face of U.S. agriculture.

Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDV)


Dr. Tim Page  

PEDV and Show Pig Producers
There is now a federal order requiring pork producers, veterinarians and diagnostic labs to report presumptive (positive diagnostic test with nonspecific or no clinical signs) or confirmed positive occurrences of PEDV. If a sample is submitted to a National Animal Health Laboratory Network laboratory for testing and is found to be positive, duplicate reporting by the herd owner, producers, veterinarians and others with knowledge (e.g. agents) is not required. Reporting by producers or veterinarians must be directed to the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry (LDAF) Animal Health Division or the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) located in the state in which the herd resides.

USDA requires the following specific reporting information to be submitted:

  • Premise identification number (PIN), obtained from the LDAF.
  • Date of sample collection.
  • Type of unit being sampled (e.g. sow, nursery, finisher).
  • Test methods used to make the diagnosis.
  • Diagnostic test results.

Also, the producer must develop and implement, along with their veterinarian, a herd management plan that addresses the following issues:

  1. Diagnostic testing to monitor the status of the herd infection and to assess efficacy of control strategies.
  2. Herd plans will follow the best management and disease control practices known to date. These include employee and visitor biosecurity, pigs arriving at site, trucks and trucking personnel, and feed components.
  3. Producers will be required to maintain up-to-date records on pig movements (sales, shows) on and off the facility and to make them accessible to animal health officials when needed.

PEDV and 4-H and FFA Pig Projects

  1. Purchase show pigs only from producers that have had no occurrences of PEDV.
  2. Recommend limited participation in summer pig jackpot shows, which will expose pigs to PEDV infection.
  3. Changes are being made in regard to 2014 show pig validation for the LSU AgCenter Show in 2014-2015. For more information, contact your 4-H agent, district show manager, or Mr. Dwayne Nunez, Livestock Show manager, LSU AgCenter Livestock Show.

Effect of Gestation Stalls and Mixing Gestating Sows on Reproduction

gestation stalls

Dr. Tim Page  

The use of gestation stalls has come into question in recent years. Some states have even passed legislation preventing the use of gestation stalls. There is conflicting research regarding the effects of gestation stalls or the effects of mixing sows into groups on reproductive performance and animal welfare. Many in the public sector feel  housing sows in stalls lowers the welfare status of the sows. From a producer’s perspective, mixing is problematic because it can cause pregnancy losses, reduced litter size and loss of animals from fighting. A recent study by Robert Knox at the University of Illinois was conducted to evaluate the effects of day of mixing sows into groups during gestation on reproductive and sow welfare measures.

Treatments were applied during the summer months to obtain greater sensitivity to stress. Sows were assigned to housing treatment in: 1) stalls from weaning through gestation; 2) stalls from weaning until mixed at day 3-7; 3) stalls from weaning until mixed at day 13-17; and 4) stalls from weaning until mixed after day 35. All mixed sows were placed into pens in groups of 58 animals. Each pen provided adequate floor space and one electronic sow feeding station. Reproductive measures included pregnancy rate at day 30, farrowing rate, litter size and longevity. Well-being measures were obtained and included early effects (Period 1) and later effects (Period 2). Period 1 recorded fighting events, lesions and lameness, as well as cortisol change and body condition in the first 12 days after mixing. Period 2 recorded lesions, lameness and body condition from day 13 until farrowing.

Mixing during the first week after weaning resulted in reduced farrowing and well-being measures compared with mixing after the fifth week. Using the stalls throughout the gestation improved sow reproduction and well-being. These results suggest that optimal reproduction and well-being can be achieved with use of stalls and that day of mixing can reduce all measures.

 Dr. Theresia Lavergne

Environmental Best Management Practices (BMPs) are important to Louisiana because there are so many waterways that are used for recreation. Agricultural producers, including poultry producers, can implement research-based BMPs to minimize the potential of rainfall runoff delivering pollutants to the waterways. The faculty of the LSU AgCenter have developed BMP manuals for many of the agriculture commodities produced in the state.

In the poultry environmental BMP manual, the following BMPs are included:

• Whole-farm nutrient planning – using nutrients to enhance profits and protect water resources.
• Importance of BMPs to reduce losses – sediment and manure runoff reduction.
• Litter management – house litter management, re-using litter, storage, sampling methods.
• Mortality management – composting, incinerating, rendering, digesting.
• Litter application and runoff control – analyses and value of litter, application of litter.
• Pasture management and establishment – soil testing, seed beds, forages, grazing management.
• Soil testing – methods and proper sampling.
• Odor prevention on poultry farms – sources of odor and emissions.
• Buffers and borders – vegetative buffers, field borders, filter strips.
• Controlling flies in and around poultry houses – control, sanitation, surveillance.
• Controlling rodents – control, sanitation, baiting.
• Responding to complaints - communication.
• Farmstead management – fuel tanks, heavy-use areas, waste storage, conservation tillage.
• Pesticide management and pesticides – management procedures, application, selection, safety and storage.

These BMPs are effective and practical methods of reducing point and nonpoint-source water pollutants. When implemented, they conserve and protect the soil, water and air resources.

The poultry and other BMP manuals are available here.

Poultry BMPs
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