Animal Industry News Update March 2013

Theresia Lavergne, Page, Timothy G., Harborth, Karl, Navarre, Christine B., Walker, Neely, Pruitt, J. Ross  |  4/8/2013 1:16:37 AM

Bull breeding soundness evaluations


 Christine B. Navarre, DVM, MS, DACVIM
Extension Veterinarian, LSU AgCenter
Professor, School of Animal Sciences

Soren P. Rodning
Extension Veterinarian, Assistant Professor
Animal Sciences, Auburn University

It is that time of year again – time for breeding soundness exams (BSE) in your bulls. Let’s review what a full BSE is and what it is not. A bull breeding soundness evaluation is a uniform method of assessing a bull’s likelihood of accomplishing pregnancy in an appropriate number of open, healthy, cycling cows or heifers in a defined breeding season. Bulls can be classified as satisfactory or unsatisfactory potential breeders. A classification of unsatisfactory does not mean a bull is completely sterile but that it can be considered sub-fertile. A sub-fertile bull eventually may get cows pregnant, but he will take longer than a fertile bull to settle a group of cows. The result is that sub-fertile bulls produce fewer calves as well as calves that are born late in the calving season, which are therefore younger and lighter at weaning. The net effect is fewer pounds of beef per exposed cow.

Performing breeding soundness evaluations on herd bulls is a sound investment for beef cow-calf operations. Such an evaluation includes these four components:

1. Physical exam
Evaluates the physical characteristics of a bull necessary for mobility and athleticism in the pasture, structural soundness, overall internal and external reproductive tract development, etc.

2. Scrotal circumference
Evaluates testicular size and health, as well as estimating the bull’s sperm-producing capacity. Bulls must meet minimum scrotal circumference measurements based on age in order to pass a breeding soundness evaluation.

3. Sperm motility
Ensures the bull is producing sufficient numbers of live sperm. Bulls must have at least 30 percent motility to pass a breeding soundness evaluation.

4. Sperm morphology
Ensures the bull is producing sperm that are properly shaped and capable of fertilization. Bulls must produce at least 70 percent normal sperm to pass a breeding soundness evaluation.

The recommended minimum requirements for scrotal circumference, sperm motility and sperm morphology are outlined by the Society for Theriogenology. Additional factors influencing the number of cows a bull can breed in a season include pasture size and terrain, physical soundness, age of the bull, libido, number of bulls in the group and so forth. Based on the results of the breeding soundness evaluation, a bull is assigned to one of three classifications:

1. Satisfactory potential breeder (fertile)
This classification indicates the bull:
• Passed a physical exam
• Met the minimum requirements for scrotal circumference
• Has at least 30 percent sperm motility
• Produces at least 70 percent normal sperm

2. Unsatisfactory potential breeder (sub-fertile or sterile)
• The bull did not pass at least one of the four components of the breeding soundness evaluation

3. Deferred
• The bull did not pass at least one of the four components of the breeding soundness evaluation because of a condition that may resolve itself over time. A “deferred” bull should be rechecked at a later date.

A breeding soundness evaluation does not evaluate a bull’s libido, nor does it ensure that a bull will remain a satisfactory potential breeder the entire breeding season. If a bull suffers injury to its feet, legs, reproductive tract or other area, such an injury may render it incapable of breeding your cows. Therefore, it is still extremely important to observe bulls regularly during the breeding season.

A breeding soundness evaluation also does not guarantee bulls are free of infectious diseases, such as Trichomoniasis, so a veterinarian should be consulted to determine what other diagnostic tests may be appropriate for each herd.

Bulls must be tested each year. Just because a bull passed a breeding soundness evaluation last year does not guarantee it will still be a satisfactory breeder this year. Summer heat, especially in the South, can cause temporary or permanent infertility in bulls. If a bull is classified as “deferred” and it appears to be due to heat stress, the bull can be retested again in 60 days. Some bulls will recover. If after 60 days, the bull still fails a breeding soundness evaluation, it is likely the damage is permanent, and the bull should be culled.

Red meat and poultry production forecasts continue to increase


Dr. Ross Pruitt

Total red meat and poultry production forecasts for 2013 continue to be revised upward in the early months of 2013. In the recently released March USDA World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, pork was the only protein product that saw a decrease (albeit 0.2%) while beef was revised slightly upward (0.1%) and broiler chickens were 1.7% higher. The increases in beef production are occurring as dressed weights continue to be approximately 17 pounds greater than a year ago despite the decrease in head slaughtered. Increases in the forecasted estimates of broiler chicken production are reflecting increased slaughter as well heavier weights compared to a year ago. Pork production is currently experiencing dressed weights and slaughter rates that are largely even with last year, but it is expected to be higher than last year in the final two quarters of 2013.

The higher-than-expected red meat and poultry production has put some pressure on prices so far this year. Beef production has slowed in recent weeks due in part to winter storms and a falling rate of slaughter that has more than offset the heavier dressed weights. This has resulted in stronger boxed beef prices, which have increased over $13/cwt since the end of February. This has not translated into an increase for fed and feeder cattle prices as of yet, but the decline in production was needed, combined with an increase in boxed beef prices, for cattle prices to begin to rise.

The pork cutout has weakened in recent weeks, partially a result of the Chinese and Russian decisions to ban imports of meat that are not certified to be free of the feed additive ractopamine. This decision has had more impact on the pork market than the beef market due to the greater importance of exports as a percent of domestic U.S. production for the pork industry. The inability to export U.S. pork to China and Russia results in the loss of two of the top 10 export markets for U.S. pork until the meat can be certified free of ractopamine.

Broiler chicken production is approximately 3% higher so far this year, with year-to-date U.S. chick placements about 1% higher and egg sets about 1.5% higher than a year ago. Egg sets and chick placements in Louisiana are 3.6% and 2.6% lower than a year ago. While no major markets have closed their borders to U.S. chicken exports as of now, the increased production of chicken has not resulted in lower chicken prices as of yet. Wing prices have weakened in recent weeks as seasonally expected, but other cuts have posted increases (chicken breasts and whole birds) while leg and leg quarter prices have been relatively flat.

Equine identification requirements for out-of-state travel


Dr. Neely Walker

In an attempt to improve the ability to trace all livestock in the event of a disease outbreak, the USDA has instituted its Animal Disease Traceability Program (ADTP). Under the new federal regulations, horses moving out of state must be accompanied by an Interstate Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (ICVI). Starting on March 11, 2013, this new regulation applies to all horses, mules and donkeys crossing state lines.

What is an ICVI? It is a document of official identification. This document will include a description of the animal sufficient to identify the individual. Descriptions should include, name, age, breed, color, gender, markings, unique and permanent forms of identification (brands, tattoos, scars, cowlicks, blemishes or biometric measurements), electronic identification (microchip number) or digital photographs that are detailed enough to identify the horse. In the case of animals being transported for slaughter, a UDSA backtag is required.

Do not worry – you are not required to have another piece of paper to travel out of state with your horse. This document is basically your health certificate. Up until this regulation was put into effect, every state could have different requirements regarding the paperwork required for interstate travel. The USDA has now made it a national requirement for all horses, mules and donkeys to have a current ICVI (aka Health Certificate). Currently to enter Louisiana you must have a health certificate, including each animal’s temperature, that was issued within 30 days of travel, as well as a negative Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA or Coggins test) that was issued within 365 days (1 year) of travel.

There are some exceptions to this new regulation. They are:

  • Horses that are used as mode of transport (horseback, horse-and-buggy) for travel to another location and plan to return directly to the original location.
  • Horses moved from a farm or stable for veterinary treatment that are returned to the same location without change in ownership.
  • Horses moved directly from a location in one state through another state to a second location in the original state.
  • Horses moving between shipping and receiving states or tribes with another form of identification as agreed upon by animal health officials in the shipping and receiving states or tribes.

Because the USDA has created a few exceptions to the regulation, it is best to contact the destination state prior to traveling and ask for current import requirements.

2013 State 4-H and FFA Livestock Judging Contest


Dr. Tim Page

Louisiana 4-H and FFA held their State Livestock Judging Contest on Wednesday, February 13, 2013, at the LSU AgCenter State Livestock Show at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center in Gonzales, Louisiana. This is the first time they held their livestock judging contests together.

The Louisiana Cattlemen’s Association, the Louisiana Pork Producers Association and First South Farm Credit sponsored the State Livestock Judging Contest. They sponsored the lunch and awards for the contestants. Thank you so much from the Louisiana 4-H and Louisiana FFA!

The Livestock Judging Contest officials were Mr. David Wilson (First South Farm Credit), Mr. Jerry Whatley (LSU AgCenter), Dr. Terry Dumas (LSU AgCenter), Dr. Brandi Bourg Karisch (Mississippi State University), Dr. Karl Harborth (LSU AgCenter) and Mr. Bobby Bingham (LSU AgCenter). This is absolutely the best official judging committee we have ever had. The contest was a premier educational event, and in large part, it is due to these outstanding professionals working with our 4-H and FFA members.

The winning FFA and 4-H teams will compete in their National Livestock Judging Contests later this year. The winners are:

The winning FFA Chapters in the State Livestock Judging Contest
1. Lacassine High School FFA
2. West Ouachita High School FFA
3. East Beauregard High School FFA
4. Covington High School FFA

The High Individuals in the State FFA Livestock Judging Contest
1. Ashley Gotreaux, Laccasine
2. Stacey Devall, Denham Springs
3. Yimmi Fontenot, Laccasine
4. Zach Joyner, West Ouachita

The winning 4-H Teams in the State Livestock Judging Contest
1. Lafayette Parish 4-H             6. DeSoto Parish 4-H
2. St. Tammany Parish 4-H       7. Beauregard Parish 4-H
3. Jefferson Davis Parish 4-H    8. Calcasieu Parish 4-H
4. Vermillion Parish 4-H            9. Assumption Parish 4-H
5. Allen Parish 4-H                   10. Livingston Parish 4-H

The High Individuals in the 4-H State Livestock Judging Contest
1. Sarah Lyons, Lafayette               6. Shelbi Picard, Vermillion
2. Abigail Jenkins, St. Tammany      7. Emily Wright, Beauregard   
3. Ashley Gotreaux, Jefferson Davis 8. Kealy Stelly, Lafayette
4. Stacy Devall, Livingston               9. Laikyn Potts, Calcasieu
5. Kayleigh Switzer, Allen               10. Jane Herpin, Vermillion

Finally, I want to thank the 4-H agents and FFA advisors for their dedication to our young people involved in animal agriculture. I know the time that it takes to train these FFA and 4-H members, and I do not regard that lightly.

Along the lines of livestock judging, I am truly excited about starting a new LSU Livestock Judging Team. We will teach Livestock Evaluation this fall. I need outstanding students, parents, agents and FFA advisors who are interested to contact me at or 225-578-7906. We even have some scholarship money for students who are accepted. I hope the students would be interested in majoring in animal science, but that is not a requirement to be a team member.

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