Industry Offers New Tool for BVD Management

Article Courtesy of Micky Burch, Nebraska Cattlemen

Montana Rancher Feature Q&A: Scott Wiley of MusselshellMany of us have heard the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” That lesson can be taken to heart when managing your cow herd for bovine viral diarrhea (BVD). BVD is a transitional disease, which means you can’t tell by looking if an animal has the virus. Years of research has helped identify the disease as having significant effects on productivity, especially reproductive and respiratory health, and now a new tool – BVD CONSULT (Collaborative Online Novel Science-based User-friendly Learning Tool) – has been introduced to the industry to help manage the virus at the cow-calf level.

BVD Background

In his article “Use of a BVD Management Tool: BVD CONSULT,” Bob Larson, DVM, Ph.D., Kansas State University, explains that the virus is costly to cattle producers, because it causes immune suppression, respiratory disease, infertility and fetal infection.

One of the most detrimental effects of BVD takes place between (approximately) Day 45 and Day 135 of gestation – when the fetus hasn’t fully developed an immune system. If a fetus contracts the virus from its dam during this window of time, it becomes persistently infected (PI) with the BVD virus. Shortly after this time frame and up to about Day 160 of gestation, if the fetus contracts the BVD virus, congenital defects can result. “There can be skeletal, eye or brain defects or stillbirths may occur,” explains Dale Grotelueschen, DVM, MS, University of Nebraska Great Plains Veterinary Educational Center. “Cerebellar hypoplasia is an example of a brain defect resulting from a fetal BVD virus infection where the calf may be born alive, but is unable to rise and is uncoordinated.” Most calves that contract BVD in utero get it when their dams are exposed to and are undergoing acute infections of BVD, often following nose-to-nose contact with another animal that has the disease.

PI calves can also seem perfectly healthy, and healthy-appearing replacement females that are PI may enter your herd. In this instance, a PI dam will always give birth to a PI calf. PI cattle carry the disease their entire lives and shed the virus from every orifice of their body, especially through nasal discharge, saliva and feces. “Preventing the birth of PI calves is a major focus for control in herds and in the cattle industry,” Grotelueschen explains. He also says that an extensive study found herds with PI calves had five percent lower pregnancy rates than herds without infected calves.

Because you can’t tell by looking, PI BVD cattle must be identified through lab tests. According to the National Animal Health Monitoring System’s (NAHM’s) 2007-2008 beef cow-calf study, 8.8 percent of U.S. cow-calf ranches identified one or more PI animals, meaning that one in every 11 to 12 herds have PI calves, and most are not aware of their presence.

In recent years, Larson adds, the cattle industry has made huge strides understanding BVD. “Our current knowledge of BVD, the availability of effective vaccines, and the improvement in diagnostic tools have made the control of BVD feasible,” he says. The key to using these resources, Grotelueschen continues, is to design individualized herd-control plans for the disease. That’s where BVD CONSULT comes in.

BVD Consult

BVD CONSULT is an internet-based tool for developing herd health plans for cattle operations; this means the producer makes choices and then sets goals for how BVD control can be accomplished in their herd. BVD CONSULT was designed for producers to work with their herd veterinarians to develop BVD control and prevention plans. For herds that currently have PI cattle present, the tool helps create a plan to identify and remove those cattle and establish a strategy to reduce the likelihood of the herd becoming infected again, Larson explains. For herds that are currently virus-free, BVD CONSULT can be used to decide how to minimize the likelihood of the disease entering the herd and to reduce the impact if the herd is exposed.

“Using BVD CONSULT is simple,” Larson continues in his article. “The system is set up online as a series of questions with responses designed to mimic a conversation between a veterinarian and a producer who is concerned about BVD.” The program then provides recommendations specific to individual operations. After clicking “yes” or “no” to answer each question, an appropriate response is given based on the choices that have been made, followed by another question. The questions that are asked, and the responses given, vary depending on the previous answers. There are six to 10 questions depending on the choices made. A printable report is available at the end of the questionnaire, which records the choices that were made and responses given.

Sample questions from the BVD CONSULT questionnaire include:

  • Do you have active BVD in your herd?
  • Will you institute a testing strategy that identifies all PI BVD cattle and remove them from your herd?
  • Will you quarantine and test all new cattle coming into your breeding herd?
  • Can you prevent fence line and direct contact of your pregnant herd with other cattle?

Jeremy Van Boeing, DVM, Republican Valley Animal Center, Alma, Neb., and chairman of NC’s Animal Health committee, has already started helping his clients utilize BVD CONSULT in their herds. “This program simplifies decision making for producers when it comes to BVD management,” he explains. “It’s a tool that allows producers to look at the disease on their own time, then discuss the questions they have with their veterinarian so they know what the next step is and how to take it.”

All-in-all, Grotelueschen says, BVD CONSULT is an opportunity to increase the level of herd health plans in a way producers are comfortable with. More information and the online questionnaire can be found by visiting www.bvdinfo.org.

Reprinted with permission from September 2013 Nebraska Cattleman magazine.

Part 2: Beta-agonists, the Environment and Cattle Feed Intake

Part 2: Beta-agonists, the Environment and Cattle Feed Intake

Part 2: Beta-agonists, the Environment and Cattle Feed Intake

Part 2: Beta-agonists, the Environment and Cattle Feed Intake. After analyzing feed intake data from three feedlots that used Zilmax in their rations, Chris Reinhardt, K-State feedlot specialist, found that cattle fell off on feed intake more in the summer months compared to any other time of year, and the cattle that were consuming more feed prior to the initiation of Zilmax not only had a much higher likelihood of losing intake but the size of the intake drop-off was larger. Click image for original story.

In this part 2 of a two-part series, a K-State feedlot specialist provides a look into how environmental factors, including heat stress, coupled with the use of beta-agonists potentially affects cattle feed intake. See Part 1 here.

MANHATTAN, Kan. – Growing cattle that are more efficient in converting feed to muscle is a main goal in the beef industry. Many cattle producers, feedlot operators and researchers strive to use genetics and modern feedlot technologies to continuously improve that efficiency.

Chris Reinhardt, feedlot specialist for Kansas State University, is one of those researchers seeking to find solutions to improve efficiency in cattle production. Reinhardt has looked specifically at how beta-agonists, a cattle feed supplement approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and considered safe from a food safety perspective, improve the cattle’s natural ability to convert feed into more lean muscle.

“Beta-agonists increase the deposition of lean muscle on the carcass,” Reinhardt said. “They make cattle more efficient at converting grain to muscle. They also improve the efficiency of converting an animal carcass into sellable meat.”

Zilmax, formally known as zilpaterol hydrochloride, is one of only two beta-agonists approved for cattle feeding on the market. However, Merck Animal Health, manufacturer of Zilmax, voluntarily suspended sales of the product last September when major U.S. meat packer Tyson announced it would stop buying cattle fed Zilmax due to an animal welfare concern, which questioned if the product affected the ambulatory ability, or movement, of cattle.

There has been no direct link established between the use Zilmax and impaired cattle mobility, Reinhardt said. Cattle fatigue syndrome may be caused by many factors, such as summer heat, and exertion prior to harvest. But, studying the reasons behind stiff-muscled and tired cattle, and if beta-agonists play a role, isn’t the only angle of research being examined. Reinhardt has been looking more closely to see if beta-agonists, particularly Zilmax, affect cattle feed intake.

“Over the past few years, on certain occasions, feedlots have seen where Zilmax was started in the feed, and cattle would fall off on intake,” Reinhardt said. “Sometimes the intake would come back to normal, and sometimes it wouldn’t. Because Zilmax is a growth promotant, if we’re losing some of the dry matter intake and some of the energy intake, are we getting full value for that growth promotant?”

Reinhardt has looked at data from three separate commercial feedlots over the past three years and studied some of the differences in feed intake in 1,100 pens of cattle. He looked at the dry matter intake prior to and through the end of the cattle-feeding period. He compared this to the time when Zilmax was brought into the feed rations, the sex and weight of the cattle, and the location of the feedlot, to try to filter out any common factors when the cattle did or did not lose feed intake.

The data analysis uncovered two main findings. First, season played a role in the drop-off in feed intake. Second, cattle that were consuming more feed prior to the initiation of Zilmax had a much higher likelihood of losing intake, and the size of the intake drop-off was larger.

“The drop-off was quite a bit larger in the summertime than in the other seasons,” Reinhardt said. “In spring and fall, there was very little change in intake. What pens did fall off on intake for the most part actually recovered back to normal.”

Reinhardt said this could mean weather and season, particularly heat, plays a factor in cattle’s response to beta-agonists. Surprisingly, the winter months showed more of a drop-off on intake overall compared to spring and fall, and Reinhardt said this issue, perhaps due to cold stress, must be looked at more closely as well.

On the issue surrounding big-eating cattle falling off more on intake once Zilmax was initiated, Reinhardt said it could be because the cattle that are eating more feed are also eating more of the drug.

“Really we don’t know the economic impact from these intake losses,” Reinhardt said. “We do know that some pens of cattle were more subject to loss of intake than other groups. The question is, is it economical to continue to use the beta-agonist even though you’re seeing a decrease in intake, or should the decision be made in extremely warm weather to not use the drug for a period of weeks until the weather abates?”

Advice for feedlot operators

Reinhardt said it will take more research to make specific recommendations on using beta-agonists to cattle feeders, but this initial research is one step closer to understanding how environmental factors, combined with the use of beta-agonists, might affect cattle feeding.

While Merck recently announced that it is too early to determine when Zilmax will return to the market (Merck Animal Health Shares Progress on Zilmax and the Five-Step Plan for Responsible Beef), many feedlots might have switched to using a competing beta-agonist called Optaflexx, or ractopamine. The transition from one product to another, Reinhardt said, hasn’t been a huge challenge for many feedlot operators, but he said the products do work differently. More research needs to be done to further understand how all beta-agonists on the market work in cattle feeding.

“Knowledge is power, and I hope we continue to have the opportunity to utilize technologies in our feedlot community,” Reinhardt said. “But, I hope we use them with the best information available to help feedlots be more profitable and sustainable.”

This story is part 2 of a two-part series on how beta-agonists and environmental factors potentially play a role in cattle fatigue and feed efficiency. For more information about beta-agonists, see Part 1 on environment and cattle fatigue.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Part 1: Beta-agonists, the Environment and Cattle Fatigue

Part 1: Beta-agonists, the Environment and Cattle Fatigue

Part 1: Beta-agonists, the Environment and Cattle Fatigue

Cattle fatigue syndrome is not a new phenomenon, said Dan Thomson, K-State veterinarian. The swine industry discovered pig fatigue syndrome in the past, where stress played a role in animal mobility at packing facilities. Click image for original.

MANHATTAN, Kan. – In agricultural production, maintaining a level of excellence that includes environmental sustainability, animal welfare and food safety, while keeping food affordable for consumers is top-of-mind for many farmers and ranchers, as well as the researchers looking to help them find solutions to ensure this level of excellence.

As consumers shop at their local grocery stores and markets, they might notice that beef products are double or triple the price of other protein sources, and rightfully so, might hold beef to an even higher standard of excellence, said Dan Thomson, Kansas State University veterinarian, professor and director of the Beef Cattle Institute.

“Beef is one of the purest, most wholesome and most humanely raised forms of protein that we produce worldwide,” Thomson said. “As a beef industry, we are being asked day in and day out to take a holistic view of technology.”

The use of beta-agonists in cattle feeding is among the modern feedlot technologies making waves in the beef industry. K-State researchers, including Thomson, are among the many researchers who are examining how beta-agonists affect cattle performance and how the feed supplement might cause cattle, particularly in the summer months, to be slow-moving and stiff-muscled once they arrive at packing facilities.

“We’re going to learn more about the last 30 days on feed,” Thomson said of research on beta-agonists. “Do we have heat stress mitigation plans in place at the feeding facilities? Are we pushing that boundary of having too heavy weight carcasses? Are we using low-stress cattle handling techniques? How far away from the load out facility are the fat cattle being moved? Are we shipping them during the afternoon in the heat of the day, or are we shipping them at 2 a.m.? Are the truckers trained to properly transport these animals? How long do they wait at the slaughter facility? All of these different risk factors are going to have to be bundled in.”

History of beta-agonist use

Feedlots have used beta-agonists, a cattle feed supplement approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and considered safe from a food safety perspective, to improve the cattle’s natural ability to convert feed into more lean muscle.

Zilmax, formally known as zilpaterol hydrocholoride, is one of only two beta-agonists approved for cattle feeding on the market. However, Merck Animal Health, manufacturer of Zilmax, voluntarily suspended sales of the product last September when major U.S. meat packer Tyson announced it would stop buying cattle fed Zilmax due to an animal welfare concern, which questioned if the product affected the ambulatory ability, or movement, of cattle.

Thomson said that because the slow-moving cattle reports were more consistent during the summer months, he has questioned how heat stress and feeding beta-agonists might together create what he calls “cattle fatigue syndrome.”

“This isn’t a new phenomenon,” Thomson said. “We’ve seen this in other species. The swine industry 15 to 20 years ago discovered pig fatigue syndrome. It occurred about the time they started feeding beta-agonists at a very high level to pigs. Market hogs would arrive at the plant, and they were stiff, open-mouth breathing, had blotchy skin, muscle tremors and were going through stress.”

Thomson said many in the swine industry started calling these pigs “NANI” pigs, meaning non-ambulatory, non-injured.

“So these pigs show up (at the packing facility), and they don’t have any clinical signs of injury besides that they don’t move,” Thomson said. “(Researchers) did diagnostic tests to look at the difference between non-ambulatory pigs and pigs within the same truckload that were able to move. They found elevated serum lactate and creatine phosphokinase (CPK) levels, which are both indicative of depletion of muscle glucose or muscle damage in these big, heavily muscled animals.”

Regardless of beta-agonist use in feeding pigs, Thomson said, the swine industry went from having about a 250-lb. average out weight to a 300-lb. average out weight on market hogs. So the hogs had more weight to carry around at the packing facility.

To see if beta-agonists played a role in the movement concerns, researchers did a series of tests on market hogs that were not fed beta-agonists. They put some through a stressful situation prior to shipping them to slaughter, while the others did not experience any stress.

“They were able to recreate the same syndrome that we’re now seeing in some cattle,” Thomson said. “Generally, physical stress, whether they were on a beta-agonist or not, showed clinical signs of fatigue in these market hogs.”

Still, the swine industry has since cut the dose of beta-agonists in feeding by about 75 percent, Thomson said.

For additional information on how ractopamine is used in feeding swine today, please see this page from PorkCares.

A closer look at cattle fatigue syndrome

The beef industry has a really good start on understanding what cattle fatigue syndrome is, Thomson said, but the reason more research must be done is that, like the NANI pigs, the syndrome has shown up in cattle that were fed a beta-agonist and cattle that were not fed a beta-agonist.

“In our research, when we’ve looked at cattle that are not stressed and they’re on one of the beta-agonists on the market, we’ve not seen anything but an increase in heart rate by about 10 beats per minute and no difference in lactate or CPK levels,” Thomson said. “However, we have to understand that when we have seen the issues with this fatigue cattle syndrome at packing facilities, it’s during the summer months when we have heat stress.”

Moving forward, Thomson said the industry needs to better-understand the clinical and physiological responses of beta-agonists in cattle, if dosages in cattle feeding rations might need to be altered and if there is a potential genetic component to it as well.

Advice for feedlot operators

Thomson said that he is very pro-technology. While Merck recently announced that it is too early to determine when Zilmax will return to the market (Merck Animal Health Shares Progress on Zilmax and the Five-Step Plan for Responsible Beef), many feedlots might have switched to using a competing beta-agonist called Optaflexx, or ractopamine.

As long as beta-agonists are available, approved by the FDA, accepted by the consumer and work in a particular management system to improve efficiency of animals and profitability, then it is fine to use them, he said. But, the industry must always look at ways to improve and make sure technologies are continuously helping.

“We’re given a job, task and responsibility, and we don’t take it lightly,” Thomson said.

This story is part 1 of a two-part series on how beta-agonists and environmental factors potentially play a role in cattle fatigue and feed efficiency. For more information about beta-agonists, see Part 2, will be posted on Monday, on environment and feed efficiency.

To watch an interview with Thomson on this subject, log on to the K-State Research and Extension YouTube channel at Beta Agonist Research Update.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Montana Livestock Forum, Nutrition Conference set for April 21, 22

From MSU News Service

BOZEMAN — Meaningless information that cattle buyers don’t value any more is one of the many topics that will be discussed during this year’s Montana Livestock Forum and Nutrition Conference in Bozeman.

The conference, titled “They’re Black and They’ve had their Shots … Any other Questions?,” will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, April 21 and 22, at the Gran Tree Inn.

Ranchers will hear a variety of presentations during the annual conference sponsored by the Montana Feed Association and Montana State University Extension. They’ll learn about five places they can save money and five places they can spend it, for example. They’ll hear the results of a National Animal Identification System study on cattle identification, receive an update on MSU’s new Animal Bioscience Building and hear predictions about cattle prices in the next five years. They’ll hear talks on value-added issues, beef industry and consumer demand, and more.

The first speaker in the Beef Cattle Lecture Series will be Ted Schroeder from Kansas State University. The series was established with an endowment created by MSU chemistry professor Paul Grieco and his wife, Barbara, with the MSU Foundation.

Cost to attend both days of the conference is $65. Attending one day only costs $45 for Tuesday and $30 for Wednesday. To register, call (406) 994-3414, send an e-mail to anitag@montana.edu or write Anita Gray, 221 Linfield Hall, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT. 59717.

The conference agenda is:
Tuesday, April 21
11:30 a.m. — Registration.
12:35 p.m. — Welcome and introductions. John Paterson, MSU Extension beef specialist.
12:40 p.m. — The MSU, Montana Feed Association and Montana Department of Agriculture Partnership. Don Siefert, Silent Herder.
12:55 p.m. — Update on MSU’s Animal Bioscience Building and what it means to Montanans. Turk Stovall, Origen.
1:25 p.m. — Five places to save and five places to spend money on the ranch this year. Paterson.
2:15 p.m. — To ID or not ID? Results of the National Animal Identification System study. Gary Brester, MSU.
3 p.m. — Value-added. More than just vaccines. Jane Boles, MSU.
3:15 p.m. — Beef product sampling. Boles and meats class.
3:45 p.m. — They’re black and they’ve had all their shots — and other meaningless information that cattle buyers don’t value any more. Darrell Wilkes, ABS Global.
5 p.m. — Social.
6 to 8 p.m. — Dinner and presentation of scholarships. Keynote address on “Beef Industry and Consumer Demand: Prescription for Prosperity” by Ted Schroeder of Kansas State, first recipient of the Animal and Range Sciences Beef Cattle Lectureship.

Wednesday, April 22
7 a.m. — Judging of student posters, breakfast buffet. Pat Hatfield, MSU.
8 a.m. — Protein supplementation of cattle: Show me the data. Greg Lardy, North Dakota State University.
8:50 a.m. — Fetal programming and heifer development, before and after birth. Rick Funston, University of Nebraska.
9:45 a.m. — Break
10:15 a.m. — Homegrown energy: Systems of forage production for Montana. Dennis Cash, MSU.
11 a.m. — Graduate student award presentation. Hatfield.
11:10 to 11:20 a.m. — Closing comments. Paterson and Seifert.