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  • 08 Jan 2015 4:19 PM | Deleted user
    The Livestock Exporters Association will hold the fourth annual Livestock Exporting 4.0 seminar Feb. 16 at the Ameristar Casino Resort Spa in St. Louis, Missouri, in conjunction with the United States Livestock Genetics Export annual meeting. This seminar is designed for experienced exporters, LEA members and industry affiliates interested in marketing livestock abroad.

    “The exporting business continues to grow worldwide as do the challenges we face on virtually every transaction,” says LEA President Renee Strickland. “The fact is that we have lots of tools that can help U.S. exporters be competitive, but to be successful you have to know how to tap into those resources.”

    The day-long session will give participants an in-depth look inside the procedures associated with shipping livestock overseas and educate exporters on the sweeping changes taking place in the industry. Officials from the United States Department of Agriculture, Animal Plant Health Inspection Services, Veterinary Services will be present to review the latest rule changes and provide exporters on country by country update on protocol negotiations.

    In addition to updates on the overall livestock economic picture and updates from Washington D.C., special segments will focus on genomic testing in today’s export environment and provide exporters with a clear understanding of how genomic testing can be an asset for livestock exporting in certain countries, and what it can and cannot prove.

    The biggest hurdle for most exporters is the ability to meet the disease and testing protocol required of the foreign customer. Livestock Exporting 4.0 will provide industry experts to discuss the various diseases and testing options available. As new markets become available in countries that are not formally open to U.S. livestock exporters, exporters face unique and sometimes specific challenges to complete the process. The segments on ‘Testing’ and ‘Doing Business Outside the Boundaries’ will help exporters with answers for those challenges.

    The LEA has developed extensive standards for the safe handling for livestock during export and will provide exporters the opportunity to complete the initial training required, which will help qualify themselves for future audits.

    Strickland encourages everyone with an interest in marketing livestock, including seedstock producers and breeders, veterinarians and freight providers to attend.

    “There is a real opportunity to producers who wish to market their animals abroad, and we hope those interested will join us for what we plan to be an educational and engaging seminar.”

    Attendees of Livestock Export 4.0 will have the opportunity to network with some of the top exporters and allied supporters of the industry. Vendors will have on display a wide range of services from freight forwarders, insurance companies and transportation service companies.

    Advanced registration is available on the LEA website with a cost of $150 for LEA members and $200 for non-members. The registration fee includes all meals for the day. For more information regarding LEA and marketing livestock abroad or to register for the seminar, visit the LEA website ( for details.

    Hotel reservations can be made directly with the Ameristar Casino Resort Spa by calling 636-940-4301 to make their reservations. To receive the discounted rate, make sure you identify the group as USLGE Annual Meeting 2015.

    Full Story here:

  • 02 Jan 2015 11:23 AM | Deleted user
    PITTSBURGH, LONDON––Alerts to the risk that animal shelters, shelterless rescues, and adoption transport may spread rabies came simultaneously in December 2014 from no-kill organizations on both sides of the Atlantic.

    “He was a kitten. He came in at four weeks old,” Washington Area Humane Society shelter manager Laurelle Dicks told Mary Robb Jackson of KDKA-TV, CBS Pittsburgh.

    Elaborated Jackson, “She was referring to a cat named Chance who was brought to the Washington Area Humane Society in May 2014. Found along a road by a volunteer, at the time the kitten had a couple of puncture wounds on his head, but otherwise seemed healthy.”

    The puncture wounds may have been from a rabid bite by another animal, but usually rabies symptoms from a head bite appear within days. In any event, a kitten––or puppy––who is under 15 weeks of age is too young to vaccinate successfully, since the animal’s immune system is not yet mature enough to develop antibodies in response to vaccination.

    The Washington Area Humane Society nursed Chance to recovery, and offered him for adoption. But whether the puncture wounds Chance came with were the source of exposure, or some other incident, he exhibited rabies symptoms in early December.

    Said Dicks, “He was banging his head, could barely walk, and was just attacking anything he saw.”

    Continued Jackson, “The rabid cat was immediately isolated, the state Health and Agriculture Departments alerted, and 28 other cats were quarantined. Three staffers who were scratched or bitten were treated with post-exposure prophylaxis shots.”

    Second Pennsylvania case

    A similar case emerged almost simultaneously at the opposite end of Pennsylvania, in Montgomery County, west of Philadelphia.

    “The Montgomery County Health Department has received confirmation that a cat who was being fostered by Green Lane Veterinary Hospital has tested positive for rabies,” the county office of communications announced on December 15, 2014. “The rabid cat has been identified as Jinx, a male tabby who was brown with black stripes and had his tail and both rear legs amputated.”

    “The cat had been in the care of the veterinary hospital since November 1,” the announcement continued. “On December 11 the cat became unusually aggressive and exhibited neurological signs indicative of rabies. He was humanely euthanized that same day.”

    The cat’s head was sent to the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Bureau of Laboratories. Fluoroscopic examination to find the negribodies (brain cinders) symptomatic of rabies infection confirmed the diagnosis on December 13, 2014.

    Why the cat’s tail and both hind legs had been amputated was not disclosed. Of relevance, however, is that weakness and paralysis in the hind quarters are among the symptoms of rabies.

    Virginia case

    About as far south of the two Pennsylvania rabies cases in cats as they were from each other, the Halifax County Animal Shelter in southern Virginia “has revised its adoption rules since sending a family home with a rabid dog,” Justin Ward of WBDJ-7 News reported on December 9, 2014.

    In November 2014, elaborated Ward, “the animal shelter was overcrowded with dogs and cats, so a local animal rescue group asked to foster a stray dog with six puppies. The animals had just been impounded at the shelter two hours before.”

    Halifax County animal warden Todd Moser allowed the mother and pups to be released for fostering, but two days later, Ward continued, the mother dog displayed rabid behavior. Rabies was confirmed after the dog was euthanized, decapitated, and slides of her brain were examined by fluoroscopy. All of the pups were euthanized as a precautionary measure, since the nursing pups of a rabid mother are almost certainly also infected.

    Seven people received post-exposure rabies vaccination, “including the foster family and shelter staff,” Ward said.

    “Now when an animal is impounded,” Ward continued, “the animal is monitored for signs of any disease, and the animal welfare groups are not given immediate access to the animals.”

    Dogs Trust finds forged rabies certificates

    While rabies emergencies percolated at shelters in Pennsylvania and Virginia, Dogs Trust released undercover video showing veterinarians in Hungary and Lithuania creating false documentation pertaining to rabies vaccination and quarantine, in order to export dogs for adoption in the United Kingdom.

    Said Dogs Trust veterinary director Paula Boyden, “We found that there are breeders, traders and even vets who are quite prepared to
    falsify documents and bring in underage puppies into the U.K.”

    The largest no-kill shelter chain in the world, operating 20 shelters in the U.K. and Ireland, Dogs Trust rehomes about 15,000 dogs per year.

    “We are seeing evidence of animals being fraudulently introduced under the pets passport scheme, and that needs to stop,” U.K. chief veterinary officer Nigel Gibbens told BBC News.

    “There were 2,102 dogs from approved carriers entering the UK from Lithuania in 2013, nearly nine times the number in 2011 (239),” BBC News reported, citing Department of Environment, Food, & Rural Affairs data. “At least 3,044 dogs arrived in the U.K. from Hungary last year, up from 399 in 2011.”

    Change of import rules

    The surge in imports of dogs from Lithuania and Hungary followed amendments to the European Union Pet Travel Scheme introduced in January 2012. Under the new rules, animals brought into the U.K. from other EU and approved non-EU countries, including the U.S. and Australia no longer need a blood test and need only be quarantined for 21 days following vaccination, before being imported. The 21-day quarantine is reduced from the six month quarantine formerly in effect.

    Until under 20 years ago, few animal shelters imported animals for adoption from other shelters, let alone from abroad. Most animal shelters did not allow rescuers and the general public to have access to impounded dogs and cats until after the expiry of mandatory holding periods. And few individuals other than shelter staff and volunteers were involved in rehoming impounded animals. The concept of shelterless rescue, common today, barely existed before the advent of online communications and, in particular, online adoption advertising.

    Holding time

    Shelter holding periods, typically ranging from just 24 hours up to two weeks, serve the dual purposes of allowing people who had lost a pet time in which to find and reclaim their animals, and––while far short of a complete quarantine––of providing shelter staff some observation time in which to see whether impounded animals were healthy and temperamentally suitable for adoption.

    The most common holding period, required for animals sold to laboratories by the federal Laboratory Animal Welfare Act of 1966, was five days.

    The National Institutes of Health no longer fund experiments using shelter dogs and cats. As far back as 1971, when the Laboratory Animal Welfare Act was expanded into the Animal Welfare Act of today, only a dwindling minority of shelters transferred animals to laboratory suppliers on a regular basis.

    But the five-day hold had already become standard throughout the shelter industry. Only after five days, at most animal control shelters, could an animal either be killed, be adopted, or be released to another shelter or adoption agency.

    Capacity vs. intake

    Most shelters built during the latter half of the 20th century were designed around the idea that their holding capacity should be approximately equal to intake in an average week, with enough cage space open at all times to immediately accommodate emergency impoundments.

    Shorter holds prevailed where shelters became overcrowded in less than five days. As the volume of dogs and cats arriving at shelters dropped to about a seventh of the volume of circa 1971, longer holds became more common.

    Holding periods ranging from 24 hours up to two weeks never fully met the need to quarantine animals to prevent disease transmission. Neither did the shelter architecture prevailing until recent years allow for much use of isolation-and-quarantine procedures. Most shelters built during the 20th century originally had no isolation-and-quarantine facilities at all for preventing incoming animals from transmitting airborne disease, or disease transmitted in fecally contaminated runoff from hosing out cages.

    The only quarantining that most older animal shelters were designed to do was keeping dogs and cats who had bitten someone for two weeks of observation for rabies symptoms, absent proof of vaccination.

    Since all that was necessary in such cases was to prevent the suspect animals from biting anyone else, ordinary shelter caging was sufficient. At the end of the two-week quarantine interval, animals who remained healthy might either have been killed or been returned to their homes. Rarely, however, were they offered for adoption.

    Changing realities

    These longtime realities of animal control sheltering have changed with the advent of no-kill sheltering as a widespread community goal, and with rising numbers of increasingly competitive rescue agencies lobbying to gain immediate access to impounded animals, in order to place “holds” on any they wish to try to rehome.

    Along the way, concern about rabies has receded––prematurely, as the recent Pennsylvania and Virginia cases demonstrate.

    Canine rabies had been eliminated from the U.S. by the end of the 20th century, but dogs are still infected from time to time by bites from wildlife, including foxes, skunks, raccoons, and bats. Like dogs, these species have “native” rabies strains, which they can carry and transmit for weeks or months in the “dumb” phase, before evident symptoms emerge.

    Cats & bats

    As with dogs in the U.S. the risk of rabies transmission from an impounded cat is relatively slight, but for different reasons, and the potential consequences of overlooking a rabies case are unchanged: undetected and untreated rabies infection in invariably fatal. Only promptly post-exposure vaccination can prevent a rabid bite from becoming fatal.

    Rabies does not have a long latency interval in cats; there is not a rabies strain native to cats. While any mammal can become infected and die of rabies, those without a native rabies strain––like cats––almost always die within days of exposure, and can only transmit rabies when in the terminal “furious” phase.

    This raises the question of what really happened to Chance, the rabid cat found at the Washington Area Humane Society––a question which may be answered when the specific rabies strain that afflicted Chance is identified.

    Either Chance had a highly atypical infection from the head wound he had when he arrived at the shelter in May 2014, or was infected while at the shelter. If infection at the shelter occurred, a bite from another rabid cat might have been the vector for transmission, but contact with a rabid bat would be more likely.

    Usually in cases of cats becoming rabid despite having been kept indoors, the source is found to have been a bat who somehow entered the cat’s living space from the attic or eaves of the building, or from a hollow tree just outside an open door or window.

    All bats native to the U.S. are air-feeding insectivores, who rarely if ever descend to the ground or even cat-grabbing level if healthy. A rabid bat will descend to the ground or floor, however, and a cat will play with the bat.

    Bat bites look like pin pricks, almost undetectable on human skin, and even harder to find on a furred animal. The remains of the rabid bat in such cases also may not be found. An injured or rabid bat may crawl into any dark crevice to die, and not be discovered for years. Sometimes cats eat the recognizable remains of bats entirely, as they do the remains of mice.

    Where there was one rabid bat, there will almost certainly be more.

    Other disease issues

    Meanwhile, rabies is only one of the disease transmission issues that animal shelters and rescuers need to be aware of in an era when a “90% live release rate” is an increasingly common shelter management goal. Fewer animals today are euthanized to prevent disease transmission, yet disease remains among the most frequent reasons why dogs and cats come to shelters. Most shelters still lack adequate isolation-and-quarantine facilities.

    Longer holding times mean more crowding, and most shelters remain disease incubators, with little or nothing to prevent healthy animals from coming into contact with airborne and waterborne pathogens shed by infected animals.

    Earlier in 2014, the Pennsylvania Department of Health first quarantined and then temporarily revoked the license of the Fayette County SPCA, issuing more than two dozen citations against the organization and staff for failure to promptly vaccinate incoming animals and failure to maintain sanitary conditions during outbreaks of multiple canine disease in late July and early August.

    The State of Maine Animal Welfare Program almost simultaneously imposed a quarantine on the Coastal Humane Society, of Brunswick, Maine, “after five puppies rescued from a shelter in Alabama tested positive for ringworm,” reported Brunswick Press Herald staff writer Dennis Hoey.

    Other shelter disease outbreaks of note were reported from California, Indiana, Texas, and elsewhere in Pennsylvania.

    Short memories

    Already memories seem to have faded of the tragedies of spring 2010, when the staffs of five shelters cumulatively euthanized more than 400 exposed animals due to severe disease outbreaks.

    Most controversially, the Ontario SPCA announced in May 2010 that it would kill about 350 animals due to ringworm, after containment and treatment efforts begun in February had repeatedly failed. Six workers were also infected. Tests showed that every room at the Ontario SPCA branch shelter in Newmarket, Ontario had become contaminated. About 100 animals were actually killed before the Ontario SPCA outbreak was brought under control.

    Just a month earlier, parvovirus caused the Royal SPCA shelter at Townsville in north Queensland, Australia to euthanize more than 200 dogs, including 50 puppies.

    In between, the Humane Society of Carroll County in Maryland, was obliged to euthanize several cats due to an outbreak of feline calicivirus. In Michigan, the Shiawassee Humane Society fought feline infectious peritonitis–an incurable, invariably fatal form of coronavirus––by euthanizing about 35 cats and kittens. The Circle of Friends Humane Society in Grand Forks, North Dakota, had to euthanize 20 dogs after one impounded dog was found to be rabid. The others were believed to have had salival contact with the infected dog, a suspected mode of rabies transmission among dogs, raccoons, and foxes.

    Lied Animal Shelter case was worst

    The worst recent shelter disease episode, however, came at the Lied Animal Shelter in Las Vegas in February 2007, where outside personnel were brought in to assist in euthanizing more than 1,000 of the 1,800 animals in custody. About 150 of the animals were ill, and 850 were believed to have been exposed to both parvovirus and distemper among the holding kennels for incoming dogs, and panleukopenia among the incoming cats, along with a bacterial infection never previously found in shelters that caused a fatal hemorrhagic pneumonia.

    Originally handling only Las Vegas animals, the Lied Animal Shelter opened in February 2001. The Lied management almost immediately came under intensive criticism for purportedly killing incoming animals too quickly, after an incident in which a child’s dog was euthanized by accident.
    The shelter was expanded two years later to also hold animals impounded from Clark County, surrounding Las Vegas.

    A decade later the shelter tried to go no-kill––prematurely.

    “Our policies were written to save every animal we possibly could,” recounted Animal Foundation of Nevada president Janie Greenspun Gale.

    The Lied Animal Shelter either adopted or returned to homes 18,358 dogs and cats in 2006, killing 23,557––a record then slightly better than the U.S. national average shelter killing rate per 1,000 human residents of the service area.

    But the Lied Animal Shelter also lost 3,652 animals to illness and other causes of death besides lethal injection.

    By way of comparison, all shelters combined in the state of Virginia that year lost just 2,152 dogs and cats to “illness and other,” out of 183,828 dogs and cats handled.

    Virginia shelters in 2013 killed just 58,802 dogs and cats, down by nearly half from the 114,843 killed in 2006––but 3,514 dogs and cats, nearly half again more, died in Virginia shelters from “illness and other,” a reminder of the risks inherent in trying to save every animal without having adequate facilities and protocols in place to prevent disease transmission.

    Full Story here:

  • 02 Jan 2015 11:20 AM | Deleted user
    Changes to the pet travel scheme have been introduced today.

    Read our guidance: pet travel: changes to the EU scheme

    The pet travel scheme allows people to take their dog, cat or ferret in and out of the UK without quarantine, as long as they meet the rules of the scheme.

    The changes are in line with new European regulations and are designed to improve the security of the scheme and traceability of the pet passport, whilst also clamping down on abuse of the system.

    The changes include:
    • a new minimum age of 12 weeks before a pet can be vaccinated against rabies
    • new pet passports will include laminated strips and a requirement for more contact details to be provided by the vet issuing the document and certifying the veterinary treatments
    • a new requirement for all member states in the EU to carry out checks on their borders (the UK already checks all pets coming into the country through approved routes)
    • a tighter definition of non-commercial movement which will mean owners who cannot travel with a pet when they enter the EU, must do so within 5 days; owners can still authorise another person to travel with their pet, but again the pet and authorised person must travel within 5 days of each other
    • All pets are still required to have a microchip which confirms the animal’s identity.
    Existing passports will remain valid for the lifetime of the pet or until all treatment spaces have been filled on the document.

    All pet passports issued by vets from 29 December 2014 will be in the new format.

    More information on travelling with your pet

    Full Post here:

  • 02 Jan 2015 11:18 AM | Deleted user
    Researchers find well-conditioned cattle bear up well during transport

    A prominent animal welfare group calls it “transport torture,” but a new study has found conditions inside livestock trailers don’t normally have a significant impact on animal health.

    The Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada study looked at trailer microclimates during cattle transport.

    “We thought they might have an impact on the health and morbidity rates once they got put in place at the feedlot,” said Karen Schwartzkopf-Genswein, a senior researcher at the Lethbridge Research Station.

    “(But) no matter what the microclimate was inside the trailer undefined whether it was hotter than outside or colder than outside undefined those factors did not seem to affect the morbidity of the calves.”

    That runs counter to charges levelled by Mercy for Animals, which has garnered 100,000 signatures since October on an online petition calling on Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz to overhaul “Canada’s woefully lacking transport regulations.”

    The group launched the petition in the wake of an undercover video that showed sick and injured hogs arriving at Red Deer’s Western Hog Exchange, where they were then dragged, kicked, and hit with a plastic bat.

    “Transport trucks are not adequately enclosed or climate controlled,” states Mercy for Animals website. “During the summer, temperatures inside trucks can reach well over 40 C, particularly when at a standstill. This can lead to heat stress and heart attacks; combined with high ammonia levels, it can cause death by suffocation. During the winter, exposure to snow, frigid winds, freezing temperatures, and extreme wind chill can cause animals to become frozen to the floor or sides of the trailer and possibly freeze to death.”

    Schwartzkopf-Genswein’s study looked at the shipping of calves. While it found transport times, loading density, and outside temperature can affect the conditions inside a transport trailer “quite drastically,” the researchers didn’t find any major effect on the calves themselves.

    The first part of the study looked at 24 loads of calves, with loads divided into two groups based on the amount of space given to the calves. In six of the loads, the researchers also put sensors in the trailers to measure temperature and humidity and took blood samples from the calves to measure stress hormone levels and dehydration.

    Loading density did impact levels of dehydration in the calves, but the researchers did not find increased morbidity (incidence of sickness).

    The results were similar in a study of feeder cattle, said Schwartzkopf-Genswein.

    “We didn’t see much effect on the cattle in their condition at the time of off-loading.”

    Feeder cattle are generally overloaded between five to 10 per cent above the recommendations, she said, but even in those circumstances, the research didn’t show “any really negative effects.”

    The study, however, comes with a caveat.

    Because the sample size was so small, the results need to be “viewed with caution,” said Schwartzkopf-Genswein, adding further studies with more cattle are needed to confirm the findings.

    As well, the loads of cattle that were studied weren’t in transport for as long as the rules allowed, which is 52 hours for cows and other ruminants. (For hogs and other monogastric animals, the limit is 36 hours.) The calves that were studied were transported for 12 hours or less, while the cattle were in trailers for no more than 22.5 hours.

    “We did not set specific times within the study as we were tracking commercial loads of cattle and followed them regardless of their transport time,” said Schwartzkopf-Genswein.

    Mercy for Animals wants the maximum to be eight hours before animals are given food, water, and rest, saying anything short of that amounts to cruelty.

    “Increased time on the truck can result in greater shrink, (and more) downer and lame cattle regardless of animal type,” said Schwartzkopf-Genswein. “Of course, more vulnerable animals like cull cows and calves are more affected than fats, and particularly when the temperatures were below -15 C and above 30 C.”

    Still, her study doesn’t support the contention that any more than eight hours in transport is cruel.

    “The industry is pretty good at figuring out what works for the cattle,” said Schwartzkopf-Genswein. “From what I’ve seen, at least with the calves and the feeders, it seems that we don’t have any major problems.”

    But it may be a different situation for cull cows, she added.

    “Animals that are in good condition undefined that are fit for travel, that are ready for the trip undefined can manage it. Fat cattle have few problems managing the conditions of our transport,” she said.

    “Once you get to smaller calves and cull cows, I do think some of the conditions in which they’re transported are more taxing for them.”

    Producers need to focus on “taking care when putting the right kinds of animals on the trailer,” she said.

    “If you know they’re compromised in any way, take the proper precautions undefined keep them off the trailer, keep them segregated, give them more bedding, give them more space.”

    And while Schwartzkopf-Genswein is “waiting with bated breath” for new transport regulations that have been almost 15 years in the making, she said she hopes new regulations reflect scientific knowledge rather than pressure from special interest groups.

    “If there are welfare issues, absolutely,” she said. “I think we’re all on the same page in that we want good welfare for our cattle, but likewise, we also don’t want to impede commerce where there really are no problems.”

    Full Story Here:

  • 02 Jan 2015 11:15 AM | Deleted user

    Farmscape for December 31, 2014

    The barn manager with Starlight Colony is advising swine producers and transporters to take extra care in ensuring transportation equipment is working properly during extremely cold weather.

    With the colder weather now upon us concerns among pork producers over animal welfare during transport are heightened.

    James Hofer, the barn manager with Starlite Colony at Starbuck, Manitoba notes hogs face an increased risk of frostbite during transport when temperatures dip below minus 20.

    Clip-James Hofer-Starlite Colony:
    Hog are very susceptible to cold weather because having been in a controlled environment all their life they don't get to grow an extra coat of hair like the wild animals do in the wild to protect against cold so animals in transport have to be kept warm.

    The producer or the transporter has to make sure that he understands the loading densities and how many vents to keep open.

    When the temperature dips down to minus 20 degrees or lower then producers need to add straw.

    Straw is more fluffy and creates a better cushion along the corners and the outside perimeters of the truck.

    The responsibility is very clearly on the transporter.

    During loading and unloading they need to make sure that equipment, everything is serviced and works properly.

    The gating, sometimes after washes gates can get frozen and don't work properly so it's very good when producers can dry their equipment and make sure that everything works properly.

    Hofer says producers and transporters are very aware of potential hazards when transporting hogs during cold weather but it doesn't hurt to remind everyone to be a little more aware of the conditions.

    Full Story Here:

  • 19 Dec 2014 4:35 PM | Deleted user
    The United States Animal Health Association (USAHA) and National Institute for Animal Agriculture (NIAA) are pleased to announce the proceeding Request for Proposals (RFP) for the development and maintenance of a Livestock Movement Requirement web portal to be made available as a public resource for determining specific requirements applicable for moving various animals from one state to another.

    This RFP is a result of USAHA 2013 Resolution 26 requesting the initiation of such project, and also supported by NIAA. View the original resolution on the USAHA website.

    This request is open and available to all capable parties. Further, this request does not constitute an invitation for solicitation of other services outside the scope of the project as outlined in the request.

    This proposal announcement is open as of December 11, 2014. The proposal deadline is Monday, January 5, 2014, 5:00 p.m. Central Standard Time.

    Inquires about this project should be directed to Ben Richey with USAHA ( / (816-671-1144) and/or Katie Ambrose with NIAA ( / (719-538-8843)

    The full request is available online from USAHA.

    Full story here:

  • 19 Dec 2014 4:33 PM | Deleted user
    Heading into the winter months, livestock transportation can quickly become a nightmare. For your pigs, dropping temps can mean decreased immune systems and increased susceptibility to viruses. During the winter, transportation is one of many touch points where proper management practices can make a big difference when it comes time to market. In order to reduce transport losses this winter, pigs transported to and from your farm should be moved in appropriately designed, cleaned, ventilated, and bedded trailers. Here are a few tips to help your pigs weather winter trips.

    Bedding: It is important to keep pigs as dry and warm as possible during transport. The trailer needs to be dry prior to adding bedding and loading pigs. Pigs transported in cold temperatures need to be heavily bedded with clean, fresh woodchips. The bedding serves several purposes: keeps the pigs from coming in direct contact with the metal, aids in moisture control to keep pigs dry, and aids in providing the proper footing to keep the pigs from slipping.

    Temperature/Ventilation: Frostbite is the biggest concern for pigs transported in cold weather. In order to limit crosswinds and chilling during transport, trailers need to be outfitted with side boards or plugs to cover a high proportion of side-slats. In order to maintain proper ventilation, truckers should avoid or limit stopping while transporting pigs as much as possible. If stopping is necessary, adjustments to ventilation may need to be made just before moving or when the vehicle stops to control condensation.

    Reduced stocking density: Fewer pigs need to be loaded on each load during cold weather to avoid pigs from being pressed against the side of the trailer. As always, trailers should not be overstocked beyond the weight capacity of the vehicle.

    Weather emergencies: First things first. Communication is key during cold weather months to prevent weather emergencies and transport losses. In extreme weather and/or unsafe driving conditions, the trucker and farm staff need to work together to reschedule delivery loads if possible. You can’t expect the trucker to safely deliver your livestock on unsafe roads. Roadways should be plowed to allow proper access to the farm. If truckers are delayed when scheduled to transport weaned pigs, farm staff and truckers need to communicate delays to be sure pigs are not prematurely weaned and moved out of farrowing prior to transport.

    Cleaning/Disinfection of Trailers: If possible, segregate your trailers that haul animals to market channels from those that would be used to transport animals to or from breeding pigs. This helps eliminate any cross-contamination. Viruses can live in your trailers indefinitely when frozen. If you don’t properly clean your trailers between loads, you are reintroducing disease with every load. Scrape your trailers clean between loads and thoroughly wash them to the point that there is no visible manure or dirty wood shavings. Animal moving equipment such as sort boards and rattle paddles should also be washed free of manure and disinfected. Once the transport vehicle and trailer is washed, it is important to apply disinfectants using foaming disinfectant wands. Adding substances like propylene glycol to your disinfectant will help prevent the disinfectant from freezing quickly and will aid in allowing the disinfectant proper contact time to kill PRRSv and PEDv. Allowing proper dry time is an added benefit if facilities allow.

    Clean/Dirty Line: Back to communication. Truckers and farm staff both need to be aware of the clean/dirty line’s locationundefinedcommonly it is at the back of the trailer, but not always. Farm staff should never step onto the trailer and truckers should never leave their trailer to enter the chute or loadout. Truckers and farm staff need to work together to “guard” the line of separationundefinedthe ultimate goal being no pigs to go onto the trailer and then turn around and come back into the farm or vice versa.

    Loadouts: Viruses like PRRSv and PEDv thrive in cold, wet environments. However, you can protect your farm by keeping loadout areas clean, dry, and warm. Barn lime can be added to loadouts and chutes to keep loadouts dry, add traction, and help prevent disease introductions. As an extra layer of security, some people use dry disinfectants like Traffic Cop (proven to kill PEDv within 10 minutes of contact) mixed with barn lime in the chute and loadout areas.

    Transport biosecurity is important to minimize the risk of viruses hitching a ride into your farm. Properly cleaned and disinfected vehicles, trailers, and loadouts combined with strict adherence to the clean/dirty line will help arm you against health risks during or after transport. All pigs transported to and from your farm need to be moved in appropriately designed, cleaned, ventilated, and bedded trailers. Proper biosecurity and preparation for cold-weather transport are keys to maintaining productivity and well-being of your pigs during and after transport this winter.

    Transportation is often an overlooked touch point for livestock management practices, yet can play a significant role in the animal’s health. Never hesitate to contact your veterinarian for any health questions regarding transportation. More detailed information regarding transport biosecurity, trailer set-up, and cold weather transport preparedness can be found in the Trucker Quality Assurance (TQA) guidelines as written by the National Pork Board.

    Full story here:

  • 19 Dec 2014 4:31 PM | Deleted user
    In the Dutch town of Vught, Federal Minister of Agriculture Christian Schmidt, his Dutch counterpart Sharon Dijksma and the Danish Minister of Agriculture Dan Jørgensen signed a declaration to this effect today. "The goal that unites us is to take animal welfare forward in the EU. We will pool our resources and work even closer together in the future to improve animal welfare", Mr. Schmidt said at the signing ceremony of the Declaration. Minister Schmidt campaigned for the widest possible support and invited more Member States to join the Declaratio

    Mr. Schmidt had already stated that animal welfare must not stop at national borders at the launch of the animal welfare initiative Minding animals - new ways to improve animal welfare: "There is an intensive exchange of livestock and animal products within the European Union. Many issues, such as the illegal trade in dog puppies, can be better solved at EU level than by purely national measures. My goal is to make high animal welfare standards the European trade mark. Animal welfare should also be an integral part of trade agreements and be taken into account by the WTO as a trade concern", said Schmidt.

    With Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands, three of the leading European countries in animal production have joined together. In the Declaration the countries agree to henceforth work closer together at different levels to jointly improve animal welfare, namely with regard to animal welfare research, the improvement of husbandry systems and the exchange of best practice examples. The new alliance holds the view that the current animal welfare legislation of the European Union applicable to the husbandry, transport and slaughter of animals must be enforced in a stricter and more harmonised manner. The Declaration states: "The European Union must continue to put animal welfare at the forefront and it should actively develop greater awareness of the welfare of animals also at international level."

    In this Declaration, the countries welcome the measures the European Commission announced in its European Union Strategy for the Protection and Welfare of Animals 2012-2015. At the same time they call upon the Commission to go ahead with the promised examination into whether the EU statutory framework for animal welfare can be simplified, while ensuring that the simplification of the existing EU legislative framework does not result in a deterioration in the EU's animal welfare record. They also demand to review existing standards with respect to new scientific evidence and adjust them accordingly. Mr Schmidt also explained: "This applies, for example, to ending non-curative interventions on animals or to limiting the transport of slaughter animals. We think that travelling times for slaughter animals should in principle be limited to eight hours."

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  • 19 Dec 2014 4:29 PM | Deleted user
    In the last week, new outbreaks of avian flu have been reported in Germany, Italy, Canada, the US and Japan.

    In the last week, bird flu has returned to Germany. A turkey farm in Lower Saxony was affected, with the loss of almost 18,000 birds. The H5N8 virus has been confirmed, the same as previous outbreaks in another state, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

    The disease has also hit Italy for the first time. Again, the H5N8 subtype of the virus was responsible and turkeys were affected, this time almost 32,000 in the Veneto region of north-eastern Italy.

    The H5N8 virus has also been detected in wild birds in Japan, and 4,000 birds have been destroyed following an outbreak in the main poultry-producing area of the country, Miyazaki.

    In Canada, a further two outbreaks of the H5N2 variant have been confirmed, all in the same area of the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, affecting 53,000 laying birds.

    And in the US, highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) of the H5N2 and H5N8 variants has been detected and confirmed in Washington state.

    Full Story here:

  • 12 Dec 2014 4:24 PM | Deleted user
    With the holiday travel season in full swing, it's a good time to consider expert advice on how best to manage your itinerary. After all, Thanksgiving through New Year's spans some of the busiest days of the year for commercial flying in the United States.

    But for those whose family includes furry members, it's also a good time to consider whether four-legged loved ones should fly at all. It's an issue that has been back in the news in recent weeks, after passenger Frank Romano's dog was lost by Delta Air Lines in Los Angeles on Halloween, allegedly after chewing through a plastic kennel.

    Can some animals travel safely, either in the cabin or the belly of an aircraft? Yes. But it's a more complex issue than many pet owners realize, so a little research can be critical.

    Since I last addressed this issue here in 2009 with "What you need to know about flying with pets," there has been an increase in guidance from animal care experts. There also has been additional evidence of the dangers, with more robust government statistics on animals that have been lost, injured or killed while in the care of U.S. airlines.

    Some pets should not be flying at all -- ever. The American Humane Association advises: "As a general rule, puppies and kittens, sick animals, animals in heat and frail or pregnant animals should not travel by air." Furthermore, the Humane Society of the United States warns "air travel is particularly dangerous for animals with 'pushed-in' faces," such as bulldogs, pugs and Persian cats; some airlines will not accept them.

    In addition, during this holiday season, some regions of the United States will be too cold for pet travel, while other regions will be too hot, making the booking process quite difficult. Minimum and maximum temperature guidelines apply, and they also apply to connecting cities along the way. Last year I assisted some family members who relocated to Central America by shipping their dog to them; although it was a crisp fall day in Newark and not particularly hot at the destination, the airline refused to board the dog because the temperature was soaring in Miami, the connecting hub.

    In fact, there are so many dangers, concerns and nuances involved in flying with pets, three entire columns could be devoted to offering specific advice. So for detailed guidance, consider the experts who created these pages:

    • The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals' Air Travel Tips
    • The Humane Society's Travel Safely
    • The American Humane Association's Traveling
    • The American Veterinary Medical Association's Traveling with Your Pet

    All four of these organizations also provide advice for those who travel by alternate modes, such as car, bus, train and ship.

    It's important to note pet travel policies usually don't apply to service animals, and exceptions may apply for U.S. military and State Department personnel.

    Learning the rules

    First things first: Before you query individual airline policies, you need to review governmental restrictions. The U.S. Department of Transportation provides guidelines on Transporting Live Animals for both owners and shippers at its site. In addition, the Federal Aviation Administration features a Flying with Pets page; it includes critical information on security screening and rules for pets in the passenger cabin.

    For those traveling with pets in foreign countries -- or importing or exporting pets -- there are specific requirements, detailed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For a rundown on foreign rules, country-by-country regulations are provided by the industry's global trade organization, the International Air Transport Association.

    Once you've addressed all these issues, you'll need to learn the specific policies of the carrier you'll be booking, since they do vary. (So do the perks, such as frequent-flier mileage for four-legged friends.) Each airline has its own rules on which animals it will and will not carry, specific regulations for cabin and belly travel and policies on containers. Of course, in this golden age of airline "ancillary revenue," fees can vary for such services.

    Here are links to more information from the largest domestic carriers:

    US Airways*
    Virgin America

    * In this age of airline consolidation, it's worth noting American specifically states its merger partner US Airways has "different policies on pet travel."

    Grading the airlines

    So how do these domestic airlines perform when it comes to handling your furry fellow travelers? Thankfully, for nearly ten years now U.S. carriers are required to report all incidents to the DOT, and those reports are viewable to the public, though some animal lovers may find them tough reading.

    Although the DOT has been posting such records since May 2005, in the early years it did not summarize the annual findings as it does with all other airline performance categories, such as flight delays and consumer complaints. Currently the annual totals are summarized, and here is how the airlines stacked up in 2013:

    Alaska 0 11 8 19
    American 1 0 1 2
    Delta 0 3 2 5
    Hawaiian 1 0 1 2
    Horizon* 0 1 0 1
    United 4 0 9 13
    TOTAL 6 15 21 42
    * Operates on behalf of Alaska, American and Delta

    U.S. airlines not listed did not report any anomalies last year. However, what remains unclear is the total number of animals carried by each of the airlines, so consumers can't analyze these statistics on a proportional basis. But since the totals for Alaska and United are so significantly higher than for all other domestic airlines, it can be instructional to view the detailed incident reports linked above.

    A few last words ...

    The sites listed above can address most of your questions about flying with pets. But consider this:

    • The first step always is checking with your veterinarian to see if your pet is healthy enough to fly.

    • For those seeking to transport a pet without accompanying it, the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association offers pet owners advice on finding pet shippers, as well as warnings about pet scams.

    • By the way, some well-meaning sites suggest you book a "direct flight," not realizing that in airline-speak direct flights make stops en route; ideally, you'll want to book a "nonstop flight," though this may not be possible in many cases. It's also important to know if all legs of an itinerary will be operated by the same carrier or a codeshare partner, particularly since so many domestic routes today are serviced by regional partners.

    Full story here:

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