Prevent and Prepare For Barn Fires

Although you cannot completely eliminate the risk that there could be a fire in your barn, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk and be more prepared. ( PORK )

Have you ever considered what you would do if you had a barn fire? How would you protect your animals and all the other assets you have in your barn? What could you have done to prevent it? The thought of a fire is very scary. Although you cannot completely eliminate the risk that there could be a fire in your barn, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk and be more prepared.

Tips for reducing the risk of a barn fire

Contact your local fire department to have them do a “checkup” of your barn and offer more recommendations for your individual situation. The University of Kentucky’s “Preventing Barn Fire: Tips for Horse Owners” recommends the following steps in reducing your chances of having a barn fire.

  • No smoking! Bedding and hay can easily be ignited by a person smoking in or around the barn. Enforce a strict no smoking policy in your barn. Post signs inside and outside your barn.
  • Place a fire extinguisher next to each exit, utility box and at roughly 30-40-foot intervals in your barn. Inspect and recharge each extinguisher every year, and use a ABC (general purpose) extinguisher.
  • Clean off cobwebs and pick up loose bailer twine. By making sure your barn is clutter-free, you are helping eliminate ways for fire to spread.
  • Electrical devices need to be professionally installed and encased in conduit. Pay attention during winter months to water tank heaters and heated buckets—they continue to generate heat even if there is no water present, which can cause the plastic to melt and a fire to ignite bedding and hay. If you are using electrical cords, make sure that they are professional grade, inspected often and are not overloaded. Keep lights caged and only use lights that are designed for barn use.
  • If possible, keep hay and bedding stored away from a barn housing animals. If you only have one barn, like many of us, make sure hay has properly cured before storing it in the barn. Check the internal temperature of curing hay by poking a thermometer into the middle of the bale. If the temperature reaches 150 degrees, the hay should be monitored. If it reaches 175 degrees, contact the fire department.
  • Keep tractors, fuel, other petroleum products and machinery away from the barn. Clear any grass, hay, leaves or other combustible materials from equipment before storage.

Tips for being prepared in case there is a barn fire

Mentally prepare yourself so that you can act calmly and safely in the case of a fire. Remember that human safety is the top priority—ensure your own safety and the safety of others before taking care of animals. The University of Kentucky’s “Preventing Barn Fire: Tips for Horse Owners” recommends the following steps for preparing yourself and being ready if a fire does occur in your barn.

  • Identify and designate a safe place for your animals to go if you can get them out of the barn safely. This location should be away from the fire and allows fire crews enough room to do their jobs.
  • Handling equipment such as halters, leads, etc. should be quickly accessible. Consider the materials these items are made of. Remember that plastic and nylon will melt in heat.
  • Talk about the plan with members of your family and any employees you might have so they can also be prepared in an emergency.
  • Mark gates, pens or stalls with reflective tape or glow-in-the dark paint. This will make it easier to see where you are going in the dark.
  • If you are removing animals, start closest to the exit first and handle animals one at a time or by groups if they are herd animals. Always maintain control of the animals to help reduce their stress, which can prevent other injury risks.

If there is a fire, call 911 and get people out of the barn. Only get animals out if you can do so without risking human safety. Follow the directions from the fire department or 911 dispatcher.

No one ever wants to think about the risk of a fire, but it is best to be fully prepared so that you can react fast and appropriately.

Tips to Keeping Livestock Healthy During Winter Months

Most animals need some shelter during the winter months, however their natural winter coats allow them to endure cold temperatures. ( Drovers )

Winter has arrived in full force in Michigan. Cold temperatures can cause some challenges in our barns, but utilizing some easy techniques on your farm will help you manage your herd successfully during the winter months.

Water

Ensuring your herd has access to fresh, clean water is essential to their health. In the winter, battling frozen water buckets and tanks can be a challenge. By utilizing tank heaters, heated buckets or automatic waterers, water is kept ice-free and at a temperature the animal is comfortable drinking.

Products that utilize electricity, such as tank heaters and heated buckets, should be checked with a voltmeter to ensure there is no current running through the water. Any electrical current will deter animals from drinking from the water tank or bucket. By inserting one end of the voltmeter in the water tank and the other into the ground, you will get a reading that will indicate if there is a problem. Make sure to check this often.

The University of Wisconsin Extension has published a water consumption chart that outlines the amounts of water certain species will consume per day. Ensuring that your animal is consuming enough water each day is critical to their overall health and well-being.

Amount of water livestock will consumer per day
Species Water needs, gallons per day
Cattle 7-12
Goats 1-4
Hogs 6-8
Horses 8-12
Llamas 2-5
Poultry Up to 1
Rabbits Up to 1
Sheep 1-4

Housing

Most animals need some shelter during the winter months, however their natural winter coats allow them to endure cold temperatures. Providing shelter or wind breaks that can be easily accessed by animals is key. Humans oftentimes are prone to making the winter environment for their animals too warm, which is unhealthy for animals.

Michigan State University Extension recommends the following factors to consider when evaluating the housing of your animals:

  • Air quality. Is there adequate ventilation to help dispel respiration gasses and manure odor? Depending on the type of barn you have, there are various ways the barn can be ventilated. Ridge vents are more prevalent in newer barns and are based on the premise that heat rises. Older barns may require opening doors or windows to allow for air circulation. Poorly ventilated spaces can cause irritation in the animals’ lungs and lead to respiratory infections such as pneumonia. If you notice condensation on walls or ceilings, that is a good indication your air isn’t ventilating enough for the number of animals occupying the space. You will need to adjust accordingly.
  • Dry bedding areas. Dry bedding provides insulation from the cold ground and helps decrease the amount of energy animals use to keep them warm. There are many options for bedding you can use; straw, wood shavings and with cattle in particular you can use corn stover or similar crop residues for cows and bulls.

Feed

Animals must maintain their energy reserves in order to endure cold temperatures. Before the weather gets cold, asses the body condition of each animal and adjust the nutrition they are receiving to adequately prepare them to thrive in winter conditions. It is critical to continue to assess body condition scores throughout the winter, as it may be necessary to increase the amounts of good quality feed and forages. Supplying adequate amounts of feed is essential in your herds well-being through the winter months.

This article was published by Michigan State University Extension. For more information, visit http://www.msue.msu.edu.

What You Can’t Do With a VFD

For some time now, livestock producers and veterinarians have been gaining an understanding of the new Veterinary Feed Directive (VFD) rules. These rules went into effect on January 1, 2017, and as the year progressed, livestock producers have been confronting what those rule changes mean for their own operations. Before January 1, feed-grade antibiotics such as chlortetracycline (CTC) for their animals could be purchased and used by livestock producers without any input from a veterinarian. Now, in order to use those medications, a VFD form from a veterinarian must be obtained.

Understanding the New Rules

As all parties have quickly discovered, the VFD process is more than just having a vet’s signature on a scrap of paper. Because there is no allowance for using feed-grade medications in an “off-label” manner, veterinarians completing the VFD’s have had to pay exquisite attention to every detail on the label, including the dose, duration of feeding, reasons (disease treatment vs. control) for feeding, and the diseases the medication could be used for.

For many cattle producers, the fall of 2017 has been the first time they’ve encountered this new way of doing business. Issues with pneumonia post-weaning, or following arrival of feeder cattle have always been challenges. In past years, uses of CTC in cattle feed have been subject to very little oversight, and some of those uses, although well-intended, were off-label. With the onset of the new rules, producers are having to square their previous treatment methods with what a VFD can – or can’t – allow them to do.

  • Refills
    A VFD can’t provide for refills, like a prescription one might get from a family doctor. This means a producer can’t use the same VFD form to come back and get another quantity of medicine if it’s determined to be needed later on.
  • Expiration Dates
    All VFD’s have expiration dates, and that’s a point of confusion as well. A VFD actually expires when the treatment is done (or the expiration date is reached – whatever comes first). Even though a VFD might not expire until February (authorizing a treatment any time until then), if a 5-day treatment is finished in November, the VFD is finished too.
  • Repeat Treatments
    A VFD can’t contain a statement authorizing a “retreatment as needed” or “repeat treatment in xx days.” An animal can’t show up on a VFD form more than once. If another round of treatment is necessary, a veterinarian will have to issue another VFD for the second treatment. That means that some groups of cattle might need 2 or 3 separate VFD’s written for them.
  • Animals Covered
    A VFD can’t be written for more animals than the veterinarian expects you’ll have on the farm. The veterinarian is responsible for indicating the number and location of the animals to be treated. This might get a little tricky for producers who buy several groups of feeder calves over time. Veterinarians might decide to only write the VFD for what is currently on the farm, or they could write it for the number eventually expected, if they are confident that number will be eventually procured.
  • Pneumonia 
    A VFD can’t be written to treat or control pneumonia when there isn’t any pneumonia in the cattle. In the past, it was not uncommon for treatment doses of CTC to be fed to cattle to “get ahead of” an outbreak, or to “clean up” the calves’ respiratory tract in anticipation of problems. When treatment doses are authorized by a VFD, this implies that active pneumonia is present in the group. It doesn’t mean producers have to wait until each and every calf is sick – but clearly, CTC labels don’t allow for using treatment doses in a group of completely healthy calves. This is the veterinarian’s call. If their clinical judgement tells them there’s pneumonia present in the group, they can write the VFD.

In Summary

It’s understandable that some livestock producers are feeling pinched by what a VFD can’t do. However, these new rules can do one very valuable thing: giving livestock producers an opportunity to interact with the one local professional who can best guide them through health-related decisions about their animals – their veterinarian. Since the VFD’s implementation, many of these interactions have resulted in more effective and efficient use of these tools and consideration of disease prevention methods that preclude the need for antibiotics. These conversations are definitely a positive by-product of these new regulations.

Zoetis Receives Conditional Approval from USDA for PEDv Vaccine

Zoetis Inc. (NYSE:ZTS) today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted a conditional license for a vaccine to help fight porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) in pigs. The two-dose inactivated vaccine, licensed for use in healthy pregnant female pigs (sows and gilts), is designed to help them develop antibodies which can be transmitted to their newborn piglets. Zoetis anticipates the vaccine will be available to veterinarians and pig farmers in September.

“We at Zoetis are proud to provide our customers with a vaccine to help battle this devastating disease,” said Catherine Knupp, executive vice president and president, Zoetis Research and Development. “Rapidly emerging infectious diseases such as PEDv not only threaten animal health but also the livelihoods of farmers. Bringing this vaccine to market quickly – in a little more than a year since the disease was identified in the U.S. – exemplifies our commitment to supporting veterinarians and livestock producers with high-quality vaccines to rapidly respond to and help control the evolving and complex threat of emerging infectious diseases.”

The vaccine is given as a 2 mL intramuscular (IM) injection to sows or gilts prior to farrowing (giving birth). Two doses given three weeks apart are recommended, with the second dose given two weeks pre-farrowing. Previously vaccinated sows should receive a single dose given two weeks before farrowing. On average, female pigs farrow twice each year.

In order to receive the conditional license, the vaccine was shown to be safe in a field safety study, and a reasonable expectation of efficacy was demonstrated. Zoetis is working to complete the studies necessary to obtain full licensure in the U.S.

“This vaccine is an important part of our commitment to working with veterinarians and pig farmers to help minimize the impact of PEDv on pigs in their care,” said Gloria Basse, vice president, U.S. Pork Business Unit, Zoetis. “To achieve the best possible results, farmers should work closely with their veterinarians and Zoetis technical services team to implement the new vaccine into their biosecurity programs.”

PEDv was first diagnosed in the United States in April 2013.1 Since then, it has spread to 30 states and is responsible for more than seven million deaths in piglets.2 There are approximately 5.85 million sows and gilts in the U.S.3; however, the exact number of those infected is not known. The USDA designated PEDv a reportable disease in June 20142, and it continues to be a serious threat to U.S. pig farms with an estimated 30 percent of farms reporting a recurrence of the disease within a year after an initial outbreak.4 Although PEDv is a significant health threat to young piglets, it poses no risk to food safety or to human health.

Zoetis continues work with Iowa State University on a second vaccine approach to help control PEDv. The results from these vaccine research programs could have applicability in countries outside the U.S. where PEDv has been identified and is threatening swine herds and the livelihoods of farmers who raise and care for them.

In the meantime, ongoing efforts to slow the spread of PEDv continue to focus on improving animal husbandry and hygiene measures. From the farm to transport trucks, stepped-up efforts include additional sanitation, better control of access points and review of employee protocols. All of these steps have been demonstrated to help mitigate the risk of the virus entering a farm.

For more information about the new vaccine, veterinarians and pig farmers should contact their Zoetis representative or visit www.zoetispork.com/pedv. For more information about PEDv, visit www.aasv.org and www.pork.org.

Source: Zoetis Press Release September 3, 2014 http://news.zoetis.com/press-release/manufacturing/zoetis-granted-conditional-license-porcine-epidemic-diarrhea-vaccine

Protecting Your Animals This Summer

As it gets further into the summer months, livestock begin to show express a common discomfort as humans do: sunburn. Exposure to UV radiation can cause skin damage to dairy cows, light-colored beef cattle, sheep, pigs, and horses. Affected skin becomes red, painful and raised, which can lead to the skin becoming extremely dry and will eventually slough off leaving those areas exposed to secondary infections.

A cow losing patches of its coat due to sunburn
A cow losing patches of its coat due to sunburn

Sunburn not only makes the animal uncomfortable, it affects their overall productivity and performance. The body takes the nutrients that is needed for growth and uses them to repair the skin that is damaged. In dairy cows, this can lead to a decrease in milk production and in sheep, a decrease in wool quality. Sheep can be burned sheared or unsheared since the radiation is strong enough to penetrate through the wool. Pigs are one of the lucky animals that can protect itself form the suns rays. By wallowing in mud, the pig is forming a protective coating that shields the skin from the sun. Light coated animals are not as lucky. Cows and horses with predominantly white coats suffer more sunburn than those with dark coats. However, dark coats absorb more sun, which leads to more symptoms of heat stress.

UV radiation isn’t the only determinant of sunburn in animals. Animals that feed in wheat pastures with certain weeds are likely to develop photosensitivity. This is caused by a reaction within an animal’s body when the chlorophyll in some wheat plants release a toxin that increases sensitivity to the sun. Weeds such as barley, alsike clover, St. John’s Wort, nettles and others are some of the culprits in photosensitivity and can also be the causes of liver damage and neurological disorders that develop in the animal.

Preventing sunburn doesn’t just mean keeping them out of the sun, although providing a shady place for the animals can definitely help. If the sun is a concern, baby formula sunscreen can protect the areas that are more vulnerable to sunburn. Another way of decreasing sunburn is restricting the access of wheat pasture the animal is consuming to prevent photosensitivity. Adding grass hay in the morning when grazing intake is high helps in restraining the animal from consuming too much wheat during those times.

APHIS Issues Conditional License to Produce First PEDv Vaccine

Washington, June 16, 2014 — The United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today issued a conditional license to Harrisvaccines, Inc. of Ames, Iowa for a vaccine that may aid in the control of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) in swine. This is the first licensed vaccine for PEDv.  It will be used to vaccinate sows with the intent that they build antibody, and transmit that antibody through their milk to newborn piglets. It is intended to protect the piglets against PEDv.

APHIS licenses veterinary biologics products for use in controlling diseases of animals.  Conditional licenses are issued based on full safety, purity testing, and an expectation of efficacy.  Preliminary studies have been promising, and they’ve shown sufficient data that we think the vaccine will be effective.  The company will continue working toward completing the requirements for a full license.  In the meantime, there are no restrictions on vaccine use under the conditional license.

APHIS supports and encourages the rapid development of new vaccines, particularly in emergency situations. When a company obtains a conditional license they are able to bring an important disease management tool to producers safely and quickly. Full licensing can occur subsequently while producers get the products they need to protect animal health.

Porcine epidemic diarrhea is a disease that causes significant sickness in swine, affecting their growth and health, and causes high mortality in piglets. The disease is common in parts of Asia and Europe, but is not reportable to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). PEDv only affects pigs and does not pose any risk to people or pets. It is not a food safety concern.

Licensing this vaccine is another step APHIS is taking to continue to help industry/producers.

Recently APHIS announced the availability of $26.2 million in funding to combat these diseases and issued a Federal Order requiring the reporting of new detections of PEDv and other new swine enteric coronavirus disease to APHIS or State animal health officials. The Federal Order also requires that operations reporting these viruses work with their veterinarian or USDA or State animal health officials to develop and implement a reasonable management plan to address the detected virus and prevent its spread. Plans will be based on industry-recommended best practices, and include disease monitoring through testing and biosecurity measures. These steps will help to reduce virus shed in affected animals, prevent further spread of the disease, and enable continued movement of animals for production and processing.

Throughout the PEDv outbreak, APHIS has worked closely with the swine industry to identify risk factors in the transmission of the virus and minimize its impact on producers and industry.

APHIS is part of a task force with the Food and Drug Administration and State and industry stakeholders, including the American Association of Swine Veterinarians (AASV), National Pork Producers Council (NPPC), National Pork Board (NPB), veterinary diagnostic laboratories (VDLs), and State Animal Health Officials (SAHOs).

This task force aims to investigate the virus, identify and trace risk factors in thetransmission of the disease, and keep producers informed.

Source: APHIS Stakeholder Registry News Release June 16, 2014

Delaware Hog Owners Required to Report Deadly Swine Viruses

Delaware hog owners, veterinarians and laboratories are now required to report suspected cases of two rapidly spreading swine diseases to the Delaware Department of Agriculture. Delaware has had no cases of either disease reported to date.

Under a new federal order, suspected cases of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, or PEDv, and porcine deltacoronavirus, or PDCoV, must now be officially reported. PEDv has killed seven million piglets in the last year throughout the United States, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. PEDv was first reported in the United States last year, and has also been reported in Canada and Mexico.

Delaware has only a handful of commercial hog farms, but also about 55 smaller hobby farms with swine, such as back-yard hogs raised for shows.

“Despite Delaware’s small hog population, this virus remains a significant concern because it can be easily spread from farm to farm on contaminated clothing, shoes, equipment, trucks, or from infected swine,” said Delaware State Veterinarian Dr. Heather Hirst. “We are keeping a close eye on this situation to protect our hog owners and make sure they are aware of what to look for. The best defense for hog owners is to employ strict biosecurity measures to help prevent the viruses from getting to their farms.”

Examples of good biosecurity measures include:

  • Purchase pigs from a reliable source.
  • Keep newly purchased pigs separate from the rest of your herd for at least 30 days before mingling them with your established herd.
  • Avoid carrying manure on clothing, boots, equipment, or vehicles from one farm to the other.
  • Prevent visitors from other hog farms from entering animal areas at your farm.
  • Avoid visiting farms where hogs are kept. If you must visit other hog farms, take special care to avoid carrying any trace of manure home with you to your herd.

Clinical signs of PEDv include severe diarrhea and vomiting, with the greatest losses occurring in pre-weaned piglets. Reports of suspected PEDv cases – any pig with severe diarrhea, vomiting, or both – should be made to the hog owner’s veterinarian as well as the Delaware Department of Agriculture’s Poultry and Animal Health Section at 302-698-4500. Hog operations with positive test results will be required to develop management plans with their veterinarian in order to prevent the spread of the disease to other farms.

More information is available at de.gov/pedv.

Source: Delaware Department of Agriculture, June 13, 2014

Contact:
Dan Shortridge
Chief of Community Relations
Delaware Department of Agriculture
302-698-4520

Looking Towards the Future: Sow Packers to Require Premises ID Tags in 2015

In an effort to improve pre-harvest traceability and improve national disease surveillance in the pork industry, many major U.S. packers and processors will require a USDA-approved, official premises identification number(PIN) swine tag as a condition of sale for breeding stock beginning Jan. 1, 2015.

“This is a positive step for our industry as we continue to create a more robust surveillance and traceability system that can help protect our animals, our livelihoods and our customers,” said National Pork Board President, Karen Richter, a producer from Montgomery, Minn. “That’s why I encourage producers who may not already be using official PIN tags to register their premises and begin using the tags now.”

According to Dr. Patrick Webb, Pork Checkoff’s director of swine health, the USDA-approved, official PIN tags for breeding swine are customizable with or without a management number and can be purchased in multiple colors.  “This allows producers to use the official tag in any color as a management tag or wait to apply the tag to sows and boars before leaving the production site to enter harvest channels,” Webb said.

Once an animal is identified with an official PIN tag, it should not be removed or given a different official tag in the case of parity-segregated farms. Also, records documenting the identification and movement of breeding stock should be kept for three years.

Allflex USA, Inc., Destron Fearing and Y-Tex Corporation have USDA approval to manufacture official PIN swine tags. When ordering, producers must provide the nationally standardized PIN for the breeding farm.  If the site does not have a PIN, producers can register for one by going to  pork.org/PINtag.

To date, packers that will require PIN tags as of January 2015 include: Johnsonville, Hillshire Brands, Calihan Pork Processors, Bob Evans Farms, Wampler’s Farm Sausage, Pine Ridge Farms, Pioneer Packing Co., Pork King Packing and Abbyland Pork Pack.  Producers can learn more at pork.org/PINtag.

Source: “Pork Industry News for Swine Extension and Educators”  April 2014 Issue, National Pork Board Funded by America’s Pork Producers and the Pork Checkoff