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Pfizer Animal Health Announces ‘Commitment to Veterinarians,’ Reaffirming Pledge to Support Veterinary Profession

U.S. Initiative makes significant investment in addressing unmet needs of practicing veterinarians and students

MADISON, N.J. (October 6, 2010) — Pfizer Animal Health today launched a U.S. initiative reaffirming its steadfast support for the veterinary profession. Under the banner Commitment to Veterinarians, Pfizer pledged to comprehensively address the significant short- and long-term unmet needs facing practicing veterinarians and students in the United States.

Commitment to Veterinarians focuses on three key areas for veterinarian support: training and continuing education, research and development, and investing in the future of the profession.

As part of a three-year, $3 million scholarship program with the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, Pfizer recently announced the 2011 call for scholarship applications1 from students at U.S. colleges of veterinary medicine. The scholarships will focus on meeting ongoing needs of the veterinary profession, including strengthening diversity and increasing the number of large-animal veterinarians to serve in mixed or rural practices. To assist veterinary students, Pfizer also just launched, a new portal for students to apply for Pfizer scholarships and learn about other assistance programs.

“We see the critical importance of veterinarians in enhancing the health and wellness of companion animals and horses and in ensuring a safe, global supply from beef, pork, poultry and fish,” said Clint Lewis, President of U.S. Operations for Pfizer Animal Health. “As a leader in animal health, we want to be very clear that we’re standing side-by-side with veterinarians.”

The current U.S. business model for veterinarians is rapidly changing. Few veterinary medicine students are willing to venture into rural practices, particularly in food-animal medicine. More veterinarians than ever before are facing debt loads that may stay with them for a lifetime. The American Veterinary Medical Association recently estimated that the average veterinary student debt upon graduation totals $120,000.2 There are dwindling dollars being allocated to important research programs that address animal disease, and there also is a growing lack of diversity in the profession that needs immediate attention.

At a time when the veterinary profession is facing these significant challenges, Pfizer Animal Health is increasing its investments in the veterinary profession, including:

• Contributing more than $15 million last year alone to university and allied organizations toward scholarships and fellowship opportunities.

• Leading the industry in science-based training and continuing education, providing more than 1,700 hours a year in diverse CE opportunities that focus on disease-state information.

• Investing $300 million annually in research and development — more than any other animal health company — which have led to new therapies that address unmet medical needs.

“Now more than ever, veterinarians need our support to provide training and education, to invest in research and development and to help create the next generation of veterinarians,” said J. Michael McFarland, DVM, Diplomate ABVP and Group Director of Veterinary Medical Services & Corporate Citizenship for Pfizer Animal Health. “This is exactly why we are reaffirming our support for veterinarians now. Many of us at Pfizer are veterinarians, too. We get it, and we are here to help.”

1To apply for the Pfizer Animal Health Veterinary Student Scholarship Program, students can visit or from Oct. 1 to Nov. 15, 2010.

2Source: American Veterinary Medical Association, website access on Sept. 30, 2010:

Pfizer Inc: Working together for a healthier worldTM

At Pfizer, we apply science and our global resources to improve health and well-being at every stage of life. We strive to set the standard for quality, safety and value in the discovery, development and manufacturing of medicines for people and animals. Our diversified global health care portfolio includes human and animal biologic and small molecule medicines and vaccines, as well as nutritional products and many of the world’s best-known consumer products. Every day, Pfizer colleagues work across developed and emerging markets to advance wellness, prevention, treatments and cures that challenge the most feared diseases of our time. Consistent with our responsibility as the world’s leading biopharmaceutical company, we also collaborate with health care providers, governments and local communities to support and expand access to reliable, affordable health care around the work. For more than 150 years, Pfizer has worked to make a difference for all who rely on us. To learn more about our commitments to animal health, please visit us at


IGENITY®Announces Contractural Arachnodactyly Syndrome Analysis

Adding to the industry's most comprehensive list of DNA analyses for genetic abnormalities

DULUTH, Ga. — October 6, 2010 — IGENITY®, a division of Merial, announces the expansion of the comprehensive IGENITY profile to include an option for the presence of Contractural Arachnodactyly (CA; formerly known as Fawn Calf Syndrome). DNA samples will be processed beginning October 5.

“IGENITY is the one of the first DNA provider to make this analysis commercially available,” says Dr. Stewart Bauck, IGENITY executive director of research and development. “Producers may now know definitively whether or not their cattle are carriers of this defect, helping them make more confident mating and selection decisions.”

CA is a genetic defect inherited as a simple recessive gene that involves diminished elasticity of the connective tissue of muscles. While affected calves can survive to maturation, the developmental abnormality is clearly visible at birth.1 IGENITY is collaborating with Dr. Jon Beever of the University of Illinois to accurately analyze samples.

“Producers can easily manage CA,” says Dr. Bauck. “However, it is imperative to know if their breeding cattle are carriers or not. The only way to know if cattle carry the defect is to analyze their DNA for the specific genetic defect.”

Dr. Bauck adds that evaluating pedigrees is not an accurate way to determine if an animal is a carrier of the disease.

“Producers may be able to uncover the potential presence of the genetic defect in their cattle through pedigrees, but the only way to know if an animal is a carrier is to analyze their DNA,” he says. “Therefore, producers should use the analysis from IGENITY to find out if the genetic defect is present in any animal in their herd. A simple test can potentially save producers a lot of lost time and money.”

With the latest genetic defect analysis addition, the comprehensive IGENITY profile now provides analyses for eight genetic abnormalities, including:

• Contractural Arachnodactyly (CA)

• Neuropathic Hydrocephalus (NH)

• Arthrogryposis Multiplex (AM)

• Coat Color Dilution (DL)

• Idiopathic Epilepsy (IE)

• Osteopetrosis (OS)

• Pulmonary Hypoplasia Anasarca (PHA)

• Tibial Hemimelia (TH)

IGENITY also offers an optional diagnostic test for persistent infections (PI) of bovine viral diarrhea (BVD). In addition, producers can choose to use a combination radio frequency identification (RFID) tag and tissue collection device, making DNA collection and electronic identification possible in one simple step.

IGENITY is currently accepting most types of DNA samples for evaluating these abnormalities – tissue, hair, blood and semen. Most samples submitted within the past six months can be reanalyzed for genetic abnormalities. Producers can order sample collection kits and download any necessary breed association forms for submitting results at

In addition to analyses for eight genetic abnormalities, IGENITY offers analyses for 15 economically important traits, including the only available DNA analyses for maternal and reproductive traits, the most complete list of carcass traits, the only feed efficiency analyses for both Bos indicus and Bos taurus cattle, and more.2 IGENITY also offers user-friendly information management software and expert consultation to help producers customize this advanced information to their individual herd goals.

For more information about IGENITY, contact your IGENITY sales representative, call (877) 443-6489 or visit

IGENITY is a division of Merial.Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,700 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2009 sales were $2.7 billion. Merial is the Animal Health subsidiary of sanofi-aventis. For more information, please see


Pfizer Animal Genetics now running Contractual Arachnodactyly (Fawn Calf) test

NEW YORK ─ Oct. 6, 2010 — Pfizer Animal Genetics is now accepting samples for Contractual Arachnodactyly (CA) testing. CA is a genetic condition formerly referred to as Fawn Calf Syndrome. Through the collaboration with Dr. Jon Beever at the University of Illinois and the American Angus Association (AAA), the gene mutation responsible for CA has been identified and a commercial test developed and validated. Pfizer Animal Genetics is approved by the American Angus Association as a CA testing laboratory.

CA is a nonlethal genetic condition that affects Angus and Angus-influenced cattle. While CA-affected calves are born alive, and most can walk, suckle and survive, their upper limb joints (particularly hip, stifle and hock) have a reduced range of motion. Calves appear normal by 4 to 6 months of age, but most perform poorly and are relatively tall and slender, with compromised feet and leg conformation. Click here for more information on the prevalence and importance of testing for CA.

Producers are encouraged to visit for order forms and a sample collection guide, and to view ongoing updates and answers to frequently asked questions about CA testing. Additional questions may be answered by customer service at 877-BEEF DNA (877-233-3362).

About Pfizer Animal Genetics

Pfizer Animal Genetics is a business unit of Pfizer Animal Health, a world leader in discovering and developing innovative animal vaccines and prescription medicines. Pfizer Inc. is the world’s largest research-based pharmaceutical company.

About Pfizer Animal Health

Pfizer Animal Health, a business of Pfizer Inc., is a world leader in discovering and developing innovative animal vaccines and prescription medicines, investing an estimated $300 million annually in animal health product research and development. For more information about how Pfizer Animal Health works to ensure a safe, sustainable global food supply from healthy livestock and poultry; or helps companion animals and horses to live longer, healthier lives, visit


Pfizer Animal Health Donates Thousands of Rabies Vaccine Doses to Support World Rabies Day, Sept. 28

Pfizer partners with Global Alliance for Rabies Control to help more than 130 U.S. animal shelters protect animals, as well as humans

NEW YORK (October 1, 2010) — Pfizer Animal Health announced it has donated more than 50,000 doses of rabies vaccine to animal shelter organizations across the United States as part of World Rabies Day, which was Tuesday, Sept. 28.

Pfizer partnered with the Global Alliance for Rabies Control’s Shelter Program to offer the free vaccine doses to more than 130 shelters and clinics nationwide, allowing 50,000 pets to be protected against this deadly disease, as well as reducing the risk of human exposure in communities across the country. The vaccine donation and support of World Rabies Day are a component of Pfizer’s Commitment to Veterinarians, which supports veterinarians through training and education, research and development, and investing in the future of the veterinary profession.

“Veterinarians at shelters across the country can often feel helpless to protect pets from diseases like rabies due to lack of funding for basic preventive therapies such as vaccines,” said David Haworth, DVM, Ph.D, Director of Global Alliances at Pfizer Animal Health. “With this donation, Pfizer is doing a small part to help veterinarians help some of their most vulnerable patients.”

Rabies is the oldest and deadliest disease known to mankind, according to the Global Alliance for Rabies Control, which created World Rabies Day to raise awareness and understanding about the importance of prevention. World Rabies Day brings together hundreds of thousands of people across the world to reinforce the message that rabies is a preventable disease, yet kills 55,000 people needlessly each year—half of whom are children under the age of 15.

Rabies is a viral disease that can be transmitted to animals and humans. The disease is transmitted mainly by bite, but exposure may also occur through contamination of broken skin or mucous membranes with saliva from an infected animal. Once neurological symptoms of the disease develop, rabies is fatal to both animals and humans. The good news is that rabies is easily preventable.

“We’re proud to support the efforts of the Global Alliance for Rabies Control,” said Haworth. “As a veterinarian, I know how devastating a lack of rabies vaccine can be on shelter animals. It’s painful. It’s unnecessary. And, we want to help avoid this, as well as its spread to others.”

On World Rabies Day, Pfizer Animal Health encourages all pet owners to check the status of rabies vaccinations for their animals. If the pet is due for a rabies vaccination, or any vaccination, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

Tips to avoid rabies exposure:

• Avoid contact with stray animals and wildlife.

• If you are bitten, wash bite wounds with soap and water and seek medical attention immediately.

• If your pet is bitten, consult your veterinarian immediately.

• Prompt and appropriate treatment after being bitten and before the disease develops can stop rabies infection and/or prevent the disease in humans and animals.

For more information on World Rabies Day, please visit

Animal Ag, Global Warming & Climate Change

“The impact of animal agriculture on global warming and climate change” is the title of a 28-page report created by the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS). I’m sure most of you don’t need to read the report to guess most of its conclusions as it relates to animal agriculture.

Interestingly, in the scientific community there seems to be a growing acceptance of agriculture, and modern ag specifically, relative to its environmental impact not being as negative as once thought. The trouble is that agriculture still lacks hard evidence of its true impact on the environmental front.

Of course, in today’s world, it comes down to far more than just having good scientific facts; it’s also getting the message out on those facts.

It was interesting that the results of an annual survey on consumer trust in the food system performed by the Center for Food Integrity were released this week. The study found that 15.88% of respondents think HSUS is the most credible source of info about farm-animal care, followed by 12.32% for farm-animal vets, 12.02% for USDA reps, and 11.47% for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Farmers who operate large livestock farms were ranked last, with 5.50%.

“The closer you are to a profit motivation, the greater your credibility deficit,” says Charlie Arnot, CEO of the Center for Food Integrity, in a article. He also says that a statistically significant number of consumers changed their attitudes toward statements such as, “Raising animals indoors is beneficial to the animal,” after reading educational text.

Getting the hard data on ag’s stewardship is the first step, but getting the word out as successfully as HSUS does it is the next. Consumers care, and as an industry, we’d better start caring, too.

4 Rules for Following BQA Guidelines When Culling Cows

October and November are typical months for calf weaning, pregnancy checking of cows, and cow culling. To ensure the beef industry continues to provide the best product possible for its consumers, it’s vital that cow-calf producers have a close working relationship with a large-animal veterinarian in their area, says Glenn Selk, Oklahoma State University Extension emeritus animal scientist.

If a cow has an infection or disease that must be treated, her owner should closely follow the vet's directions, and also read the label of the product used. Most of these medications will require that the producer keep the treated animal for the label-directed withdrawal time. The Oklahoma Beef Quality Assurance (BQA) Manual contains the following discussion of medication withdrawal times:

"A withdrawal time may be indicated on the label of certain medications. This is the period of time that must pass between the last treatment and the time the animal will be slaughtered or milk used for human consumption. For example, if a medication with a 14-day withdrawal period was last given on Aug. 1, the withdrawal would be completed on Aug. 15 and that would be the earliest the animal could be harvested for human consumption.

“All federally approved drugs will include the required withdrawal time for that drug on the product label or package insert. These withdrawal times can range from zero to as many as 60 days or more. It’s the producer's responsibility to be aware of withdrawal times of any drugs used in their operation. Unacceptable levels of drug residues detected in edible tissues collected at harvest may result in traceback, quarantine and potential fines or jail time. Substantial economic losses may result for the individual producer as well as negative publicity for the entire beef industry…”

Producers are responsible for residue problems and should follow these four rules:

  • Don’t market animals for food until the withdrawal time listed on the label or as prescribed by the veterinarian has elapsed.

  • Use only medications approved for cattle and exactly as the label directs or as prescribed by your veterinarian.

  • If ever in doubt, rely on the veterinarian-client-patient relationship you have established with your veterinarian.

  • Keep well organized, detailed records of pharmaceutical products given to individually identified animals. Include in the record, the date of administration, route of administration, dosage given, lot or serial number of product given, person delivering the product, and label or prescription listing of withdrawal dates.

Find examples of BQA records at under the menu item “BQA Record Forms.” Records should be kept for three years after sale of the animal.
-- OSU Cow-Calf Corner

New Ryegrass Is A Yield Winner

Pinching pennies when buying ryegrass seed for winter grazing is a bad business decision, says a Texas AgriLife researcher who has developed a new, better yielding variety.

“Nelson” is a newly released ryegrass developed by Lloyd Nelson, AgriLife Research small grains breeder. It has a higher yield potential than "primo" ryegrasses such as TAM 90, Prine and Jumbo, he says.

"And in South Texas, it's higher than Marshall. In more northern areas, it’s not significantly higher than Marshall, but it's competitive," says Nelson, who also developed TAM 90 and TAMTBO, other high-yielding ryegrasses.

However, despite the yield advantages, the most commonly planted ryegrass variety for winter pastures is probably Gulf. Why? Probably because its seed is cheaper, he says. "Gulf costs about 34-36¢/lb., while newer varieties like Nelson, Prine and TAMTBO are about 45-48¢/lb."

Nelson says that at the recommended planting rates of 20-25 lbs./acre, farmers will save about $3/acre in seed costs. "But, for that $3 savings, they will typically give up about 2,000 lbs./acre of high-quality forage," he says.

That 2,000 lbs. is equivalent to at least two large round bales of hay per acre, which typically would be sell for $40 or more each, according to Nelson. "So it's not a good business decision, in my opinion, to scrimp on seed costs."

Nelson ryegrass' three-year average yields in East Texas at the Texas AgriLife Research and Extension Center in Overton where the soils are sandy loams topped 9,500 lbs. Gulf produced 8,300 lbs. at the Overton site, while Prine and Passerel Plus ryegrasses produced 9,270 lbs. and 9,160 lbs, respectively, Nelson says.

He says there's still plenty of time to meet the ryegrass planting window for Texas, which is from mid-October through the first week of December. However, as with all ryegrasses, Nelson ryegrass needs adequate soil moisture to emerge. Ryegrass is typically overseeded over existing, dormant warm-season grass pastures after a light disking.

All ryegrasses, whether a new variety like Nelson or an older variety such as Gulf, must be fertilized to soil tests. Usually this means 100-150 lbs. of actual nitrogen during the season, Nelson says.

Because of high nitrogen costs, farmers may try to grow ryegrass for winter pastures at a reduced nitrogen rate or not fertilize at all. This is another bad business decision, Nelson says.

"If they're not going to fertilize, I wouldn't recommend them planting any ryegrass. Just buy the hay," he says.
-- Texas AgriLife Extension release

USDA Recipe Contest Excludes Meat

USDA recently launched a school lunch recipe contest that excludes meat from the recipe categories. That move, along with the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's recommendation to move to a plant-based diet, is sending the wrong message to consumers, says Kristina Butts, director of legislative affairs for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).

The newly proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines issued by USDA and the Department of Health and Human Services suggests a plant-based protein diet. The guidelines are updated every five years. The final report is slated to be released later this year.

"First off, USDA's Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's recommendation for a plant-based diet causes consumers to wrongly assume that they are eating too much meat. We are not eating too much meat,” Butts says.

“The fact is, plants already make up 70% of our diets. On average, Americans are consuming about 2.3 oz. of red meat/day, well within 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. By excluding meat from its healthy kids recipe contest, USDA continues to add to the misconception that meat is over consumed in the U.S."

Cattle producers need to encourage their elected lawmakers to ask USDA to use science and facts when finalizing the dietary guidelines, she says. Lean beef needs to be incorporated as part of the solution to curbing obesity and promoting a healthy lifestyle for children and adults.

Butts encourages grassroots consumers and producers to submit recipes to USDA showcasing how lean beef compliments vegetables and fruits. "USDA never specified that they won’t accept meat recipes but failed to include a specific category for the protein," she says. "We have plenty of well-balanced recipes that include beef, whole grains, fruits and vegetables. We encourage our members to step up and show beef working in a healthy diet."

For more on the recipe challenge, visit
-- TCFA Newsletter

Tomorrow I Will Say, "I Do."

web-photo.jpg Tomorrow, my dad will walk me down the aisle and give me away to another great man. It seems like just yesterday I was five years old and feeding the bulls with an ice-cream bucket full of corn because I wanted to do chores with Dad. Time sure flies from the first time my dad taught me how to read EPDs as a kid, and soon I was reciting them to bull customers when they would come to look at our cattle. Through the years, my dad has been my best friend and supporter. Together, we shared many great memories, and it seems all those memories involve our Limousin cattle in one way or another. Of course, I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

When I asked my dad about his secret to a long, happy marriage, he said it’s all about finding someone who supports you and wants the same things. For our family, I think that means you have to find someone who is willing to help with cattle chores, chase cows, fix fence and battle winter storms. I think it also means finding that special someone who will work hard alongside you each day, but will also remind you to have fun and enjoy life. I think I have found that someone with my soon-to-be-husband, Tyler. With both of our parents celebrating their 25th wedding anniversaries in 2010, we feel fortunate to have such great examples of marriage to emulate.

web-2.jpg Although Dad tried to make boys out of his three daughters, he will finally have a son to help him around the farm and tinker in the shop fixing things. Last December, I announced my engagement and told all of you that I would be changing my last name. Tomorrow is that day, and I will begin a new chapter as Amanda Radke. While my byline will change, my goals will not. I'm still going to work hard each and every day to serve as an advocate for farmers and ranchers. And, I'm still going to ask all of you for advice as we navigate the turbulent waters of the beef-cattle industry. Thanks for sticking around for the ride. Your support and continued readership means the world to me!

Last request, what's your secret to a happy marriage? Is it true that a couple who works cattle together stays together? For those married couples out there, how long have you been married, and what have you learned along the way? Your advice, your stories and your experiences are what makes this blog a truly rich experience for anyone who tunes in, including myself! Thanks again!

Is Average Fair?

By Gregg Doud, National Cattlemen's Beef Association chief economist

The second oldest sport in the history of the cattle business is beating up on the packer. I’m guessing the oldest involved a cowboy on a horse trying to rope a steer. No one likes the packer, which is actually strange when you think about it because “the packer” is an absolutely necessary entity during “the process” of converting beef with the hide on it to beef without the hide on it. Who likes to eat hide? Whether you call them a “packer,” “processor” or “middle man” really doesn’t matter. They are always one of several buyers in the marketing chain of our product.

I’m going into this because some are touting this proposed GIPSA (USDA's Grain Inspection, Packers and Stockyards Administration) rule on livestock marketing as a way for producers to settle a longstanding score with the packer. In reality, this rule does no such thing. The fact is this rule actually ends up pitting producers against producers. How do I figure?

Probably the most difficult part of this proposed rule for commonsense folks to swallow is the part about when a third party can decide whether an agreement between a packer and a seller isn’t fair. This rule clearly attempts to provide the ability for that third party to sue, solely based upon an allegation of a lack of fairness. To the packer, and his lawyers, this threat of liability, litigation and risk has a cost. This is a cost that they’re certainly not going to pay if they can possibly avoid it. They’ve already indicated how they’ll limit this exposure, by offering the same standard, average, vanilla contract to everyone.

But there’s an important mathematical fact about the term average. It's that half are above it and half are below it. By dumbing down the procurement of beef – with the hide on it – and mitigating this exposure to risk and liability, additional per head marginal costs of doing business will be injected into the process.

GIPSA’s own economic study clearly says the advantage of Alternative Marketing Arrangements (AMAs), or non-spot market transactions, is that they reduce costs and allows the marketplace to operate more efficiently. These savings are then passed on to both consumers and beef producers. The economic term they use in the study is “surplus.”

If packers walk away from these AMAs due to this rule because they’re deemed “risky” by their lawyers, and this is what they’re already talking about, then both this additional risk along with the inefficiencies are added back into “the process.” The result: Consumers pay more for what will very likely be a lower quality product and producers get less for the beef they produce. Cattle producers will be picking up a majority of the tab in the short run as higher marginal costs are added to “the process.”

Of course, larger producers can spread these costs across more head of cattle than smaller producers, which hurts the smaller half. The packer’s goal in all of this is simply to extract a margin without exposure to any risk between the arrival at the front door and the departure out the back of the processing plant.

Of course, the half of producers who should really be unhappy about this rule’s government’s mandate for fairness are those producers who have expended significant capital and resources to produce premium and value-added products to meet the demand of consumers in the marketplace. Via this rule, the value of that bull with better carcass characteristics, the additional costs of traceability, a solid business relationship built over time, a brand name, or marketing that lead up to a superior eating experience by the consumer are all at risk. Is that fair?

Capitalists prefer a system that rewards innovation and strives to increase demand so that everyone benefits. Which do you prefer?
-- Gregg Doud, NCBA chief economist