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Pennsylvania Ag Department issues Equine Herpesvirus quarantine

The Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture has issued a strict quarantine order at Parx Racing in Bensalem, Bucks County, after a horse stabled at the track tested positive for Equine Herpesvirus, Type 1. 

Some horses at the track came into contact with the positive horse and have shown clinical signs of the disease, ranging from fever to neurological impairment. The horses remain under quarantine until test results are completed.

There is no threat to human health from Equine Herpesvirus. 

Barns housing the positive horse and horses showing signs of the virus are quarantined for at least 21 days. Horses must be free of clinical signs for 21 days and test negative for the disease before the quarantine can be lifted.

Under the quarantines, movement of horses on and off the track is restricted. Quarantined horses are not permitted to train and strict sanitary and biosecurity standards are enforced. 

The highly contagious virus causes upper respiratory infection and severe neurological disease in horses. 

Horse owners with concerns may call the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Health and Diagnostic Services.

Hybrid halter combines webbing, rope halter

It is the modern dilemma of any conscientious horse owner. You feel like you need two halters for every horse… a web halter for trailering, cross tying, or personalizing and a rope halter for groundwork training, or even leading from place to place without your horse leaning on you. If you choose to stick with one halter style, you give up the functionality of the other.

Choose to go the rope halter route and say goodbye to cross tying, personalizing and a no-slip fit. Choose to go with a web halter exclusively and you might find yourself tempted to resort to a lead chain over your horse’s nose as they drag you across the yard. Thanks to the new Hybrid Halter designed and patented by horse trainer and developer Kalley Krickeberg, horse owners can get the functionality of both halters in one innovative design.

“I train horses day in and day out, so I see the same faults in a tool over and over again. I hate the way a rope halter torques my horses’ heads to the side while doing groundwork, making them travel unnaturally, but of course, there are some features of a rope halter you can't beat for training, namely that is hard for a horse to lean on. I love the fit, beauty and convenience of a web halter with a throatlatch snap, but hate that it is so easy for a horse to push on... I think the Hybrid is the best of both worlds, with a few other bells and whistles,” says Krickeberg, who debuted the invention in front of the crowd at the American Paint Horse Association’s World Show in Fort Worth, Texas, during her educational demonstrations on keeping a horse mentally fresh and happily engaged in his work.

“Most people’s first reaction when they see the Hybrid Halter is why didn’t I think of that, because it is so simple, yet effective,” says Krickeberg. 

“The cheek pieces through the crown piece are consistent to the traditional web halter. The nose/chin piece, jowl piece and connection piece are made of the same high quality yachting braid, like the traditional rope halter. There is a sliding ring under the chin where the working rope is attached to allow the halter ring and the snap of your rope to slide a full 180 degrees. The yacht rope of the Hybrid Halter’s nosepiece has nose knots similar to the rope halter to encourage lightness. The innovation of this halter is combining the best construction and control features of both the web/flat and rope halters, hence the name "Hybrid," explains the horsewoman.

Donations Still Welcome To Help Ranchers Impacted by Winter Storm Atlas

The North Dakota Stockmen's Association and the North Dakota Stockmen's Foundation are extending support to North and South Dakota livestock producers who were devastated by the winter storm that killed several thousand cattle last month.

The non-profit organizations donated $10,000 to the South Dakota Rancher Relief Fund, and set aside an additional $10,000 to establish the Stockmen's Aid for Atlas Disaster Relief Fund to provide relief to North Dakota ranchers who suffered catastrophic livestock losses in the blizzard.

Many cattle, sheep and horses were killed as a result of the impact of the storm, Oct. 4-5. Preliminary estimates are somewhere in the tens of thousands of animals in the Dakotas. Many surviving animals continue to get sick from secondary illnesses as a result of the storm, NDSA said.

For more information on how to donate, click here.


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Hunting Liability Concerns: Are You Covered?

Shutterstock Photo

I live in the pheasant hunting capital of the world, and this time of year, my lonely gravel road turns into a busy freeway as orange-clad hunters scan the ditches looking for the wily rooster.

Many landowning ranchers monopolize on this surge of tourists each fall, offering hunting packages for folks to walk their private land during the season. We’ve always welcomed friends and family to come hunt, but we are often asked by strangers for hunting permission, as well.

Anytime someone sets foot on your property, there are liability issues to consider. Now is a good time to double check your insurance and make sure you’re covered if a hunter has an accident on your ground.


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If you have some vacant land you allow hunters to walk through, does your regular farm liability insurance cover you for accidents? Probably not, says law firm Swingle Collins & Associates (SCA), Dallas, TX.

know liability issues when hunters are on your land
Shutterstock Photo by Steve Oehlenschlager

According to SCA, “Chances are good the current liability insurance covering your property – whether it’s a homeowners policy or a special farm and ranch-type policy – won’t provide the protection you need. This is especially true if the land is owned by or you will be operating the hunting activity with an entity (partnership, trust, corporation, etc.), rather than yourself individually. In the first place, those policies contain 'business pursuits' exclusions, precluding coverage for almost any kind of moneymaking activity, except farming or ranching in the case of a farm and ranch-type policy. The only safe approach for covering liability exposures arising out of land leased or rented to hunters is to purchase a special policy.”

If you have to pay more to cover these hunters, and you aren’t charging a hunting fee, it might seem like the best policy is to just say no and keep your ground to family only. Of course, this is a personal preference, but there are certainly some risks to allowing strangers to hunt your land.

Another suggestion from SCA is this, "Before you allow hunting on your land, ask the hunter to provide evidence of liability insurance, such as a certificate of insurance or a copy of the policy. Will the hunter bring a hired helper or employee? If so, you should also request evidence of workers’ compensation insurance."

Read more suggestions from SCA here.

Do you allow hunters to roam your pastures and fields? If so, what kind of coverage do you have? Are you fully covered? Or are you uncertain? Now might be a good time to call your policy holder and double check. Have a happy and safe hunting season.


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BEEF Tech: 9 New Products For Fall 2013

Cargill Will Label Lean Finely Textured Beef

U.S. meat packer Cargill announced this week plans to include a special label on meat products containing finely textured beef – previously put in a category of products known to critics by the misnomer "pink slime."

The move comes as customers are demanding transparency in food production, according to Cargill. It will begin labeling packages of ground beef containing finely textured beef with the statement, "Contains Finely Textured Beef," prior to the 2014 grilling season.

"Our research shows that consumers believe ground beef products containing Finely Textured Beef should be clearly labeled," says John Keating, Cargill Beef president. "We've listened to the public, as well as our customers, and that is why today we are declaring our commitment to labeling Finely Textured Beef."

To read more about Cargill's labeling plans, click here.


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U.S. Corn Crop Looking To Break Records

The first USDA reports released in nearly two months are still forecasting a record U.S. corn crop and record U.S. rice yields. USDA’s Oct. 11 World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates and Crop Production reports were cancelled during the 16 day government shutdown.

The Nov. 8 reports estimated U.S. corn production at a record 13.989 billion bushels, 146 million bushels higher than the September report. A 1.9-million-acre reduction in harvested area was more than offset by a 5.1-bushel-per-acre increase in forecast yield.

At 160.4 bushels per acre, the national average yield remains 4.3 bushels per acre below the record of 2009-10.

Despite a late-planted crop and July and August dryness across much of the Corn Belt, cooler-than-normal summer temperatures and an extended growing season have supported higher-than-expected yields for most producers.

To read the entire corn report, click here.

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Ready To Go EXCENEL® RTU EZ Is Now Easier To Use

 An innovative, easier-to-use version of a popular anti-infective is now available for veterinarians and their cattle and swine producer clients. Zoetis introduces EXCENEL® RTU EZ (ceftiofur hydrochloride) Sterile Suspension with a lower viscosity formulation that improves syringeability by 40 percent. 1
“EXCENEL RTU has a 20-year history as an effective, fast-acting treatment, offering a short meat withdrawal for cattle and swine and zero milk withholding for dairy cattle. Still, we recognized there was an opportunity to further improve syringeability to help ease of use by veterinarians and producers,” said Matthew Helpern, marketing manager, swine injectable anti-infectives, Zoetis. “The new formulation was designed with our customers in mind. EXCENEL RTU EZ is now easier to get out of the bottle and into your animals when they need it.”
To improve ease of use, EXCENEL RTU EZ takes advantage of a lower viscosity formula. With the improved syringeability, users of EXCENEL RTU EZ will only need to apply 60 percent of the force required to administer the previous formulation. 1 Producers and veterinarians will especially notice the change during colder weather.
The improved EXCENEL RTU EZ offers the same approved uses for which the brand is known. Veterinarians, as well as their cattle and pork producer clients, can use EXCENEL RTU EZ as an effective solution for:

  • Treatment of bovine respiratory disease (BRD), pneumonia, shipping fever
  • Control and treatment of swine respiratory disease (SRD)
  • Treatment of foot rot (all cattle)
  • Treatment of acute, postpartum metritis (dairy cattle only)

The only changes customers will note are in the meat withdrawal for cattle and the administration for swine.
·         For cattle, EXCENEL RTU EZ has a four-day meat withdrawal. The new withdrawal period is the same as NAXCEL® (ceftiofur sodium) Sterile Powder and is still one of the shortest in its class.
·         For swine, do not inject more than 5 mL of EXCENEL RTU EZ per injection site.
Producers should work with their veterinarian to review protocols and make necessary adjustments in animal health management. Even with these changes, EXCENEL RTU EZ is still backed by the Residue Free Guarantee™* in both cattle and swine.
“We’re excited about the evolution of this important treatment solution, but we need producers and veterinarians to pay special attention to the meat withdrawal and injection restrictions,” said Matt Nelson, senior marketing manager, cattle anti-infectives, Zoetis. “These changes are not dramatic, but we’re asking our customers to update their existing animal health systems when incorporating EXCENEL RTU EZ into protocols.”
EXCENEL RTU EZ is easy to use and ready to go. Learn more about EXCENEL RTU EZ by contacting your veterinarian or Zoetis representative or logging on to
Important Safety Information for EXCENEL RTU EZ: Persons with known hypersensitivity to penicillin or cephalosporins should avoid exposure to EXCENEL RTU EZ. Do not slaughter cattle or swine for 4 days following last treatment with this product. Using excess dosages, or administrating by unapproved routes, may result in illegal drug residues. Do not use in calves to be processed for veal.
See full prescribing information for EXCENEL RTU EZ here.
Important Safety Information for NAXCEL: As with all drugs, NAXCEL should not be used in animals found to be hypersensitive to the product. NAXCEL has a pre-slaughter withdrawal time of four days.
See full prescribing information for NAXCEL here.
About Zoetis
Zoetis (zō-EH-tis) is the leading animal health company, dedicated to supporting its customers and their businesses. Building on a 60-year history as the animal health business of Pfizer, Zoetis discovers, develops, manufactures and markets veterinary vaccines and medicines, complemented by diagnostic products and genetic tests and supported by a range of services. In 2012, the company generated annual revenues of $4.3 billion. With approximately 9,300 employees worldwide at the beginning of 2013, Zoetis has a local presence in approximately 70 countries, including 29 manufacturing facilities in 11 countries. Its products serve veterinarians, livestock producers and people who raise and care for farm and companion animals in 120 countries. For more information on the company, visit
Zoetis is the proud sponsor with the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and the American Veterinary Medical Association of the mobile educational exhibit Animal Connections: Our Journey Together. Families visiting the exhibit will explore the vast bonds between people and animals and learn about the important role veterinarians play in protecting animal and human health. For more information, visit

Elanco Expands Vaccine Presence With Titanium & Master Guard Purchase

Elanco, the animal health division of Eli Lilly and Company (NYSE:LLY), today announced the company will purchase the Titanium® and Master Guard® brands from AgriLabs®. These well-known cattle vaccine brands will complement Elanco’s growing vaccine portfolio, including the recently approved Viralign™ 6, the only modified-live combination vaccine to protect against bovine viral diarrhea (BVD) virus 1b, which is now the most predominant BVD virus strain in the United States.

Elanco will continue to deliver these highly respected brands in the same manner producers have come to expect and will work closely with AgriLabs to ensure a seamless transition. Elanco will support all 2013 programs and pricing, and customers should continue to place orders through existing channels.

“At Elanco, we are committed to providing innovative solutions to enhance food production and companion animal care. We are pleased our growing vaccine portfolio and pipeline will offer Elanco customers a broader array of options to better meet their specific needs for disease prevention,” said Jeff Simmons, president, Elanco. “This is another example of our effort to provide Elanco customers with greater value.”

In the next few decades, global population is expected to exceed 9 billion, and 3 billion will move into the middle class, the fastest middle class growth in our history. With the growing affluence, will come a 60 percent increase in demand for meat, milk and eggs, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

“With beef stocks at all-time lows and demand outpacing dairy supply globally, we must continue to provide innovative solutions that will help producers increase the affordability and availability of animal protein,” said Rob Aukerman, president U.S. operations at Elanco. “We have diversified our portfolio and sources of innovation to deliver more options and solutions to our customers.”

About AgriLabs
AgriLabs is a leading animal health, sales and marketing organization with distribution throughout the United States. Through technology transfer and cooperative development agreements, AgriLabs has introduced state-of-the-art products for beef, dairy and companion animal industries. The wholly owned ProLabs® division focuses on new product development of companion animal products into the over-the-counter channel. The VaxLiant™ company is a joint venture with Benchmark Biolabs designed to modernize how vaccines deliver antigens to prevent disease with its ENABL™ and Biomize™ adjuvants.

About Elanco
Elanco is a global, innovation-driven company that develops and markets products to improve animal health and protein production in more than 75 countries. Elanco employs more than 2,500 people worldwide, with offices in more than 40 countries, and is a division of Eli Lilly and Company, a leading global pharmaceutical corporation.

About Eli Lilly and Company
Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers – through medicines and information – for some of the world's most urgent medical needs.

This press release contains forward-looking statements about Lilly’s investments in the Titanium and Master Guard brands. This release reflects Lilly's current beliefs, assuming that the transaction is successfully closed. However, as with any such undertaking, there are substantial risks and uncertainties in the process of implementing these types of transactions, and there is no guarantee Lilly will realize the expected benefits of the investment. For further discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties, please see Lilly's latest Forms 10-K and 10-Q filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The company undertakes no duty to update forward-looking statements.

For Viralign 6:
The label contains complete use information, including cautions and warnings. Always read, understand and follow the label and use directions.

Precautions: Do not vaccinate pregnant cows or calves nursing pregnant cows, since abortions may occur. Do not vaccinate within 21 days of slaughter.

For vaccination of healthy cattle five months of age or older.
Dose: 2 mL subcutaneous in the side of neck. See insert for full instructions.

What Are Bred Heifer Prices In Your Neck Of The Woods?

bred heifer prices

In addition to weaning, preg-checking and harvest, fall is a busy time for cattle sales. I’ve been to a few sales in the last couple of weeks, and it has been interesting to be in the stands and take notes on the highs and lows of these sales.

At the sales I've attended this fall, I’ve seen bred heifers sell anywhere from the going market price to more than $10,000. Commercial cows have been selling for top dollar, and even matching the price levels of some purebred seedstock. It makes me think that folks are definitely thinking expansion.

I'm in the buying market myself this year as my family is looking to expand our cowherd. A couple of factors we're watching in our area of South Dakota are how the cattle losses suffered by some ranchers in early October's winter storm Atlas will impact the price of bred heifers, and whether cheaper feed prices will encourage more livestock producers to hang on to their cattle.

From what I can gather, prices are following the same trend we have seen in the last couple of years as cow numbers declined across the country. However, I think that an increase in herd dispersals due to aging ranchers exiting the business provides an opportunity for some young producers to snatch up some great breeding stock - if they are so inclined and have access to the required capital. The latter one can be a huge hurdle in today's ag economy.

There are certainly a lot of factors that go into predicting the cost of bred females, and I speculate that prices might be a little softer this winter. Of course, I’m no expert; I’m just basing this prediction from what I’ve seen so far. Think of this blog post as just coffee talk.

Help me out in this discussion. What are the prices of bred heifers in your neck of the woods? What are the factors in your area impacting those prices? What are your predictions for bred heifer and cow prices going into the winter? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.


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warning signs for a stroke ranchers cant ignore

We likely all know someone who seemingly runs to the doctor for every nick and hiccup. Conversely, we also probably know someone who would only see a physician if they were delivered there in an unconscious state. With time at a premium and a tendency toward fierce independence and self-reliance, cattle producers – for whom nicks, bumps and bruises just go with the territory of working with animals – probably fall more into the latter category than the former.

My sense is, however, that this attitude isn’t as prevalent as it was a couple of decades ago. I think prevention is more top of mind when it comes to health than it used to be. But I do know folks who hate doctor’s visits just as much as dental appointments. In fact, one friend is quite proud that he hasn’t seen a doctor in more than a dozen years.

I recently ran across a news release regarding symptoms no one should ignore. These are the serious health warnings that a busy person might ignore or put off, often with dire or fatal consequences. The release said that of the 715,000 Americans who have a heart attack each year, about 525,000 are first-timers, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. So, besides perhaps feeling bullet-proof, these folks, as first-timers, often don’t know or appreciate what is happening to them. By “shrugging off” the effects to see if they might pass, rather than seeking immediate medical attention, they’re playing with life and death, says Dale Hemstalk, a career firefighter paramedic with more than 20 years of emergency medical experience.

“If someone is having a heart attack, for example, they should get to the hospital without delay upon the initial onset of symptoms,” Hemstalk says. “We live in an age in which we should be taking greater advantage of our technology for health purposes – but you have to call for help first!”

These are the warning signs Hemstalk says to not ignore:

• Symptoms for a heart attack: Men and women frequently report different symptoms. Men tend to have the “classic” signs, such as pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest that goes away and comes back; pain that spreads to the shoulders, neck or arms; chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath.

For women, symptoms tend to be back or jaw pain; difficulty breathing; nausea or dizziness; unexplainable anxiety or fatigue; mild flu-like symptoms; palpitations; cold sweats or dizziness. Triggers tend to be different between the sexes, too. In women, it’s often stress; in men, it’s physical exertion.

• Symptoms for a stroke: There are clear, telltale characteristics of a stroke, including sagging on one side of the face, an arm that’s drifting down and garbled speech. But there are also more subtle signs from the onset, such as sudden numbness of one side of the body, including an arm, leg and part of the face; sudden confusion, trouble speaking and understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden loss of balance; or sudden headache for no apparent reason. Risk factors include diabetes, tobacco use, hypertension, heart disease, a previous stroke, irregular heartbeat, obesity, high cholesterol and heavy alcohol use.

 • Symptoms for heart failure: This is not the same as a heart attack, which occurs when a vessel supplying the heart muscle with oxygen and nutrients becomes completely blocked. Heart failure is a chronic condition where the heart can’t pump properly, which may be due to fluid in the lungs. Warning signs include shortness of breath, fatigue, swollen ankles, chest congestion and an overall limitation on activities. Just one of these symptoms may not be cause for alarm; but more than one certainly is. Risk factors include various heart problems, serious viral infections, drug or alcohol abuse, severe lung disease and chemotherapy.

Hemstalk offers this last piece of advice: “At no point should anyone be discouraged from calling 911; the bottom line is, if you feel it’s an emergency and you need to call 911, call 911! There are many reasons to seek assistance from emergency responders, and they aren’t limited to those that I’ve mentioned.”

Think about it. You no doubt have a lot on your plate, but keeping yourself healthy is crucial to being able to work on the operation, or even enjoy the work. Take the time to implement the prevention steps to keep yourself health, and act immediately if you detect critical warning signs that something might not be right. 

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