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Veterinarians

Washington, D.C. – On Dec. 20, the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced a final rule establishing regulations for improving the traceability of livestock moving interstate.

While the rule has not yet been published in the Federal Register, many agriculture groups across the country say the rule is a good one, providing flexibility and addressing the U.S.’s current gap in disease response efforts.

“All sexually intact cattle and bison 18 months of age and older that move interstate will be required to have an official identification,” explains Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan. “The rule doesn’t look too bad for Wyoming.”

Logan notes that the 145-page rule is industry friendly, with the actual meat in pages 125 through 145 of the posted document.

What it does

In short, there are four classes of cattle and bison that will be required to have an official identification: sexually intact cattle and bison 18 months of age and older; female dairy cattle regardless of age and all dairy males born after the rule takes effect; all cattle and bison used for rodeo and recreational events; and all cattle and bison used for shows and exhibitions.

Cattle and bison moving within a state are not affected by this rule, says Logan, noting, “In state movement is up to each state and Wyoming does have some ID requirements in place. This rule pertains to animals moving across a state line.”

Cull cows, bred cows and bred heifers, as well as bulls moving interstate, will all require identification under the new rule. 

“There are a lot of ways that the official identification is defined,” Logan adds. “We already have our green Wyoming tag which has been designated as official ID. Also, our new orange Brucellosis RFID Vaccination tags, traditional orange metal vaccination tags, silver ‘brite’ APHIS tags and other 840 tags are all acceptable individual identification for interstate movement.”

“In addition, the system that we already use to distribute our tags to producers and veterinarians and record that information in our database at the Wyoming Livestock Board office will enable us to be in compliance with the rules,” Logan comments.

Logan notes that there are also other acceptable tags, including any 840 tags.

“I don’t see any huge change from what Wyoming is already requiring, except that bulls will have to be identified,” Logan explains. “The program we have in place, with our green tags and vaccination tags, means we are set to go.”

Exemptions 

There are also several classes of animals that are exempt from the rule. Those exempt classes include steers and spayed heifers, as well as sexually intact cattle and bison less than 18 months of age.

However, Logan notes, “The rule also says that at some future date, steers, spayed heifers and sexually intact cattle less than 18 months of age may require identification and will be addressed in separate rule making.”

APHIS has not identified a timeline in which rules regarding all cattle will be developed.

“There are also situations where group lot identification will be sufficient,” Logan also says. “In those situations where cattle are going directly to slaughter group lot identification is acceptable.”

Brands

“The rule specifically states that brands will be considered as official identification, but there are caveats to that statement,” says Logan, noting that other states must agree that brands are sufficient. “I’ve polled other states around Wyoming, and I don’t think there is going to be any state that will accept the brand alone as official identification.”

While the federal rule allows for use of brands, Logan explains that each state is allowed to establish their own rules for importation, and many states already do require official eartags.

“People will have to get used to the fact that language supporting brands is in the federal rule, but the bottom line is that the brand by itself is going to be accepted in only a very few situations,” he adds. 

Health certificates

The one major change that Logan sees in the rule regards health certificates. Each health certificate will be required to have all of the individual official identification recorded.

“People will have to run cattle through a chute to collect identification prior to their veterinarian arriving so the vet can apply it to the health certificate,” Logan says. 

The rule also allows for states to develop a state form to record identification, which may be done by the producer.

“It will be more burdensome,” Logan adds. “The health certificate isn’t going to be as easy as calling the vet and asking them to spend half an hour to look at cattle.”

Regardless, Logan says he doesn’t think the rule will impact Wyoming producers too much, aside from the health certificate changes. 

“A lot of states already have these requirements, and some of them have had for several years,” he notes. “We have to do a lot of this already.”

Industry reactions

United States Cattlemen’s Association Animal Health Committee Chairman, Chuck Kiker of Beaumont, Texas said he is pleased that the plan accepts the use of brands, tattoos and brand registration as official identification when accepted by shipping and receiving states or tribes. 

“This rule provides individual states and tribes with a remarkable amount of flexibility. While the final rule addresses significant gaps in the nation’s overall disease response efforts, under this plan states and tribes will be able to design systems for tracing animals that best fits their needs. We congratulate USDA APHIS for its work,” added Kiker. “This is a prime example of what can happen when industry groups come together to work in a positive manner with a regulating agency like USDA.”

“With the final rule announced today, the United States now has a flexible, effective animal disease traceability system for livestock moving interstate, without undue burdens for ranchers and U.S. livestock businesses,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Dec. 20. “The final rule meets the diverse needs of the countryside where states and tribes can develop systems for tracking animals that work best for them and their producers, while addressing any gaps in our overall disease response efforts.

“The rule will take effect 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register,” says Logan. “It will probably take effect in the first part to the middle of March.”

APHIS originally planned to publish the rule on Dec. 28, but did not achieve that goal.

For more information about the USDA APHIS Traceability Rule, visit aphis.usda.gov/traceability. Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Denver, Colo. – The accessibility and availability of various antibiotics for food animal health will become restricted in the next decade, said Mike Apley, DVM and professor at Kansas State University during the 2014 International Livestock Congress. 

“This is a very important issue we have to look forward to in the next decade,” said Apley. “The chance of a new group of antibiotics for use in food animals is nonexistent. We have the main tools we are going to use. Now it is more about husbandry practices in preserving antibiotic use.”

Antimicrobial use

Apley believes the antimicrobial use in food animals can change the bacterial population susceptibility profile, and this causes concern for people that resistant pathogens will become more prevalent. 

“There are multiple safe uses of antimicrobials in food animals for the benefits to both human and animal health,” explained Apley. “This is how we have to frame the responsible conversations that move us forward in discussions with specific antimicrobial uses and relations to specific pathogens.” 

Apley stressed, “The MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) outbreaks we’re seeing in humans have absolutely nothing to do with food animals. It is human driven and community sourced.”

A concern of Apley’s is policy passing for human medicine and having it result in harm to food animal health medicine. 

Effectiveness 

“It’s about our ability 50 years from now to still be using antibiotics to treat diseases in our own animals,” said Apley. “There is no effective alternative to the antimicrobials, and there has to be evidence that the antimicrobial will be safe and effective for use.”

Some classes of antibiotics have been on the market for decades, and Apley suggested the effects of them need to be revisited and evaluated to see if they are still applicable in today’s medical world. 

“Its not enough for me to have someone down the road at the coffee shop telling me a certain antibiotic saved the calves in 1972,” said Apley. “It is not enough for me and not enough to convey to consumers.”

“The first big step in moving forward on our judicious antimicrobial use is to have veterinarians and producers working together,” said Apley. “We have to make sure everyone has the best information to work with and receive benefit from it.” 

Veterinary control 

“The control of veterinary antimicrobials should be in the hands of veterinarians,” added Apley. 

“All feed antimicrobials that may be used in water are either going to be prescription or veterinary feed directive by about 2017,” stated Apley. 

Apley went on to explain the future accessibility of other medical antibiotics will eventually be authorized by veterinarians as well. 

“The gram per 100 pounds per head per day of chlorotetracycline (CTC) or oxytetracycline (OTC) will change. Those are therapeutic drugs and will not be a taken away,” described Apley. “They will, though, require the authorization of a vet to use of them.”

The use of ionophores will not be included in the classification of therapeutic drugs and will not result in a veterinarian’s authorization to use them for growth promotion in cattle. 

Future use

“The days of visiting the local farm store for these drugs are going to be numbered. Right now they are not focusing on injectable products, but the water products will be gone in three years,” explained Apley. “They won’t be gone from market. They will just have to be prescribed by veterinarians to be able to use them.”

Apley added, “The days of penicillin (Pen-G) at the local store are probably numbered, as well.”

With all the new restrictions occurring with food animal medicines and antibiotics, Apley pondered the effectiveness of veterinarians. 

“For veterinarians, we are debating whether or not we will retain our relevancy, or if we’re just going to be authorizing regulatory formulations,” said Apley. “It’s really a crossroads for us.” 

Madeline Robinson is the assistant editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

It always pays to have a good working relationship with a veterinarian who can answer questions and assist in herd health management strategy to help prevent problems. This is generally more helpful, and more profitable in the long run, than just relying on the veterinarian for emergencies.

James England, University of Idaho Caine Center, says this kind of relationship is a two-way street. 

“Veterinarians generally need to be more pro-active, contacting the rancher to offer help in looking at the herd health program, rather than just waiting for emergency calls,” he says. “The dilemma for both sides is figuring out what this type of consultation is worth.”

Emergency calls

“Most veterinarians tend to have trouble charging for this service. Ranchers also have a hard time thinking in terms of calling the veterinarian to just sit down and talk and paying for it like a consultant,” England continues.

“Ranchers tend to be emergency-oriented, just paying the veterinarian to do something, and are hesitant to pay for advice. They may bring up a question or discuss health issues while the veterinarian is on the ranch palpating cows.” 

The ranch may have a cow that needs an eye or teeth looked at while the vet is there, but what is needed is a mindset on both sides to occasionally just sit down and talk about preventative maintenance. 

“Then they can talk about any problems, or what the rancher wants to do – asking things like what he or she should be using in a vaccination program,” says England.

Nutrition and health

It also helps if the rancher and veterinarian can get together with a nutritionist regarding the overall health program. 

“From my perspective as a veterinarian, nothing I can do or suggest is going to work very well unless the animals are adequately fed,” England comments, noting that nutrition affects everything else, including, fertility, the immune system and growth rate.

“The rancher should sit down with the veterinarian once or twice a year and go through any problems they’ve had that year or to ask questions about new vaccines to know which ones he or she should be using,” England explains. “There’s not much difference in many of the vaccines. The important thing is to make sure they are using a vaccine that matches their management, production or health maintenance program.”

Visits with vets

“When I first came here and visited several ranches as a roper, most of those ranchers didn’t realize until the second day of branding that I was a veterinarian,” England says. “Then they wanted to talk to me about their vaccination programs when we’d sit down to lunch.”

He continues, “They knew I’d seen what they were doing on their ranch, and I’d talk to them about it. As soon as I’d get back from the branding, I’d call their veterinarian and mention things I’d seen and list the things we talked about and that I’d encouraged the rancher to talk to their vet about.”

However, most veterinarians hadn’t been on the ranch in two or more years to discuss vaccination programs. 

“One veterinarian who made a point to go back every year told me that the program I’d described in use at that ranch was different than the program he put together for them four months earlier,” England says. “Did the rancher get different advice from the salesman, the person behind the counter at the co-op where they bought the vaccine, or from ads in livestock magazines?”

From ranch to ranch

England says herd health management must be a strategic plan the rancher needs to evaluate every year. 

“It’s a moving target. If the rancher can sit down and talk with their veterinarian to see what’s available and what might be useful, they can almost always save money. Then, they won’t be buying something they don’t need or that might be of questionable value,” he explains.

“If the neighbor is doing ‘X’ and has had good luck with it, the rancher may try that – and may or may not have good luck with it,” he continues. “Or the neighbor may have tried something that didn’t work, so the rancher decides to not use that particular product.” 

Both ranchers and veterinarians need to see the whole picture. The situation on each ranch may be a little different.

Tailoring a program

“There are more than 400 licensed products in use as vaccines. It’s no wonder there’s confusion about knowing what to choose,” England says. “They all work, but some may be targeting different approaches.”

Because of the array of products to choose from, England encourages producers to talk to their veterinarian about whole herd history, management and vaccination timing. 

“Is the rancher vaccinating calves at the best time?” he asked. “Often we pick the worst times – when we are branding, castrating and dehorning.”

“One good thing is that we generally get the calf back with mama quickly, and he nurses again, which relieves stress and helps him respond immunologically,” says England.

Familiarity

If the veterinarian is out there periodically and familiar with the farm, he may be able to see changes more than the rancher can. The veterinarian can look at facilities, and body condition score of the animals, for instance. 

A little money spent on consultation with a veterinarian might prevent a big wreck on down the road.

Heather Smith Thomas is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


SIDEBAR:
Bio-security

Another thing that needs to be discussed with a veterinarian is a bio-security program. 

“Where are purchased animals coming from? Does the rancher run on range with other ranchers’ cattle?” asks Veterinarian James England. “If they are doing the maximum for herd health and someone else in their grazing association is doing minimum, it may cost a lot of money, but ranchers may be protecting themselves by doing it.”

“Other ranchers may be bringing in a disease that another is protecting against,” he says.

The other side of bio-security is to keep any new animals separate for awhile after they are purchased. It’s also a good idea to understand some of the diseases that could be brought in and to know the risks.

 

Cheyenne – Growing up as the first of seven children on his family’s ranch in northwestern Nebraska, Tri-State Veterinary Clinic Owner and Operator Jay Dee Fox decided it would be wise to pursue a career off of the ranch.

“It was obvious there wasn’t going to be any room on the ranch for me to continue ranching,” he says.

Fox’s interest in veterinary medicine was sparked from the veterinary work that his father did on the ranch.

“I just felt that would be a good profession to go into,” continues Fox. “I actually didn’t consider much of anything else.”

Fox explains that many factors influenced his decision to pursue a career in veterinary medicine.

“What appealed to me most was being able to help animals,” he notes.

Everyday

In his practice, Fox primarily treats cattle and horses, but he also treats other livestock.

“We get an occasional sheep or pig into our office, and most of those are 4-H and FFA projects,” he says.

The typical day in his practice varies greatly depending on the time of year, says Fox.

In the fall from September to November, Fox stays busy pregnancy checking, bangs vaccinating and conducting other cattle herd work.

Some routine horse work, such as vaccinating and dentistry, is done from December to March.

“We do quite a bit of equine dentistry in my clinic. I have a power float we use on horses to adjust their teeth appropriately,” comments Fox.

The spring, from March to May, is dominated by calving season for Fox.

“Calving season is hot and cold. I’m either running for an emergency or sitting around getting paperwork done and watching the phone during the calving season,” he explains.

Fox continues that the summer months are predominately filled with equine work, such as emergency care for lacerations and colic, as well as common summertime illnesses like respiratory disease.

Changing

With the many rewards of practicing veterinary medicine, Fox admits the changing views of livestock over his long career pose challenges.

“The most challenging part of practicing veterinary medicine would be working with people who don’t have a realistic view of animals,” he says. “We’re three generations into the ‘Bambi’ mindset where people see animals that talk and have human emotions.”

He quickly asserts that animals have emotions and instincts given to them by nature.

“For example, Mother Nature has instilled instincts, like the animals’ knowledge of how to take their of their babies,” Fox comments.

“Love as we know it probably doesn’t exist for animals, but it would be replaced with another definition of love for the baby,” he continues. “Instinctive care is so much more present with animals than with people.”

The humanization of animals’ needs makes it a challenge to balance both what his clients want with what best suits their animals, says Fox.

He notes that many who manage livestock hold a more realistic, as well as economical, view of caring for animals.

“Humans who manage livestock understand that, while the people who humanize those animals doesn’t have an appreciation for ranch life and Mother Nature,” Fox comments.

Philosophy

According to Fox, his primary business philosophy is “lean and mean.”

Fox explains, “Basically, I don’t have a lot of employees. I do a lot of the remedial work myself and am the responsible party,” noting that everything from scheduling appointments and cleaning to ensuring his truck is stocked is his responsibility.

He continues to elaborate on the mean aspect of his philosophy as having the mindset that he is not above any job that needs to be done in the practice.

Meeting his customers’ needs is another driving philosophy for Fox.

“I try to be there for my customers. I try to educate them and give them reasons why I do what I do so they can understand better,” concludes Fox. “There are three generations I’ve served in some families as far as taking care of some of their animals.”

Emilee Gibb is editor of Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Over the past couple weeks, members of the horse industry in the West have been concerned about Equine Herpes Virus, but Wyoming’s health officials say it won’t have a long-term affect on this summer’s horse events.

The most recent outbreak of the virus surfaced after the National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) Western National Championships in Ogden, Utah in early May. When the disease was discovered after the competition the NCHA notified state animal health officials, and those officials then contacted owners of potentially affected horses.

There are two main strains of the virus that have come out of the Utah event. The first is Equine Herpes Virus (EVH-1), the respiratory form of the virus, and the second is Equine Herpes Virus Myeloencephalopathy (EHM), which is the neurologic strand.

Symptoms of the strains are abortions in mares, especially late in the pregnancy, and runny noses, high temperatures, loss of tail tone and bladder control and, in extreme stages, the animals can lose control of its limbs. The virus is transmitted through respiratory discharge or even saliva, either through direct contact or through the air.

Of the 308 horses that were directly exposed in Ogden, there have only been 21 confirmed cases of the EVH-1 strand and 12 confirmed cases of EHM. Of the horses exposed, seven horses have died or have been euthanized.

“As of this week there have been no confirmed cases or suspect cases found in Wyoming,” says Wyoming State Veterinarian Jim Logan.

Following first word of the outbreak, and subsequent precautions taken in states surrounding Wyoming, much concern about the virus’s effects on summer equine events arose after with the cancelation of the high school rodeo in Casper scheduled for May 21 and 22.

Despite that cancelation, the rest of the high school rodeo season looks to be a go, says Dixie Huxtable of the Wyoming High School Rodeo Association (WHSRA).

“We deal with horse viruses all the time, it’s not anything new. Yes, it is something that we want to take care of, but we’ve dealt with West Nile and a variety of other diseases over the years. We will just continue to monitor it and do the best that we can,” says Huxtable.

According to Logan, 10 states had confirmed cases of the Equine Herpes Virus, and that led to concern and rumors over the upcoming College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR), scheduled to take place in Casper June 11-18.  

“You can hear rumors, you can hear anything you want to hear. As far as I’m concerned, this is absolutely no different in any respect, form or fashion to the CNFR than the outbreak we had in 2007 in the south,” says CNFRVeterinarian Don Cobb of Casper. “We went ahead and had the CNFR, there was no problem.”

However, additional safety precautions are being implemented for the CNFR this year, in addition to the customary health inspections to prevent the spread of any disease.

“As for the horses coming in for the CNFR, we are requiring a vet inspection within the 72 hours prior to arriving in Casper. There is the possibility that we will be using some fairly sophisticated equipment to determine horse temperatures upon arrival, as well,” says Logan.

“The EHV-1 outbreak has attracted much attention throughout the country, but it’s something that shouldn’t necessarily send up the red flag on traveling or confinement. This outbreak of herpes isn’t anything new to the horse industry,” says Cobb.

“If you were to take test samples from 100 head of horses, between 75 and 80 of them would test positive for a herpes virus. Once they get herpes, they always have it. The herpes virus lays dormant, and when you put the horses under stress such as traveling long distances and competing in rodeo or horse shows, the virus acts up,” added Cobb.

With any outbreak comes fear, but Cobb says the fear and panic that this epidemic has sparked, and the media attention it has received, might be slightly overblown.

“To put this into perspective, the only thing that I can compare this degree of panic that is associated with this is the same degree of panic that Orson Wells produced when he went on the radio and broadcasted the War of the Worlds,” jokes Cobb. “The reaction to this has been absurd.”

Nevertheless, horse owners should take caution if traveling with their horses. Logan suggests keeping horses isolated, monitoring their temperatures and ensuring that their temperatures don’t get above 101 degrees. He also suggests looking out for runny noses and anything that may appear to be paralysis of the limbs.

Tressa Lawrence is an editorial intern for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..