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Friday, June 6,2008

Wildfires affect forage production

by WLJ
Wildfires affect forage production The lack of rainfall across much of North Dakota has created ample fuel for wildfires this year. Dry, brittle vegetation has gone up in smoke on hundreds of acres of range and pastureland in the western half of the state this spring. Land managers must plan their grazing or haying year differently as a result of these fires, according to Kevin Sedivec, North Dakota State University (NDSU) Extension Service rangeland management specialist. Historically, land managers have taken different approaches to managing fire-impacted range and pastureland. Public lands once were rested for two years following a wildfire, whereas insurance agents and many ranchers believe once the rains come, the grass will regrow and forage production will be normal. "The truth lies within these two philosophies," Sedivec says. Research trials The NDSU Animal and Range Sciences Department and USDA Forest Service conducted a trial in western North Dakota from 2002 to 2005 to test the impacts of a dormant-season fire on forage production and plant species composition. The researchers also were interested in the grazing management practice (rotational grazing, season-long grazing, and no grazing) the year before a fire and if the burning impact differed by type of grazing. The researchers found that fire negatively impacted forage production, regardless of grazing history. On average, dormant-season fire reduced forage production by 40 percent during the first growing season after a fire. Forage production was affected negatively even during the second growing season following a fire. Production reductions ranged from 10 percent on the rotational grazing system and nongrazed areas to 30 percent on the season-long grazing pastures. "One interesting note: These negative impacts on forage production occurred in a year when spring rainfall was normal to above normal," Sedivec says. The NDSU Animal and Range Sciences Department and North Dakota Army National Guard conducted a trial from 1999 to 2001 in east-central North Dakota to test the impacts of spring fires on forage production of grasses and leafy spurge. As in western North Dakota, spring fires negatively impacted grass production. It was reduced by 17 percent, compared with unburned sites; however, leafy spurge production increased by 27 percent. Researchers also learned that grass production in eastern North Dakota was impacted only the first growing season following a fire, while leafy spurge production remained greater on the burned sites for two growing seasons. In both studies, plant species composition was not affected by a one-time fire event. Annual weeds usually don’t need to be controlled because range and pasturelands will recover to preburn conditions. However, if weather conditions continue to remain dry, annual and noxious weeds may become a problem. If they do, state law requires land managers to control them with the appropriate weed management strategies, Sedivec says. Tips for grazing and haying after a wildfire Ranchers and land managers can continue to graze or hay their range and pasture following a wildfire, but they need to take precautions and reduce stocking rates, sometimes substantially, depending on moisture conditions and location in the state, Sedivec says. Here are some of his suggestions: Delay the livestock turn-out date two to four weeks. Grazing should begin no earlier than late May for crested wheatgrass or smooth bromegrass and mid-June for native rangeland following an early spring burn. Reduce stocking rates by 30 percent to 50 percent in the western Dakotas, 20 percent to 30 percent in the central part of the states, and 10 percent to 20 percent in eastern areas. These stocking rate reductions will be greater if dry conditions persist into May and June. Range and pastureland in the Dakotas, Minnesota and eastern Montana grow the majority of forage in May, June and July. If rain doesn’t fall during this period, plan for substantially less forage. Use plant phenology, or stage of plant development, in determining forage-quality goals for hay production. Forage production increases with maturation, peaking at the seed set stage; however, forage quality declines. If fire impacted your hay land, maturation will be delayed slightly, forage production will be reduced, and forage quality will be improved. "Determine your forage-quality goal and harvest accordingly to optimize production and quality," Sedivec says. To learn more about forage production on land affected by wildfires, visit the NDSU drought information Web site at http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/disaster/drought.html or contact Sedivec at 701/231-7647 or kevin.sedivec@ndsu.edu. — WLJ

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Friday, June 6,2008

Research focuses on predicting steaks' tenderness

by WLJ
Research focuses on predicting steaks’ tenderness University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) scientists have developed a way to predict steak tenderness before the consumer takes that first bite. The technology could be a boon to the beef industry as it would allow retailers to charge a premium for a "guaranteed tender" label. "Beef tenderness is a primary factor in consumer satisfaction," said Jeyamkondan Subbiah, the UNL food engineer who heads the research. "However, a sufficiently accurate, nondestructive method of on-line evaluation of tenderness continues to elude the beef industry." Current USDA grading standards classify beef carcasses into quality and yield grades but do not assess tenderness. Since carcasses are not priced on the basis of tenderness, producers don’t have a financial incentive to supply a tender product. The beef industry long has sought technology that could scan fresh meat at two to three days postmortem and predict its tenderness when cooked by the consumer about two weeks later. "There is a growing recognition that beef tenderness must be incorporated into the USDA quality grading process if true, value-based marketing is to be developed," Subbiah and other authors wrote for a recent presentation on the issue. UNL is developing that technology. Its approach uses a hyperspectral imaging, a novel technology that combines video image analysis and spectroscopy. The system consists of a digital video camera and spectrograph to capture the two key qualities that affect beef tenderness—muscle structure and biochemical properties. In the research, two-day aged, one-inch thick ribeyes were placed on a plate and scanned by the system, which captures multiple images at hundreds of wavelengths with regular intervals. The combination of the video images and spectroscopy is key, Subbiah said. The video technology captures the muscle profile. Tender beef has fine muscle fibers, while tough beef has visibly coarser muscle fibers. The spectroscopy measures biochemical properties that indicate how much the steak will become tender during aging. After scanning, the steaks were cooked and tested. Results so far are promising. The system predicted three tenderness categories—tender, intermediate and tough—with about 77 percent accuracy and two tenderness categories—acceptable and tough—with 93.7 percent accuracy. "Beef is expensive. Consumers expect it to be tender. One bad experience can make them not buy beef for awhile," Subbiah said. "We think consumers are willing to pay a premium for a guaranteed-tender product." Subbiah said that premium could be $1 to $2 per pound. Hyperspectral imaging is not new. Previously, it’s been used to determine nutrient deficiency in plants, fecal contamination in chicken, and fungal/bacterial contamination in fruit. Researchers will continue to hone this process. In the meantime, UNL is patenting the technology and hopes to identify a business interested in partnering on commercialization. Critical to commercializing the technology will be finding a way "to take it from the lab to the plant," Subbiah said. The industry must be able to use it to evaluate a carcass, not individual steaks, and do it in about 10 seconds per carcass. "It has to be done in the current mode of operation," without any additional, time-consuming steps, Subbiah added. Such commercialization is likely two to three years away, he added. — WLJ

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Friday, June 6,2008

Tyson chickens test positive for avian influenza

by WLJ
Tyson chickens test positive for avian influenza Tyson Foods announced on June 3 that a flock of chickens at a farm in northwest Arkansas have tested positive for a mild strain of avian influenza. The company said that they are working cooperatively with USDA and the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission to manage the exposed flock of breeder hens. Preliminary tests on the flock indicate the presence of antibodies for H7N3 avian influenza, however, there is no indication the birds currently have the virus. The 15,000 chickens involved show no signs of illness and the situation poses no risk to human health. News of the virus caused Tyson’s shares to fall 7.9 percent lower, to $17, during afternoon trading. Market analysts fear that while the outbreak may be harmless, the economic effect to the U.S. poultry industry could be large if other countries ban U.S. poultry. Russia has taken similar measures in the past, and if countries such as Japan join in banning poultry from Arkansas, there could be significant effects. The discovery came as part of routine, pre-slaughter surveillance conducted by the company. The strain involved is low pathogenic H7N3. It is not the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus that has previously affected birds in Asia, Europe and Africa. Even though the affected birds do not currently have the virus, the flock is being depopulated as a precautionary measure and will not enter the human food chain. While the birds’ exposure to this strain of avian influenza poses no risk to human health, USDA’s policy is to eradicate all H5 and H7 subtypes. As a preventative measure, Tyson is also stepping up its surveillance of avian influenza in the area. The company plans to test all breeder farms that serve the local Tyson poultry complex, as well as any farms within a 10-mile radius of the affected farm. The increased surveillance is in addition to Tyson’s existing testing program which involves the company checking all flocks for avian influenza before they leave the farm. The test results are known before the birds are shipped to a Tyson plant for processing. — WLJ

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Friday, June 6,2008

Beef Bits

by WLJ
Tyson removes antibiotic-free label Under pressure from regulators and competitors, Tyson Foods Inc. recently withdrew its antibiotic-free chicken label awarded by the Agriculture Department barely a year ago. The company said in a recent news release that it was "voluntarily" withdrawing the label "due to uncertainty and controversy over product labeling regulations and advertising claims." Soon after USDA approved the label in May 2007, Tyson’s competitors cried foul. In September, Tyson was notified by the agency that it had made a mistake in awarding the label because Tyson was using ionophores, an antibiotic widely used in the industry. Australia eyes entry into Chinese beef market A recent delegation led by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to China has visited with more than 140 importers and retailers over the course of the 10-day visit. The trip is designed to create connections in the country, where Australia is pushing strongly to expand its exports of red meat. Glen Thompson, MLA’s regional manager for Southeast Asia and China, said the market is almost 100 percent supplied by domestic product, but that the sheer size alone offers marketing opportunities for Australia’s red meat industry. More burgers appearing on menus Whatever they’re calling it, however they’re dressing it up, restaurants are putting burgers on the menu with increasing frequency, according to market research company NPD Group and Datassential, a foodservice research firm. The two firms found that 7 percent more restaurants, from quick service to fine dining establishments, offered burgers on their menus in 2007 than two years earlier. In fact, burgers comprised 14 percent of all restaurant orders last year, or the equivalent of 8.5 billion burgers. In many cases, the ingredients have become more exotic. For example, cheddar cheese has been replaced in some cases by pepperjack, Parmesan and Tillamook. Restaurants with pepperjack burgers on the menu grew by 25 percent last year over the number in 2006. USDA on inspection trip to Brazil USDA officials will depart for the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina this month to assess fresh beef and pork production conditions there. The trip is a result of discussions which were recently completed by the U.S. and Brazilian delegates at the Consultative Committee on Agriculture held in Brasilia. The U.S. hopes to export cattle and beef to Brazil, and Brazil hopes to send fresh beef and pork to the U.S. USDA will determine the risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the state of Santa Catarina. It has been one year since the state received official recognition from the World Organization for Animal Health as being FMD-free, though many in the U.S. fear that the country’s regionalization efforts are not effective. Global beef trade may expand 40 percent World trade in beef and pork is expected to grow by more than 40 percent by 2017 while poultry trade expands by just below 40 percent, according to the latest Agricultural Outlook from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Increased import demand for beef and pork will be dominated by OECD countries while Asian developing countries will drive poultry import gains, the study predicts. Between now and 2017, average global prices for both beef and pork are expected to rise by about 20 percent, while wheat and corn prices rise 40 percent to 60 percent, and oilseed prices increase by more than 60 percent, as compared to average prices from 1998 to 2007. AMI to host two webinars on COOL The American Meat Institute (AMI) will host two webinars in June about implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL), which is scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 30, 2008. AMI Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel Mark Dopp will discuss what meat products must bear origin information, how labeling should be written, as well as record-keeping and other requirements. The first webinar will be held June 10, 2008, at 2 p.m. EST, and will be an informational presentation, with Q&A as time allows. Participants may submit questions to AMI and these questions will be addressed in a second, follow-up webinar June 12, 2008, at 2 p.m. EST. To register, visit: http://www.meatami.com/ht/d/MeetingDetailsMO/mid/00000016. Australia’s beef exports to Russia more than doubled in May, from April, making it the second-biggest buyer, overtaking the U.S. and South Korea. Exports to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), chiefly Russia, in May rose to 17,557 boneless metric tons from 8,426 metric tons in April, both up from 87 metric tons in May last year, according to figures supplied by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Exports to CIS in the first five months of this year rose to 30,749 tons, compared with 532 tons in the year-earlier period, figures show. Total Australian beef exports in May totaled 93,933 tons, up 6.4 percent on the month and up 5.4 percent on the year.   Australia doubles beef exports to Russia

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Friday, June 6,2008

Record $108.5 billion agricultural exports forecasted for 2008

by WLJ
Record $108.5 billion agricultural exports forecasted for 2008 U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer recently announced an updated quarterly forecast for U.S. agricultural exports—expected to reach a record $108.5 billion for fiscal year 2008. The upward revision is a $7.5 billion increase from February’s previous record forecast and $26.5 billion above the final 2007 exports. Grains and animal products account for two-thirds of the export gains. "America’s increased export volume in bulk commodities like corn, other animal feeds and soybeans make agriculture the bright spot in the overall balance of trade," said Schafer. "U.S. producers are on track to export a record 63 million tons of corn and set new export volume and value records for pork. Export volumes and values are also up for many horticultural products, with sales growth to Canada and the European Union being exceptionally strong." Asia continues to be an important growth market for U.S. agricultural commodities. U.S. exports to China are forecast to reach a record $10.5 billion, up almost $3.4 billion from 2007 levels. Canada and Mexico remain the U.S.’ top two markets worldwide with exports forecast to reach $30.5 billion in 2008—some $5 billion above 2007. "Trade agreements have a significant impact on our ability to sell America’s agricultural products in world markets," said Schafer. "Canada and Mexico, our two North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, currently buy 28 percent of the value of America’s agricultural exports—up from 20 percent purchased 15 years ago when trade began under NAFTA. Unfortunately, Congress has not been acting in the best interest of the American farmer and rancher by stalling approval of the signed trade agreement with Colombia, yet along with approving trade with Korea and Panama, Congress could provide three extremely important markets for expanding the trend of increased American export sales for years to come." While agricultural imports in two-way trade with the U.S. will also increase—to a record $78.5 billion forecast by USDA—the $108.5 billion in export sales by American farmers and ranchers will net a positive agricultural trade surplus of $30 billion for the U.S. — WLJ

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Friday, June 6,2008

Ranchers file additional complaints against Montana Board of Livestock

by WLJ
Ranchers file additional complaints against Montana Board of Livestock In an effort to ensure the Montana Board of Livestock’s (BOL) future full compliance with the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), ranchers, who were granted writ of mandamus ordering BOL to immediately remove bison from the west boundary of Yellowstone National Park on May 22, filed additional complaints with the 5th Judicial District Court of Montana on May 30 to seek relief from BOL’s chronic failure in meeting IBMP requirements. Following a court order from Judge Loren Tucker, BOL finally decided to haze 150 head of bison back into the park. However, ranchers believe that BOL has failed to adhere to the bison management plan in the western boundary area for the past three years. According to the IBMP, brucellosis-exposed bison must be hazed back into the park by May 15, and captured or lethally removed after the same date, to ensure none remain outside of the park during the time cattle begin to move into the area. Their refusal to follow the May 15 IBMP deadline is a breach of temporal separation, creating additional opportunity for spatial violation and increasing the likelihood of brucellosis transmission from infected bison. The lead plaintiffs, Bob Sitz and Bill Myers, both of whom graze cattle near the park, as well as the Montana Stockgrowers Association which represents ranchers in that area, have repeatedly voiced their frustrations with relation to BOL and their lack of compliance with the IBMP. Ranchers have expressed deep concern with BOL’s blatant disregard for protecting domestic cattle from the threat of bison infected with brucellosis by not properly adhering to their legal obligations to the IBMP. Discovery of brucellosis in a Montana cattle herd last May forced the state to acknowledge the severity of the risk posed by brucellosis. In a heightened state of awareness, ranchers responded with affirmative actions to protect their herds, assessing potential risks and developing mitigation plans. BOL has failed to equal this effort. BOL’s inactivity flagrantly defies the IBMP and agreements with producers who graze cattle in the affected area. BOL’s failure to take appropriate precautions has jeopardized Montana’s class-free status and subjected ranchers to unnecessary risk. The purpose of this legal remedy is to ensure BOL’s compliance with the IBMP and protect the Montana cattle industry from further hardship. — WLJ

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Friday, May 23,2008

New Products

by WLJ
New Holland introduces new bidirectional tractor New Holland’s new TV6070 Bidirectional tractor offers visibility and versatility that no other tractor in the market can offer. The TV6070 features a new 6.7L engine, a more efficient eight-range transmission, and other improvements designed to enhance the productivity of this unique tractor. Like its predecessors, the new TV6070 Bidirectional tractor can be operated cab-end or engine-end first to provide unparalleled versatility, productivity and exceptional loader performance. An operator can work facing either the engine or the rear because the exclusive Turnabout console rotates the seat and primary controls 180 degrees so the operator always faces the work. Both ends of the tractor can be equipped with 3-point hitches, PTO systems, hydraulic valves, and drawbars. Depending on the application, the TV6070 can push and pull implements simultaneously. Full-time four-wheel drive and 45-degree articulated steering provide excellent traction and maneuverability in any conditions. New engine Efficient hydrostatic transmission, eight operating ranges One tractor, many uses While not designed for heavy tillage work, the TV6070 excels at loader work, and mowing hay, spraying, baling hay, spreading manure, and most other chores around the farm. Because the TV6070 can carry implements at the rear and on the engine-end, many jobs can be done faster by "doubling-up" attachments. For example, two round bales can be carried with the loader and a third one on the engine-end 3-point hitch. Hay can be cut and conditioned up to 35’ at a time by pushing a sickle header and pulling another one. Snow can be cleared faster with a blower on one end and a blade on the other one. The TV6070 transmission now has eight operating ranges, with a total ground speed selection of 0 – 19 mph depending on tire choice. The operator selects a range, and then has infinite control of the tractor’s speed with the drive control handle. The range can be shifted on-the-go as needed. If the tractor encounters a steep hill or heavy resistance, the transmission controller will automatically downshift the range, and then return to the operator’s selection when the load is reduced. The TV6070 features a new 6.7L (411cu.in.) fuel-efficient diesel engine with mechanical fuel injection. This engine meets Tier III engine emission standards, and can operate on diesel fuel or any biodiesel blend up to B100 that meets ASTM 6751 fuel quality standards. The tractor is rated at 105 PTO hp. An optional reversing engine cooling fan helps keep the radiators cleaner when the tractor is used in applications where a lot of chaff or dust is present.

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Friday, May 23,2008

Tips for developing replacement females

by WLJ
Tips for developing replacement females To run an efficient and progressive beef cow production system, it is important to effectively develop replacement females. Developing a sufficient number of heifers that are cycling at the beginning of the breeding season helps to assure they will breed early in the first year. Early breeding translates to earlier calving and heavier weaning weights. "Because replacement females will not begin to produce an economic return until they are around 3 years old, when they wean their first calves, they are an expensive enterprise," says Glenn Rogers, DVM, Pfizer Animal Health. "Heifers are in danger of failing to meet their reproductive and economic potential if they aren’t developed correctly." To effectively develop replacement females, Rogers recommends focusing on two key areas: setting cost-effective goals and developing the immune system. Setting development goals Careful consideration should be given to the costs associated with on-ranch heifer development vs. the purchase of bred heifers. Cow/calf operations are sometimes ill-equipped to efficiently develop their own heifers and many times, high-quality bred heifers can be purchased for less than the actual cost of on-ranch development. If purchasing heifers, a careful analysis of the previous health and production history should occur. If a decision is made to develop rather than purchase, goals should be set to achieve growth, reproductive and economic objectives. Rogers encourages producers to consider the following tips when setting development goals: • Approximately 10 to 25 percent more heifers than needed should be in the initial pool to allow for heifers that fail to meet reproductive and growth targets. • Estrous synchronization and artificial insemination can lead to improved genetics, a tighter calving period, and may offer economic advantages in some operations. • The traditional target weight (65 percent of projected mature weight) for heifers at breeding has been assumed to be optimal for reproduction. However, it may not be economically sound in many production systems. Recent information shows satisfactory reproductive performance can be achieved after developing heifers to a slightly lower percent of projected mature weight than mentioned above. In light of drastically increased input costs, traditional target weight goals may need to be re-evaluated. Developing the immune system The heifer immunization program is the foundation for cow herd immunity. Substantial carry-over effect in herd immunity occurs when a sound health management program for heifers is in place. And, because heifers generally have less immunity to reproductive diseases than mature cows, a sound pre-breeding vaccination program is essential in order to provide heifers with protective immunity during breeding and throughout pregnancy. The vaccination program for heifers pre-breeding should include: • Modified-Live Viral Vaccine, such as Bovi-Shield GOLD FP, for protection against IBR abortions and BVD Types 1 and 2 persistent infection. It is recommended that heifers receive at least 2 doses, with the second dose administered approximately 30 days prior to breeding. • Leptospirosis Vaccine, including hardjo-bovis and Campylobacter fetus (vibrio), with a product such as SPIROVAC VL5. — WLJ

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Friday, April 4,2008

Fortifying Feed with Biodiesel co products

by WLJ
Fortifying feed with biodiesel co-products Biofuel research isn’t just a matter of finding the right type of biomass—corn grain, soybean oil, animal fat, wood or other material—and converting it into fuel. Scientists must also find environmentally and economically sound uses for the by-products of biofuel production. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists Brian Kerr and William Dozier have done just that. Current biodiesel supplies are often made from the triglycerides, or fat, found in soybean oil. But processing biodiesel from soybean oil also yields crude glycerin, also known as glycerol, which has a purity level of about 85 percent. It also contains small amounts of salt, methanol and free fatty acids. If glycerol is refined to 99 percent purity, it can be used in many products, including pharmaceuticals, foods, drinks, cosmetics and toiletries. Kerr, Dozier and Iowa State University colleague Kristjan Bregendahl studied whether crude glycerin could be used to supplement the feed of laying hens, broilers and swine. They found that crude glycerin provided a supply of caloric energy that equaled or exceeded the caloric energy available in corn grain. Feeds containing up to 10 percent glycerin had little to no adverse effect on laying hen egg production or broiler body weight gain. Pig body weight gain, carcass composition and meat quality also showed little to no adverse change after equivalent levels of crude glycerin were added to their feed. Safe levels for salt, methanol and free fatty acids in crude glycerin consumed by nonruminant livestock still need to be determined. But as corn grain ethanol production and conversion soar, corn grain supplies for livestock feed are decreasing. Using crude glycerin to supplement feed supplies could provide livestock producers with a readily available, inexpensive and energy-packed alternative to corn grain. Kerr is an animal scientist at the ARS National Soil Tilth Laboratory, Ames, IA. Dozier is an animal scientist at the ARS Poultry Research Unit, Mississippi State, MS. They presented their findings last week at the 68th annual Minnesota Nutrition Conference in Minneapolis, MN. — WLJ  

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Thursday, December 20,2007

Research shows spike in E. Coli from feeding ethanol byproduct

by WLJ
December 10, 2007 Ethanol plants and livestock producers have created a symbiotic relationship. Cattle producers feed their livestock distillers grains, a byproduct of the ethanol distilling process, giving ethanol producers an added source of income. But recent research at Kansas State University (K-State) has found that cattle fed distillers grain have an increased prevalence of E. coli 0157 in their hindgut. This particular type of E. coli is present in healthy cattle but poses a health risk to humans, who can acquire it through undercooked meat, raw dairy products and produce contaminated with cattle manure. “Distillers grain is a good animal feed. That’s why ethanol plants are often built next to feedlots,” said T.G. Nagaraja, a professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The growth in ethanol plants means more cattle are likely to be fed distillers grain, therefore harboring 0157 and potentially a source of health risks to humans, Nagaraja said. That’s why he and Jim Drouillard, K-State professor of animal sciences, have been collaborating on testing distillers grain-fed cattle for 0157. Nagaraja and Drouillard, who studied the carcass quality of cattle fed distillers grain, are joined by Megan Jacob, a K-State doctoral student in pathobiology. Through three rounds of testing, Nagaraja said the prevalence of 0157 was about twice as high in cattle fed distillers grain compared with those cattle that were on a diet lacking the ethanol byproduct. Food safety and animal health are research priorities at K-State which, since 1999, has dedicated more than $70 million on research related to animal health and food safety. More than 150 K-Staters are actively involved in these areas. Nagaraja said research in the next few years will focus on finding out why 0157 is more prevalent in cattle fed a distillers grain diet. He said it could be something that changes in the animals’ hindgut as a result of feeding distillers grains, or maybe the byproduct provides a nutrient for the bacteria.

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