USDA statement on cow in San Angelo beef plant
Following media reports that questioned the health status of a cow that was taken to slaughter on Tuesday, April 27, 2004, at Lone Star Beef in San Angelo, Texas, Ron Dehaven, Administrator, Animal & Plant Health Inspection Service, and Barbara Masters, Acting Administrator, Food Safety & Inspection Service, made the following comments:
The cow in question was condemned and prohibited from entering the human food chain on antemortem inspection by a veterinarian with USDAs Food Safety and Inspection Service. The veterinarian condemned the animal after observing the cow stagger and fall, indicating either an injury or potentially a central nervous system (CNS) disorder or other health condition.
Standard procedures call for animals condemned due to possible CNS disorder to be kept until APHIS officials can collect samples for testing. However, this did not occur in this case and the animal was sent to rendering. The rendered product from this animal did not enter the human food chain; it presents no risk to human health.
The Food and Drug Administrations feed ban prohibits rendered products from this or any other cow to be fed to other ruminants. FDA is addressing the proper disposition of the rendered product.
We continue to investigate the circumstances of this case and will take appropriate actions once all information is available.
USDA is currently enhancing its surveillance program. The program, which kicks off June 1, will target as many animals as possible from the populations considered to be at highest risk for BSE, including animals with signs of central nervous system disorders and nonambulatory animals. USDA will also include approximately 20,000 apparently healthy older animals in this sampling. As part of this effort, USDA is providing comprehensive training on USDA BSE sampling collection protocols to APHIS and FSIS employees, state veterinarians, accredited veterinarians, and participating veterinary technicians. The additional training effort will help ensure that clear communications occurs regarding collecting samples.
West Virginia University looks at feed efficiency
West Virginia University (WVU) researchers are employing the use of state-of-the-art feeding technology, the GrowSafe 4000E, to evaluate feed efficiency at WVUs Reymann Memorial Farm, Wardensville. The WVU animal scientists think the technology will have significant benefits for the states beef producers and the universitys young sire evaluation program (www.wvbeef.org/wbt/wbt.html).
"Feed costs account for about 60% of production costs in cattle production," explains Gene Felton, assistant professor of animal and veterinary sciences. Its in a producers best interest to select an animal on the right side of the feed-efficiency equation, requiring as little feed as possible to create a pound in weight gain.
The GrowSafe system includes a feeding station that only one animal can use at a time. Each bull or cow is tagged, allowing a system of sensors to record how much it consumed and how that feed consumption was broken down over time. At the end of the test period, system users can compare consumption quantities and rates with weight gain in the test herd.
"Even a one-pound improvement in feed efficiency can lead to significant savings for cattle producers," Felton says.
WVU faculty and staff at the Wardensville facility have recently completed a study of the bulls and will now focus on cows in the research herd. Findings will be shared with the states cattle producers to help them make choices to improve efficiency.