News Update
May 20, 2011

May EXTRA Emails Tonight

The May 2011 Angus Beef Bulletin EXTRA will be distributed this evening.

AABP Rural Veterinary Practice Committee Releases Initial Report

The American Association of Bovine Practitioners (AABP) Board of Directors has established an ad hoc committee to study Rural Veterinary Practice (RVP). The committee, comprised entirely of practitioners with practice experiences ranging from two to more than 25 years, is releasing its initial report.

It was the opinion of the RVP that there is not currently a shortage of veterinarians for rural food supply veterinary private practice. Efforts to increase interest in rural practice among graduating veterinary students have been successful, so lack of available veterinarians is no longer an issue for the United States as a whole. However, there remain underserved rural areas across the country that may not be able to sustain a veterinary practice and absorb these new veterinarians entering the job market.

There are many trends and competing influences affecting the current and future viability of rural practices. While some are out of the control of the veterinary profession, some are clearly in our control. A void of veterinary involvement in rural communities has negative implications for animal welfare, public health and food safety. Simply increasing the number of available veterinarians will not solve this problem. The RVP is currently working on developing tools for AABP members to use for addressing the challenges of serving the beef and dairy industries and protecting public health in a changing environment.

A copy of the committee’s report is available on the AABP website at

— Release by Gatz Riddell, AABP executive vice president.

UK Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory expansion complete

In 2008, the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory broke ground on a $28.5 million expansion and renovation journey. Now the state-of-the-art project is complete and the lab is better equipped to serve Kentucky’s animal agriculture industries.

“This new facility finally puts us in a position where we can take our diagnostic testing services to the next level for Kentucky animal agriculture,” said Craig Carter, director of the lab. “We thank our legislature, industry stakeholders and the College of Agriculture administration, especially Dean Scott Smith and Associate Dean Nancy Cox, for their vision and incredible support of our program.”

The UKVDL is a full-service animal health diagnostic facility. Its faculty and staff handle one of the largest caseloads in the nation, seeing 60,000 clinical cases and performing an average of 4,000 necropsies each year. The laboratory also protects public health by diagnosing many zoonotic diseases that can potentially infect people.

Prior to the renovations, the lab had one of the smallest necropsy floors in the United States. Now, at 3,000 square feet, it’s one of the largest.

“The expansion of the work space was a critical need for all operations, particularly for replacing the cramped necropsy space, and also for maintaining biosecurity for infectious agents,” said Nancy Cox, associate dean for research and director of the Kentucky Agricultural Experiment Station. “The facilities allow for maximum efficiency of operations and also have allowed more opportunities for collaboration with fellow state agencies and veterinary stakeholders.”

Improvements to the facility include the addition of wings for necropsy laboratories and administration, which freed up much of the existing building to increase overall laboratory space. These expansions nearly doubled the size of the previous 38,000-square-foot facility.

The center switched to alkaline digestion as its main form of tissue disposal, which is more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than other methods. UKVDL is the only lab in the world with two 10,000 lb. digesters, which operate at only a quarter of the cost of incinerators. These and other technological improvements allow the facility to meet current biosafety requirements.

The planning for the project began in 2003 under the leadership of Cox and Lenn Harrison, the lab’s former director. Stakeholders began looking at other diagnostic laboratories across the country and made plans for improvements. The university received $8.5 million for the project from the 2005 state legislative session and an additional $20 million from the 2008 legislature.

Kentucky’s first lady Jane Beshear made remarks at the UKVDL’s ribbon cutting.

“With national accreditation and state-of-the-art technology, the Veterinary Diagnostic Lab will have a far-reaching impact that will attract national attention,” she said. “The Governor and I are delighted that Kentucky Agricultural Development funds have assisted in the renovation and expansion of this groundbreaking facility, which will be a tremendous resource in protecting animal health.”

Cox said the facility strives to be one of the premiere veterinary diagnostic laboratories in the United States, providing the very best and most timely services in support of the practicing veterinary profession, Kentucky animal agriculture, the signature equine industries, companion animals and public health.

The primary goal of the lab is to develop, apply and utilize state-of-the-art technology and scientific knowledge to improve animal health and marketability, preserve the human-animal bond and help protect the public health.

— Release by Aimee Nielson and Katie Pratt, UK College of Agriculture.

Katie Allen Joins Angus Foundation

The Angus Foundation announces Katie Allen as its marketing and public relations assistant. Allen will join the American Angus Association’s not-for-profit affiliate in June.

A Missouri native, Allen’s responsibilities will include the development and implementation of marketing and public relations initiatives, and production of the Angus Foundation’s annual report, newsletter and website. She will also identify and create new methods in print and electronic media for the Angus Foundation to recognize donors and plan and market events.

“Katie is a very talented and qualified agricultural communications professional with an impressive portfolio of achievements and accomplishments,” said Milford Jenkins, Angus Foundation president.

Allen developed a keen appreciation for farming and ranching while growing up on her family’s beef cattle and crop operation near Marceline, Mo., Jenkins said. 

Allen is a 2008 University of Missouri (MU) graduate, with a degree in agricultural journalism and minors in animal science and agricultural economics. In 2010 she received a master’s degree in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University.

Her experiences during her undergraduate studies include serving as the “Farm Report” television anchor for KOMU-TV 8 and serving as a radio news reporter for KBIA-NPR and Brownfield Ag News. She has freelance writing experience for Missouri Ruralist, Cattlemen’s News, Missouri FFA Today, Missouri Beef Cattleman and Today’s Farmer magazines. Allen also served as an event intern for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

While completing her master’s degree, she researched topics relating to food safety, country-of-origin labeling and the use of social media. Allen also worked as an assistant instructor for agricultural communications and taught undergraduate Web design and public relations courses.

Allen has been recognized nationally with the Livestock Publications Council’s Forrest Bassford Award, ACT Writing Award of Excellence and was a Mizzou ‘39 Award Winner, which is given to the top 39 seniors each year at MU.

“With Allen’s proven marketing and public relations skills, education and enthusiasm for the future of the beef cattle industry, she will play an important role in reaching the Foundation’s Vision of Value: Campaign for Angus fundraising goal of raising $11 million by December 31,” Jenkins said. “We look forward to working with Katie as we welcome her to Team Angus.”

— Release by the Angus Foundation and the American Angus Association

NASS Releases Livestock Slaughter Report

Commercial red meat production for the United States totaled 3.87 billion pounds (lb.) in April, down 4% from the 4.01 billion lb. produced in April 2010.

Beef production, at 2.05 billion lb., was 4% below the previous year. Cattle slaughter totaled 2.72 million head, down 4% from April 2010. The average live weight was up 4 lb. from the previous year, at 1,257 lb.

Veal production totaled 10.2 million lb., 8% below April a year ago. Calf slaughter totaled 58,900 head, down 14% from April 2010. The average live weight was up 21 lb. from last year, at 296 lb.

Pork production totaled 1.79 billion lb., down 3% from the previous year. Hog slaughter totaled 8.63 million head, down 5% from April 2010. The average live weight was up 4 lb. from the previous year, at 277 lb.

Lamb and mutton production, at 14.3 million lb., was up 11% from April 2010. Sheep slaughter totaled 206,700 head, 9% above last year. The average live weight was 138 lb., up 2 lb. from April a year ago.

January to April 2011 commercial red meat production was 16.1 billion lb., up 1% from 2010. Accumulated beef production was up 1% from last year, veal was down 4%, pork was up 1% from last year, and lamb and mutton production was down 10%.

April 2010 contained 22 weekdays (including no holidays) and four Saturdays. April 2011 contained 21 weekdays (including no holidays) and five Saturdays.

— Release by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS),
Agricultural Statistics Board, USDA, May 20, 2011.

— Compiled by Shauna Rose Hermel, editor, Angus Productions Inc.

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