Featured Articles

  • Feb
    23
    Join the Coffee Club


    Join the ASAS Foundation Coffee Club and enjoy coffee at the Midwest 2017 Meeting! Not only will you get coffee—you will also be supporting ASAS member programs and student services.
    Supporting animal science students and colleagues has its “perks!” Here’s how it works:

    Anyone can join! Members of the ASAS Foundation Coffee Club will receive one of our travel mugs. Use the travel mug at MW 2017 and get coffee refills in the “Recharge and Relaxation” Lounge, located across from Registration. You must be a coffee club member, with a mug, for coffee from this area.

    Membership in the coffee club is open to all meeting attendees. Coffee will be available to all club members whenever the registration area is open.

    To join, go to ASAS eCommerce. With a $25.00 donation, you will earn unlimited coffee during MW 2017.  Or you can pick the $50.00 club option for MW 2017 and Annual 2017.


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  • Feb
    23
    Animal science in Brazil


    Kim Schoonmaker, ASAS Scientific Communications Associate, has been touring several farms in Brazil with her husband, Jon Schoonmaker, Purdue University Department of Animal Science, and Jon’s dad, Gary.

    First stop on our 14-day visit: Rio de Janeiro for a few days of sight seeing of the beautiful beaches, as well as the famous Christ the Redeemer statue and “Sugar Loaf Mountain.” Magnificent views from both of these iconic places!

    February 17 – Jon Schoonmaker demonstrates muscle biopsy technique to colleagues at a state government research farm in Colina, São Paulo State, Brazil. Later we tour the animal facilities and feeding area.

    February 18- Toured state research facility in Sertaozinho, São Paulo State, Brazil. A major focus of this farm is the use of breeding and genetic selection to improve feed efficiency of Nelore and Senepol cattle.


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  • Feb
    23
    New technology shows potential in fight against antibiotic resistance


    Penny Young, ASAP/ASAS Intern 2017

    Research from the University of Melbourne has found a polymer that shows promise as a future member of the arsenal against antibiotic resistant bacteria. The team, led by PhD candidate Shu Lam, has found a novel way of targeting bacteria: structurally nanoengineered antimicrobial peptide polymers, otherwise known as SNAPPs. These SNAPPs are especially exciting because they have some advantages over current strategies.

    Firstly, the SNAPPs have multiple pathways of action, meaning they should perform better than many types of antibiotics, which often only have one mechanism. It is also hoped this might help to avoid or delay resistance developing in the bacteria. The SNAPP can break or disrupt the cell wall itself, but it is also able to trigger self-destructive pathways in the bacterial cells.

    The SNAPP investigated also appears to be very safe, with tests performed on red blood cells finding that toxicity is only reached with a dose over 100 times the effective dosage rate. It seems that the large size of the SNAPP means that it does not target healthy host cells, which makes it a more attractive treatment option for conventional antibiotics which often do have an effect on host cells.


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  • Feb
    23
    Scanning of heifers key to success


    Penny Young, ASAP/ASAS Intern

    An article recently published on Farm Online highlighted the benefits offered by performing and recording more ultrasound scans on heifers. Catriona Millen from Southern Beef Technologies Services was interviewed to provide insight.

    While producers often perform ultrasound testing for EBV traits on some of their bulls, Ms Millen stresses that there are benefits to extending this testing to heifers. Scanning heifers is potentially more beneficial for a few reasons. Firstly, because the heifers mature earlier than bulls, scanning them at the same age is likely to give a greater indication of their traits because the variation in rib and rump fat depth and marbling is often more obvious. This allows more accurate EBVs to be calculated. Research by S. Walkom et al. concluded that scanning cattle earlier and when they are leaner results in a decreased correlation between scan intramuscular fat and carcass intramuscular fat, which decreases the efficacy of the scanning in terms of its application in selection for genetic improvements. However, the reduction in strength of prediction is not as great in heifers compared to bulls. Thus scanning heifers may help to mitigate the disadvantage of measuring earlier due to their earlier maturity.

    Scanning heifers is also beneficial because generally a larger proportion of heifers are retained in the herd relative to bulls and these heifers are less likely to be culled for carcass traits. This means that scanning the heifers probably gives a better indication of the differences in rib and rump fat depths and marbling in a herd.


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  • Feb
    23
    New rabbit control roll out


    The first week of March marks the release of the K5 strain of RHDV1, a virus used to control feral rabbit populations. The strain is being introduced in the hope that it will better control the rabbit populations in cooler and wet climates where the current strain has been less successful.

    Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus, commonly referred to as calicivirus, was first introduced in 1996 as a new control measure due to the increasing resistance to myxomatosis, which had been introduced in the 1950s. While it did have quite a dramatic effect on the rabbit population initially, it was found that it was not very successful in wet, cool climates. Further issues were identified in 2009 when it was found that there was a naturally occurring calicivirus, RCV-A1, which confers resistance to RHDV in feral rabbits.

    The Korean (K5) strain of RHDV shows promise for rabbit control because it seems to be able to overcome the effects of the protective RCV-A1 calicivirus. However, it is being implemented mostly to help ‘boost’ the effects of the currently circulating strains, and it is not expected to result in the dramatic 90% reduction in rabbit population seen with the original introduction of RHDV1. It is to be considered more in its ability to reduce the growth of the population rather than a culling measure, or as a solution to the problem.

    The RHDV2 virus found in Australian wild populations of rabbits in May 2015 is also hoped to help control the rabbit populations. It looks promising; Europe has noted a decrease in rabbit numbers, currently attributed to the virus, and hopefully a similar result will be seen in Australia. It is also hoped RHDV2 will be more effective because it can cause death to young kittens and mature, vaccinated rabbits. However, because the virus has a strong competitive advantage and appears to be replacing circulating strains in Europe, it could cause issues if it is not highly virulent, as it may result in the biocontrol measures being less effective.


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  • Feb
    23
    Protein boosts gains and fertility


    February 2017, Ashlee McEvoy, ASAP/ASAS 2017 Communications Intern

    Industry specialist, Jeff House, principal of Jeff House Livestock and former NSW Department of Primary Industries cattle officer has told The Land in an interview that if livestock producers do not incorporate a protein supplement during the summer months when pasture qualities and growth are low, the producers are running risks of productivity and lowered fertility in their animals.

    House states that majority of pastures in the summer and dry stubble and hayed, and can have a protein count of as low as 4 per cent. This imbalance in nutrition can cause a direct impact on rumen function, which can effect the ruminants body weight, and therefore fertility.

    Traditionally farmers, when feeding requirements get low, open the gates on several paddocks and allow stock to spread across the property in search of their own food. House believes that confining stock to smaller areas makes livestock easier to feed and easy to monitor during the tougher summer heat. Not only will this have a positive effect on the livestock, but it will also allow pastures to recover quicker and at a higher quality.


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  • Feb
    23
    Australian beef in Indonesia


    February 2017, Ashlee McEvoy, ASAP/ASAS 2017 Communications Intern

    In April 2016, Indonesian cattle importers were struggling with Australia’s record-high live export prices. Over an 18-month period, prices rose from $2.50 per kilogram to $3.90 per kilogram, and importers still had to pay over $4 per kilogram for delivery.

    At the time, the wet market in Jakarta was around IDR115,000 ($11.40 AUD) per kilogram, but this price was not high enough for importers to make financial returns from the high Australian prices. The wet market meat prices were considered expensive when over IDR100,000 ($10.09 AUD) per kilogram, and due to this the Indonesian Government aimed to lower prices to around IDR85,000 ($8.57 AUD) per kilogram. If the prices were to rise at this stage, there was risk of customers stopping buying the product all together to find a cheaper protein source.

    William Bulo from Juang Jaya Abdi Alam feedlot in Lampung was interviewed by ABC Rural and stated he paid more for Australian cattle than he could sell them for.


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  • Feb
    20
    In memory: Dr. William Hansel


    ASAS has learned of the passing of Dr. William Hansel, an ASAS member and Morrison Award recipient. Dr. Hansel passed away on January 2, 2017. He was 98 years old.

    Dr. Hansel is greatly missed by family, as well as colleagues at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center at Louisiana State University. According to this tribute written in his memory, Dr. Hansel spent nearly 70 years working as a scientist and health research pioneer, building a legacy of dedication and discovery. He had a remarkable scientific career that will forever leave its mark on the face of cancer and chronic disease research. And even at 98 years old, Dr. Hansel kept regular work hours daily well into December 2016.

    Prior to the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Dr. Hansel spent 40 years as an esteemed scientist at Cornell University, including serving as chairman of the Physiology Department and as a revered Liberty Hyde Bailey Professor.

    Dr. Hansel received the highest ASAS award, the Morrison Award, at the National Meeting in 1979. He was also the recipient of two Purple Hearts for his service in the Army during World War II.


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  • Feb
    20
    Nominate an ASAS National Graduate Director


    Nominations for the ASAS National Graduate Director are now open. Here is information about the position, if you are interested in serving as a graduate director, or know someone you wish to nominate.

    Responsibilities: Plan, advertise and implement ASAS graduate and undergraduate student activities at the National Meeting, such as the Graduate Student Symposium, Lunch & Learn, Open Forum and Social; serve as a voting member on the national ASAS Board of Directors; attend board meetings in January and July each year (all travel and accommodations covered); serve on various national ASAS committees (Student Activities, Communications, Membership, National Awards, and Agri-King Outstanding Graduate Student Award); recruit and organize National ASAS Graduate Director elections; update the graduate student section of the ASAS website; communicate with members using monthly Facebook/blog postings and updates in the Taking Stock e-newsletter; contribute monthly to the Graduate BULLetin, oversee one of the sectional graduate director committees and facilitate communication; continuously adjust programming activities to meet the needs of a changing and diverse membership.

    Time commitment: Varies during the year from 5 to 20 hours per month depending on proximity to the National Meeting. Term is from July 2017 to July 2019. Graduate Directors must be graduate students or post-docs during the duration of their term. While two years is a significant commitment, participation should not interfere with progress towards your degree.

    Application process: If you are interested in serving as a graduate director, or know someone you wish to nominate, please send name of nominee and contact information to Amanda Jones, amanda.2.jones@uconn.edu by March 1, 2017.


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  • Feb
    20
    Block & Bridle Convention coming up!


    The 97th National Block & Bridle Convention is fast approaching. The meeting will be held March 31 to April 2 in Arlington, Virginia at the Crystal Gateway Marriott.

    Not yet registered for the meeting?  Register today as space is filling up quickly! Also make your housing arrangements soon. Discounted housing rates end March 6.

    Speakers and tour stops are being finalized now, so watch for more details on the meeting website and by email soon.

    We have great social events planned for the evenings, including:


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  • Feb
    20
    Midwest Section officer elections open


    Midwestern Section Members: Officer elections for the ASAS Midwest Section are now open. Voting will remain open through 11:59 p.m. (CST) on March 10, 2017.
    For the 2017 election cycle, the ASAS Midwest Section must fill positions for 1) ASAS Midwest President-Elect, 2) Midwest ASAS National Director-at-Large and 3) Midwest Section Graduate Director. The nominees for ASAS Midwest President-Elect are Dr. Richard Coffey and Dr. Steve Moeller. The nominees for Midwest ASAS National Director-at-Large are Dr. Michael Azain and Dr. Ryan Dilger. The nominees for the ASAS Graduate Student Director are Ashley Conway and Jeffrey Wiegert.

    If you are a Midwestern Section member, you should have received an email with a link to the ballot, as well as an Elector ID and password. Please contact ASAS headquarters if you have questions: asas@asas.org

    Please take a minute to vote for the 2017 ASAS Midwest Section Officers.

     


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  • Feb
    15
    Upcoming Events


    March 21-22nd 2017, Leduc, Alberta.

    For more information on this event please click here.

    March 28th, BCRC webinar.

    For more information please click here.


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  • Feb
    15
    TB outbreak - Light at the end of the tunnel for cattle producers in Alberta and Saskatchewan


    Penny Young, ASAS/ASAP Intern

    The bovine tuberculosis (TB) outbreak traced to Jenner, Alberta late last year that set off a massive investigation involving over 60 farming operations finally has an end in sight. The investigation, overseen by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA), has found no affected animals aside from the six identified in the index herd.

    Using trace-back and trace-forward approaches, the CFIA identified and subsequently quarantined around 58 operations across Alberta and Saskatchewan. Testing of animals on these properties resulted in the selection of 18 properties for culling and testing procedures due to the presence of positive responders to the tuberculin test. These procedures resulted in the loss of around 10,000 mature cattle and most calves of the 18 farming operations, however it was found that no animals presented with tuberculosis in the enhanced post-mortem testing. In addition to routine searches for characteristic tuberculosis lesions, this testing included examination of tissue under microscope (looking to detect presence of Mycobacterium bovis), PCR, and tissue culture.

    What’s next?


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  • Feb
    15
    CSAS symposia at 2017 Annual Meeting


    We are excited to announce that we will be holding two CSAS symposia at the 2017 ASAS-CSAS Annual Meeting in Baltimore in July.

    Title: From one to all biological components – the new approach of Systems Biology

    Date and Time: Sunday July 9th, 2:00 – 5:00 pm.

    Speakers:


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  • Feb
    15
    Warm Pacific water linked to seabird deaths


    Written by Ashlee McEvoy ASAS/ASAP Intern

    Early 2016, tens of thousands of common murres washed up starved on beaches from California to Alaska. The cause of this death has now been linked to unusually warm water temperatures that had affected the fish they fed upon.

    Volunteers and researchers counted carcasses of 46000 dead murres in Alaska, with another 6000 being found in California, Oregon and Washington. CTV News interviewed John Piatt, a research wildlife biologist in the U.S. Geological Survey. Piatt states that this was only a fraction of the dead birds that would have met the shore. And only fractions of the Alaskan coastline was surveyed, this causes a conservative extrapolation to indicate that more than 500000 common murres died in this time.

    “They died of starvation because there was no food. There was no food because there was no fish. And there was no fish because these warm waters did something to them,” Piatt states.


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  • Feb
    15
    2017 ASAS award nominations now open


    ASAS is pleased to announce that the 2017 ASAS National Awards are now open for nominations. The ASAS Awards Program is set up to honor the most significant contributions of our members to Animal Science, Animal Agriculture and to ASAS. The National Awards are one of our favorite programs in the office, because the awards honor our history, celebrate our membership and help us to glimpse the future. Here are a few things about the ASAS National Awards Program that you might not know:

    ASAS Award winners are recognized online, in the awards program, at the awards ceremony and in press releases issued by the society.

    L.E. Casida Award and the H. Allen Tucker Lactation and Endocrinology Award are only given every 3 years. These 2 awards will be given in 2017.

    Please nominate your colleagues for the 2017 ASAS National Awards.
 If you would like to re-nominate a colleague from a previous nomination, please email Melissa at Melissab@asas.org.


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  • Feb
    15
    Annual Meeting symposium preview


    A Growth and Development Symposium featuring the History of Adipocyte/Adipose Tissue Research in Meat Animals is being planned for the 2017 ASAS-CSAS Annual Meeting & Trade Show in Baltimore, Md. Here is a sneak peak of the speakers and their presentation topics.

    Ever since animals were first domesticated for food, trends in human consumption of meat have influenced the types of animals most highly prized. For most of this history, selection of animals was largely based on visual appraisal. However, by the early 20th century it had become apparent to producers that investigating the tissue and chemical composition of carcasses was integral to improving production and thus the field of adipose tissue research was born. This innovative research began to change how animals were selected, and the changes in meat and lard consumption after World War II spurred further research into adipose tissue and adipocytes.

    This Growth and Development symposium pays tribute to those early researchers who laid the foundations for our current knowledge. The presentations shed light on a range of topics within the field of adipose tissue research, from the history of those early projects to recent findings.

    With a focus on meat animals, Dr. Gary Hausman from the University of Georgia will address the history of research into carcass composition, fat deposition and marbling, while Dr. Werner Bergen of Auburn University will present on the history of adipose tissue metabolism research. Continuing on with the exploration of the history of this field, Dr. Terry Etherton from Penn State University will present an overview of adipocyte cellularity research in meat animals.


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  • Feb
    15
    Midwest Meeting coming up next month


    The Annual Meeting of the Midwest Branch of ADSA and the Midwestern Section of ASAS is fast approaching. Join us in Omaha, Nebraska on March 13–15, 2017.

    REGISTRATION
    Register today for the 2017 Midwest Meeting in Omaha. Registration information can be found on the 2017 Midwest Meeting website under the registration tab. A printable registration form is also available.

    HOUSING
    Rooms are going fast! Reserve your room online through the hotel links on the meeting website.  Special meeting rates available at the Hilton Omaha. Housing deadline is February 20, 2017.

    WELCOME RECEPTION
    Join us at The Durham Museum for a special Omaha welcoming reception on the evening of Sunday, March 12th. The museum is in the historic Union Station building, which first opened its doors to the public on January 15, 1931, as one of the finest of Art Deco architecture in the United States. This magnificent facility served millions of rail travelers and was well-known for its “modern” amenities and lavish style.


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  • Feb
    15
    Newer respiratory pathogens prove hard to spot


    Penny Young, ASAS/ASAP Intern

    An article by Roy Lewis posted late last year on Grainews identified two lesser known pathogens that are emerging as causes of respiratory disease in cattle. The article also highlights how management practices are important in helping to minimize the impact of these diseases, given there is little specific prophylaxis or treatment available.

    One of the agents identified was a Coronavirus, a virus family most commonly associated with scouring in new calves and winter dysentery in mature cattle. However, the virus can also cause respiratory disease. While this respiratory disease is typically milder or subclinical, it poses threats to calves’ health as it can infect the respiratory epithelium, which can increase susceptibility to secondary bacterial infection. It also poses a problem because large amounts of the virus are secreted in the nasal mucus, allowing the disease to be easily spread to other cattle, especially amongst housed animals.

    While vaccines containing coronavirus exist for scours, no respiratory vaccines containing the virus are currently on the market. Hence to prevent disease, it is vital that the immune systems of the calves are kept in top form as immunocompromise due to vitamin/mineral deficiency, stress or parasites may increase the risk of coronavirus respiratory infection. This is especially important to consider when bringing many susceptible animals together, such as newly weaned calves moving to a feedlot. This kind of non-specific protection through improving immunity is crucial given there is no specific defense or treatment offered. Rigorous vaccination programs for other respiratory diseases is also important as Coronavirus is commonly seen in association with the other, more prominent, respiratory viruses and bacteria.


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  • Feb
    15
    Open sow system push


    Written by Ashlee McEvoy ASAS/ASAP Intern

    The gestation stall was introduced in the 1970’s. The stall was used to prevent sows fighting amongst themselves and allow sows to receive individual care. Because of this, more live piglets were produced than what had been previously.

    However today, the views on animal welfare have changed dramatically, forcing hog producers to change with them. Due to the demands of consumers and the push of animal welfare, the Canadian Code of Practice for the care and handling of pigs (2014), now require that as of the 1st of July, 2014, all new buildings and renovations must accommodate sows in group housing during gestation. It was also stated that existing buildings that do not undergo renovation may continue with stall operation, but must provide additional requirements for providing greater freedom as of July 1, 2024. More information on the Code of Practice can be found here.

    Tom Parsons was a hog farmer before becoming a veterinarian and a professor in swine medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Parsons mentioned in an interview with The Western Producer after giving a talk at the Banff Pork Seminar in January that the drive to stop using gestation stalls was promoted by people with animal welfare on their minds.


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