Mad Cow Disease Arrives

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by amelia, Dec 24, 2003.

  1. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    News is that not very far from here, in a town near Yakima, Washington, they've discovered a a case of mad cow disease in a Heiffer that was sent to slaughter. There's a panic over the entire rural part of the state. The government is being very tight-lipped about whose ranch has been quarantined.

    Just about all we're hearing from the ag officials is that the meat in circulation is "absolutely safe" because none of the infected parts (brain, spinal cord) were sent to market. Am I too off-base in guessing that those parts went into feed?

    Apparently this same producer was the topic of several investigatory news spots for their shoddy practices. Word has it that the animal which tested positive was so sick prior to slaughter that it couldn't walk on its own.

    I'm curious to know what the responsible meat-producers on this forum think about all this.
     
  2. The slaughter house has a problem. The much, much bigger problem is that the experts have said for years mad cow would never turn up in this country. Now they have to figure out where it came from. the implications are that this is the tip of the iceberg.

    Even though it was a downer dairy cow, the whole cattle industry is suspect. The cow's origins, the places where it spent any part of it's life, all the cattle that passed through the same places and all the feed that was used has to be checked. There are experts out there that have probably been thinking "Oh *****. Oh ***** ...." ever since they heard the news. That one find is the 9/11 of the cattle and related businesses. Some ranchers and farmers won't survive this.

    For those that market grassfed animals instead of ones fed a TMR (some include food grade chicken manure) this may be an opportunity.
     

  3. jillianjiggs

    jillianjiggs Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully it won't be anything like what it was in Europe. Most people don't eat brain or spinal cord in this country, so the spread to humans is less likely. We've improved sanitation and handling practices since we saw the outbreak in Europe. I'm sort of glad my poor pup is stuck on that vegetarian allergy diet for now.
     
  4. bumpus

    bumpus Well-Known Member

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    News report today said a steers worth $1000.00 last week will be worth less than $700.00 next week.

    Beef prices in America are going down and no one knows how far, or how long.
     
  5. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    I am a beef farmer and this is the worst thing that could have happened short of a case occurring in a human having consumed US grown beef. I sold feeder calves last week for the best price ever and as posted above I will have the opportunity to sell some for very cheap now. There is no excuse for feeding the animal products back to cattle. This problem has existed in animals since WWII when due to the shortage of meat in Europe sheep were feed animal byproducts to enhance weight gain. The authorities have known the consequence of feeding these byproducts but turned a blind eye to it. Additionally, we do not have adequate testing capabilities in place to ensure that the beef going to market is safe. We are already banned for selling beef in 15 European countries due to the hormones implants that are also unnecessary. All these problems are a result of greed, trying to provide a product very cheaply obtained at an inflated selling price. The one cow in Canada supposedly cost them 3.3 billion in lost sales. How long will it take to recover the expenses associated with this US outtbreak caused by someone trying to beat the system? This reply is from a responsible livestock producer producing beef safe for all but one that will get labeled along with everyone in the "business"
     
  6. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    I know absolutely nothing about the livestock business, so forgive me if this comment is stupid. However it seems to me that this reprehensible situation would provide an opportunity to responsible livestock producers. I, for one, will be willing to pay double the price for beef that I know to be "clean."
     
  7. Snowdancer

    Snowdancer Well-Known Member

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    I am going to say something that is probably going to get me flamed big time. BUt it needs to be said until folks hear it.
    I am not surprised and actually expected to see cases show up earlier than this.
    My reasons aren't just because of the big producers but the 'homesteaders' that find it OK to feed cat & dog food to sheep, goats and also feel it's Ok to feed the entrails and meat of one animal to others on their homestead of the same species.
    Especially bad is feeding dog & cat food to ruminants-don't folks realize that the renderers where the infected, diseased animals are taken;produce the 'animal byproducts' that are found in dog and cat food. Not only cattle but sheep and goats can contract versions of mad cow disease-sheep it's scrapie and goats it's wasting disease(there's a name for it but right now it escapes me).
    Since there's as much as a 5 yr incubation period before the animals show symptoms how many homesteaders are eating meat that they themselves have caused to be infected by trying to save a buck by feeding dog & cat food, other animal meat and entrails?
    We never feed any of our livestock from the poultry all the way to the pigs any feed that has animal byproducts in it including any scraps containing meat or garbage from our own table. Vegetables & fruits they do get but not meat or meat byproducts. To me it's just asking for problems and so far in 30 yrs we've never had the disease, parasites or illnesses so frequently discussed on all of the various homesteading type boards.
    So although this infected animal was found because it came through the large processing plant where testing was done, how many of you are susceptible to the same thing by your own on farm feeding practices? It is surely something to consider when deciding if you want to eat healthy meat produced through good management and species specific feed or just want to eat the same thing that you would get from a feed lot?
    The choice is yours......
     
  8. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

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    um..... well, mad cow has been showing up in humans for a few years. Not many but enough. No hospital is going to call the news and report it! and that is all I am saying about it.
     
  9. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    I raise cattle. I had planned on selling my feeders after the first of the year. So much for that plan. I could well be ruined.

    I don't feed my cattle any animal proteins and have not for quite some time. I do not use commercial supplements. They get corn and soybean meal in the feed I grind myself.

    I don't use hormones or unecessary anti-biotics (only if they get sick).

    It is encouraging to hear people say that they will pay a good price for clean beef, however....I have 60 head of 500 pound calves that I need to sell to pay my bills. How can I sell 60 head of "not even close to be ready for slaughter" calves one by one to people who are willing to pay a decent price? Is there any feedlot or other commercial outlet that is willing to pay for clean meat?

    I raise my cattle the way I do because I think it's the right thing to do. I also felt it would provide me with some kind of protection in the event of BSE (yeah, I knew it was coming here....I'm actually surprised it took this long to find it). My plans have fallen short as I have raised them right, but will suffer along with everyone else. The beef boat is sinking and I will probably go down with it.

    It's too bad doing the right thing doesn't pay $$$, but at least I know I am/was part of the solution and not the problem.

    Jena
     
  10. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Jena, I felt the same as you, we raise our cattle the same way you do and we've always marketed them as "naturally raised". I figured that if nothing else, when things got tough, we could sell them as sides to folks that were looking for a good safe alternative to supermarket beef. Be damned if the feedlot guys didn't beat us all to the punch. They were selling pounds of hamburger for $1/lb and pick your steer and we'll have it buchered for you at $0.35/lb. Calves we sold last year for $600/weanling (longhorn or longhorn cross), sold this year for $300 and we were darned happy to get it. The only saving grace was that the older stock, sitting in feedlots were looking like they might be moved. I can tell you that your markets are going to swing radically, up sky high one week and down the tubes the next and each week depends on what hope we got from the ag department. I pray that all of you suffer far less than so many here have.

    amelia, as a producer, I have to agree with you about selling down cattle. They should never have to suffer through transport and everything else, some do it to try and recover what little they can on the cow, most of us, accept it and write it off. I guess in saying that, it would only mean that BSE would be in your country and you wouldn't be aware of it. When an animal is down, it's in final stages and it could just as easily be an animal in the early stages showing now physical signs and the problem would be just as real.

    KY Guest, I can see your point and I suppose a lot of people share responsability for this but I'd like to add one more group. Vets have become businessmen and so many are quick to move phone diagnosis and even when asked to make an on site visit, will usually avoid, put you off or flat out refuse possibly because they're busy, I know we have a shortage. I can think of a couple cases, a neighbor called the vet to see why his cattle were suddenly dying, he needed a necropsy. Vet advised the rancher that it was because of drought conditions and the grass could be toxic, move the herd. A total of 13 animals died in rapid sucession before the vet found the time to come and and make a proper diagnosis, anthrax and 16 carcasses to dispose of, according to federal regulations. In most places, if someone calls the vet with a down cow, they'll be told that it's milk fever, slam her with some cal mag and that should do it. Cow dies, rancher believes that he just didn't get her treated in time or she was too far gone. Rancher calls vet on monday with a cow down and the vet offers some general help, rancher calls a week or so later with another situation and gets general help, this will continue forever and the vet will make no connection or anything but general recomendations so the next time a cow starts showing early symptoms of the same thing, maybe some ranchers would sell the cow. Each of the situations that I've cited have come from long standing relationships with various vet clinics, not just people that pick a number out of the phone book in times of trouble.
     
  11. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    ".....um..... well, mad cow has been showing up in humans for a few years. Not many but enough. No hospital is going to call the news and report it! and that is all I am saying about it....

    Westbrook: It's not the job of a hospital to do the reporting. If you are a hospital administrator do you want to be the one to cause wide spread panic on unconfirmed suspicious? Suspicious deaths are turned over to the Coronor's Office who is responsible for determining cause of death and then doing the required reporting.

    The problem with JCD (human version of MCD) is the symptoms mimic Alzheimers - and people, usually the elderly, die of Alzheimer-related causes all the time. Right now the only way to tell would be to remove the brain, take slices of it and then have those sent to a lab not only equipped for testing, but also one which can tell the difference between JCD from MCD and just naturally occurring JCD, which is about a 1/1M event. If it is determined not to be natural, a complete and thorough investigation would then be required. It could well be this person had eaten venison infected with Chronic Wasting Disease, rather than beef with MCD. In KY fried squirrel brains are a delicacy. Humans have acquired the squirrel form of MCD from doing so. From what I have read pretty well all animal species, including humans, have their own naturally occurring form of MCD and now there is amply evidence under the right combination of circumstances there can be cross-species transmission.

    (I do find it odd the sheep version is called scrapie and I have not heard of a single case of it being transmitted to humans. Does any know?)

    How it was detected in England was doctors started to notice young people were not only dying of Alzheimer-type symptoms, but much quicker than what would be expected with it. The connection was then made to their having eaten beef.

    I agree with KY Guest cannabilism (within-species consumption) should be avoided. Don't throw out the chicken guts for the chickens to peck at. However, they would still be given to a hog. Even better would be to bury them within a compost pile and let them become garden soil.

    I suspect the dairy in Washington State did absolutely nothing wrong. They are reported to have 4,000 head on two dairy farms. With that number you simply cannot deal with individual animals. When this one apparently became partially paralized from calving, the decision was made to sell her as a cull. Probably the right decision at the time. Had she walked (limped, whatever) into the slaughter plant she would not have even been tested for MCD. If the proper procedures are followed at the processing plant (i.e., no brain or spinal tissue contamination), changes at probably something like 99.99999(and a lot more 9s) the MCD she carried would not have been passed on to a human and they subsequently contract the human-variation from it.

    Remember in England almost all of the JCD cases related to MCD were individuals from within family group. Likely the entire family ate the contaminated beef, yet only one came down with symptoms. Natural immunity? A separate trigger, such as the unluckly one ate an apple sprayed with orangeophorphorus for fly control, which then triggered the MCD prions to activate? Were the ones infected just simply unusually naturally highly susceptible?

    Like Jena, I don't feed my cattle anything with meat and bone meal in it. However, that is not to say the occasionally bag of calf grower for the creep feeder or the range cubes I buy as a treat don't have animal by-products in them, such as chicken feathers or animal fat. My local Co-op has assured me they use absolutely no M&MB from any species in their feeds. When I have hay ground at the feed mill the only additives are pasture minerals, salt, molasses and chopped corn. I don't even use cotton-seed or soybean meal out of concern there may be pesticide or herbicide residue in it. I have never implanted a calf.

    The best thing consumers can do right not is to simply continue buying beef as a show of support.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  12. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

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    This is the perfect time for the growers of grass-fed, clean beef to promote their sales via a "subscription" list. The ground swell of consumers that are willing to pay "double" for beef they can trust will be huge. And don't over look local restaurant owners. Their problem will be how to find a farmer they can trust. Spruce up the farm and open it for inspection by the public. Offer special private showings to resaurant owners, complete with prepared samples. Do that part by invitation only, to avoid the "health inspector" issues.

    Then as they new clients commit, one of your first hurdles will be getting the slaughter houses to accomodate your initial small offerings. However, by showing them an increasing demand of beef that will show up in a scheduled fashion, they can begin to predict their service needs and cash flow.

    Anybody notice how this has impacted the price of sheep?
     
  13. bumpus

    bumpus Well-Known Member

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    Just because an animal is grass-feed does not mean it is free from
    diseases.

    There can be contamination in the grass or manure.

    Any wild Animal or bird can bring diseases to your farm.

    You can have a disease on your homestead or farm right now, and you will never know it until it shows up in your livestock.

    It is good to be safe in practice.
    But grass-feed is not a guarantee of disease free meat.

    Also most people with a little common sense will not pay outrageous prices for any meat. Grass-feed or not.

    As soon as the meat prices start to fall
    people will start buying cheaper meats.
    Then the prices will go up because of short supply.

    I have not been buying as much meat this year because it is priced to high.

    It's not just the beef producing people that will suffer. It will also be all of those who sell anything to the beef producers.

    All of the feed stores, livestock actions, those who sell fence equipment etc.

    Those who invest in the livestock stock markets
    which have already dropped in value.

    The large feed lots will suffer great loss !

    All because of one outbreak.
    It's a risky business.

    The cattle prices were due for a great fall as soon as Canada gets to sell to the U.S.A. again.

    Prices are high because of short supply and high demands.
    The large supply will kill high prices.
     
  14. amelia

    amelia Well-Known Member

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    Many of the supermarkets now sell at least one line of beef that is billed as "natural"--no antibiotics, pesticides. So clearly there is an established chain of distribution for this kind of product. In addition, in my area there are two HUGE natural food outlets--one a co-op and another for-profit--which sell nothing but antibiotic-free, pesticide-free meat. The price difference between "natural" and regular is significant (probably not double, but close); however, it sells. It seems to me that these existing markets could be exploited in this crisis, especially by the small guy who does a clean business but who has not previously thought of himself as anything special. Before good, responsible raisers of livestock conclude that they're ruined, wouldn't it make sense, as a group, to do a huge informational campaign (God knows, the government isn't telling consumers the truth, and they know it) and to promote the clean stuff as the answer? Who knows, maybe the tradename "Clean Beef" will catch on.
     
  15. westbrook

    westbrook In Remembrance

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    I know it is not the responsibility of the hospital to treat and tell (what a nightmare that would be)..however, I posted what I did because people seem so surpised that "Mad Cow has just shown up in America" ... not true, we have had several cases over the last couple of years in just 1 hospital...which means that Mad Cow is not all that uncommon.
     
  16. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Westbrook:

    Either prove it or stop spreading rumors!!! It happens to be my nose you are punching since I am a cattle farmer. Just had a bull calf born this morning. Three days ago he might have been worth $.80 to $1.00 a pound 8-9 months from now. Now who knows if he'll even bring his feed bill.

    Ken Scharabok
     
  17. countrygrrrl

    countrygrrrl PITA

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    I know this will be devastating for some, but I also see the potential for tremendous opportunity from this, which would be forcing the factory farms to clean up their act and fast.

    In the long run, if the small farmers can hold on, this could be a tremendous opportunity for them.

    Anyone who has had to smell the stench from those horrible giant chickens farms or hog farms or whatever - and who has taken a good look at their meat in the store :no: :no: :no: or gotten home and taken a whiff of it (blegh!!!) :no: - would welcome the thought of the small producers taking over the market.

    And I understand not all small producers engage in ethical practices. But no way on earth those large factory farms are - NO WAY. Their product is too disgusting, they cause way too much damage to the environs (esp. the groundwater), and their focus is much too intent on the dollar.

    So ... you ethical small producers, hang on if you can. I see great opportunity in this for you guys!
     
  18. As a consumer, I often wonder what the "real risk" is for many of these health hazards reported in the media. Fear is an odd bird... it causes people to react in what would usually be non-logical ways. The U.S. reports one case of mad cow... and many countries immediately close their borders to all American beef? There are also going to be many folks in the U.S. who, for whatever length of time, will not purchase beef. Bizarre.

    cheers,
     
  19. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Ethics has nothing to do with the size of one's operation. The suggestion it does, is not factual. The large operations just hold more land and employ more people. Unethical cattle producers are a lot like any other industry, they do happen but it's not the big producer or the small producer exclusively.

    Westbrook, from what I've heard, the human variant of the disease has never been proven to come from beef at all and those that have had it, seem to have come from Europe or had brain operations and operating equipment had been used on someone who had it.

    Everybody seems quick to lay blame when these situations arise but it's not a blame issue. It's happened, maybe there have been others or maybe, like Canada, you'll only find a single case. Please people, stay calm and wait for the facts.

    Ken, some rumblings up here in Alberta that some folks are preparing to offer support in the one way we know how. I heard that there's a bunch of Alberta ranchers that are planning a big rally, one here in support of our neighbors and another big "eat US beef" bbq and rally in Montana. Our cattleman's association has already been in touch with some of their counterparts in the US to help teach you and folks in your industry how to minimize the damage. I'm pretty well stuck at home doing chores right now but if I had half a chance I'd be down with them and I'd gladly sit down and eat some US grown beef. If it's any comfort at all, US producers are in my prayers and if there is anything I can do for any of you producers here, even if it's just listening while you vent, I'm here and I'd be glad to do what I can. Please, don't let this eat at you. I'm very sure that any one of us Canadian producers would be glad to offer any support we can.
     
  20. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Just to clear things up....

    CJD is the a brain wasting disease of humans that occurs at the rate of about 1 in a million. It has been around a long, long time. It usually affects older people. You can catch CJD through the use of surgical instruments. If they were used on someone with CJD, sterilization does not kill the prions, so the instruments remain contaminated. It took them awhile to figure that one out, after people were infected.

    vCJD is the brain wasting disease associated with eating contanimated beef tissues. It is virtually the same as CJD, but strikes younger people. I don't think they can differentiate between the two, except by the age of on-set. It is a new disease....one not seen for years and years like regular CJD. The emergence of this disease is what led to the investigation that resulted in the connection between the beef and vCJD.

    Other similar diseases affect sheep (scrapie), deer (CWD), mink, cats and other species. Many species have naturally spontaneously occuring brain wasting diseases. The causes are not known.

    Jena