Mad Cow Disease in Washington State

Discussion in 'Cattle' started by Ken Scharabok, Dec 23, 2003.

  1. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    The USDA has now confirmed a suspected case of MCD found in a downer cow in Washington State. Formal confirmation is expected after further tests.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  2. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Well...anyone with half a brain knew that was coming, but it is still shocking to hear it finally has.

    Sure glad I have done my own program on my farm to guard against it. No animal proteins at all for my cows for quite some time.

    I'm not sure if I should be happy because I know my cattle are ok, or totally devastated because I'm now on my way to financial ruin along with everyone else. I know what's it's done to Canada.

    Nice anxiety producing xmas present.

    Jena
     

  3. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Tomorrow should be a very interesting day on the stock market. Expectations seem to be every industry associated with beef will take a major hit. Don't be surprised to see the Dow Jones take it biggest one day loss.

    On timing, fortuantely I am about in the middle of a short calving season. Thus, I have a 6-8 month window to see what happens. I also have the option to increase haying to carry through what I have.

    This is going to be a rough ride so hang on tight.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  4. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    On the good side....I can keep and feed everything I have all winter long, if necessary. That's a blessing. I won't be forced to sell simply because otherwise they will starve.

    On the bad side....I have notes coming due. The bank has always been willing to work with us and I'm sure that won't change in the immediate future, though it's hard to tell.

    I'd better step up the marketing on my cattle directly to consumers. That could prove to be my saving grace.

    Jena
     
  5. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    It bothers me that they call this (and the Canadian one) "in isolated case", if the other cows from the farm were all fed the same way then wouldn't they all potentially be affected?? Me thinks the powers that be don't want the people to panic.
    It's going to be interesting to say the least, isolated case my *****!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Carol K
     
  6. arnoldw

    arnoldw Well-Known Member

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    Since this was found in a Holstein its not just going to effect in beef cattle but will probably be hard heat in the Dairy Industry as well. The news will play this up for rating and Kill the farmer just as it has in Canada. Japan has already temporaly Banned all US Beef imports into Japan Where over 30 percent of our exports go. I certainly would not want to be holding any cattle futures right know. Lets hope this passes quickly and there are no other casaes of BSE.
    Happy Holidays Arnold
     
  7. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    Carol...

    This is just my theory on mad cow and how there can indeed be isolated cases. I've done lots of reading on it, but I'm not sure if others share my theory.

    Many species have their own "mad cow" disease that occurs spontaneously in the population, including humans. For us, it is CJD. The usual rate of infection for CJD is 1 in a million. If that is the "standard" rate for other diseases of this type, then 1 in a million cows will naturally get BSE, 1 in a million deer will get CWD, etc. The cause for this spontaneous disease is not known.

    The feeding practices that were in practice simply put a huge amplifier on the problem. By feeding those diseased animals back to other animals, the original 1 out of million could have infected hundreds or thousands of other animals. It just multiplied itself as the feeding practices were continued.

    Stop the feeding practices and you go back to the 1 in a million. An isolated case.

    Again, I'm not a scientist or researcher and I don't know for sure that my assumptions are correct, but this makes sense to me.

    They tracked that canadian cow back through it's life, tracking down herd mates, etc. yet found not one other infected cow. If that cow got mad cow from how it was fed, they would have found other cases, at least I would think so.

    I don't know what the size of the national herd is (off the top of my head), but I doubt that one cow is the only affected animal in this country. I don't think it's a reason to panic and I don't think we will ever see the level that was apparent in Britain. Fortunately for us, they got it first. We were able to put safeguards in place before it got to that point. I wish they had been more rigorous in the safeguards we are using, but I suppose now they will.

    It will probably be too late for me. I'm trying not to jump to conclusions, but based on what happened in Canada, I doubt I will survive this financially. Cattle prices are already off $6/cwt and the market didn't really have time to react. The really hard part for me is knowing I won't know for a long time. It will take a while to work it's way out and I just have to hang on, if I can.

    Sorry to go on like that.....but I do think an isolated case is entirely possible.

    Jena
     
  8. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Jena, I do agree with your spontanious occurence theory, another that's been batted around up here by vets is that the disease jumped species from deer/elk. Carol, I don't think you have a solid grasp of the cattle industry, cattle are bought and sold every day and the trace back and trace out is just wild. The Canadian cow had come in contact with approx. 2000 other cows and that doesn't include cows that have come in contact with those cows. Think outside the homesteading concept, cattle live on community lease pastures and some travel through feedlots. Feed is the logical cause but what feed andwhere did it come from? Is it feed or is it a supplement? Better yet, is the cow an illegal immigrant? Some folks are sneaking emryos and semen into the country. Because this cow was a dairy cow, I don't see things being any different that it was up here with a beef cow because the whole damned industry was shut down. If your pattern follows ours, every auction house will be closed for a while. They want to stop the movement of all cattle till the can accurately trace every animal that might be affected. I don't even know if you folks will have it as bad as we did. We were the first of the "clean countries" to be affected by it and we've never been able to trace it or find another case to prove or disprove any theory so we've been stuck in limbo for ages. Now, all beef producing countries are on an even playing field. We've never blamed the US for shutting us down, we would have done the same thing if the situation were reversed. This might just straighten out the industry and we can all work together to find a solution. I pray that none of you have to go through the devastation that we've seen up here. It's affected so many directly and others indirectly, packing plants have closed, auctioneers out of work, dairy cattle worth nothing, buffalo worth nothing, sheep and goats valueless, etc.
     
  9. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    There has been literally millions of dollars of research and investigation done on Mad Cow Disease and scientists frankly don't know what really causes it or why the outbreak. Thinking was the feeding of scrapie infected sheep as meat and bone meal, but that has been done for a long, long time. One line of thinking is the use of orangeophorphorus (sp?) fly control may be a trigger to an inate gene all cattle have. But then it has shown up in closed herds which received no meat and bone meal or any OP used on the animals or on crops on that farm.

    Once the hide is off of a carcass it is very, very difficult to tell what breed it was. A Holstein may look very much like a Brahman-cross. Beef from cull dairy cows is not separated during the processing and sale cycles.

    One line of thinking is that 1/1M natural occurance and that it simply wasn't noticed until the cluster in Britian. Symptons can be mistaken for rabies.

    I believe the U.S. exports only about 25% of the world beef supply.

    I, for one, will not change my level of consumption of beef even if I weren't a cattle farmer.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  10. Jena

    Jena Well-Known Member

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    There are also other slaughterhouse practices that caused more problems by increasing the risk of high risk tissues getting into the meat.

    The use of mechanical meat seperators, machines the pick every scrap of meat from the bones, have been blamed. When using these machines on spinal columns, the brushes of the machine can catch particles of spinal cord and then that goes into the hamburger.

    The use of pnuematic stun guns has been questioned as well. Pnuematic guns basically blast the brain apart with air. Those brain particles can be spread throughout the body by the circulation as the animal dies.

    I don't know when these methods were started in slaughterhouses, but I think they are a major player in the disease spreading also. That was one of my chief gripes about our system of "protection"...they still allow those practices.

    Packers have lots of clout.

    Jena--who doesn't know if I should dump the cattle now or wait it out...
     
  11. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Jena, judging by what happened to the markets here, I would say it would be wise to wait a bit before selling. Our auctions were completely shut down for about 120 days. The government stepped in to a certain degree and pretty well forced bankers to hold off ony any loan payments that were immediate. I don't think you will be held up as long as we were in Canada. Our situation was pretty unique in the sense that nobody could find a cause or any other infected cattle and thousands were killed and tested. The US was very active in our investigation and they'll have a bit of a format to work from rather that hunting blind and if nothing else turns up, at least you have another similar case. Our case came from one of the most closed herds I've ever heard of (granted she'd had several owners since) and the only thing I found to be of interest was the area she born is dense in deer and one of the regions that chronic wasting was first found. All calves were traced and found to healthy and any animals she shared feeding programs were found to be fine. You'll find it quite surprising over the next little while, how many farms will come under quarrantine and lose their cattle for testing. I pray that all of you will not suffer as badly as we have in the last several months and you have quick answers. I would also ask you all to not be unkind or uncharitable toward the folks that sold this one cow. The poor man that last owned the cow up here was not treated nicely and at a time when he could have used a bit of support from friends and neighbors, he had to go into hiding. There was a great deal of anger directed at him for selling a cow in such poor condition and she was so down that she had to be helped onto the truck when she was shipped out. You would have thought, from the way people acted, he'd set out to destroy a whole industry on purpose. It's a tough thing for anybody in cattle and it's sure going to put a strain on everybody's Christmas.
     
  12. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    Jena:

    Can you hedge your get a little? Round up all of your cattle the night before the next sale and line up transport. Go to the sale and see how many head are there and what they are going for. If you can live with the price, have them all hauled in. If the price drops drastically, there may be an excellent restocking opportunity for you in the future.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  13. dlwelch

    dlwelch Well-Known Member

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    I, for one, will not change my level of consumption of beef even if I weren't a cattle farmer.

    Ken S. in WC TN
    ==========================================

    I agree with you!

    After visiting some of the other agri forums, I'm glad this one seems to have
    some facts, reason and not adding to the frenzy.

    Linda
    (going to feed the replacement
    heifers and hope for the best)
     
  14. The irony of all this of course, is the fear factor.People are probably far more likely to die in their car on the way to the butcher shop than eating the beef they bought there.However- facts don't have much weight, fear is irrational.Look at the impact SARS had-shutdown borders- but far more people die of flu- and how many people even get a flu shot?
    Of course, I still hold the view that once we move out of what nature intended, cattle eating grass, hay and plant material, and start feeding them animal protein for no other reason than to put weight on them, we open the door to a whole lot of problems- most of which are avoidable.
    Personally, I would prefer to eat meat from a grass fed beef raised on a local farm, but we can't all enjoy that luxoury.I do like deer, though, at least it hasn't been pumped full of hormones and fed goodness knows what.
     
  15. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    American and Canadian beef is the safest in the world. For the next little while, you'll find the industry will go through absolute hell. The media will make speculations and churn things up till its at an absolute frenzied level. I don't now if you all know it or not but it's our own doing that the every country is closing their doors to your beef and did to ours a while ago. This is not actually a choice but part of an emergency program that Canada and the US orchestrated along with the WHO. It's happend to you exactly the same way it did to us and after the investigation, you'll see certain countries start relaxing. Jena, watch your markets carefully and if you do sell, be there so you can either buy them back or put a reserve bid on them. Our prices are still lower than they were but not as bad as they could be. There was a while where people had to sell to meet obligations and there were plenty of people ready to take them up on their offer at 5 cents a pound. Our auction houses were completely shut down for 8 - 12 weeks, in Alberta, to stop the movement of cattle while the early stages of the investigation were underway. I would urge you all to stay calm and take any "reports" with a grain of salt unless there is a federal vet standing in front of the mike. The investigation phase is turbulent and because they're looking at every possible connection, the whole thing is quite disturbing. At one point in time, we had something like 22 separate farms in Alberta under quarrantine in Alberta and folks were in a terrible panic, thinking we had that many cases of bse. In reality, they were tracing a brand of feed supplement that turned up nothing but in the meantime, the media had released those people's names and they were subjected to unwanted scrutiny during a very difficult time. This might not be as bad as you beleive. The US is the very last, large cattle producing country to have had the BSE Free status and I would think this just puts us all back on an even playing field. I've watched the growing list of countries that aren't accepting you beef for the moment and I can tell you that you will be back in business with almost every one of them sooner than you think, with the exception of Japan and they may have no choice. I'm not sure why they're so rigid because they've had more cases that anybody else. Trade will resume gradually and it will be frozen meat, no bone cuts of younger animals first and then things come back gradually. I'm sorry I'm posting to agressively but I'm of the mind that others will also read this, including visitors and I want everybody to understand that they need to stay calm, have some facts and support their beef and dairy industries domestically. Farmers and ranchers have supported many people and causes over the years, they feed the nation and they need domestic support now.
     
  16. look at it this way, picture a summer evening, barbeques on, cold brew in one hand ,a few friends in,and what would you rather have- a T-Bone steak, or a Tofu burger?Yeah,I thought so.This too will pass.I figure a lot of closed borders are nothing more than oportunism...and sorry, the US is as guilty as any.Trouble is, it's always the little guy that gets hurt, the producer,the big guys get bailed out by the government
     
  17. Carol K

    Carol K Well-Known Member

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    There are many questions to be answered, one of mine is this: How many other cows have gone to the packers from this farm that were not downer cows? Maybe some went because of low production? Age ? Etc. So they are now in the meat chain. This cow was only tested because it was a downer, what about the others?

    My second question: The Red Cross will not accept blood from people that have lived in Europe between certain times because of BSE, I presume by that that they believe that it can be transfered to other humans. Then why would some cuts of beef be safe? Blood is blood-right. Maybe I'm not looking at this correctly?

    Carol K
     
  18. Ken Scharabok

    Ken Scharabok In Remembrance

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    I'm going out on a speculation limb on this one. Cattle blood to humans would be cross-species. A blood transfusion between humans is within-species. Within species transmittal is far easier than cross-species.

    Ken S. in WC TN
     
  19. wr

    wr Moderator Staff Member Supporter

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    Carol. possibly others have been sold from the same farm but that isn't a guarantee of anything. In Canada, we found that over 2000 cattle that might have shared feed sources, pasture or been in contact with the single cow or any of her offspring, were in no way affected by the disease. Each animal and their calves were individually tested and none came up positive. I do know that the disease you fear is so very rare and they are not sure that it actually does come from meat. I think you need more information before anybody panics. We need to know a lot more about this single cow. I'd like to know if she's in an area with a lot of domestic deer/elk, what her age is. The fact that she is a dairy cow, would lead me to wonder if she was imported from somewhere and how long this particular farmer has actually owned her or if she was born there. If you are concerned about the meat you consume, buy muscle cuts and avoid real sausage casings.
     
  20. RAC

    RAC Guest

    Please forgive my ignorance here before I ask my questions.

    Why are downed cows allowed to be processed in the first place? How could anyone in good conscience knowingly send any sick cow (whatever they were sick from) out for processing? Isn't that like selling a defective product without notifying the end consumer? Our Fox affiliate showed a sister station's investigation of that particular packing plant and they had some surveillance video of cows that were either dead or close to to it being dragged or winched up to the processing area--that did not do much to inspire confidence in the safety of the meat supply.

    I hope this is an isolated case, but they need to definitely change the laws on downed cows.