Friday, May 29, 2009

Mx gene in chickens can resist bird flu

At least 62% of Indonesian chickens are resistant to bird flu due to a gene in their body called Mx, reports the Indonesian Institute of Science.
Sri Sulandari, a gene researcher at the institute's biological research center, said the indigenous chickens' ability to resist avian influenza varies according to the strength of the antivirus genes in their body.
Sulandri added that since the birds may contain information on how resistant a specific breed is to the flu, culling them results in loss of crucial information.
Avian influenza was first detected in Indonesia in August 2003 and has now been found in birds from 31 of the archipelago's provinces. According to the Indonesia National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Influenza Preparedness, there have been 145 human cases of bird flu in Indonesia spread over 12 provinces. Of these, 119 have been fatal.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pilgrim’s rejects bid for El Dorado plant

A bid for the Pilgrim's Pride El Dorado, Ark., plant was rejected by the company May 27, according to an article from the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
Pilgrim's Pride rejected the bid because of being too low, according to El Dorado Mayor Mike Dumas, although the bid amount was kept confidential. However, El Dorado Poultry, the company who made the bid, has not given up on buying the plant despite the rejection.
Judge Michael Lynn, of the
U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Northern District of Texas, ordered Pilgrim's Pride to offer the plants for sale through a bid process after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, despite the company's intention to keep the plants.
Upon learning of the rejected bid, the judge suggested going back to mediation with the companies interested in the plant.
"We will keep working with our potential investors toward this deal," said Matt DeCample, spokesman for Gov. Mike Beebe.
The next scheduled hearing for the El Dorado plant bid is June 16, Dumas said.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Animal ID tags up for debate

Despite the creation of the National Animal Identification System in 2004 in an effort to streamline animal disease control, "many of the issues and concerns that were initially raised by producers, such as the cost, impact on small farmers, privacy and confidentiality and liability, continue to cause debate," said USDA Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack.
Because of the resistance to the program, a
USDA-APHIS "listening tour" concerning the implementation of animal ID tags began May 14 to get feedback from stakeholders and will conclude June 1 in Loveland, Colo., according to the USDA-APHIS Web site.
Small farmers and hobby ranchers have tended to oppose the ID tagging system because of the cost, which a
USDA study estimated to be up to $228 million annually.
Larger industrial farms and food processors, including
Tyson Foods Inc., have supported the system as some already operate under strict requirements.
"We support the principles of the
U.S. Animal Identification Plan and encourage rapid adoption of a premises ID system," Tyson spokesman Gary Mickelson said in an e-mailed statement to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
However, Mickelson said the system should be accurate, affordable, confidential and compatible with programs used in Canada and Mexico.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California closes poultry health lab

After an unsuccessful pursuit of a budgetary increase, the decision has been made to close the California Animal Health and Food Safety Laboratory Systems' Fresno facility, effective July 19, according to the CAHFS Web site.
The lab, which operates out of the
UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine in partnership with the CDFA and poultry producers, diagnoses mainly avian diseases.
Some of the testing performed at Fresno will be redistributed throughout the other four
CAHFS laboratories: Davis, Turlock, Tulare and San Bernardino. The remaining services will be outsourced to qualified laboratories throughout the U.S., according to CAHFS.

Americans unsure of food safety, suggests survey

A food safety survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation suggests ambivalence among consumers regarding food products marketed in the United States.
Cogent Research on-line survey of 1,064 adults revealed that only 49% of respondents were "somewhat confident" or "extremely confident" that their food supply was safe. Surprisingly, the respondents said food manufacturers and the government were almost equally responsible for safety (72%) with farmers and producers at 57%.
Consumers assigned a lower level of responsibility to themselves (41%) although the majority of respondents indicated adherence to Good Preparation Practices including hand washing (87%) and cooking to suggested temperature (71%).

Friday, May 22, 2009

First quarter 2009 egg exports released

Statistics released by the USDA and circulated by USAPEEC, quantify exports of shell eggs and products for the first quarter of 2009.
Statistics show a 59% increase in shipment of shell eggs for the first quarter of 2009 compared to the corresponding quarter of 2008. Total value was increased by 38% to $9.9 million but unit value declined by 13% from 96 cents per dozen to 83 cents per dozen.
Reducing price allowed U.S. exporters to compete more favorably compared to other exporters. During March 2009, exports amounted to 5.32 million dozen or 1.5% of the U.S. production of shell eggs not consigned to breaking (assuming 285 million hens at 75% average flock production and 67% marketed in shell form).
During Q1 of 2009, shell exports amounted to 1.1% of production of eggs marketed in shell form. Major importers of shell eggs included Canada, Hong Kong, United Arab Emirates and Israel.
During Q1 of 2009, egg product volume declined by 13% but a 19% increase in the unit value raised overall export value by 4% to $21.6 million. The decline in exports of egg products was due to reduced shipments to Japan (-15% Q1 2009 vs. Q1 2008) which was partly offset by increased volume to Canada, Mexico, Germany and Korea.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Agriculture embraces sustainability

In both developed and developing nations, farmers are embracing more sustainable practices, speakers said at a World Agriculture Forum press conference, May 18, following the first day of sessions.
In Thailand, for instance, both large and small livestock producers are investing in biogas systems, said Nopporn Vayuchote, executive vice president of
Betagro, in Thailand.
The Honorable James B. Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, chairman of the WAF and moderator of the first session of the forum on the global financial crisis, said there has been a major change among farmers in how they view sustainability.
While some farmers early on opposed attempts to force them to change from extreme environmental groups, they now accept science-based solutions, Bolger, who is a farmer, said.
“We’ve come a very long way,” he continued.
He noted practices that were acceptable in a world of 3 billion people are no longer acceptable. Bolger added that since farmers live on the land and depend on it for their livelihoods, they have a strong stake in farming sustainably.
He maintains that science, including biotechnology, is part of the solution to sustainability challenges. One issue is methane from ruminants, he said, which contributes to global warming, and research to find a way to reduce it is in the beginning stages. There does not appear to be a “silver bullet” solution, however, he said.
Thad Simons, president and CEO of
Novus International, said sustainability has many meanings, probably “more definitions than the people in this room.”
In his view there has to be three components to sustainability: it has to have an economic foundation for the farmer; it has to benefit the environment; and the third part is a social aspect.
Agreeing that the solution is one of science was Michael Stegman, president of
Agrotain International, who said that for crops, adding nitrogen to the soil contributes to global warming, but there are products that reduce that.
In response to a different line of questions, Simons noted that not all countries are suffering from the global financial crisis.
Asia, for example, “has hardly missed a beat, and there is still good growth in livestock and poultry.”

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Aramark wins T.O.M. Award for variety

The National Turkey Federation presented Aramark Corporation with its Seventh Annual “Turkey on the Menu” Award at the National Restaurant Association convention. The award recognizes the non-commercial foodservice operator for its variety of value-oriented, non-commercial turkey menu applications across many day parts, segments and cuisines.
Aramark uses 18 specified turkey products across all segments of the non-commercials business, including fresh and frozen, cooked and raw, totaling more than 30 million pounds of turkey per year.
“Turkey has a consistent presence both as limited time offers and regular menu items because its versatility and health profile allow us to provide our customers with options,” remarked Ed Jones, food production manager, who accepted the award on behalf of Aramark.
Port of Subs, winner of the casual/family style category,
J. Alexander’s, winner of the fine dining category, and Jason’s Deli, winner of the fast food category, joined Aramark at the awards reception.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Willow Brook cuts deal in watershed litter suit

Willow Brook Foods Inc., one of the eight poultry companies being sued over alleged poultry litter pollution in the Illinois River watershed, agreed with Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson to pay $120,000 in order exempt itself from the lawsuit, according to an article by the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.
The federal court must approve the agreement before it goes into effect.
Willow Brook ended its operations in the Illinois River watershed last year before the company transitioned to a refrigeration business, now known as
Cold Zone Inc.
"The very bottom line is Cold Zone was no longer involved in the business so continuing to be involved in this litigation didn't have any practical advantages to Cold Zone," said Frank Evans, an attorney representing the company.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mycotoxins Web site supports six languages

Alltech has launched one information Web site and re-vamped another to adjust to a global populace that is increasingly turning to the Internet for up-to-date information.
The new site,, was created to educate producers, nutritionists and veterinarians on the spread of salmonella, says Alltech.
Because of numerous outbreaks in the food supply, the Web site recently added a consumer specific section.The already established has been translated into six languages. According to Alltech’s global mycosorb manager, Dr. Jules Taylor-Pickard, the introduction of new languages (including English, Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, Russian and Hungarian) reflects the growing global threat of mycotoxins in feed industries

Friday, May 15, 2009

Avian flu at another Tennessee farm

The avian flu virus has been detected at another poultry farm in Tennessee, according to a news report.
The low-pathogenic virus was confirmed after a strain of avian influenza virus was found in tests carried out at a Lincoln County farm, as reported by
Tennessee Agriculture Department said that the strain poses minimal health risk to humans and might cause slight illness in poultry. Officials have reportedly said no poultry from the farm has entered the food supply.
A similar strain was found in a farm in Giles County in April but there is no visible connection between the two.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Broiler companies show profits this year

The average U.S. broiler company returned to profitability in January 2009 and profits strengthened in February and March, said Dana Weatherford, vice president, Agri Stats.
Profits were hard to come by for broiler companies in the second half of 2008, Weatherford reported at USPOULTRY's Processor Workshop in Atlanta. The average company lost nearly $0.05 per pound in the second half of 2008, according to Agri Stats data.
Performance in the first three months of 2009 has seen marked improvement with Weatherford reporting "bottom line profits" for the average broiler company of $0.0078, $0.0148 and $0.0389 per pound in January, February and March 2009, respectively.
Weatherford said that with the reduction in the number of breeder pullets being placed it appeared that the industry's cutback in chick placements would continue below year before levels through 2009.
If broiler meat prices get a seasonal bump this summer, he said he expected broiler firms to remain profitable for the rest of the year.
If grain prices don’t jump up again and if U.S. chicken exports continue at a relatively strong pace, he said that 2010 could be a very good year for U.S. broiler companies.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Bill intended to extend Proposition 2 out-of-state

California’s $648 million egg industry is – so far – neutral on legislation that would extend the Proposition 2 ban on small cages for egg-laying hens to out-of-state producers. The bill is being championed by the same groups that backed Proposition 2 according to the report in
Supporters, reportedly including legislators who opposed Proposition 2, say the bill will help California's egg industry compete with out-of-state producers who, under current law, will not need to comply with the ruling when it takes effect in 2015.
An Assembly committee analysis of the bill raised concerns that expanding Proposition 2's rules to out-of-state egg producers could violate the interstate commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution meant to prevent states from restricting imports from other states.
California egg producers are forming a new group, the Association of California Egg Farmers, mainly to deal with Proposition 2's implementation.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Egyptian H5N1 exhibits differences; raises concerns

Avian influenza H5N1 cases in Egypt differ from those recorded in Asia and Indonesia when compared to cumulative data for countries worldwide other than Egypt, Nigeria, and Turkey, as reported in PROmed.
As of April 2009, fatality rate from human H5N1 cases in Egypt was 34% (23 of 67), versus an average of 66% among WHO-confirmed cases from all countries other than Egypt (234 of 354) according to an analysis by J. P. Dudley,
Science Applications International Corp., Modeling and Analysis Division, Rockville, Md., U.S.
Reported results indicated that a median age of 8 years for human H5N1 cases in Egypt between March 2006 and March 2009, versus a median age of 18 years for WHO-confirmed human cases globally between November 2003 and November 2006. Cases were reported most frequently among children younger than 10 years.

Females exhibit highest mortality
Females account for 90% of human mortality from H5N1 in Egypt, with confirmed mortality only reported among individuals older than 9 years. Although the sex ratio of cases in most countries is approximately 1:1, females outnumber males among confirmed cases in Egypt by a factor of nearly 2:1.
The average case fatality rate from H5N1 among children aged 0-9 years from all countries other than Egypt and Turkey is 59% with no confirmed fatalities among 33 children in this age group reported from Egypt.

Increased concern
The report said the existence of undetected fatal or non-fatal atypical or asymptomatic human H5N1 infections may be the cause of the existing anomalies with regard to age and sex in Egypt.
Clinically mild illness from highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 virus infection has been reported from children in most countries, but the early detection and treatment of possible cases may be a factor in the overall lower case fatality rate reported for the cases in Egypt.
Although there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the disease in Egypt, there is increasing concern that undetected H5N1 cases may be occurring based on evidence of family clusters.
H5N1 clusters involving highly probable human-to-human transmission have been documented in China, Thailand, Viet Nam, Indonesia, and Pakistan.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Small-sized turkeys to be in demand

Turkey producers should aim at providing the right spread of weights and have smaller strains, as well, when ordering poults for placement in the summer, suggests Paul Kelly, managing director of turkey poult suppliers, Farmgate Hatcheries.
According to Kelly, the economic downturn may push customers to go for smaller birds. Farmgate Hatcheries offer a range of breeds – both bronze and white turkeys – that will achieve 3 to 10 kg weight from 10 to 26 weeks.
Kelly suggests there may be an even bigger shortage this year compared with last year’s shortage of turkeys in the 4 kg weight range.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Pilgrim’s signs agreement to sell Farmerville complex

Pilgrim's Pride Corp. announced that it has signed a definitive agreement to sell its chicken complex in Farmerville, La., to Foster Farms for $80 million, subject to a price adjustment for associated inventory and other reimbursements.
Completion of the transaction is contingent upon customary closing conditions, including the expiration or termination of the waiting period under the Hart-Scott Rodino Improvements Act and approval by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The transaction is also subject to Foster Farms' receipt of $40 million from the state of Louisiana in order to fund a portion of the purchase price. The sale is expected to be completed within 30 days.
The Louisiana legislature voted on May 7, 2009, to approve the use of government funds to subsidize the purchase of the Farmerville complex by Foster. The agreement between Foster and the state call for Louisiana to provide $40 million toward the purchase of the complex and $10 million, which will be matched by Foster, for capital improvements.
The U.S. Bankruptcy Court has approved procedures for the sale of the Farmerville complex assets. The sale will be completed via an auction in accordance with Section 363 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The Court set 12 p.m. CST, May 15, 2009, as the deadline for the submission of qualified bid packages and scheduled an auction for 10 a.m., May 18. At that time, the company will sell its assets to Foster Farms or another qualified bidder, if such bidder makes the highest and best offer for the assets. A hearing to approve the sale has been scheduled for 10:30 a.m., May 19.
The Farmerville complex includes a processing facility, a cook plant, two hatcheries, a feed mill, a protein conversion plant and any associated inventory.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Consumer food demands remain same

Consumer demands for food to be the right price, the right quality and safe to eat are fundamental principles that will not change even under current circumstances of the alarm over influenza viruses and the effects of the economic crisis worldwide, said former European Union commissioner Dr. David Byrne.
He was speaking at a global media teleconference ahead of Alltech’s 25th symposium on animal health and nutrition that takes place May 17-20, in Lexington, Ky.
Dr. Byrne will be this year's recipient of the Alltech Medal of Excellence. He indicated that his response to the award will highlight the "Triple A" threats to consumer confidence caused by antimicrobial resistance in disease agents, the presence of viruses capable of passing from animals to humans and the contamination of crop products with potentially carcinogenic aflatoxins.
He aligned food safety and traceability with the symposium's theme of sustainability, which Alltech vice president Aidan Connolly said remained an extremely important focus for animal agriculture with the added aspect of an economic imperative. He said that today you will not stay in business unless what you do and what you produce are sustainable.
About 950 people from 70 countries have registered to attend the symposium, where the line-up of 88 speakers will address seven focus areas of species and topics.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Hain Celestial Group ramps up kosher poultry products

The Hain Celestial Group Inc., owner of Hain Pure Protein (HPP) a natural, kosher and organic broiler and turkey producer, recently converted its Plainville, N.Y. facility to kosher production. HPP has introduced the Kosher Valley brand for marketing its kosher poultry products which are produced from vegetarian-fed, antibiotic-free birds.
The company also reported a loss of $41.2 million for the third quarter ended March 31, 2009 on sales of $267.7 million. The net loss was driven by the company taking an estimated after-tax non-cash impairment charge of $48.4 million against goodwill and intangible assets related to the company's European and HPP reporting units. On a non-GAAP basis, adjusted net income was $12.5 million, or $0.31 per share, in the third quarter this year.
HPP reports that it is in the process of de-emphasizing sales of conventional turkey and chicken products while it focuses on antibiotic-free products to improve its mix of sales for future periods.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Aviagen releases new Ross broiler manual

Aviagen has announced the publication of its new Ross broiler manual.
“The objective of the manual is to provide our customers with the most up-to-date information to allow them to optimize the health, welfare and performance of their Ross stock,” said Alison Keaveney, global head of technical transfer.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tyson’s chicken operations profitable since late February

Tyson Foods Inc. reported that its chicken segment lost $46 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2009, which ended March 28, 2009. There was a distinct positive note for the company’s broiler operations, however.
"Our chicken segment has been profitable since the end of February, and I am pleased with the consistent progress we are making," said Leland Tollett, interim president and CEO of Tyson Foods. "We have improved our operational efficiencies, our product mix, and we are benefiting from lower grain costs and more favorable chicken prices."
Donnie Smith, senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods, said that if not for losses on grain hedging in the second quarter, Tyson’s chicken operation would have been profitable. Smith attributed $63 million in additional costs to grain hedging losses for the chicken operations in the second quarter.
Tyson reported that it was able to reduce its finished goods inventory by 150 million pounds in the second quarter, and most of this reduction came in chicken products. Earlier this year, Tyson reported that it reduced chick placements by 5% in December 2008 to help the company reduce its frozen chicken inventory. In a conference call held in February the company said that these placement cuts would be maintained until inventories were reduced to normal levels and customer demand warranted an increase in volume. During the May 4 conference call, the company said that it had not increased chick placements, even though finished goods inventories have been reduced to what were described as “normal” levels.
“We will add back when our market demands it and not before,” Tollett said. “We will not put chickens down on the come.”
The company as a whole lost $104 million in the second quarter. Tyson officials expressed some guarded optimism that operating margins for all of its businesses will continue to improve in the third and fourth quarters of this fiscal year. When asked if a return to normal profit margins in the chicken business would prompt Tyson to increase chick placements back to its pre-placement cut levels, Tollett said that the company would not add volume unless they think that they could maintain these profit margins unequivocally at the increased volume levels.

Cobb announces Flock of the Year award

Chris and Sarah Budden of Offwell, near Honiton, Devon, U.K., are the winners of Cobb’s Flock of the Year award.
In presenting the award, Antony Taylor, regional account manager for Cobb Europe, said it was an excellent achievement for the Buddens to have the best flock in 2008 out of almost 30 million Cobb parent stock throughout the region. The flock provides hatching eggs for
P.D. Hook.
The winning flock was the third that the Buddens have managed since they bought the Northcombe Farm unit.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Evaluating alternative ingredients

The use of alternative feed ingredients for poultry has been a hot topic in the industry for a couple of years now, based on skyrocketing prices for corn and soybeans. But exactly what are alternative feed ingredients and how do we best use them?
Those were the questions that a panel of experts dealt with in a presentation titled “Impact of Alternative Ingredients on Poultry Feed and Cost,” during the
WATT Online Animal Nutrition and Health Forum April 29.
Dr. Nick Dale, from the
University of Georgia, pointed out there are some alternative ingredients available, but that quality control of these ingredients is of utmost importance, especially since there are nutrient variations depending on the source of the ingredient. (Register and listen to presentation.)
He said while these ingredients may not save a great deal of money, there were definitely some opportunities available, especially for niche uses.
Dr. Dale also pointed out companies shouldn’t wait until crisis periods before evaluating alternative ingredients – that should be done all the time and quality standards should be established.
Dan Rollins, director of feed milling for
Aviagen North America, concentrated on the use of DDGS and its effect on pelleting. Since pelleting broiler feed is the standard in the U.S. industry, and since more and more DDGS is being used, a careful evaluation needs to be done. DDGS nutrient variability is well known, and the feed mill must be aware of that, so they can still make high-quality pellets.
Tom Frost, director of nutrition and research at
Wayne Farms, mentioned that even if feed ingredient prices have gone down substantially from last summer, they are still expensive. Therefore, alternative feed ingredients still have a role in the industry and could be used more than they are now.
He said it all boils down to the capacity in the feed mill. Does the feed mill have the capacity for different grains and different protein sources? If the feed mill does not have the capacity, then alternative ingredients won’t be used.