FEEDING PRACTICES, LIVESTOCK
a ProMED-mail post
Date: Mon, 25 Aug 1997 12:32:57 -0400
From: Robert A. LaBudde <email@example.com>
BSE and feed ban - Canada 970203124811
BSE and feed ban - Canada (02) 970210215507
FDA bans mammalian protein in ruminant feed 970619110305
FDA bans mammalian protein in sheep and cattle fee... 970607230218
FDA bans mammalian protein in sheep and cattle feed 970605173805]
Excerpted from FSNET (D. Powell, Univ. Guelph):
According to this story, the true extent of the Hudson hamburger
contamination will remain a mystery until inspectors know exactly which
plants supplied the beef. From there, they will have to investigate further
to determine if Hudson's suppliers also sent bad meat to other food
companies. The story then says that what is indisputable, however, is that
the problems at Hudson represent only one of many threats to the nation's
The story cites agriculture experts as saying a slew of new and questionable
methods of fattening cattle are being employed by farmers. To trim costs, the
story says, many farmers add a variety of waste substances to their livestock
and poultry feed -- and no one is making sure they are doing so safely.
Chicken manure in particular, which costs from $15 to $45 a ton in comparison
with up to $125 a ton for alfalfa, is increasingly used as feed by cattle
farmers despite possible health risks to consumers. In regions with large
poultry operations, such as California, the South, and the mid-Atlantic, more
and more farmers are turning to chicken manure as a cheaper alternative to
grains and hay.
Lamar Carter, a cattle farmer near Dardanelle, Ark., is cited as saying that
he recently purchased 745 tons of litter scooped from the floors of local
chicken houses, stacking it 12 feet high on his farm. After allowing the
protein-rich excrement to heat up for seven to 10 days, Carter mixes
it with smaller amounts of soybean bran, and feeds this fecal slumgullion to
his 800 head of cattle. Carter is quoted as saying, "My cows are fat as
butterballs. If I didn't have chicken litter, I'd have to sell half my herd.
Other feeds too expensive."
The story then says that chicken manure often contains Campylobacter and
Salmonella bacteria, which can cause disease in humans, as well as intestinal
parasites, veterinary drug residues, and toxic heavy metals such as arsenic,
lead, cadmium, and mercury. The story then says that Dr. Neal Barnard, head
of the Washington, D.C.-based health lobby Physicians Committee for
Responsible Medicine, has a paper due to be published this fall in the
journal Preventive Medicine that points to the potential dangers of recycling
chicken waste to cattle.
The story cites the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in
Atlanta as saying there may be as many as 80 million incidences of food-borne
illness each year in the United States, and about 9,000 deaths.
Salmonella accounts for 4 million cases, of which 500 to 1,000 are fatal.
Campylobacter, which causes acute gastroenteritis, afflicts between 4 million
and 6 million people annually, killing about 100. E. coli, the bacteria that
was found in the tainted Hudson Foods beef, causes up to 250 fatalities and
triggers serious illness in up to 20,000 people annually. At least 17 people
have fallen ill from eating contaminated Hudson beef.
The story says that agricultural refuse such as corncobs, rice hulls, fruit
and vegetable peelings, along with grain byproducts from retail production of
baked goods, cereals, and beer, have long been used to fatten cattle. In
addition, some 40 billion pounds a year of slaughterhouse wastes like blood,
bone, and viscera, as well as the remains of millions of euthanized cats and
dogs passed along by veterinarians and animal shelters, are rendered annually
into livestock feed -- in the process turning cattle and hogs, which are
natural herbivores, into unwitting carnivores.
Daniel McChesney, head of animal-feed safety for the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, is cited as saying that new feed additives are being
introduced so fast that the government cannot keep pace with new regulations
to cover them.
The story says that chicken and turkey droppings can be fed safely if handled
properly. This involves correctly stacking the manure for four to eight weeks
while the naturally generated heat raises temperatures to 160 to 170 degrees
Fahrenheit [71-77C], high enough to destroy bacteria and toxins. The authors
of the Preventive Medicine report are cited as saying that studies of manure-
feed safety have been conducted largely in controlled environments, not in
the casual, unregulated conditions on most farms. Few studies address public
health aspects, they argue, and there is an overall dearth of published
The story also notes that the contents of animal feed are attracting more
attention as a result of the BSE outbreak in Great Britain and concern that
similar problems could occur here.
[Since meat and bone meal from cattle is fedback to poultry, this poultry
manure issue illustrates an indirect but complete feedback loop for some
types of problems. In the UK, any farm animal to farm animal feedback is now
forbidden, due to the protein-based disease, BSE. -- RAL]
--- Robert A. LaBudde, PhD, PAS, Dpl. ACAFS e-mail: <firstname.lastname@example.org> .........................................................................chc
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