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  • 28 Nov 2014 11:06 AM | Deleted user
    (Reuters) - Agriculture has helped make the Netherlands rich, but experts warn that the density of farms and the increasing number of animals in one of the most intensive agricultural sectors in the world make it vulnerable to diseases.

    The discovery last Sunday of a highly infectious strain of bird flu at a Dutch farm forced officials to impose a three-day lockdown on the transport of all poultry and related products.

    But the transport freeze, which cost the industry 100 million euros ($120 million), did not stop the discovery of similar or identical strains at two nearby farms, forcing the already expensive halt to be extended to a full week.

    "When there is a disease in the Netherlands, which is the country in the world where the concentration of farms is the highest, be it for poultry or pigs, it hurts," said Bernard Vallat, head of the World Organization for Animal Health.

    "The Netherlands are really vulnerable because of this density (of farms)," he told Reuters.

    Dutch agriculture defends its practices, with the poultry industry pointing out it has invested hugely in hygiene since the last bird flu epidemic 11 years ago.

    While the industry has become an incredible source of wealth -- agriculture amounted for 16 percent of 2013 exports -- efficiency has come at a cost. Experts said having so many farms and animals packed together has made the system highly vulnerable to disease.

    The farming industry runs at a rate that even the transport lockdown could not stop. In three days, around 7.5 million chicks hatched in incubation warehouses with nowhere to go.

    The latest infection of bird flu -- the ninth animal epidemic in the Netherlands in less than 20 years -- has already forced the culling of more than 200,000 birds.

    "It's this most amazing logistical system," said Clemens Driessen, a bioethicist at Wageningen University, a leading agricultural research center. "But as soon as you say you can no longer transport the animals, it all starts to unravel."

    Since 1997, 40 million hens, cows, goats, pigs and sheep have been slaughtered to contain outbreaks including swine flu, foot-and-mouth and "mad cow" disease.

    The Netherlands is the world's second largest agricultural exporter after the United States, selling more than 79 billion euros ($98 billion) worth of goods abroad last year. It is the world's leading egg exporter and largest supplier of poultry meat in the European Union.


    High-intensity farms house millions of animals -- 103 million chickens, 12 million pigs, 4 million cows and millions more sheep, turkeys, ducks, rabbits and goats.

    New technology has brought massive strides in productivity, with advances in the vast warehousing systems that hatch, feed, and water broiler chickens.

    The average number of hens per hatchery has doubled in 13 years, according to Statistics Netherlands, while the cow population has risen by a half to 1.5 million. There are now 83 cows per farm, up from 51 in 2000.

    The country's pig population, at 12 million, has changed little from 13 years ago, but the average number of pigs per farm has almost doubled to 2,200.

    The density is at its highest in the south east of the country, where at least 20 million chickens are found in a district called De Peel.

    Animal welfare groups say conditions go beyond being morally objectionable and that the farming practice has become an incubator for disease.

    "The intensive conditions in factory farming provide a pressure cooker in which diseases like avian flu can spread very easily and can also evolve very easily," said Geert Laugs, Netherlands director at pressure group Compassion in World Farming.

    Geert Jan Oplaat, president of the Poultry Farmers' Association, disagreed.

    "A chicken is seven times more at risk of flu if it goes outside," said Oplaat. "It's almost irresponsible to keep chickens outside during a high flu-risk period."

    But unease is also reflected in the shopping -- and voting -- habits of the Dutch. The Netherlands in 2006 elected the first animal rights party in the world into parliament.

    Party for the Animals leader Marianne Thieme has no doubt that the treatment of farm animals helped win her party the 120,000 votes needed to win its two seats.

    "You have an industry focused on keeping the costs as low as possible, giving as little feed as possible," she told Reuters. "We don’t see animals as animals any more but as products."

    Demand is also increasing for meat from free range farms, with Albert Hein, the country’s largest supermarket, and its competitors advertising more organic produce.

    "We've been waiting for this," said Hanneke van Ormondt of animal rights group Wakker Dier. "We've been saying for ever there's too many animals in the Netherlands, too much transportation, too big a scale."

    (Additional reporting by Sybille de la Hamaide in Paris; Editing by Anthony Deutsch and Giles Elgood)

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  • 28 Nov 2014 11:04 AM | Deleted user
    Minister of Agriculture Michelle O’Neill has warned of the risks attached to buying illegally imported dogs.

    The Minister pointed out that illegally imported dogs increase the potential for serious diseases such as rabies or Echinococcus tapeworm to enter the country.

    The north of Ireland is free from these diseases and has strict importation controls for all animals including pets.

    Minister O’Neill highlighted the Department of Agriculture’s detailed guidance and information on the requirements for pet animals being brought into the north from countries outside Britain. This is available on the DARD website.

    The illegal activity of puppy smuggling is described in the Dogs Trust report ‘The Puppy Smuggling Scandal: An investigation into the illegal entry of dogs into the GB under the Pet Travel Scheme’.

    The report highlights in particular the smuggling of puppies with falsified passport documentation from Eastern Europe into Britain.

    The Minister said, “While the north of Ireland does not have the same direct transport links with the continent as Britain, my Department will take action to control any illegal activity that is identified.

    “DARD is currently liaising with Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) officials who are following this up with the Lithuanian and Hungarian authorities.”

    She added, “My Department has issued guidance for anyone considering buying a dog and the public can help stamp out the illegal puppy trade by sourcing pups from reputable breeders.

    “Dogs should be bought from a known breeder or source. The public should be vigilant when buying a dog that has been advertised in the media and if the dog was born outside of the north of Ireland or Britain it must have a pet passport and/or veterinary certificate.”

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  • 28 Nov 2014 11:01 AM | Deleted user
    Construction is expected to begin in December for a mobile pet shelter scheduled to be in use by the 2015 hurricane season.

    "The evacuation, transportation and sheltering of household pets during disasters has become necessary as a lifesaving measure. What we have experienced in the past are victims who have refused assistance unless their pets were accommodated," Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry Commissioner Mike Strain said.

    The state agriculture department is designated by the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act to evacuate, transport and shelter household pets during declared emergencies.

    A $40,000 donation was made by the Louisiana State Animal Response Team (LSART), Dr. Walter J. Ernst, Jr. Veterinary Memorial Foundation and Louisiana Veterinary Medical Association (LVMA) to help fund a project to develop a mobile pet sheltering system.

    LDAF's household pet plan includes 48-53 foot transport trucks with assembled pet cages and staff to assist parishes with the evacuation, transportation and sheltering of evacuees' pets.

    The LDAF's current pet sheltering plan can accommodate thousands of pets at mega pet shelters. The new mobile pet shelter unit will also be used in search and rescue missions and will be available, upon request, to other states during a disaster.

    The project includes a tractor trailer that will have a 60 pet capacity. It will be equipped with metal cages, feed, water bowls and a wash down system. It will have an air ventilation system to provide proper air circulation and temperature for the pets.

    The total cost of the project is approximately $80,000. The LDAF will provide the additional funding.

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  • 21 Nov 2014 5:25 PM | Deleted user
    USDA Animal Care has posted a new factsheet that explains the requirements for individuals seeking to import live dogs into the United States. The factsheet, posted here , is arranged in a simple, question-and-answer format.

    On Aug. 18, 2014, we amended the Animal Welfare Act regulations to restrict the importation of certain live dogs to better ensure the welfare of these animals. This final rule prohibits the importation of dogs, with limited exceptions, from any part of the world into the continental United States or Hawaii for purposes of resale, research or veterinary treatment.

    The final rule went into effect Nov. 17, 2014.

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  • 21 Nov 2014 5:23 PM | Deleted user
    Hawaiian officials order quarantine in effort to contain PED virus after it was discovered at Oahu farm
    Release Date: 2014-11-21

    Porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus has spread into Hawaii, according to the state’s department of agriculture. The deadly swine virus has affected herds in 32 states to date, but this is the first time PED virus has gone outside of the continental states.

    The Hawaii Department of Agriculture (HDOA) announced on November 20 it had issued a quarantine order stopping the movement of pigs on Oahu after an outbreak of PED virus, was confirmed on a farm in Waianae Valley. PED virus causes significant sickness in swine and causes high mortality in piglets.

    The farm last week called HDOA’s Animal Disease Control Branch to report many cases of diarrhea among their swine. State veterinarians took samples from the farm and sent them to the Kansas State University (KSU) Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, which confirmed that the pigs had been infected with PED virus.

    Quarantine ordered to contain PEDv outbreak
    Acting State Veterinarian Dr. Isaac Maeda issued a quarantine order on the farm to contain the outbreak and also to stop the movement of pigs on the west side of Oahu. No swine shall be moved east past Nanakuli from Makaha, Waianae and Nanakuli Valley. The order also restricts movement of swine from Oahu to neighbor islands.

    Disease control measures have been instituted on the farm, which has a total of about 150 pigs. About 25 percent of the pigs (mainly piglets) died. However, it appears that the remaining pigs are recovering and no deaths have occurred on the farm since the weekend. It is not known at this point how the virus may have come to Hawaii; however, the farm did not import any swine.

    “Our current focus is to contain the virus and prevent its spread on Oahu,” said Maeda. “We will also survey other swine operations and try to determine if the virus has spread.”

    PED virus was first confirmed in the U.S. in May 2013. To date, PED virus is estimated to have killed up to eight million young pigs.

    In July 2014, HDOA increased swine import requirements to help prevent the entry of swine infected with PED virus into Hawaii. This included exclusion of swine from premises with PED virus and negative tests for PED virus prior to shipping.

    Statewide there are about 230 pig farms – 70 of which are on Oahu. Most are small operations.

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  • 21 Nov 2014 4:34 PM | Deleted user
    This is an academic paper that looks at animal perceptions in Animal Transport Regulations in the EU and in Finland.

    The long-distance transportation of horses to slaughter has been strongly criticized in various political arenas: in Europe there is now a campaign underway to end transportation that takes over 8 hours. This debate is investigated here by means of a case study. The research data consists of regulatory texts used in the EU and in Finland. These texts are analyzed initially according to their contents, that is, a content analysis, designed to find out how and in which connections the animal is conceptualized. This analysis is then amplified by means of critical discourse analysis to discover the kind of discourse that are most powerful and stabilized, and also to reveal their institutional origins. The results show that there is a strong difference between market-driven and animal-centric interpretations of unnecessary suffering. It is also evident that pressure has been growing in favour of the animal-centric perspective on the part of both animal welfare NGOs and of citizens. Nevertheless, it has been observed that the fields of science that could offer expertise on the issue have been poorly utilized in the process of devising policies.

    Full paper here.

  • 21 Nov 2014 4:31 PM | Deleted user
    IT IS unclear how much the Chinese-Australian free trade agreement will benefit Cloncurry’s live export industry until the document is released.

    The agreement will remove tariffs of 12 to 25 per cent on beef across nine years.

    It could be the best opportunity Australian cattle producers have had to break into the Chinese market.

    Cloncurry Shire’s acting mayor Bob McDonald – who is part of the McDonald family which owns one of Australia’s largest cattle operations – said the free trade agreement “looks as though it would be a plus” for the region.

    The McDonald family owns MDH Pty Ltd, which according to 2012 figures had 170,000 head of cattle on 11 stations covering about 3.8 million hectares.

    Following the views of economic experts through media has not clarified to Cr McDonald how much of a win it will be for producers.

    However, it did seem positive for those trying to get into the Chinese market.

    “In the last 40 years people have tried to get into the Chinese market, it never really happened,” Cr McDonald said.

    “For the first time it looks really positive.”

    Positive news is no doubt something landowners are eager to hear, considering the “tough old game” of cattle producing has been complicated by drought and increasing overheads.

    Rising costs of fuel and transport as well as reduction of weight of cattle while being shipped was the reason MDH abandoned live export of their cattle.

    “We used to some years ago, but have gone another direction. We didn’t get a lot of money ... we thought we could do better,” he said.

    Instead of freighting cattle to Darwin, the cattle is slaughtered and packaged in Brisbane.

    The bulk of the meat is exported to Japan and Korea.

    The price per head of cattle has also increased in the last three months because producers were no longer getting rid of cattle to alleviate the burden drought had on their properties.

    “The situation has eased up now,” Cr McDonald said.

    The announcement of Chinese free trade has had nothing to do with the cattle boom passing through the Cloncurry saleyards.

    About 214,000 head of cattle has passed through the council-owned saleyards from January to October this year.

    Last year 224,000 cattle went through the saleyards.

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  • 21 Nov 2014 4:30 PM | Deleted user
    A total of 67 world-class showjumping horses were transported on Qatar Airways Cargo freighters from Liège, Belgium, to Doha, Qatar, for the final round of the 2014 Longines Global Champions Tour season which concluded on 15 November 2014.

    The final Grand Prix of this year's series took place at Al Shaqab, one of the most spectacular equestrian venues in the world, providing a fabulous international stage for the crowning of the overall Longines Global Champions Tour Champion.

    The horses along with approximately 20 tonnes of cargo and equestrian equipment per freighter were transported via two Boeing 777F charter operations, with an accompanying eleven grooms per freighter, to ensure care, and safe and secure carriage from Liège to Doha and back for the horses.

    Horses travel all over the world to compete in prestigious competitions
    “We take great pride in our handling capabilities and ensure all appropriate care is taken, providing pets and other transported animals with a five-star service on the ground and in the air. Our focus remains on providing the special attention required, during all phases of transportation, to ensure a smooth comfortable and restful journey for the animals,” said Mr. Ulrich Ogiermann, Chief Officer Cargo for Qatar Airways. “All Qatar Airways Cargo staff attend a number of training courses in animal handling, and our personalised service, high quality of operation, and excellent record of on-time delivery makes us a prime carrier for the transportation of live animals.”

    Qatar Airways Cargo transports all kinds of animals in accordance with International Air Transport Association (IATA) Live Animal Regulations. Unlike pets such as cats and dogs, horses cannot be transported in the lower deck of regular passenger planes and must be flown on dedicated freighters. Prior to the flight, the horses are loaded into “air stables” or “horse stalls” which are special containers that can fit up to three horses side by side so that they are safe and secure while on the aircraft. A typical air stable is 294 cm wide and 232 cm high.

    Horses travel all over the world to compete in prestigious competitions
    From January 2012 through to October 2014, Qatar Airways Cargo has transported 2,210 horses all around the world. In July 2014, Qatar Airways Cargo flew 53 showjumping horses from Calgary, Canada, to Liège in Belgium where they trained to participate in the World Equestrian Games (WEG) that were held in Normandy in August, while in March 2014 79 horses were transported from Liège to Doha and back, via two freighters for the CHI AL SHAQAB event.

    Jan Tops, President of the Longines Global Champions Tour, said, “The horses had a first-class flight experience and I want to thank Qatar Airways Cargo for its close co-operation on this important matter. The welfare and safety of the horses is our top priority.”

    Qatar Airways Cargo completed the transition from a manually handled cargo environment to a fully automated cargo terminal at Hamad International Airport. The brand new terminal contains a 4,200 sq. m live animal facility with dedicated stalls for horses, kennels for pets and separate holding areas for various live animals. The facility is equipped with veterinary laboratory, washing bays, feeding area, hydraulic work stations, sick bays, quarantine area and exercise area. Expert animal health care services are provided on request, 24-hours a day, seven-days-a-week.

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  • 21 Nov 2014 4:28 PM | Deleted user
    ALAMEDA, Calif. - The Coast Guard worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to transport a baby orphaned Steller sea lion from Seattle to Sacramento, California, Thursday, where it will be in the care of staff members from The Marine Mammal Center.

    At approximately 11:30 a.m., a Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento aircrew along with members from TMMC arrived in Seattle from Sacramento to pick up the pup named Leo.

    Last month, NOAA contacted the Coast Guard to request assistance with a transfer of the pup, which was found stranded in Ocean Shores, Washington.

    “Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Marine Mammal Investigations responded and picked up the pup for a health assessment and determined rehabilitation was necessary, given the emaciated condition and age of the animal,” said Kristin Wilkinson, NOAA. “Steller sea lions nurse for around one year and without rehabilitation, the animal would have died.”

    PAWS Wildlife Center in Lynnwood, Washington, received the animal Oct. 4, 2014, and cared for the animal till the transportation.

    “The Coast Guard played an enormous role in making the transport possible with the least amount of time, which is always a No. 1 priority for the sea lion’s health,” said Lauren Campbell, veterinary technician for TMMC.

    “We have a great partnership with the Coast Guard and because we strive for one goal – to help save Leo – it furthers his chances of a successful life out in the world,” said Campbell.

    In Seattle, the Coast Guard crew worked with Leo’s previous caretakers, PAWS Wildlife Center, and the TMMC staff, to safely load and securely strap the baby mammal aboard a Coast Guard HC-130H aircraft.

    “This flight showcases just one of the many diverse mission sets that our crew are prepared to carry out at a moment’s notice,” said Capt. Douglas Nash, commanding officer of Air Station Sacramento and pilot.

    “Assisting NOAA in transporting the Steller sea lion to a facility that will ultimately rehabilitate and release the pup is a prime example of one of the many ways the Coast Guard works to preserve our coastal resources and marine life," said Lt. Shannon Anthony, 11th Coast Guard District. "This is the ultimate goal of the Coast Guard’s living marine resources mission.”

    The pup was transported by vehicle to The Marine Mammal Center for rehabilitation till it can be released into the wild.

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  • 17 Nov 2014 9:23 AM | Deleted user
    An elephant has completed a 1,250-mile trek across land and sea to unpack his his trunk in Bristol.

    The six-year-old bull African elephant arrived at Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm in Bristol on Friday after travelling by land and sea from Sweden.

    The elephant, who is called M’Changa, has come to the UK to live at the zoo’s Elephant Eden.

    A long eventful journey from Boras Zoo in a specialist animal transport vehicle, including severe traffic problems in Hamburg, Germany and a delayed ferry crossing from Calais due to bad weather, ended peacefully under the cover of darkness with keepers from both parks celebrating a successful move for M’Changa.

    The transfer is the result of a long consultation period with advice from elephant experts and the European Endangered Species Programme (EEP).

    A zoo spokesman said: “M’Changa will be well cared for at Elephant Eden which is a large specially designed habitat built within the 110 acre park.

    “He will benefit from the new technology designed to offer African elephants the very best in health care and management.

    “Elephant Eden is the largest elephant habitat in northern Europe at 20 acres (eight hectares) and promotes welfare advances for the care of these complex mammals.”

    M’Changa, who weighs 1.5 tons, will join 30-year-old female Buta and nine-year-old male Janu at Noah’s Ark now as the project continues its development. A fourth elephant, a mature bull called Kruger, is also set to join the growing herd before the end of the year from Port Lympne Reserve in Kent.

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