The Experts in Animal Health

Brakke Consulting’s
Animal Health News & Notes for September 19, 2003

Copyright © Brakke Consulting, Inc.
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Farmland Foods
Frontier Beef Systems
Novartis Animal Vaccines
Pfizer (Canada)
PPL Therapeutics

>  ConAgra Foods reported a 14% drop in first quarter profits as sales fell 33%, reflecting the sale of its fresh meat and other businesses. Net income was $195 million in the quarter ended Aug. 24 2003, compared with $228 million in the same period last year. Sales were $4.4 billion, compared with $6.6 billion last year. ConAgra sold its fresh beef and pork business in September last year, its canned seafood and cheese businesses in May and it plans to close on sale of its fresh chicken holdings in the second quarter. (AP)


>  Heska Corporation announced the introduction of the E.R.D.-HealthScreen Feline Urine Test, the first in-clinic test developed to identify early kidney damage which can be due to potentially undetected health problems in cats.   The test is designed to detect microalbuminuria, the most sensitive indicator of kidney damage.  The feline test follows the launch of the company’s E.R.D.- HealthScreen Canine Urine Test early last year. (company press release)

>  Novartis Animal Vaccines announced the introduction of Trep-Shield HW, the first vaccine fully licensed by the USDA for prevention of hairy heel warts in dairy cattle.    (company press release)

>  Smithfield Foods, Inc, the appointed “stalking horse” bidder for Farmland by a Kansas City federal bankruptcy court, said it soon expects to receive and review a copy of Cargill, Inc.’s bid for Farmland Foods’ pork assets. Smithfield entered into a $365 million definitive “stalking horse” asset purchase agreement with Farmland Industries, Inc. on July 15, to acquire all of the assets and certain liabilities of Farmland’s pork production and processing business. Farmland Industries is currently operating under Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. By court order, other bidders must submit a bid at least $10 million more than Smithfield. (Meating Place)

>  PPL Therapeutics PLC announced that it has retained KPMG to help sell the company.  PPL lost most of its senior executives in a mass resignation after announcing that net losses for the six months ending June 30 had more than doubled to 12.8 million pounds ($20.5 million) from 5.5 million pounds for the same period of 2002. The company also announced in June that it was laying off up to 90% of its work force and ending a venture to make medicine from sheep’s milk. (AP)

>  Alpharma Inc. announced that a recent federal court judgment supports an earlier finding by the FDA that the FDA has no record of approval for certain product claims made by PennField Oil Co. for its bacitracin methylene disalicylate product, a medicated feed additive for livestock and poultry.  Alpharma is the sole manufacturer of bacitracin methylene disalicylate (sold under the registered trademark BMD) in the US market which is entitled to make the full range of FDA-approved claims for performance important to producers of swine and poultry.  Earlier this year, Alpharma sued the FDA in the US District Court for the District of Maryland over the scope of label claims PennField is making for its product. (company press release)

>  VeriPrime Inc. announced the creation of a new tracking system for cattle and beef products.  The VeriPrime system has been endorsed by Swift & Co., ConAgra Cattle Feeding Co. and Burger King. A VeriPrime vice president noted that the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association also is supportive of the system, which keeps tabs on cattle herds from birth to slaughter by marking each newborn calf with a coded tag. The company plans to expand to track animals and meat imported from Canada and Mexico. The company also plans to cover hogs, chickens, turkeys and fish.  While industry members are endorsing the system, a lobbyist for the National Farmers Union said he doesn’t know that any ranchers have signed up for VeriPrime. (AP)

>  Frontier Beef Systems, LLC announced that it is marketing a new test for beef tenderness.  TenderGENE was developed by scientists at the US Meat Animal Research Center (MARC).  Meat scientists have known for years that calpain, a naturally occurring enzyme, plays a major role in beef tenderness by weakening muscle fibers, thus increased tenderization during the post-mortem aging process. After a decade of gene discovery research and thorough validation, the calpain marker is ready for release to the beef industry. (Drovers Alert)

>  MetaFarms, Inc., announced the launch of Dairy Business Daily and, an email newsletter and web site for dairy producers worldwide.  The newsletter is subscriber-based and will be sent directly to producers, veterinarians, and others in the dairy industry every weekday.  DairyDaily is a logical next step after the success with our other content businesses BeefDaily and PorkNet.  DairyDaily is being sponsored in part by Feedstuffs magazine. (PRNewswire)

>  CANADA   Pfizer Canada announced the launch of OrbeSeal, a revolutionary new device for improving herd health and ultimately, quarterly performance in their dairy herd.  Designed to aid in preventing bacteria from entering the teat canal, OrbeSeal is a smooth, off-white sterile paste containing 65% bismuth subnitrate.  It is a technologically advanced internal sealant that is infused into the teat canal of dairy cows at time of drying off and lasts throughout the entire dry cow period.  A non-antibiotic treatment, OrbeSeal has been used with great success in both New Zealand and the US. (AnimalNet)

Brakke Consulting announces upcoming seminar
“Improving Recruiting and Interviewing Skills”

Among the most important activities involved in building and maintaining a high performance organization are the recruiting, selection, and retention of high caliber personnel.  Yet most organizations devote very little time to developing a consistent process and providing appropriate training to the managers within their organization who are charged with this important responsibility.

Brakke Consulting, in conjunction with Pegasus Training, has designed a 1½ day training seminar that will address the skill sets needed to improve the recruitment, selection, and retention of quality personnel.

The seminar will be taught by consultants with many years of experience in recruiting and training activities.  Identifying, qualifying, interviewing, and hiring individuals that meet your company’s personnel profile is a challenge. This seminar will assist attendees from your company in meeting that challenge. 

The seminar will be held in Dallas on November 18 and 19. If you have any additional questions, please contact our Dallas office at 972-243-4033.  Online registration is also available on our web site at

>  US   The USDA has lifted the yearlong quarantine on California chickens after concluding the state had eradicated the Exotic Newcastle disease outbreak that has plagued the state since last year. (AnimalNet)

>  DENMARK    Denmark’s agricultural authorities reported that Newcastle Disease has been found in a flock of 800 wild ducks. Nothing indicates that the birds have infected other birds on the island of Moen, where the wild flock was found dead. The birds had two different viruses: Duck virus enteritis, which is harmless to other poultry, and Paramyxovirus type 1, which can cause Newcastle Disease among poultry. They died from the Duck virus.  (AnimalNet – Reuters)

>  US   Key findings from a risk assessment of two macrolide antibiotic compounds, tylosin and tilmicosin, have determined that their use in US food animal production is safe to public health.  The assessment was conducted by leading food safety, public health and veterinary experts.  The group was sponsored by Elanco Animal Health, but the risk assessment was conducted independently and the conclusions do not necessarily reflect those of Elanco. (PRNewswire)

>  US   According to the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service, the number of ground beef samples tainted with E. coli bacteria has dropped, even with increased checks and a more sensitive test.   Inspectors found 0.32% of 4,432 samples of hamburger meat tested positive for E. coli from January to August of 2003. That compares to 0.78% of samples testing positive for the same period in 2002 and 0.84% in 2001. (AP)

>  US   Takara Co, the second-largest toy manufacturer in Japan, announced that it has begun shipping the Bow- Lingual dog translator to the US.  Previously available only in Japan, the dog translator now converts woofs into English. Using digital analysis of voiceprints and sound-waves, the Japan Acoustic Laboratory researched thousands of barks from over 80 breeds, and concluded that that dogs express six moods: happy, sad, frustrated, needy, on-guard and assertive. Bow-Lingual matches each bark with its mood then displays a translation (from nearly 200 phrases) that best represents what the dog is trying to say. The Bow-Lingual dog translator is available from online retailer will donate a portion of each sale to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in the dog’s name. (PRNewswire)

>  US   The American Kennel Club declared Wednesday, September 17, 2003, AKC Responsible Dog Ownership Day, and announced hundreds of celebrations to be held across the country through September 20 – 21.  The goal of the event, being held for the first time, is to educate the public about the importance of responsible dog ownership and the rewards of a respectful human-canine relationship.  Events will include Canine Good Citizen tests, obedience/agility demonstrations, microchip clinics, breed rescue information, therapy dog/service dog demonstrations, safety around dogs for kids, fundraisers and many more entertaining and educational events. (PRNewswire)

>  US   USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists have been granted a patent on an imaging system that detects contaminants on food surfaces.  The system can reportedly detect feces and recently ingested materials on animal carcasses with 100% accuracy. The system uses hyperspectral imaging to scan the surface of a poultry carcass, locating hard-to-detect material such as small particles or those in shadowed areas.  Because the system is expected to work with other animal carcasses, a broad patent application has been filed covering a wide range of poultry and meat products. (Wattnet Meatnews)

>  US   According to a new article in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacteria that cause Lyme disease), while mainly a problem in the northeastern and mid-Atlantic states, is also present in multiple rodent and tick species in the southeastern United States. Researchers captured rodents and ticks from sites in Georgia, South Carolina, and Florida. The scientists then tested the animals and ticks for the presence of B. burgdorferi. At least three rodent species were infected with the bacteria, as were three tick species, including deer ticks and two species previously not recognized as Lyme disease carriers.  Although these two tick species rarely bite humans, the scientists suggest that the insects are important in maintaining the disease presence in nature. (AnimalNet – PNAS)

>  US   A coalition of Vermont groups has won a $747,000 federal grant to build technology that would convert manure from small farms into methane gas. The Intervale Foundation will use the funding from the USDA and Department of Energy to build an anaerobic digester to turn cow manure into energy that could heat greenhouses and fuel generators and refrigerators. Vermont’s Alternative Energy Corp. will study the best ways to develop products to support the use of renewable energy. And the University of Vermont Center for Sustainable Agriculture will research crops to grow in Vermont that could be processed into fuel, chemicals or fiber. (AP)


There is still time to add your company’s free listing to the 2004 US Animal Health Manufacturers, Distributors, and Services Directory.  

We have not heard from many companies that were included last year.  To see if we have received your company’s updated listing, call Jane Morgan at 972-243-4033 or email at  To submit your listing, go to our web site, and fill in the form online.  Any listings that we receive next week will still be included, but please don’t delay!


How many times have you heard the following comments within your organization?
  – “People are this company’s most important asset”
  – “Identifying, attracting and interviewing new talent that fits our company’s criteria is one of the most challenging tasks”
  – “The individuals we hire today will be the future management of the company”
  – “We hire only ‘high quality’ people”

We understand and appreciate each of the above comments.  In the course of our Search business, we have observed that many of our client companies could improve their performance in the recruiting and interviewing process by providing additional training for those making the hiring decisions. By improving the interviewing process, companies would avoid costly hiring mistakes and improve employee retention.

Earlier in this newsletter, we announced a 1½ day seminar that will provide training in the skill areas of identifying, attracting, interviewing, and retaining good sales and middle management personnel.  The seminar’s instructors have extensive experience in this area that will benefit those who attend.  Brakke Consulting has provided quality seminars for the industry for the past 17 years, and we’re most pleased to add this critical human resources area to the list.

Ron Brakke

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