Farm animals have special dietary requirements. This is especially true of dairy cows and hogs. Modern farmers most often hire nutrition professionals to help them determine rations for feeding. Problems with feed most often come in one of four areas: (1) the ration on paper (that is, the recipe selected by the nutritionist) is wrong for the animals, (2) the ingredients in the ration are defective (spoiled, moldy or lacking nutrients), (3) the ration as mixed isn’t the same as the paper ration or (4) palatability — that is, the animals won’t eat the feed. Another concern is that animals, particularly beef and dairy cows, can “sort” through the feed — that is, select certain parts of the mixed ration and leave the rest in the bunk. Feed concerns on farms can result in a variety of problems for the farmer, all of which can affect production and reproduction.
- High-energy feeds can sometimes result in a condition known as “acidosis,” in which the acid concentration in the stomach exceeds optimum levels. Ruminant animals (cattle and sheep) are most often affected by this condition. This shows up usually in the feet and legs first with abscesses and sores, and can result in death when the animals are unable to stand.
- Lack of certain essential vitamins and minerals can also affect production and increase the incidence of reproductive problems.
- Moldy and spoiled feed is a major concern. Mold cannot always be seen on visual inspection, so the nutritionist should test feed if mold is suspected. Mold itself may not harm the animal but can adversely affect palatability and thus lower feed intake and cause “off-feed” conditions. Mold is the substrate for toxins in feed, including aflatoxin, zearalanone, vomitoxin, T-2 toxin, trichothecene and ochratoxin.
- It is important to decrease the incidence of rapid changes in the ration to give the animals the ability to effectively transition from one diet to another.
- Testing feed for nutrient content is especially important, and most nutrition professionals do such testing as a matter of course.
Bird, Jacobsen & Stevens, P.C. has tried to verdict and settled many cases involving feed-related issues. Our attorneys and staff are capable of handling all of the issues and document management necessary for obtaining a successful result in this type of commercial and economic loss claim.
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