Tyre feeders: a hazard to livestock

Cattle feeding from deteriorating steel-belt tyres can ingest wires with their feed, causing hardware disease and potentially fatal infections. Alan Harman reports.
Issue date : 18 July 2008

- Advertisement -

Feeding stations made from old tyres can kill livestock, reports South Dakota State University veterinarian Russ Daly. Postmortem examinations of cattle found thin wires inside the carcasses which came from deteriorating steel-belt tyres used as feeding stations, and which caused hardware disease.

Dr says the worn feeders expose lengths of thin wire over time. Friction from feeding cattle causes these wires to break off and fall into the bunk, where they’re ingested. says. “This can lead to bleeding and infection.” Hardware disease is caused when an animal ingests a relatively heavy and sharp object. The object falls to the floor of the rumen and is pushed forward into the reticulum, where contractions force it into the peritoneal cavity, causing inflammation.

If the object penetrates close to the heart and migrates forward, an often fatal infection will result. Veterinarian Jennifer Poindexter, who initially treated the livestock, says the symptoms were vague. “Often it’s just some off cows, or some drooling,” she says. “We’ll have reports of cows not coming up to eat, or abortion problems in the herd. We found cows that weren’t really sick, but just weren’t healthy.”

- Advertisement -

Dr Daly says he doesn’t discourage the use of tyre feeders, but producers should check them with care. “Take a really hard look at the feeders, and discard those showing signs of wear,” he says. Dr Poindexter says all tyres around the farm should be inspected. “Producers use them for water, and as weights to hold down tarps,” she says. “Any old, corroded tyre with exposed wire has potential for hardware disease.” A ntibiotics and veterinary care can help livestock if the disease is caught soon enough. Using bolus magnets may help reduce losses.

“This is certainly no epidemic, nor something that would wipe out a herd,” says Dr Daly. “But it does give us an answer to some of those lingering health concerns we have seen in cattle.” |fw

Researchers mum on salmonella inhibitor

UK researchers have developed a bacterial inhibitor that will be a powerful weapon against salmonella in fresh produce, but details will have to wait `til the patent is approved. Alan Harman reports.

Britain’s Norwich-based Institute of Food Research has developed a product to prevent bacteria such as E.coli and salmonella contaminating fruit and vegetables. At a conference on hygienic processing in Laval, France, project team leader Tim Brocklehurst announced the world-first bacterial inhibitor breakthrough, but didn’t detail its components for confidentiality reasons pending the patent application. No further statement is planned for the immediate future.

Crop plants can become contaminated with bacteria during growth, harvesting, handling, processing, distribution or preparation. Brocklehurst says the team’s experiments showed conventional commercial sanitising methods are only marginally effective. The team found bacteria prefer to grow on the cut surfaces of produce and multiply during storage to form an extensive layer. Bacteria can attach in minutes and this attachment is often difficult to break. “Our method can prevent bacteria attaching to leaf tissues at the harvesting or the processing stages, increasing food safety,” Brocklehurst says.

The institute has not said when the inhibitor will be commercially available. Brocklehurst says the next stage will be developing a compound with a higher coefficiency than the microbes, so that it attaches to fruit and vegetable tissues and inhibits bacterial contact. Microbiological safety is a key issue for the produce sector. In the US, the Florida tomato industry is near collapse after salmonella-contaminated tomatoes infected 145 people. One died and 23 were hospitalised. announcement has attracted intense interest from growers, processors and retailers.