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REPORT OF THE CHIEF OF THE BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE,
BUREAU OF ANIMAL INDUSTRY,
Washington, D. C., October 3, 1911. SIR: I have the honor to transmit herewith a report of the operations of the Bureau of Animal Industry for the fiscal year ended June 30, 1911. Respectfully,
A. D. MELVIN,
Chief of Bureau. Hon. JAMES WILSON,
Secretary of Agriculture.
The bureau deals with the live-stock industry in a threefold way, comprising administrative, research, and educational work. This work includes the inspection of animals, meat, and meat food products in connection with interstate and export business under the law of June 30, 1906; the inspection of animals for export; the inspection and quarantine of imported animals; the eradication of contagious and infectious diseases of live stock; the scientific investigation of such diseases; investigations in the breeding and feeding of live stock and poultry; work relating to the dairy industry, and the diffusion of information on these subjects.
The number of employees in the service of the bureau on July 1, 1911, was 3,284, as compared with 3,183 a year before.
After a brief general discussion of certain features the work of the various divisions of the bureau's organization will be presented in order and more in detail.
STUDY AND ERADICATION OF ANIMAL DISEASES.
The work of controlling and eradicating certain contagious and infectious diseases of live stock has been carried forward with very favorable results.
Since the summer of 1906 the bureau has been engaged, in cooperation with the State and local authorities, in the extermination of the ticks which inhabit the Southern States and which spread the infection of the disease known as southern or Texas fever of cattle and otherwise handicap the cattle and dairy industries by keeping animals in poor condition. Good progress was made in this undertaking during the past fiscal year, as a result of which areas aggregating 10,965 square miles were released from quarantine, making the total territory so released since the beginning of the work 139,821 square miles. This territory is mostly along the northern border of the infected region, extending from Virginia to California.
Experiments in dipping cattle for the destruction of the ticks have shown that arsenical solutions are more satisfactory than the Beaumont crude petroleum which has heretofore been used to a considerable extent. Arsenical dips are therefore now being principally employed in the work of tick eradication, and articles have been prepared for publication reporting the results of the dipping experiments and giving directions for the preparation and use of arsenical dips and for the construction of dipping vats. A paper discussing the history and progress of the work of tick eradication has also been prepared for the Twenty-seventh Annual Report of the Bureau.
Substantial progress was also made during the fiscal year in the eradication of the parasitic diseases known as sheep scab and cattle mange. Statistics of this work, as well as of tick eradication, appear in the portion of this report dealing with the work of the Inspection Division. In addition to the territory released from quarantine, the amount of infection in some of the areas remaining under quarantine has been considerably reduced.
The form of necrobacillosis known as lip-and-leg ulceration of sheep, which has been quite prevalent in a malignant form in a large part of Wyoming and Montana within the past three years, was brought under control so well during the fiscal year as a result of work done by the bureau and State officers, with favorable climatic conditions, that the Federal quarantine was entirely released under date of August 10, 1911. While the disease is still sometimes found in a mild form, it is believed that ordinary methods of State and interstate inspection will be sufficient to keep it under control. It is fortunate for the sheep industry that the malignant form of the disease was stamped out within such a short time and not allowed to spread extensively throughout the West.
The recurrence of the contagious disease known as dourine of horses was an incident of the year. This disease had apparently been completely eradicated a few years before as a result of several years' work by the bureau. The new outbreak occurred in Iowa, and while the manner in which the infection was again introduced has not been positively determined, all the information at hand points to its having been brought in with an imported stallion. Prompt and vigorous action by the bureau in concert with the State authorities has resulted in the practical eradication of the contagion. In studying the disease the scientists of the bureau were able to find under the microscope the living organisms which are the infective agent, this being the first discovery of the organism in natural cases in the United States. Further details of the outbreak and its study and eradication are given in the report of the Pathological Division.
Although mallein has been in use for the diagnosis of glanders for several years, it has not been entirely reliable. During the year the bureau scientists have made a special study of a new laboratory test for glanders known as the complement-fixation test, and the first description of this test published in the United States was issued as a bulletin of the bureau. The new test has been found to be highly accurate and reliable and affords a very valuable means of determining doubtful cases of glanders in horses and of bringing about its eradication.
Tuberculosis has continued to be a subject of both administrative work and scientific investigation. In 1909 and 1910 a systematic tuberculin test was made of all cattle in the District of Columbia, and those that reacted were slaughtered. During the past fiscal year the bureau has been engaged in making retests at intervals in order to detect the disease in any animals in which it might have developed since the first test. This work is described in the report of the Quarantine Division. Only a small proportion of cases is now being found, and as all cattle brought into the District except for immediate slaughter have to undergo the test, it is believed that the District will soon be entirely freed from bovine tuberculosis.
Experiments in the immunization of cattle against tuberculosis by means of vaccination have been continued, and while some encouraging results have been obtained, the only methods that appear to be at all reliable require the use of living tubercle bacilli, and the bureau does not yet consider such methods adapted to practical use because of the danger of spreading the disease. This work has been made the subject of a special article in the Twenty-seventh Annual Report of the bureau.
For several years the bureau has advocated that only animals that are free from tuberculosis should be admitted to public exhibitions. Following this recommendation the officials of the Utah State Fair last year made a ruling which permitted only cattle which were free from tuberculosis as demonstrated by the tuberculin test to be shown at that fair. It is hoped that the managers of other large exhibitions will follow a similar course. This policy seems desirable for two reasons, first, because if tuberculous animals are admitted there is danger that the disease will be spread to other stock, and second, it seems unreasonable and unfair that premiums should be awarded to animals that are infected with a contagious disease. The smallest blemish will disqualify a horse in the show ring, and it seems only logical that the presence of a contagious disease should disqualify cattle. Certainly the owners of healthy stock should not be expected to expose their animals to diseased ones at these fairs.
About two years ago a special committee known as the International Commission on the Control of Bovine Tuberculosis was appointed by the American Medical Veterinary Association to study the tuberculosis problem in live stock and to formulate measures for dealing with it. The report of this commission was submitted during the past fiscal year, and owing to its importance and the desirability of giving it a wide distributon it was published by the department as a circular of this bureau. The commission has since prepared a simple and concise treatise on this disease, intended especially for farmers and stock raisers, and it is expected that this will be published by the department as a Farmers' Bulletin. As a proper understanding of the nature of tuberculosis and the best means for dealing with it are essential to the success of any undertaking for the control or eradication of this disease, it is believed that the widespread distribution of this literature will accomplish great good.
NEW EXPERIMENTAL FARM AND QUARANTINE STATIONS.
As stated in my last report, a farm of about 475 acres, located at Beltsville, Prince George County, Md., about 13 miles from Washington, was purchased under an appropriation made by the appropriation act for the Department of Agriculture for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1911. This farm was intended for experimental work in animal husbandry and dairying. For several years it had been considered very desirable to separate work of this kind from that relating to infectious diseases as carried on at the Bureau Experiment Station at Bethesda, Md. During the past year considerable work in the way of building, fencing, and equipping the Beltsville farm for work for which it is intended has been carried on, and the work of breeding and feeding animals and poultry has been transferred there from the Bethesda Station.
With an appropriation of $65,000 made by Congress two quarantine stations have been purchased, to replace rented ones, for the detention of imported animals brought in at the ports of Boston and Baltimore. The station for Boston is located at Littleton, Mass. The Baltimore station is located on the water front and makes it possible to transfer live stock by lighter directly from the steamer to the station.
BREEDING HORSES FOR THE UNITED STATES ARMY. As pointed out somewhat at length in my last report, there is great need for the Government to undertake some systematic plan for encouraging the breeding of horses of a type suitable for Army use. The breeding of this type of horse is declining rapidly in favor of breeding heavier horses, and it is becoming evident that if the Army is to be able to procure an adequate number of suitable horses in the future some plan such as has been recommended will have to be entered into. During the year a hearing on this subject was held by the Committee on Agriculture of the House of Representatives, but no special appropriation for such work was made by Congress. However, the bureau has made a small beginning, the slight expenses of th work being paid from the appropriation for animal feeding and breeding experiments. During the year Mr. August Belmont presented to the War Department two well-known Thoroughbred stallions, Henry of Navarre and Octagon, and, at the request of the Secretary of War, the Department of Agriculture consented to take the stallions and stand them for public service under the provisions of the plan outlined in the preceding report. The stallions are at the remount station of the Army at Front Royal, Va., and have been bred to about 50 mares, each mare owner agreeing to give the Government an option on the foal at three years at $150 in return for stallion service. The conditions for service also provide for disqualifications for faulty gait and conformation and unsoundness.
VETERINARY EDUCATION. In order to obtain qualified veterinarians for its service, the bureau, in conjunction with the United States Civil Service Commission, has continued its investigations and supervision with regard to the courses of study and facilities for instruction at veterinary colleges. This work may be better understood from a brief review, including the circumstances leading up to it.