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Soviet Livestock Expansion Slowing

February 11, 1985

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Last year’s relatively small grain harvest apparently has dampened some of the Soviet Union’s livestock expansion going into 1985, according to an Agriculture Department report.

Meat production was about 16.7 million metric tons last year, up 1.5 percent from 1984, says the department’s Foreign Agricultural Service. Milk output was 97.6 million tons, up 1 percent, and egg production was about 76 billion eggs, also a 1 percent increase.

A decision some years ago to put more meat, milk and eggs on Soviet dinner tables has been a key factor in Moscow’s readiness to buy foreign grain - including huge quantities from the United States - to make up for shortfalls in domestic harvests.

″Favorable feed supplies plus record inventories at the start of the year (1984) resulted in sharp month and quarterly increases of meat, milk and eggs during the first half of the year,″ the report said.

″However, these surpluses tapered off late in the year, probably as a result of shorter supplies of feeds.

The brief report, which was included in a recent weekly review of world production and trade developments, said that Soviet livestock inventories at the beginning of 1985 were ″still large compared to recent years″ but ″also indicate the effects of shorter feed supplies.″

Hogs were reported at 77.8 million head, down 1 percent from a year earlier. Total cattle numbers, at 120.8 million head, were up 1 percent, but those included a 1 percent cutback in the cow herd. Sheep and goats, at 148.8 million, were down 2 percent from Jan. 1, 1984.

Total Soviet grain production last year is currently estimated by USDA at 170 million tons, down from 195 million tons in 1983 and 180 million in 1982.

Harvests have traditionally been erratic in the Soviet Union, where bad weather can produce dramatic year-to-year changes.

In the wake of last year’s reduced production, the Soviet Union’s grain imports are at record levels and are expected to total 50 million tons in the international marketing year that will end on June 30, compared with 32.9 million tons in 1983-84.

A metric ton is about 2,205 pounds and is equal, for example, to 36.7 bushels of wheat or 39.4 bushels of corn.

The most recent analysis by USDA of Soviet grain use shows consumption in 1984-85 at 221 million tons, of which 123 million tons are expected to be used as livestock feed - the same level as last year.

Sales of U.S. grain to the Soviet Union for delivery in the year that began last Oct. 1 - the second year of a five-year supply agreement - are expected to exceed the old mark of 15.5 million tons in 1978-79. The bulk is expected to be corn for the Soviet livestock sector.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Agriculture Department scientists have found that a roughened plastic loop inserted in a milk cow’s udder may be an important weapon against mastitis, a bacterial infection that plagues dairy herds worldwide.

Max J. Paape of the department’s Agricultural Research Service said recently that the plastic loop, which takes the shape of a one-inch diameter coil inside the udder, stimulates the inner lining of the milk area to produce additional white blood cells. White blood cells, as in humans, help fight disease.

Paape said the loop is not new. A smooth-coated loop was developed in 1978 by a California veterinarian, William Kortum.

But Paape and colleaques unintentionally scratched the original loops while evaluating them at the agency’s research center in Beltsville, Md., and discovered that the roughened version increased white blood cells.

Subsequent tests of loops roughend by using sandpaper raised the white blood cell count from about 300,000 per milliliter for the smooth loops to over one million for the new loops, he said.

A white blood cell count of about 900,000 is thought necessary to stop mastitis infections, Pappe said. Field tests in Israel showed that the new loops can reduce the incidence of severe mastitis by 75 percent.

The agency said the roughened loops could be available to veterinarians in another year.

WASHINGTON (AP) - World apple production in 1984-85 is expected to be nearly 17.4 million metric tons, up 7 percent from last season, says the Agriculture Department.

Production in the Northern Hemisphere is forecast at 14.9 million tons, up from 13.9 million last season, while the Southern Hemisphere crop is expected to total 2.49 million tons, up from 2.36 million in 19-83-84, the department’s Foreign Agricultural Service said.

The U.S. apple crop, estimated at 3.73 million tons, is down slightly from last season but still was ranked No. 1 among the selected commercial producing countries.

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