'Mad Deer Disease' -- Is It In the Feed?

An Associated Press story speculates today that Wisconsin hunters, having killed deer in the area of the state known to be infected with mad cow-like Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), might have spread the disease around the state by taking carcasses back to their homes and dumping them in the environment. Yes, that is a possibility, but not the most obvious possibility. Feeding rendered byproducts is a much more obvious threat to spread CWD around the state, the nation and to other livestock. Extensive supplement feeding of wild deer to grow big antlers has gone on in Wisconsin's CWD eradication zone, and in fact all over much of the US. The supplements contain protein, minerals, and binders (fat), much of it from rendered slaughterhouse waste, the same stuff that amplified and spread mad cow disease in England. In Wisconsin in 1995 alone over 26,000 road-killed deer were rendered into meat and bone meal used in animal feed. Unlike Britain and Europe, the US still feeds billions of pounds of mammalian rendered byproduct back to livestock. As we document in our book Mad Cow USA, US feed regulations are so weak that cattle blood is used in calf feed. Such policies are inviting a disaster that could dwarf Britain's mad cow crisis since the US is the biggest meat producing country in the world.