Monthly Archives: June 2007

Farr Scholarship Winners to be Announced at Cattle Industry Summer Conference

Farr Scholarship Winners to be Announced at Cattle Industry Summer Conference

Cattle Today

Denver (June 20, 2007) – Presentation of two graduate-level scholarships honoring the legacy of cattle industry pioneer W.D. Farr will highlight the Cattle Industry Summer Conference, scheduled for July 16-20 in downtown Denver.

The W.D. Farr Scholarship Awards, in the amount of $12,000 each, will be presented by the National Cattlemen’s Foundation (NCF). Earlier this year, NCF received 29 applications from 16 universities across the country – as well as two international applicants – for the scholarship awards. Finalists were chosen from students in the fields of animal science, environmental science and agriculture were eligible, as these scholarships honor W.D. Farr’s successful career and dedication to many aspects of production agriculture. Contributions to the scholarship fund currently total over $200,000, with fundraising efforts still ongoing for awards in future years.


Rotate grazing programs in dry years

Rotate grazing programs in dry years


Spencer Magnet

In a year of reduced hay and pasture yields because of a late spring freeze coupled with the current dry conditions, pasture management is even more crucial than usual. Rotational grazing can play a big part in getting the most out of forages in these lean times as well as the good times.

“In a dry year like this, it gives the most efficient utilization of the grass, and with the dry weather and reduced growth, the better the utilization, the longer the cattle can stay on pasture,” said Ray Smith, forage specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

Research has shown that rotationally grazed pastures maintain productivity longer into a drought than those that are continuously grazed. Yet, in any year, there are several key advantages to rotational grazing. The primary advantage is that it gives the producer management over his pastures. He’s telling the cattle what to graze rather than allowing them to graze whatever they want, which usually results in over grazing the desirable grasses. Given the opportunity, cattle often graze those out and leave the undesirable or lower quality grasses, he said. Rotational grazing also gives the farmer an opportunity to take a field or two and cut them for hay if there’s excess growth.


Stocker Cattle Forum: Is It Bedding Or Is It Feed?

Stocker Cattle Forum: Is It Bedding Or Is It Feed?

Alternative feedstuffs available to Ohio livestock producers include the crop residues and alternative forage and grain products mentioned below:

CEREAL GRAINS STRAW: Straw is an alternative for cows and sheep if properly supplemented with energy, protein, minerals, and vitamins. Satisfactory supplements include cereal grains, crop processing co-products such as wheat midds, or high quality hays. Oat straw is the most palatable and nutritious, followed by barley straw and wheat straw. Rye straw has little feed value.

Straw can constitute up to about 60 percent of the brood cow ration but has only about half the value of hay in growing rations. Straw can be used in combination with other feeds as the major roughage for beef cows. Grinding straw can increase intake 10 to 15 percent. However, compaction can be a problem in diets with high levels of chopped straw. Straw a year or more old is usually more palatable and digestible than fresh straw.

AMMONIATED STRAW: Straw is sometimes treated with 3% anhydrous ammonia to improve the feeding value. When limited amounts of hay or other roughages are available, ammoniation may be a cost effective way to increase the value of straw. Ammoniated feeds should be analyzed prior to feeding to determine actual nutrient content. Energy supplementation may still be necessary after ammoniation, depending on the nutrient requirements of each particular set of livestock.


Judge won’t rule on Cavel

Judge won’t rule on Cavel

By Dana Herra

Daily Chronicle (IL)

The federal judge charged with determining the fate of the last horse slaughterhouse in the country said Monday he has no jurisdiction to make any further decisions in the case until a federal appeals court rules on an appeal by The Humane Society of the United States.

Judge Frederick Kapala of the U.S. District Court in Rockford issued a statement saying the court is “divested of jurisdiction” in the case until the appeals court rules on whether the HSUS can intervene in the case. Intervention would essentially give the group the same status as a defendant and would allow it to call and cross-examine witnesses. Kapala denied the HSUS’ motion to intervene on June 1, and the group appealed that decision June 19.

At issue is whether Belgium-based Cavel International, the last horse slaughterhouse in the country, can continue slaughtering horses at its DeKalb plant for human consumption. While a small percentage of the horse meat is sold to U.S. zoos, most is shipped to Europe and Asia, where it is sold in restaurants and supermarkets. A law banning the slaughter of horses for human consumption was signed by Gov. Rod Blagojevich on May 24, and Cavel filed suit the next day, claiming among other things that the law interferes with international commerce and unfairly protects a specific species of livestock based on the morals of a minority group.


Beef Checkoff looks for beef backers

Beef Checkoff looks for beef backers

By Tom Wray

National Provisioned Online

DENVER – The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, on behalf of the Beef Checkoff, is continuing its search for the first national Retail Beef Backer Awards.

The Progressive Grocer website reported that the program is designed to award retailers who have demonstrated commitment to beef marketing and merchandising programs.

Winners will be selected for three categories: Independent (fewer than 11 stores), Chain (11 or more stores) and Innovator, which is open to businesses in the first two categories. The Innovator award will be awarded for an innovative beef support program or product merchandising program that succeeded in increasing beef demand.


Drought Slows Indiana, Ohio Hay Making

Drought Slows Indiana, Ohio Hay Making

Indiana and Ohio hay growers have been challenged by drought this year, according to reports from Purdue University and Ohio State University.

Indiana — April’s freeze hurt the crop’s first harvest, while recent heat and near-drought conditions threaten to reduce future harvests and winter hay inventories. “Reports and my own work suggest that first cutting hay yields were significantly less than what we would have expected,” says Keith Johnson, Purdue forage specialist. “I would classify what most people have harvested as being a typical second, third or fourth kind of harvest. If future harvests do not yield well, that doesn’t bode very well for hay inventory to be fed to our livestock.”

Johnson and Ron Lemenager, Purdue beef specialist, say first-harvest losses ranged from 20% to 70% across the state. Forages and pastures could recover and still provide adequate hay supplies, but only with enough rain. “Areas within the state now have gone extended periods without significant rainfall,” Lemenager states. “We not only have a short first cutting, but the recovery of those hay crops for the second cutting and potential third cutting is starting to diminish. As a result, producers who have been used to four cuttings may only get three.”


Cattle Preconditioning Forum: Early Weaning For The Beef Herd

Cattle Preconditioning Forum: Early Weaning For The Beef Herd

Introduction: Early weaning can provide an attractive alternative in certain situations where large amounts of purchased forage would be necessary to maintain a cow herd through to normal weaning time. Early weaning would be ideal for fall calving herds, where harvested forage is fed during the cow’s greatest nutritional demand, and for cases of drought in spring-calving herds. Cows that are too thin to re-breed, or have difficulty re-breeding such as first calf heifers and anestrous cows, are also candidates for early weaning.

Early weaning can also offer producers an additional marketing option. Early-weaned steers placed on an accelerated finishing program in the feedlot can reach market weight at less than a year of age, thus spring-born calves can be marketed the following spring when fat cattle prices are seasonably high. Since early-weaned steers are generally on a high grain diet for a longer period of time, high quality carcasses result. Producers looking to market their calves as high quality may be able to use early weaning as a tool. Dairy steers that are typically weaned at 90 days of age can easily be placed on an accelerated finishing program in the feedlot.


Ohio producers face hay shortage; have other forage options

Ohio producers face hay shortage; have other forage options

Ag Professional

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio producers may be facing a hay shortage this season due to dry conditions, but other forage and grazing alternatives exist to feed livestock.

Steve Boyles, an Ohio State University Extension livestock specialist, said that when choosing other forage options, feeding limit and nutritional content guidelines should be adhered to ensure that livestock remain healthy and meet market standards.

“Any time you change feeds with ruminant animals, you should do so gradually so the digestive system can adjust to the new feed,” said Boyles. “If you don’t, the livestock might run into some digestive problems.”

Although alfalfa has the capacity to continue growth under dry conditions, the late spring cold spell impacted stands, killing off plants and forcing re-growth. As a result, the first cutting turned out to be much smaller than producers anticipated.

Marc Sulc, an OSU Extension forage specialist, said that alfalfa still has the ability to bounce back as a viable forage crop, but harvest timing is the key to ensure plant health and longevity.


Elk don’t make good neighbors

Elk don’t make good neighbors

At least not when fences don’t work.

Jacqueline Froelich

Arkansas Times

Thousands of visitors drive deep into the Buffalo River National Park every year to catch a glimpse of immense Rocky Mountain elk feeding on rich bottomland pasture. They thrill at the sight.

Native Ozark farmers cringe.

For almost two decades, some complain, elk have broken into their fields and ravaged their crops. The state Game and Fish Commission, which introduced the herd, is wearing out its welcome.

The Rocky Mountain elk is not native to Arkansas. But the Eastern elk is — or was up until 1840 when it was hunted into extinction. A hundred years later, the U.S. Forest Service sought to bring elk back to Arkansas. They released 11 Rocky Mountain elk along the Black Mountain Ridge of Franklin County. Poachers took them out, too.


Farms withering

Farms withering

# Drought forces some in Mississippi to sell off herds

By Julie Goodman

The Clarion Ledger (MS)

Todd Sullivan’s family is feeling the wrath of the dry weather, a drought that has forced his family to start selling off cows and watch profits plummet at their cattle farm just outside Mendenhall.

Like many of about 21,000 other livestock producers in Mississippi, the Sullivans are struggling with a limited forage supply and are left with the choice of buying costly feed or selling some of their herds. Those problems have been compounded by the rising prices of fertilizer and fuel.

The family raises commercial cattle on about 600 acres in Simpson and Covington counties, in addition to running embryo transfer and artificial insemination programs.

They normally have about 120 cattle, and now are down to around 40. “And we’ll be selling even more of those,” Sullivan said.


Cattle Health: I Forget—What Does The BVD Virus Cause?

Cattle Health: I Forget—What Does The BVD Virus Cause?

The BVD virus can cause a wide spectrum of disease problems. BVD virus infection can be fairly mild to fatal. In well cared for cattle it can cause diarrhea, with damage starting in the mouth and extending throughout the gastrointestinal tract. Hence, the name: Bovine Virus Diarrhea. BVD is also a major cause of respiratory disease in young cattle going into stocker operations, backgrounder operations, and feedlots.


BeefTalk: Grass is Not Free

BeefTalk: Grass is Not Free

BeefTalk: Costs per AUM BeefTalk: Costs per AUM

By Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

The assignment of a value to pasture is important and relevant to the analysis of the total operation.

Summer in the beef business is turn out time. If we are not careful, some would conclude that it is the time of year when we don’t need to feed the cows.

Summer would seem to be the time when cash costs are less and the pocketbook is not being called upon as frequently to pay the bills. The summer focus is the processing, hauling and storage of next winter’s feed.

However, summer can be expensive. The costs of raising crops and forage are working their way into the system. The cow still is eating and those bites of grass in the pasture are not free.


Packers, Retailers Stoke The Heat On COOL

Packers, Retailers Stoke The Heat On COOL

Beef Stocker Trends

Country-of-origin labeling (COOL) isn’t supposed to go into effect until September 2008, but one of the nation’s largest trade organizations representing meat processors — American Meat Institute (AMI) — sent letters last week to 97 producer organizations advising them that their members may soon hear from meatpackers about what they will require of their suppliers as part of mandatory COOL.

“Although we adamantly oppose mandatory COOL, it is the law and it is our job as the meat industry’s trade association to help companies prepare for full implementation,” explains Mark Dopp, AMI cenior vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel. “Given the fact that animals born now will be subject to mandatory COOL, we thought it was wise to begin preparing.”

In its letter to producer groups, AMI told its members that, in order to comply with the law and satisfy retail customers, packers should demand a number of things from livestock producers. This includes verified documentation of where the livestock purchased were born and raised, and an affidavit or declaration with each load of livestock purchases stating that there’s a verifiable audit trail in place that identifies where the livestock in each load were born and raised.


Hot weather to put freeze on cattle prices?

Hot weather to put freeze on cattle prices?

Illinois Farm Bureau

Cattle prices this summer could start to cool down as the weather heats up, according to one market analyst.

Chris Hurt, Purdue University ag economist, believes live cattle prices this summer could dip into the high-$80 range.

USDA reported on Friday in its monthly cattle on feed report that the cattle inventory, at 11.3 million head, was up 1 percent last month while placements in May were up 13 percent at 2.16 million head.


USDA offers hay, pasture relief

USDA offers hay, pasture relief


The Leaf-Chronicle (TN)

As a long-term rainfall deficit continues to affect Tennessee farms, officials with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) remind producers enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that opportunities for managed haying and grazing exist.

With a modification to producers’ conservation plans, certain CRP stands established for permanent grasses (cool-season and native warm-season grasses) are eligible to be cut for hay or grazed by livestock.

Beginning July 2, CRP participants who have received written permission can hay or graze these grass stands.

“Native grasses will be an excellent source of hay during this drought,” said Gregg Brann, NRCS grazing lands specialist.

“Due to deep rooting of natives they will be more vegetative and higher-quality than other forages that have dried up.

“It is important to harvest native grasses as soon as possible after the July 2 date,” Brann said. “The ideal height to harvest natives for hay is 30 inches tall or when the first seedhead appears.

“My calculations show if CRP yields four tons per acre and half of the hay is given to the contract harvester for cutting, raking and rolling the hay, the producer would still have four rolls of hay for a cost of only $4 per roll,” he said.


Cattle Health: What Is Trichomonosis & How Is It Transmitted?

Cattle Health: What Is Trichomonosis & How Is It Transmitted?

Bovine trichomonosis (a.k.a. trichomoniasis) is an important cause of economic loss in cattle operations that use natural service. Surveys in California beef cattle operations have shown that more than 15 percent of herds had at least one infected bull.

This disease is caused by a protozoan organism called Tritrichomonas foetus. This organism lives in the folds of the bull’s penis and internal sheath. In cows this organism colonizes the vagina, cervix, uterus and oviducts.


Hundred Percent Grass-Fed-Beef

Hundred Percent Grass-Fed-Beef

Tim Stark

Here’s a picture of Patrick Robinette’s Senepol cows in a North Carolina meadow, pausing from a round of grass chewing. The baby up front was born two nights earlier. The one on the left, now 17 years old, has had 16 calves. I have never encountered such curious cows. When I went into the field with them, they took turns approaching me and sniffing at me, tentatively, the way an inquisitive cat might sniff at a stranger. After tinkering with all kinds of cattle breeds, Patrick is partial to the Senepol. With origins on the island of St. Croix, Senepol cattle can tolerate the hot, humid North Carolina summers. “Your Black Angus will spend the whole summer day standing in the shade of a tree,” says Patrick. The Black Angus is also bred to eat corn, which is something Patrick never feeds his cattle, not even in the last months. From cradle to grave, Patrick’s cattle indulge their one great pleasure: munching fescue, rye, clover, orchard grass, and millet. But Patrick has more than just humane reasons for preferring Senepol cattle in his southern meadows. “I want my cattle to fatten up on all that lush grass,” he says. “When they’re standing in the shade just to survive, they’re not eating anything. And happy, unstressed cattle also produce more tender, flavorful meat.”


COOL battle heats up

COOL battle heats up

by George Lauby

North Platte Bulletin

A smoldering battle over food labels that specify the country of origin is heating up again.

The so-called COOL law (country of origin labeling) was signed in 2002, but never has taken effect, due largely to vehement objections from meat packers and processors.

Over the years, meat handlers have gathered opposition to COOL and are now advertising nationally against it.

COOL would require the origin of meats and other foods to be placed on the label. The law for beef labels was never funded. Meat processors say it is too cumbersome.

Cattle ranchers generally like the law, saying it would boost sales of USA beef, or at least give consumers a chance to select a homegrown product.

In the latest arguments, the rancher’s group R-CALF USA alleges meat processors are circulating misleading anti-COOL letters to Congress – making it seem as though an actual livestock producer had authored the letters.


Cattle Update: Beef Industry Seeks Management Priority Information

Cattle Update: Beef Industry Seeks Management Priority Information

More than 5,000 printed copies of Priorities First: Identifying Management Priorities in the Commercial Cow-Calf Business have been distributed since its initial release at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this year.  Requests for additional copies are received daily, and the document is downloadable from the Internet.  To continue its leadership position within the beef industry, and fulfill the mission to provide programs and services that will help commercial cattle producers improve their profitability, the American Angus AssociationSM  commissioned this in-depth study that provides a blueprint for prioritizing profit drivers in today’s cow-calf operations.

Tom Field, Ph.D., Fort Collins, Colo., conducted the study that includes responses from 217 industry experts and commercial cattle producers from across the nation.  The 28-page report ranks the top 15 management practices according to how each contributes to profitability and sustainability of the cow-calf enterprise.

 “This document does a great job of defining the basic categories of knowledge and skills needed and, just as important, their relative priority for the cow-calf phase of production,” says Joe Davis, a commercial producer from Westminster, S.C.


Ethanol demand outgrows corn

Ethanol demand outgrows corn

By Eric Kelderman,

Corn is king of renewable auto fuels, for now. But federal and state governments already are racing to find alternatives to corn as they look for ways to use ethanol to help break the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Georgia Gov. Sony Perdue (R) announced in February that a Colorado company would build the nation’s first commercial-scale ethanol plant using — not corn — but wood chips to produce 40 million gallons of fuel a year in the Peach State. A plant under construction in Louisiana is slated to produce 1.4 million gallons of ethanol annually from sugar-cane waste. Tennessee has sunk $18 million into research to convert prairie grasses into auto fuel, and New York has awarded $25 million to two companies to produce more than 600,000 gallons of ethanol a year from wood chips and paper waste.