Monthly Archives: December 2005

Midwest Value-Added Ag Conference is Jan. 27-28

Midwest Value-Added Ag Conference is Jan. 27-28 The Midwest Value-Added Ag Conference is designed to help agriculturists explore new market opportunities and learn from farmers, business people and experts involved in value-added farm enterprises. The eight annual conference, themed “Connecting You with Your Customers,” is Jan. 27-28 at the Plaza Hotel and Suites in Eau Claire, WI. Attendees will learn how to write a business plan, market as a group and choose between alternative enterprises. They’ll also learn about ag products others have created, sources of start-up funds and how to get a loan. To learn more, call Heather Flashinski, River Country Resource Conservation and Development Council, at 715-834-9672. Register before Jan. 1 to save $15. For more info, visit — Joe Roybal, Beef Magazine

Make 100 Healthy Calves Your 2006 Goal

Make 100% Healthy Calves Your 2006 Goal
Dr. Mark Hilton, Purdue University
Beef Cow Calf Weekly

When I was a growing up on our family farm, my father would have been embarrassed if the telephone rang during “working hours” and he was in the house. In his day, you had to be outside doing physical labor to really be “working.” Times have changed. Today, most of us realize time spent researching and planning is as important as physical labor. In fact, the time spent on such tasks should reduce your workload later in the year. With that as a backdrop, let’s examine some items to discuss with your family or crew in regard to having 100% healthy calves in 2006. Some research-based concepts for producing healthy calves can be transferred directly from research herds to your herd.


Six Factors For Better Artificial Insemination Success

— Eric Grant for the National Association of Animal Breeders.
From Cow-Calf Weekly
Most artificial insemination (AI) programs rely heavily on a wide array of estrous synchronization (ES) programs now available. But success can vary widely, so it’s important producers know which factors can negatively impact their AI programs — and how to manage them.


Canadian Beef Back in Tokyo Supermarkets

SanFrancisco Chronicle
Tuesday, December 27, 2005

(12-27) 10:16 PST TOKYO, Japan (AP) —

Canadian beef was back on some supermarket shelves in the Japanese capital on Tuesday, following the lifting of a two year ban on imports, but with consumers still wary about mad cow disease, it wasn’t expected to be flying off the shelves just yet.

Canada’s Ambassador to Japan said he was confident that Canadian beef will regain its popularity following the easing of the ban.

“We are very confident that this market will strengthen as it did in the past and that the Japanese will again merit well from good quality Canadian beef,” Ambassador Josef Caron said as he attended a ceremony at a Tokyo supermarket, one of the first to begin selling the beef Tuesday.

“It will take a little bit of time, but it will come back,” he said.

Canada exported between 10,000 and 20,000 tons of beef a year to Japan until trade was halted in May 2003, when the first case of mad cow disease was found in a Canadian animal.

Before the ban, Japan was the third largest importer of Canadian beef after the United States and Mexico, according to the Canadian Embassy.

Japan partially lifted the ban on U.S. and Canadian beef imports on Dec. 12, allowing meat only from cows younger than 21 months.

Hanamasa Co., a Tokyo-based operator of supermarkets and restaurants, said it had imported about eight tons of beef from Ontario to be sold Tuesday and Wednesday at its 10 outlets in the Tokyo area.

The meat was priced at about the same before the import ban, said company official Hiroko Abe, adding that Hanamasa plans to begin full-scale sales of Canadian beef in late January or February.

Hanamasa may start selling U.S. beef next spring, she added.

On Monday, two mid-sized supermarket chains in northern and western Japan began selling U.S. beef.


Nine Challenges Facing The Industry In 2006

by Troy Marshall
Cow-Calf Weekly

  • Exports — rebuild and regain our market share in lost export markets, while reducing market barriers and solidifying the U.S. position as the world’s foremost supplier of high-quality, safe and wholesome, corn-fed beef.
  • Continue to shift away from the commodity trap, and create marketing systems and avenues that allow us not only to consistently hit specific market segments and niches, but reflect these value differences through a revamped marketing system.
  • Implementation of a national animal ID system.
  • Be ready to face even more ferocious attacks from anti-beef advocates.
  • Coping with a cattle-cycle phase where more beef tonnage will be available (even with exports and dry conditions offsetting the effects of expansion to a large extent).
  • Fierce competition from competing meats.
  • Higher fuel, transportation, energy and input costs.


Controlling BVD In Your Operation

From BEEF Stocker Trends

Jan. 30-31, Adams Mark Hotel, Denver — immediately precedes the 2006 Cattle Industry Convention and Trade Show in Denver.

“BVD Control: The Future is Now” is a two-day symposium with the first day designed for researchers, and the second for producers.

  • The Jan. 30, 8 a.m.-6:30 p.m., session is focused toward research scientists, veterinarians and lab diagnosticians with an interest in the control and eradication of BVD virus (BVDV). Addressed will be diagnosis and surveillance, control strategies and programs, BVDV vaccines, BVDV’s economic impact, and development and funding of control programs.
  • On Jan. 31, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., a production-level session focuses on what producers and vet practitioners must know to prevent BVD and handle existing herd infections. Scientists, ranchers, cattle feeders and vets will address what what’s needed to design effective control plans, control-plan components, disease costs and the tools needed for control.

Go to for more info or to register.

USDA Hands Essential ID Component To Private Industry

From Beef Quality Stratagies

The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) gained some clarity in recent weeks with USDA emphasizing it would focus use of its limited resources on premises registration and individual animal ID.


Most Producers Want Mandatory ID

From Beef Quality Strategies

It’s certainly not unanimous but a growing number of livestock producers, including cattlemen, want the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) to be mandatory. At least that’s according to a couple of recent industry polls.


Mid-South Stocker Conference

Feb. 16-17, Clarksville, TN — sponsored by the University of Tennessee and the University of Kentucky.

The conference begins Feb. 16 with a tour of successful stocker operations, while an indoor educational program follows the next day. Economical feeding, electronic ID, branded beef and the future of the beef industry are some of the topics to be covered. In addition, a trade show exhibiting the latest technology will be a part of the conference.

Registration is $95 before Feb. 9 and $145 after that date. Visit for more info. Or, contact Jim Neel, 865-974-7294 or; John Bartee, 931-648-5725 or; or John T. Johns, 859-257-2853 or

Industry Plan Aims For 10% Demand Increase

From BEEF Stocker Trends

If cattle producers embrace the key points of an industry long-range plan unveiled by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) last week, the business could take another giant step toward profit potential.

Key targets in the plan include:

  • Increase beef demand 10% by 2010.
  • Reverse the long-term decline in beef’s share of U.S. protein and increase the share to 32% by 2010.
  • Increase U.S. beef exports 400% from 2005, to 2.5 billion lbs., by 2010.

Call it ambitious if you want, but plenty of folks thought reversing the 20-year demand slide for beef (until about 1999) was nuts, too. In its last long-range plan (2000), NCBA set the goal of increasing consumer demand for beef by 6% by 2004. That was accomplished in spades.

What NCBA unveiled was a draft plan. They’re seeking input from all cattlemen through December. The organization will then prepare a final plan to present to members for consideration at the annual NCBA meeting, Feb. 1-4 in Denver.

To see the plan in detail, and to provide comments, go to

Both beef and pork production rose in Nov.

Both beef and pork production rose in November

by Pete Hisey on 12/29/2005 for

The National Agricultural Statistics Service reports that beef production rose 7 percent in November compared to a year ago, to 2.07 billion pounds, while pork production rose 2 percent, to 1.84 billion pounds. Cattle slaughter rose 5 percent, to 2.67 million head, with cattle being fed to higher weights, up 16 pounds per animal from a year ago to 1,284 pounds. Hog slaughter was also up 2 percent, to 9.13 million head, averaging 272 pounds per animal, up two pounds from 2004.Veal production fell 10 percent from a year ago, to 12.4 million pounds, while slaughter fell 17 percent to 56,300 head. The average weight of each calf rose 29 pounds, to 365 pounds.Lamb and mutton production declined 4 percent from last year to 15.8 million pounds.

Hong Kong resumes beef trade with U.S.

Dec. 29 – Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns applauds action reopening another major market for U.S. beef products. “The agreement announced today will allow the United States to export boneless beef from cattle less than 30 months of age to Hong Kong under the Beef Export Verification Program.”

In 2003, the United States exported $90 million worth of beef and beef products to Hong Kong. It was the fifth largest market for U.S. beef products.

more here >>

Drought Deepens In Texas

Drought Deepens In Texas
Wes Ishmael BEEF Magazine
Dec 22, 2005 12:46 PM
Even as national herd expansion continues, producers in Texas and some other parts of the nation are being forced to liquidate as dry conditions worsen.

Proposed Bill Has Big Brother Looking Over Your Shoulder

Proposed Bill Has Big Brother Looking Over Your Shoulder
Colorado Springs, CO Dec. 27, 2005
Last issue, we began discussion of HR 4257, which would require at least two sellers and two buyers to be present, able to participate and “witness” forward contracts between cattlemen and packers.
Interestingly, one expert, Stephen Koontz, figures the legislation would be more of a logistical problem for cattlemen, not packers. Koontz is a commodity markets and price analyst at Colorado State University. At least one of the majors has indicated their contracts are pretty standard for all customers and available to anyone, although there is some negotiation.
So it would appear to us that legislation ostensibly designed to help cattlemen, especially the smaller operators, would instead hurt them, because of added costs, fewer marketing options and the inability to get paid for higher quality cattle.
For certain, the newer efficiencies that the industry has been painfully hammering out would be severely hampered.
Some groups have repeatedly called for more big government in the cattle business. Speakers at the Organization for Competitive Markets (OCM) annual meeting this year called for government to set prices in order to make sure they were above the cost of production, rather than relying on the free market to determine prices. Not surprisingly, OCM has indicated its approval of HR 4257, most likely as a stepping stone to further big government regulation, especially regarding cattle ownership.
It is nevertheless startling to hear that OCM does not see the forcing of contracting into a bidding process, regardless of the wishes of buyers or sellers, as taking away freedom and options for selling.
“No restrictions are imposed on sellers,” is the statement in an OCM news release. In other words, thou shalt submit to bidding or else is not a restriction to cattlemen in their eyes.
OCM’s comments about the legislation also reveal a belief in conspiracies and assumed evildoing in the industry.
“There’s no better disinfectant than sunshine,” Randy Stevenson, OCM vice-president said. “Those who shun doing business in the light of day usually have something to hide.” Such comments indicate OCM believes no businessmen should be trusted to conduct private business transactions, as evil will inevitably occur. Forcing disclosure and a bid process for every forward contract appears to be a far cry from the “economic liberty” OCM claims as a goal. Some might see it as a bid to drum up business for the auction market segment of OCM’s membership.
By way of analogy, Koontz said imagine if the law forced you to bring another buyer along to bid against you when you were trying to buy a house, whose seller would have to have the seller of another house present also. Would most folks care to negotiate with their boss for a raise with another employee present and another prospective employer present also? Yet that kind of bidding process is what this legislation would force on any fed cattle forward contract.
What is the reason for trying to make forward contracting nearly impossible? As Ted Schroeder, livestock marketing professor at Kansas State University put it, some still hold the belief that somehow those using marketing agreements are getting “special deals” that are not being revealed by the market and that this is detrimental to the market. Yet in such a small, competitive industry, it would seem to us such “secrets” would be hard to keep. Schroeder pointed out that about 50 percent of fed cattle are still traded on a negotiated live or dressed basis. That percentage has been relatively constant for the last five years. As one who has studied these markets extensively, that percentage is enough for efficient price discovery, he said.
Some of this legislative activity appears to stem from a fear that cash cattle markets will go away. Will that happen? Schroeder said indeed, at some point in the distant future we may see cash fed cattle markets decline and even disappear – but only if economic conditions find more efficient alternatives. We see it as somewhat analogous to the fear of USDA quality grades disappearing. Many retailers and food service operators – and their suppliers — have come up with additional or better- suited measures and indicators of quality and palatability to add to what USDA grading tells us. Perhaps we should not fear coming up with better measures of a fed animal’s value than the cash market price, where virtually all fed cattle are sold for the same price regardless of quality.
For after all, the cash market price is only a price based on an estimate of an animal’s eventual quality and yield. We do not really know the value of the animal. The problem is so simple and obvious that we in the industry overlook it. There is no label, no gauge on the outside of a critter that tells us what eating quality is inside. Until the hide is off and some break down done, we are only guessing. That is what grid-priced contracting is for — to compensate for the mystery prior to slaughter – with a written promise to pay extra money for actual added value, not for value that may not be there.
As an industry, are we holding back our progress towards producing higher quality products by holding on to poor methods of predicting final product quality like the cash market? The closer we get to the final consumer before making a value determination, using indicators or actual consumer reaction to the product, the more accurate is the evaluation and the more premium can be justified by the product’s performance. True value can only be determined when the animal is meat, not standing in a pen.
That is not to say cattlemen and packers should not have the option to sell cattle live. We are all for having as many marketing options available as possible. But some are questioning the practice of selling live cattle on an entire show list for the same price at a feedyard. This selling on the average discriminates against those breeders and feeders producing top quality, rewards mediocrity, nurtures poor genetics, hurts overall industry quality levels and distorts price signals which would reward excellence and carry the industry forward.
Link to HR 4257 Rep. Pomeroy

Agribusiness Freedom Foundation
AFF: Promoting free market principles throughout the agricultural food chain.

Japanese supermarkets reintroduce US beef

Japanese supermarkets reintroduce U.S. beef
by Pete Hisey
on 12/28/2005 for

Two supermarket chains, Cowboy and Marunaka Co., reintroduced U.S. beef for the first time in two years on Monday. According to Kyodo News Service, Marunaka was selling about six tons of Kansas beef for prices ranging from about $8 per pound for chuck to about $14 for sirloin (230 yen and 400 yen, respectively, for 100 grams of beef, a bit less than four ounces). According to Kyodo, customer reaction was approving but cautious, with one customer saying she would stick with domestic beef for a while longer, while another said he was not worried about the beef’s safety.

Severity Of Winter And Impact On Calf Birth Weights

Does the severity (coldness or mildness) of the winter have an impact on spring-born calf birth weights?

Ranchers have asked that question during many springs and veterinarians have speculated for years. The debate rages on! This is obviously a difficult subject to research because you cannot have a “control” group of cows to compare to a “treatment” group that is exposed to a cold winter while still running on the same pasture. Therefore research data on this subject is limited. University of Nebraska researchers (Colburn and co-workers) have done the next best thing. They have monitored the birth weights of genetically similar calves across three different winters and have related average winter temperatures to birth weights. A 3-year study was conducted to evaluate effects of high and low air temperatures and wind chills during winter months on subsequent calf birth weights and calving difficulty of spring-born calves. Records on approximately 400 2-year-old heifers and their calves were used. Heifer and calf genetics were the same each year. Heifers were fed similar quality hay free-choice each year before calving. High temperatures during the 1994-95 winter were 9 degrees higher than during the 1992-93 winter. The low temperatures were five degrees higher for 1994-95 compared to 1992-93. The greatest differences in monthly temperatures between years were found during December, January and February. Average temperatures for these three months increased 11 degrees F over the three years. Average calf birth weights decreased 11 pounds (81 to 70) from 1993 to 1995. A 1:1 ratio was observed. Although calving difficulty was high due to the research design, it also decreased from 57% to 35% from 1993 to 1995. Results indicate that cold temperatures influenced calf birth weight. Weather cannot be controlled; however, with below average winter temperatures, larger birth weight calves and more calving difficulty may be expected in the spring.

Other data that may shed some light on this subject, comes from OSU in 1990. Birth weights of 172 fall born calves and 242 spring born calves were compared. These calves were the result of AI matings using the same bulls and bred to similar crossbred cows. The fall born calves averaged 4.5 pounds lighter at birth than their spring born counter parts (77.7 vs 82.2). One possible explanation for this phenomenon, the changing of blood flow patterns of cows gestating in hot weather versus cold weather. During hot weather blood is shunted away from internal organs toward outer extremities to dissipate heat, while the opposite is the case in very cold weather with blood flow directed toward internal organs in an effort to conserve heat and maintain body temperature. This change in maternal blood flow may impact fetal growth in a small way, but result in a measurable difference.

Source: Glenn Selk, OSU Extension Cattle Reproduction Specialist

No sacrifice

No sacrifice
Drovers Journal
Posted: December 14, 2005By Troy Smith
In its effort to build calving ease and efficiency into its cow herd, this South Dakota operation hasn’t sacrificed growth or carcass quality.
Rich Blair and his brother, Ed, are cow men. Running a western South Dakota cow-calf operation, near Vale, they’ve strived to build a better cow herd — one that’s suited to their sometimes harsh, always challenging environment. But in the effort to make better cows, Blair Brothers Angus hasn’t given up any other important traits. The outfit raises calves that grow, perform satisfactorily in the feedlot and produce a product worthy of a premium price.

Checkoff takes to the Road

Checkoff takes to the road By Drovers news source
(Thursday, December 22, 2005)
After visiting roughly 100 venues on behalf of the beef checkoff in 2005, the Beefmobile program has scheduled more than double that number in 2006. At each location, the Beefmobile and its “Wranglers” reach out to producers throughout the country to provide information – and solicit input – about the Beef Checkoff Program.


Sometimes a price quotation for a supplemental feed may seem like a great buy when priced per ton. However, when comparing the cost of feedstuffs, producers should compare the nutrient cost rather the cost of the feed per volume. For example, divide the unit cost of the supplemental feed by the volume of nutrient content to get the price of nutrient per pound. That is the way to get the least cost when comparing supplements. For example, if the producer is shopping for a protein supplement and corn distillers grains are available in the area @ $120 per ton, with an average protein content of 25 percent, there would be 500 pounds of protein in the ton of product. The cost of protein on a per-pound basis would be 24 cents per pound.

Costs that producers often overlook is the cost of transporting, handling and feeding. Dry matter or water content of the feed will also affect the cost of nutrient per pound. Make comparisons on a “dry matter” basis. Bottom line, evaluate the cost of nutrient delivered to “the cow.”

Submitted by Jim Neel


Of the cow-calf producers that responded to the Cattle Fax Survey in 2005, 62 percent said their cow herd was predominately English based, 25% were Continental based, 2 % reported a mix of English/Continental while 10% reported other.

Regionally, a greater percentage of producers in the Northwest, Southwest and the Midwest have English based herds, compared to the Southern Plains and the Southeast. Thirty-one percent of the producers in the Southeast and 27% of the producers in the Midwest and Southern Plains have Continental based herds.

An even greater percentage (69%) of cow-calf producers said their bulls were predominately English based. Regionally, 76% of the cow-calf producers in the Southwest used English breed bulls compared to 60% in the Southeast.

It was interesting to not that only 9% of the producers reported their bulls were predominately Continental based.

Source: Cattle Fax. Submitted by Jim Neel.