Monthly Archives: February 2006

Cold Weather effects cattle feeding plans

Cold Weather effects cattle feeding plans

Jim Neel, University of Tennessee

Each year during cold weather cattle producers are faced with the same question: This year will it pay to adjust feed levels for my cows during cold weather?

In 2006 the answer is yes. Jim Neel, a professor of animal science and beef cattle specialist with University of Tennessee Extension says the amount of additional feed to account for the cold weather events should be equivalent to about 125 pounds of corn per cow, or about 2 bushels of corn per cow.

“The advantages of such ration adjustments would be economically favorable with current grain and feed prices less than $2 per bushel,” he said. Neel says previous studies have shown that pregnant beef cows exposed to cold weather require more energy for maintenance.

“For example, at Kansas State University pregnant cows have been shown to gain as many as 115 pounds over a four-and-a-half month period if their ration was adjusted for cold weather as opposed to cows who put on just an additional 26 pounds when their rations were not adjusted for the weather,” he said. Neel also said cows who are fed rations adjusted for cold weather add approximately 10 pounds from fall to the following fall, following calf weaning, while those whose rations are not adjusted can lose 90 pounds or more.

“Cows fed adjusted winter rations also tend to cycle faster,” Neel said.

Dr. Neel further states that producers can gather lots of useful information by simply observing their cattle. He calls the technique “managing by wandering around,” and he recommends that producers make it a habit to observe their cattle.

“One of the first things producers can observe is the body condition of their cows,” Neel said. “Cows in a ‘thin’ body condition will have more difficulty calving, will experience reduced milk production and will have reduced reproduction success.”

Neel recommends livestock producers maintain cows in “good” condition — i.e., maintain a body condition score of at least 5 — to ensure effective performance.

Centenarian played key role in cattle ranching

Centenarian played key role in cattle ranching

By Amanda Daniels
UNION-TRIBUNE COMMUNITY NEWS WRITER

February 23, 2006

ENCINITAS – A number of local people helped Forrest Bassford celebrate his 100th birthday earlier this month.

They may not have realized they were toasting a leader in agricultural journalism who helped establish Red Angus cattle ranching in the United States.

“He opened more gates to more ranches in the United States than any other person living, that’s his claim to fame,” said daughter Karen Kaytes of Encinitas. “He traveled a lot and would go on-site to ranches all over the world.”

Bassford is known in Encinitas for the daily walks he used to take and for his involvement with his church, St. Andrew’s Episcopal, Kaytes said.

To celebrate his birthday, friends and neighbors came to parties at his home and church, she said.

Bassford moved to the community in the 1970s with his wife, Marian, after he retired.

While retired, he pioneered the Livestock Publications Council, an international organization that unites trade journals.

He worked to increase membership and awareness of the council, his daughter said. He retired from the council at 93 and was honored with the naming of the Forrest Bassford Student Award. It is given each year to an outstanding college student who specializes in livestock publishing.

FULL STORY

Bill would restrict agriculture regulations

Bill would restrict agriculture regulations

Feb 26, 2006, 10:43 PM

KVOA, Tuscon

A constitutional amendment that would ban new laws regulating the agriculture industry is making its way through the legislature, and so far it has seen smooth sailing.

Proponents of the bill contend that agriculture is so complex, it shouldn’t be regulated by those without a background in the subject. Critics call it nutty and absurd.

Republican Sen. Jake Flake is sponsoring the bill and said he is worried about special interests or even local government attempts to stymie the industry.

If passed, the constitutional amendment would go before voters in November.

“If we don’t have some way to stop special-interest groups, we’ll find ourselves with some real shortages in the state of Arizona, not just food but fuel, fiber, many different things,” said Flake, a cattle rancher and chairman of the Senate Natural Resources and Rural Affairs Committee.

The measure has sailed through two Senate committees, including Flake’s, with bipartisan support and only minor changes. It is expected to be considered for preliminary approval by the Senate this week.

Those who oppose it call it absurd and radical and say putting a single industry out of reach of citizens or the legislature is unprecedented.

“It scares the heck out of me,” said Tim Hogan, executive director of the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest. “It carves out an unprecedented exemption for agriculture. It seems like a radical departure from the way we have governed for a couple hundred years in this country.”

The bill, Senate Concurrent Resolution 1035, would constitutionally bar legislators or citizens from passing agricultural laws. It prohibits any new laws or regulations that “limit or restrict the production of agricultural products” except in certain circumstances, including public health and safety and water use.

FULL STORY

2005 Cattle on Feed and Annual Size Group Estimates

2005 Cattle on Feed and Annual Size Group Estimates

North Texas e-News, llc

This report contains the 2005 monthly cattle on feed estimates for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head. Also included are the number of feedlots, inventory, and annual marketings by size group for 2004 and 2005. Data for total U.S. capacity of 1,000 or more head feedlots are also published in this issue. These data are measured by the number of head.

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head represented 83.5 percent of all cattle and calves on feed in the United States on January 1, 2006, up from 82.2 percent on January 1, 2005.

Marketings of fed cattle for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head during 2005 represented 86.0 percent of all cattle marketed from feedlots in the United States, up from 85.3 percent during 2004.

SOLID A.I. PROGRAM LEAVES LITTLE TO CHANCE

SOLID A.I. PROGRAM LEAVES LITTLE TO CHANCE

by: Clifford Mitchell
for Cattletoday.com

The benefits of artificial insemination (AI) are well documented. By employing herd bulls that remain anonymous to the cows that are being bred, producers should be able to make genetic progress more rapidly.

AI has been used as a tool for herd improvement throughout the last three decades. Research, which focused on refining the process in which the sperm cells were frozen, semen handling, equipment and technique, has made AI available to a wide range of cattlemen looking to add value to the calf crop.

“The main reason I went to AI school was because the gentleman I had breeding my cows was retiring and there weren’t any reliable technicians in the area at the time. I knew I had to keep using the best bulls that were available to me so I learned how to AI,” says Brian Meyers, Farmington, Missouri.

“We were raising purebred cattle and my dad had been to AI school, but he worked off the farm. I wanted to learn so we could get the benefits of a solid AI program,” says Eric Martin, Golden Image Partnership, Ford, Kansas.

Top herd bulls often bring hefty prices at the end of the day. This makes it hard for most breeders to unload the bull at the home place for a formal courtship to the cows he will be mated to later in the season. However, a nominal investment in a semen tank filled with the breeds most proven or “en vogue” sires could lead to a better portfolio than a broker can put together on the New York Stock Exchange.

“To get started with AI, the school will cost about $600. An AI kit and a semen tank will run about $800 to $900. Add semen and basic supply costs and it is well worth the initial investment,” says Carl Rugg, Bovine Elite Inc., College Station, Texas. Bovine Elite handles both semen sales and puts on AI clinics.

With the way the cow/calf business is structured today, off the farm commitments take up a lot of a producer’s time and AI Clinics sometimes fall during the busiest times of the year. Some producers feel a little apprehension when it is time to learn a new task, even though it should help improve the bottom line.

“We limit our school to four days and producers can sign up by phone or on the web. Our class has limited space so we require a deposit and it is first come first serve,” Rugg says. “We try to make it real easy for producers to get involved in the program because the biggest problem they have is finding the time to do it.”

Programs that teach the AI to producers give each participant instruction on proper technique. Experience gained during the short period will also help refine management practices that are conducive to AI.

“We teach the basics during the four days a student is here. Once producers get into the program they learn a lot more than just AI,” Rugg says. “We give them a quick overview on how to manage cattle to be more successful with their AI programs.”

AI schools could be compared to mini camps or spring training. The basic information on technique is passed on to producers. The difference between a mediocre technician and a good one is the amount of effort put into getting better.

“Our students get into 70 cows during the afternoon labs, but the more practice you get the better a person gets at AI,” Rugg says. “Every cow is different. We give them things to look for to get to the insemination point, but the most successful students start getting into cows right away after they have completed our class.”

“For me, at first, I really didn’t understand what I was trying to find in the cow. Once I started finding the cervix and passing the rod, I started to gain confidence and get a feel for what I was doing,” Martin says. “It is real important to get into some cows right away.”

Acceptable conception rates are like learning to walk before you run. It takes time to improve technique, but also to get the management practices to fit the new breeding system. Skills like heat detection and nutritional management have to be refined to make AI successful.

“Fifty percent conception is very acceptable for the first breeding season. Producers will get better over time,” Rugg says. “Part of improving conception rates will be removing the fertility problems in the cow herd. With increased emphasis placed on cows that will AI, fertility will improve.”

“When I got started I was just hoping to get half the cows bred. Now I get about 66 percent on the first heat cycle and the ones that will settle AI, bred in two heat cycles,” Martin says. “I synchronize the cows I want to breed, but I don’t time breed anything. I want to see a cow in heat before I spend the time and money to breed her.”

“Synchronization is a good tool for us because I live off the farm. We line up our cows to come in heat on the weekends so we can properly detect heats and get them inseminated at the right time,” Meyers says. “The most critical thing is catching them in a good standing heat.”

FULL STORY

U.S. cattle on feed up 7 percent

U.S. cattle on feed up 7 percent

By USDA
Feb 25, 2006

North Texas e-News, llc

Cattle and calves on feed for slaughter market in the United States for feedlots with capacity of 1,000 or more head totaled 12.1 million head on February 1, 2006. The inventory was 7 percent above February 1, 2005 and 9 percent above February 1, 2004.

Placements in feedlots during January totaled 2.20 million, 16 percent above 2005 and 25 percent above 2004. Net placements were 2.12 million. During January, placements of cattle and calves weighing less than 600 pounds were 530,000, 600-699 pounds were 447,000, 700-799 pounds were 702,000, and 800 pounds and greater were 520,000.

Marketings of fed cattle during January totaled 1.81 million, up 2 percent from 2005 and up 2 percent from 2004.

Other disappearance totaled 83,000 during January, 14 percent above 2005 but 12 percent below 2004.

CUSTOMIZING BULLS TO MEET COMMERCIAL NEEDS IS THE GOAL

CUSTOMIZING BULLS TO MEET COMMERCIAL NEEDS IS THE GOAL

by: Clifford Mitchell
for Cattletoday.com

Flashy advertising campaigns with catchy jingles or supermodels might draw attention and create name recognition. Regardless of name, if customer satisfaction is not accomplished, repeat business will not be achieved. Words and statistics do not build a reputation, but creating products that meet consumer demand will.

A seedstock producer’s reputation comes with patience and many intangibles. Building bulls that meet the needs of commercial customers is the ultimate goal. Sound, functional cattle that can go out and service the cow herd take time to produce. Once the desired genetic package is in place, often times, to take the next step, bull development is labeled, “handle with care.”

Unlike mass producing an automobile, there is no controlled environment for bull development. Managing the ups and downs, plays a role in how bulls will be groomed to meet the needs of the commercial industry.

“We have to get bulls to what we call a “happy medium.” We want them in good shape. They have to be in condition to walk the pastures, not confined and getting fat,” says Ryan Carmichael, Manager Minerich Land & Cattle Co., Richmond, Kentucky. Minerich sells yearling and 18-month bulls during an annual spring bull sale.

“During the 30-plus years we have been marketing bulls, the only bad footed bulls I have had were bulls I had to send to the feedlot because of the drought,” says Rod Reynolds, Reynolds Limousin, Samford, Colorado. Reynolds markets both yearling and two-year-old bulls in March.

“My customers like bulls hard and ready to work. They come off wheat in good shape and don’t fall apart,” says Myron Garriott, Nine Mile Limousin, Canton, Oklahoma. Garriott markets all his bulls through private treaty sales.

One common thread Continental cattle seem to have is the benefit gained from increased exercise during the developmental stages. It seems the extra walking builds stoutness and do-ability bulls will need later in life.

“Our bulls get a lot of exercise. We run them on 80 acres of wheat and 30 acres of love grass during the winter months,” Garriott says. “They have to move back and forth to get to water. I don’t have to worry about my bulls going down hill when my customer gets them.”

“Bulls have to have plenty of room to travel. Exercise is one of the real important things we do when we develop the bulls,” Carmichael says. “We run bulls in a 40 acre trap. All bulls benefit from walking the pasture.”

FULL STORY

Great West Cattle Company and Thorbardin Ranch Setting New Standards for Veal in the U.S.

Great West Cattle Company and Thorbardin Ranch Setting New Standards for Veal in the U.S.

Great West Cattle Company and Thorbardin Ranch are trying to turn the Veal industry around and public perception with it. The companies are setting new standards in the industry for raising veal.

Peyton, CO (PRWEB via PR Web Direct) February, 28, 2006 — Great West Cattle Company and Thorbardin Ranch are raising the bar for quality and humane treatment in veal production, through its free range veal practices. With the use of these practices, Great West Cattle Company is taking the lead in changing public perception about veal and bringing back the popularity of the fine delicacy.

Great West Founder, Jon Cordonier, says the company’s exclusive provider, Thorbardin Ranch’s practices differ from widely known practices for raising veal. “The U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics show over the last 3 decades, veal consumption in the United States has declined by more than 80%. The decline is largely due to an increased awareness of the inhumane practices of most veal producers in America. Great West Cattle Company veal is raised naturally without confinement, staying with mom on the Wyoming range with a diet of both milk and summer grasses.”

Great West’s exclusive provider, Thorbardin Ranch takes great care in raising Heritage breed animals with a well balanced diet that is healthy as well as hormone and antibiotic free. Heritage Highland Beef is known as the world’s best beef and now will be known as the world’s best veal.

A number of regional chefs have fallen in love with Great West Cattle Company veal. Patrons appreciate knowing that the animals are raised naturally in a humane manner while providing an award winning dining experience of extremely tender and exceptionally flavorful veal.

Recently Scott Savage, Executive Chef of the Four Diamond Cliff House restaurant in Colorado Springs, Colorado, won “Best of Show” and “Best Entree” for the 2006 Chefs’ Gala using Great West Cattle Company veal. “When you start with an exceptional product like Great West Veal, you can’t help but win something,” says Chef Savage after accepting his award.

“Great West veal is the hallmark for all veal in North America today. This product is another example of our commitment to provide the very best beef in the world to our customers”, says founder, Jon Cordonier. Great WestCattle Company has found a recipe for success that keeps turning out the best products you can find anywhere: Heritage Highland cattle are naturally raised, grain finished, processed with the latest technology, and then dry aged for taste and tenderness. Order online at http://www.greatwestcattle.com and have 5 star restaurant quality beef delivered directly to your door.

A temporary hiccup with beef exports to Japan?

A temporary hiccup with beef exports to Japan?

Those in cattle industry hope so, but regaining trust, confidence of Japanese consumers won’t be easy

By Henry C. Jackson
Associated Press
Grand Forks Herald

DES MOINES, Iowa – The days after the first U.S. case of mad cow disease were a frightening time for the cattle industry.

Beef markets experienced unprecedented volatility. Critical export markets were snapped shut. There was widespread fear about the long-term financial impact on Iowa’s cattle industry.

Yet, more than two years later, those fears are mostly unrealized.

Strong demand

Iowa cattle producers enjoyed fairly good years in 2004 and 2005, says John Lawrence, director of the Iowa Beef Center. He credits a lucky combination – a bullish appetite for beef domestically and an ebb in producers’ supply.

But those conditions do not exist every year, Lawrence cautions, and keeping key export markets, such as Japan, open remains a critical task for the long term future of the cattle industry in Iowa.

“They were very lucky, in that demand was as strong as it was … .” Lawrence says. “As we go forward, it’s going to be important that we earn those markets back. Not only get the legal clearance to continue imports, but win back the Japanese consumers.”

Once the largest importer of U.S. beef in the world, Japan imported more than $1.4 billion worth of U.S. beef – more than a third of total U.S. beef exports – in 2003.

Ban backers

If polls are any indication, restoring the trust of the Japanese consumer will not prove easy. In a survey by the newspaper Asahi Shimbun, more than 85 percent of 1,915 Japanese adults said they supported the most recent ban.

Bovine spongiform encephalopathy is rare and the threat to the consumer is minimal, says Dr. Nolan Hartwig, extension veterinarian at Iowa State University in Ames.

“It tends to be out of perspective for the average consumer,” he says. “The disease is extremely complex … getting the average person to understand all of that is a bit difficult.”

However, BSE enjoys its frightful reputation for a reason. BSE in cattle is linked to a rare variant of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, which has killed about 180 people worldwide.

The incident that prompted Japan’s most recent ban on U.S. beef typify the sort of pitfalls the cattle industry would like to avoid.

Under heavy pressure from the United States, Japan agreed to lift its two-year ban on U.S. beef, provided shipments adhered to strict standards. They included a requirement that the meat be from animals younger than 21 months and contain no bones or bone tissue.

But a mere six weeks later, Japanese officials discovered a bone in a shipment of veal from a plant in New York. A renewed moratorium on U.S. beef imports has been in place since.

Credibility threatened

Beef industry representatives insisted the bone posed no threat to Japanese consumers. U.S. officials, though, acknowledge that it harmed the way Japanese consumers viewed U.S. beef.

“This is not about a lack of safety of U.S. beef,” Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, says. “It is about perceptions and consumer confidence.”

Harkin, ranking Democrat on the Senate Agriculture Committee, says the onus was on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to stop such incidents. Not doing so, he says, puts the credibility of U.S. beef in peril.

Lawrence, with the Iowa Beef Center, hopes Japan’s current ban will be shorter than the last one.

“We are all hoping this is a temporary hiccup, a temporary closure – and then we will go back, sit down at the table and discuss what happened,” he says.

The best scenario, Lawrence says, is that Japan reopens its markets later this year and other markets, such as South Korea, follow.

If imports can resume, it can be left to consumers to decide if they have confidence in U.S. beef, he says.

“Ultimately, the consumer is king or queen … .” Lawrence says. “Hopefully, they’ll look and see that everyone in America eats the product and realize that it’s a safe and wholesome product.”

On the Net: http://www.iowabeefcenter.org and http://www.extension.iastate.edu.

Date set for boxed-beef price trial

Date set for boxed-beef price trial

by John Gregerson on 2/27/2006
for Meatingplace.com

A federal jury trial date has been set to consider allegations that four of the U.S. beef industry’s largest packers misreported boxed-beef prices to the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2001.

The case, to be tried on April 3, 2006, was first filed two and a half years ago by cattle producers Herman Schumacher, Michael Callicrate and Roger Koch, who all sold cattle to the defendant packing companies — Tyson Fresh Meats, Cargill Meat Solutions, Swift & Co and National Beef Packing.

District Court Judge Charles Kornmann certified the case as a class action on behalf of all cattle producers who sold fed cattle on the cash market, and the trial follows motions by the defendants to have the case dismissed, which Judge Kornmann denied in January.

Under boxed-beef reporting laws, packers have to report twice daily to USDA certain cattle-price information. During the period in question, the packers are alleged to have underreported the price they were receiving for boxed beef, which had the effect of depressing the prices cattle producers received for fed cattle sold to the packers during the same time period.

Beef Trivia – Questions & Answers

Beef Trivia – Questions & Answers

Cattle Network.com
by Minnesota Beef Council Today 2/25/2006 8:24:00 AM

Beef Trivia – Questions & Answers

1. Q: Top quality leather basketballs are made from cowhides. How many basketballs can be made from 1 cowhide?

A: Eleven, according to the Wilson Sporting Goods Company

2. Q. How many cowhides does it take to supply the National Football League with enough leather to produce footballs for one season?

A. About three thousand.

3. Q: What is the average daily consumption of meat per person in the United States? a) 10 ounces per person per day b) 6 ounces per person per day c) 3.4 ounces per person per day?

A: According to the latest from the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, the correct answer is (c) 3.4 ounces per day. Of that, 1.8 ounces per day is the average beef consumption.

4. Q: What mark on the surface of the beef carcass indicates that the beef is wholesome and safe to eat?

A: The inspection stamp or inspection mark is a purplish mark found on the surface of the beef carcass, which indicates that the beef animal was healthy and processed under sanitary conditions?

5. Q: What mark on the surface of the beef carcass indicates the eating quality of the beef?

A: Look for the grade shield or grade mark to tell you how tender, juicy and flavorful the beef should be. (Examples are USDA Prime, USDA Choice and USDA Select).The grade shield or mark is found on carcass beef and normally isn’t visible on retail cuts.

6. Q: What body-building nutrients does beef supply?

A: Beef is an excellent source of iron, vitamin B12, zinc and protein.

7. Q: Which mineral supplied by beef is most likely to be missing from American diets?

A: Beef is one of the best food sources of iron, a mineral lacking especially in the diets of many women and children.

8. Q: Small flecks of fat found in lean red beef are an indication that the beef should be tender, juicy and flavorful. What are these flecks called?

A: The small flecks of fat are called marbling. The higher the grade of beef, the more marbling you will find.

9. Q: A popular steak sold in restaurants is listed as a “filet mignon”. What is the standard retail name for this steak?

A. “Filet Mignon” is just a fancy name for a beef tenderloin steak.

10. Q: Leather and feed additives are not the only by-products of cattle and beef production. Name a few of the medical by-products?

A: Epinephrine is derived from the adrenal glands and used to treat asthma and allergies; thrombin, obtained from cattle blood is used in helping clot blood; liver extract is used in treating anemia; and insulin can be taken from the pancreas of cattle for treatment of diabetes.

FULL STORY

COMMON COMPONENTS EXIST FOR CALCULATING A BULL’S PRICE

COMMON COMPONENTS EXIST FOR CALCULATING A BULL’S PRICE

by: Wes Ishmael
Cattletoday.com

There’s good reason that bulls are ultimately worth exactly what someone is willing to pay for them, no more and no less. Fact is, calculating the true value of a particular bull is akin to bottling a blizzard, given the vagaries of predicting precisely the added performance a bull will pass along to his progeny, let alone assessing the value of that added performance at least 18 months down the road.

Randy Perry, a beef cattle specialist at the University of California Fresno, sums up the common bull appraisal approach as well as anyone can: “Most buyers have an idea of the type of quality they want to buy and will pay what it takes to get that quality.”

That means prices cow calf producers are receiving for calves, the availability of feed and a host of other production and marketing factors have as much to do with the price of bulls as bulls’ intrinsic value.

Sure, there are at least as many rules of thumb for calculating bull value as there are bull buyers. Some say a bull is worth four or five weaned steer calves or three yearlings. Others say a bull’s price should be equivalent to some number of bred heifers. Still others begin the process by calculating how many calves it will takes to buy a new pickup …the rules of thumb and variations on them are endless.

Over time, there have also been a fair number of attempts at making price calculations for bulls more sophisticated. For instance, a good decade ago, extension specialists at the University of Florida suggested that one way to begin assessing the economic differences between bulls and therefore price was to subtract the herd average weaning weight from that of the prospective sire, divide by two and divide by the heritability of weaning weight. The result is an estimate of the difference in weaning weight the bull should make to the calves he sires in a herd, relative to existing herd performance. Multiply that difference by the going rate of feeder calves and you have the potential economic value, again based solely on the impact of weaning weight.

For perspective, say your herd average weaning weight is 500 lb. Using the above formula, you’d calculate a bull with a 600 lb. weaning weight (in a breed with a heritability for weaning weight of 0.30) to serve up an increased average weaning weight in your herd of 15 lb. per calf sired. At 25 calves, that’s 375 lb. per year. If you use him four seasons, that’s 1,500 lb. Multiply that by the price of a 550 lb. calf and you’re talking at least $1,500 or so based on today’s market. That’s the added value of the bull in question, compared to one holding the herd average weaning weight steady.

Others have developed spreadsheets that account for the total cost of a bull, relative to predicted added returns, coming up with an estimated net cost per pregnancy as a benchmark to use for comparing potential bull purchases.

Any of these methods can have value. Ultimately, though, market fundamentals and the distance between bulls purchased today and their first calves marketed two years down the road means that cash in hand, hope in heart is still the most popular, and arguably, the most rational approach.

However producers tackle the challenge, Jason Cleere, an extension beef cattle specialist with Texas A&M University (TAMU) says, “I encourage producers to think about bulls more as an investment rather than as an expense. Think about what you can invest economically, relative to what that investment can return.”

In fact, Cleere developed an online spreadsheet that enables producers to quickly estimate the net cost of a bull including purchase price, interest and salvage value along with the predicted value of additional weaning weight the bull might deliver (http://etbeeftamu.edu {go to Beef Cattle Information, then to Genetics and look for “Bull Power”}).

After all, whether calves are sold at weaning time or are retained through a stocker phase and then the feedlot, pounds still drive returns as much or more than the actual selling price.

That’s why buyers reward and discount feeder calves on weight potential as much as anything. For instance, in 2001 University of Arkansas extension specialists evaluated auction receipts in the state to determine value factors and impact. In that study, compared to Muscle Score (MS) 1 calves, buyers discounted MS 2 $4.72/cm.; MS 3 $13.40/ cwt.; and MS 4 $22.65/cwt. Similarly, using USDA Frame Score grades, relative to USDA Large, buyers discounted Medium $0.96/cm. and Small $19.53/cwt.

FULL STORY

After bird flu, France fears ‘mad sheep’ disease

After bird flu, France fears ‘mad sheep’ disease

Sun Feb 26, 3:56 PM ET

France, which last week became the first European Union country to register the deadly bird flu in its commercial poultry sector, now fears it might have an outbreak of a rare strain of “mad sheep” disease, the agriculture ministry said.

Two suspected cases of a rare strain of the brain-wasting disease, which is also called scrapie and ovine spongiform encephalopathy, have been identified on two different farms in central France, the ministry said in a statement issued on the second day of France’s annual agricultural show.

“We will have more details in a few days,” a source at the ministry said, while the ministerial statement said that a year of tests would be needed before a final assessment could be made.

The source said that given that the strain was “unknown it is important to know exactly what the consequences are and in what conditions it is transmissible.”

A representative of the national ovine federation stressed that there was no risk to consumers.

“There is no risk for human consumption because since ‘mad cow disease’, whether it be for cattle or sheep, all risk materials, like brain, the bone marrow and the spleen are systematically removed before they are put on the market,” Emmanuel Cost, the federation’s deputy president, told AFP.

He said that neither of the sheep — which had originated in the adjoining central departments of the Cher and the Nievre — had been put on the market and the herds from which they came had been isolated and placed under surveillance.

However officials in the Cher later denied a case of scrapie had been detected in their region.

Scrapie was common in France in the 19th century, but only one case of the rare strain was publicly announced in a goat in 2004, an official for the French meat information centre said.

France’s national flock has been in decline to eight million head today, from 9.4 million in 2000 to 11.5 million in 1988.

Fill ‘er up: Rural residents forced to city taps

Fill ‘er up: Rural residents forced to city taps

2/26/2006

By AARON HINTZ

Eagle Staff Writer

The drought of 2005 introduced a whole new meaning to the term “running water” for McDonough County farmers.

Ken Dallefeld of rural Macomb is of those farmers. He adds one more hour to his day each morning by driving into Good Hope to fill up on water for his cattle.

Dallefeld has been doing so since July, when the drought dried out his retention pond and the 25-foot well he has for livestock. He estimates the water table throughout McDonough County is at least nine inches below normal

In the summer he used a 1,200-gallon tanker every other day, but now, due to a smaller herd and to prevent any surplus from freezing, he fills up a 450-gallon tank in the back of his truck each day.

“It takes more time than just the hauling, it takes extra time to dispense it, too,” he said. “The actual cost of the water is minimal, but the labor and the cost of equipment … I’ve got a truck tied up that I could normally use for other things.”

Records at the waterworks station in Bushnell indicate Dallefeld is not alone.

In January 2005 the plant sold only 6,500 gallons of water out of its coin-operated dispenser. This year it had a more than 600 percent increase, to 40,500 gallons. In fact, the overall sale of water through its dispensing system increased from 141,600 gallons in 2004 to more than 340,400 gallons in 2005. The increase hit at the same time as the drought in June and July.

Dan Roberts, superintendent of water and sewer for Bushnell, said there’s been a considerable increase because of the drought, and there are several other communities with water works that have seen this, as well.

Matt Heisner, manager of the McDonough County Farm Bureau, said the farmers who use shallow wells for their livestock are the ones getting hit this winter.

“A lot of the farmers that use pasture for beef cows, sheep and horses have to haul water in. There’s just a lot of creeks and watering holes that over the last summer are drying up,” he said. “They just haven’t refilled due to the lack of precipitation.”

Drying up

That is the case with Dallefeld. Several years ago he built a retention pond on his property rather than dig a deeper well; the pond was one-third of the cost. But now he has to reduce the number of cattle he keeps on hand.

“Usually I’d have bought replacement cattle by now,” he said. “I’m not going to buy any until the ones that I’m feeding now are gone. Normally I have some big ones and some little ones. I’m starting next year’s crop, but I feel with the water situation right now, I will get rid of my bigger ones then buy some little ones.”

Dallefeld also farms corn and soybeans, and as concerned as he is about the state of his livestock, he is more so over the future of his crops.

FULL STORY

South America special: A short drive from Buenos Aires, pull on your cowboy boots

South America special: A short drive from Buenos Aires, pull on your cowboy boots

The Independent

Ride a horse across the pampas – it’s one of those essential travel experiences. And you don’t need to own an estancia to get in the saddle. There are plenty of farms offering excursions to give you a taste of the wild Argentina style. Chris Moss hits the trail
Published: 26 February 2006

Buenos Aires hides the surrounding pampas, its high-rise towers creating an illusion of urban sophistication. As successful as this fantasy is, sometimes you positively ache to see the horizon. My well-heeled friends own small farms and every few weeks they let out a weary sigh of hedonistic overload and announce: “Me voy al campo.” I’m off to the country. It’s all quite 19th century and very enviable.

For those of us who are not landed, the gaucho way of life can be accessed at dozens of estancias within an hour or two’s drive of the city centre. All offer a Dia de Campo (lunch, horse-riding, use of the gardens and usually a pool) and many do overnight stays as well. I spent a day at La Encantada in the pretty town of Capilla del Señor, about 50 miles from Buenos Aires. The house, built in 1856 and once used for cattle auctions, has a plain, colonial façade and is nothing like as flash as some of the historic estancias. But the manageress Marcela Grinberg and her staff lay on a natty combination of several pampas themes.

The day kicks off with an open-air asado or barbecue, expertly prepared by the resident gauchos. Once the aromas of charred meat begin to rise from the grill, you get into the swing of things. Swing here means: idleness, eating, drinking and lots of bucolic chatter. First, there’s a vermouth or cocktail. Then empanadas and chorizo sausage sandwiches are handed out, along with glasses of oaky Malbec. I sat down to take on the sweetbreads, black puddings, chinchulines (intestines) and massive cuts of beef, with cattle, sheep and horses looking on and hawks wheeling overhead. It feels utterly organic.

Some people went riding before lunch. I went afterwards. Tipsy enough to delude myself that I was a bit of a cowboy, I climbed on to an admittedly mellow little horse. While trotting round the estancia, I kept an eye on the gaucho’s riding style, leaving one arm free, with my back upright, and shouting “dale” and “ugh-ah” sounds.

It’s very macho, but it works. My horse weaved politely through the stands of Alamo and cantered down the dirt roads.

There aren’t many native trees, so eucalyptus trees provide much of the shade. But at La Encantada and its neighbouring estancias, you can see examples of the awesome Ombu. An icon of the Argentine plains, it’s a vast triffid of a bush with impossibly long, tentacular branches that mirror the sprawl of its water-seeking roots. The grassland and lagoons are alive with birds. Until writer and twitcher WH Hudson gave his London lectures in the early 20th century, naturalists thought Latin America was full of squawking parrots. But the pampas are a songbook of ovenbirds, thrushes, chingolo sparrows and great kiskadees.

In the afternoon, I was treated to tea and home-made pastries and jams. Argentines still like to think we ingleses do this every day, but the fact is country folk in the province of Buenos Aires are far more genteel than old-time farmers in Britain. Even the estancias that are close to the city belong to a parallel universe; the rhythm is slower and there’s lots of time for reading, reflection and repose.

All serious gauchos respect the rite of the siesta and when the cicadas begin to shriek like chainsaws, it’s time to grab a hammock or go inside. La Encantada’s main house is decked out in the so-called criollo (as in creole) country style – elegantly rustic, with lots of wood, horseshoes, cowskins and brands. Like most estancias, it was built long before electricity and air-con (some still depend on their own generators), so the small bedrooms are cold, dark and somniferous. By the time I rose again, the sun was low and cooler and it was teatime once more – I joined a round of yerba mate, sipping from the gourd and letting the bitter herb and caffeinated hit gently rouse me.

Ten minutes later, I was told the wind was right for a hot-air balloon ride. As I rose above the house, the light was fading quite fast. I could still make out Argentina’s not very wild beasts dotted on the open plains – Herefords, Anguses, milk-loaded Charolaises, flocks of sheep. The dark green was broken by mirrors of crystalline wetlands where the herons and southern screamers hang out. An impossibly pink roseate spoonbill rose towards the balloon, and when the burner was silenced I thought I could hear the beating of stork wings. The landscape took on a new dimension, with its tidy tapestry of corn and soya fields and dead straight roads that seemed to go on and on for ever. A huge orange sun sunk slowly towards Chile.

Unlike most of Argentina’s tourist draws, the pampas are unspectacular. There’s no jagged glacier, teeming cataract or volcanic cone to photograph, and if you go for two or three days you’ll find there’s really not much to do. That’s the point. The skies are vast, the calm is tangible and substantial, and the planet tilts away whether you are in a balloon or on horseback. In Hudson’s famous phrase, it feels very “far away and long ago”. Yet the estancias are a short hop from the traffic and turmoil of one of the world’s most excitable cities. If peace could be quantified, I suspect they’d all be world heritage sites.

FULL STORY

Demand spikes for organic beef

Demand spikes for organic beef

Local farmers question feasibility of certification requirements

Yvonne Teems
Thebizplace.com
DBJ Staff Reporter

Bob Harris thinks he has all his cows in a row. He feeds his herd of 55 beef cattle organic hay, corn and wheat, and avoids using pesticides, chemicals and herbicides on his 160 acres of farmland near Oxford in Butler County. Harris is trying to get the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association’s stamp of organic approval on his cattle by summer and open new markets to his beef. But even if an area farm abides by most organic methods, as Harris is doing, obtaining that certified organic label may be just out of reach.

There aren’t any producers in southwest Ohio that are certified by the OEFFA. Those who do produce beef with organic methods, but aren’t certified — and there are few of them — usually sell to individuals such as neighbors, friends and anyone else out of their homes or farms.

But demand for organic beef is starting to spike in supermarkets and restaurants, said Sylvia Upp, OEFFA certification coordinator. And if local producers want to meet that demand in the coming years, they’ll have to get certified because supermarkets want that official approval. Certified organic beef sales in 2003 were $10 million nationwide, and they’re expected to grow at least 30 percent each year from 2004 to 2008, said Barbara Haumann, senior writer for the Organic Trade Association, a Greenfield, Mass.-based business association focused on organic trade.

Michigan Beef Cattle Research Newsletter available


Michigan Beef Cattle Research Newsletter available

The latest Michigan Beef Cattle Research report is available

Topics Include:

BREEDING/GENETICS

COW-CALF

STOCKER/FEEDLOT

FOOD SAFETY

FOODSERVICE

CONSUMERS/FOODS

FUTURE TRENDS

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North Dakota State Newsletter available


North Dakota State Newsletter available

Topics include this month include:

Market Advisor: Cyclical Expansion in U.S. Cattle Herd Continues

Electronic ID Program Offered

Livestock Manure Nutrient Management Workshops

New Resource Books Available

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Rustling on the rise in Missouri, across U.S.

Rustling on the rise in Missouri, across U.S.

By KEVIN MURPHY
The Kansas City Star

Rustling is not just a crime of the Old West, Missouri ranchers have learned after a series of livestock thefts that now are the focus of a statewide investigation.

Working usually at night, thieves have stolen hundreds of cattle in 29 counties during the past year, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol. In all, some $500,000 in cattle disappeared in at least 82 incidents, state officials said.

“They are pretty brazen,” said Bob Herndon, who raises cattle near Marionville in southwest Missouri.

Herndon should know. In October, someone got through fences on Herndon’s property as he slept and made off with 25 calves in a large trailer.

“They put them in my corral, sorted them and took what they wanted,” Herndon said.

Presumably, stolen cattle are sold at auction barns to unsuspecting buyers. Cattle are bringing rising prices, and $800 per head is not unusual, said Brent Bryant, executive vice president of the Missouri Cattlemen’s Association.

With more than 2.1 million head, Missouri is second only to Texas in beef cattle numbers, and the rash of thefts has drawn the attention of Gov. Matt Blunt, who last week created a task force to address the problem. Most of the cattle were reported stolen in the southwest and central areas of the state.

“Missouri has long been a proud agricultural state, and we will simply not tolerate these crimes against honest, law-abiding citizens,” Blunt said.

Kansas has not experienced a recent spike in cattle thefts, said George Teagarden, livestock commissioner for the state Animal Health Department.

But Missouri is not alone in the rustling problem.

“It appears the trend is increasing nationally,” said Gregg Doud, chief economist for National Cattlemen’s Beef Association.

As an example, the Houston Chronicle reported that thieves had made off with about 450 head of cattle worth at least $500,000 from suburban Houston counties in the last six months.
FULL STORY

Bugs flee beasts for human beings

Bugs flee beasts for human beings

Diseases accelerating spread to people jumping species at rate of 1 per year
Feb. 24, 2006. 01:00 AM
PETER CALAMAI
SCIENCE REPORTER, TORONTO STAR

ST. LOUIS —HIV/AIDS, West Nile, SARS, Ebola, variant CJD, monkeypox and avian flu.

That’s just a partial roll call of the diseases that humans have acquired from animals over the last three decades. A full list just compiled reveals that new infectious diseases have been jumping the species barrier at the exceptional rate of one per year.

Experts at a scientific conference here cautioned that conditions are ripe for the trend to continue, posing major problems for public health authorities. They also said that the medical community had been slow to recognize the threat.

“When we started this project five years ago, no one had even bothered to count them,” Mark Woolhouse, a professor of epidemiology, told the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which concluded earlier this week.

In the first survey of its kind, Woolhouse and colleagues at the University of Edinburgh counted more than 1,400 pathogens that can cause disease in humans, with at least 800 having crossed the species barrier from animals.

FULL STORY