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

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.


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.


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.



by: Clifford Mitchell

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.”


U.S. cattle on feed up 7 percent

U.S. cattle on feed up 7 percent

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.



by: Clifford Mitchell

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.”