Daily Archives: February 24, 2006

Michigan Beef Cattle Research Newsletter available

Michigan Beef Cattle Research Newsletter available

The latest Michigan Beef Cattle Research report is available

Topics Include:








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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.

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.

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

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.


Possible new outbreak of FAM in north Argentina

Possible new outbreak of FAM in north Argentina


Argentine sanitary officials are checking into the possibility of a new outbreak of foot and mouth disease in the area where two weeks ago several thousands of cattle and hoofed animals were sacrificed.

The investigation follows the discovery of a single cow in the farm next to where the original FAM outbreak was detected in the province of Corrientes, close to the Paraguayan border, according to officials from Argentina’s Agro-Food sanitary and health service, SENASA.

Officials are trying to determine if the single cow with FAM symptoms escaped from the farm where all the cattle was exposed to the sanitary rifle or if she belongs to another farm or herd. However SENASA personnel admitted that the rough geography and terrain of the area “does not help with the investigation”.

The county with the farm where the FAM outbreak was located remains cordoned off and all cattle movement in the province is banned. Over 4.000 head of cattle where terminated in the San Juan farm.

At least nineteen countries have banned beef imports from Argentina as a consequence of the Corrientes FAM outbreak, while other have limited purchases to areas outside the province

Argentina is the world’s third beef exporter and in 2005 shipped the equivalent or 1.4 billion US dollars. Argentine cattle farmers estimate losses from the FAM outbreak in the range of 500 to 700 million US dollars while the Argentine government is more optimistic about a quick reopening of foreign markets and estimates exports will shrink by 20%, approximately 280 million US dollars.

Meantime in Chile, local agriculture and livestock sanitary authorities, SAG, confirmed that the ban on Brazilian beef effective since last October when FAM outbreaks were reported in the states of Matto Grosso do Sul and Parana will remain.

Francisco Bahamondes, head of SAG indicated that Brazil “presents the same level of risk that when the ban was first imposed last October”. Chilean importers were expecting authorities to allow the import of beef from other states not infected with FAM, but last week several more suspect cases were reported in the state of Parana, next to Argentina and Paraguay.

With bans on beef imports from Brazil and Argentina standing, Mr. Bahamonde admitted that the domestic price of meats in Chile has soared an average 15%, “but our decisions are technical scientific and don’t take into account commercial considerations”.

Surveys gauge the impact of BSE in the U.S.

Surveys gauge the impact of BSE in the U.S.

(World-Grain.com, February 23, 2006)

MANHATTAN, KANSAS, U.S. Shortly after the first case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy was discovered in the United States in December 2003, a Kansas State University survey asked consumers how the news had affected their beef consumption habits.

Seventy-seven percent said their consumption had not changed. Of those whose consumption had changed, the respondents said they were consuming less ground beef, hot dogs and steaks.

As things turned out, the market data showed that for the first quarter of 2004, just after the discovery of the first U.S. BSE case, there was no weakening of domestic beef demand. Sean Fox, the KSU agricultural economics researcher who conducted the survey for the Food Safety Consortium, wasn’t surprised.

“The discrepancy between actual market behavior and survey data may be partly a result of non-response bias, with those who felt most strongly about the issue being more likely to reply,” Fox said, “or hypothetical bias in the responses themselves, with individuals responding in the way they felt they ought to and thereby indicating their consumption had fallen.”

Or, Fox said, the respondents may actually have reduced their consumption of certain beef products, but only for a short time and not long enough to be reflected in market data.

“Every time you do a survey you face that kind of bias in the responses,” he explained. “That’s the reason we find it so hard to predict what would happen if we had another case.”

In early 2004, Fox also asked respondents how they would react if a second BSE case were discovered. They appeared to be less tolerant of BSE the second time around: 44% said they would reduce their beef consumption.

But once again, the respondents may not have put their professed intentions into practice at the marketplace.

A second BSE case in the U.S. was confirmed in June 2005, and, as in the first case, meat from the affected cow did not enter the food supply. And also as in the first case, domestic beef demand did not suffer.

If repeated, multiple cases of BSE were found in the U.S., the survey suggests there would be major trouble for the beef industry.

Surveyors asked what consumers would do if 20 cases of BSE were discovered, but the responses varied according to how the question was framed.

When asked only if 20 cases were found, 43% said their consumption of beef would fall and another 26% said they would stop consuming any beef. But among people who were asked two questions together one asking their reaction in the event of one BSE case and the next question asking their reaction to 20 cases 39% said their beef consumption would decrease and 45% said they would cut out beef completely.

“These results show how responses depend on how the question is framed,” Fox said. “Its still difficult to predict exactly what would happen if we do have multiple cases. The best we can do is put out accurate information about the fact that the risk to consumers is incredibly low.”

FB Launches ‘Production Decision’ Web Site

FB Launches ‘Production Decision’ Web Site

KNEB Radio

WASHINGTON , D.C. , February 22, 2006 With farm income anticipated to be down nearly $15 billion in 2006 compared with 2005, the American Farm Bureau Federation has launched a new Web site to assist farmers and ranchers make production decisions based on prevailing economic factors. The goal is to help producers increase their income and reduce expenses for a positive bottom line.

As a service to Farm Bureau members, AFBF has always monitored conditions in the agricultural economy and tried to anticipate challenges that Farm Bureau members may face, said AFBF President Bob Stallman. In this new information age, AFBF is capable of more easily sharing information and quickly directing members to important information via the Internet.

The address for the Farm Bureau Production Decision Web site is http://fbpda.fb.org/
The AFBF economic analysis team has assembled information and data related to crop and livestock production expenses as well as whole-farm planning. Updates to the information will be regularly posted during the year.

Is Swift going public?

Is Swift going public?

Sharon Dunn, (Bio) sdunn@greeleytrib.com
February 23, 2006

To IPO or not to IPO.

For months, speculation about Swift & Co. going public has been the talk of the business community. The speculation has surfaced with each bit of news, from its new CEO last summer to the recently announced layoffs in April.

The changes seem to logically steer the company in the direction of a public offering, especially given its ownership since 2002, a private equity firm that is in the business of making a profit off its investments.

Naturally, people have wondered if the IPO question will become a reality. The more likely question would be, “When?”

While company officials won’t discuss any timelines, those on the outside say an IPO most likely won’t be anytime soon, if anything because of the poor market conditions dictated by a ban on U.S. beef in Japan and other Asian markets. For Swift, that’s meant sagging beef sales for two years and a downturn in overall earnings for the first half of its fiscal 2006 year.

“They’re caught in the middle of what has been a difficult couple of years,” said Lee Korins, a Monfort executive professor of finance for the Monfort College of Business at the University of Northern Colorado. “I think they’re trying to show some good earnings results, maybe to go public, but I don’t know really how much of a premium meatpacking stocks would command in the market at the present time.”

Put simply, earnings need to start picking up for Swift, which just announced a second round of layoffs to come in April.

“It’s always better for a company to become public if they have a growing and vibrant business,” said David Menlow, president of IPO Financial.com of New Jersey, who analyzes IPOs.

Hicks, Muse, Tate & Furst, a private equity firm from Dallas, bought Swift in 2002, coughing up $1.4 billion with Booth Creek Management Inc. of Vail to buy it from ConAgra. Such firms typically will move private companies into an IPO after building them up to get a return on their investment quickly, some say 12-36 months. In Swift’s case, that 36 months ended in September 2005.

“It’s a natural evolution of a private equity firm like Hicks Muse. That’s why they’re in business,” said Swift spokesman Sean McHugh, who would only talk in generalities. “For any private equity firm out there, they need to find a way to realize a return on their investment.”

Enter Sam Rovit to start off the company’s fiscal year for 2006, which began in the summer of 2005. Rovit, who specialized in mergers and acquisitions, was immediately seen as the IPO man.

“He may in fact be in there to try to take over complementary businesses,” Menlow countered.

McHugh said Rovit’s charge has been apparent from the beginning. “First our priority is to drive and improve our current business and as appropriate, we’d look at acquisition opportunities.”

The company has spent the last year trying to rebuild by introducing more supermarket-ready products into its mix, thus restoring any losses sustained by a sagging export market. It’s going to take some time, however.

“It would seem that this might still be one of the worst times to put the company up for sale,” said Steve Kay, publisher of Cattle Buyers Weekly, which covers the global meatpacking industry. “They’re still trying to do whatever it takes to operate more efficiently and make some money.”

The recent layoff announcement was couched in the idea that the company will improve its value-added business still.

“Irrespective of an offering or not, we and the whole industry are under immense pressure to improve base operations,” McHugh said.

Then, any good times could usher in the “impending” IPO, most agree.

“If the market straightens out and becomes more dependable and their earnings improve, there’s no question that they’re probably thinking of (an IPO) because they’re owned by some folks who’d like to see them as a public company,” Korins said.

Going public probably wouldn’t change things too much, other than Swift would have to answer to its shareholders, McHugh said.

“We’re already behaving like a public company in terms of disclosures and financial reporting,” McHugh said. “Everyone wants to know what the next step is. From where I sit today, it’s hard to say when and what that will be.”

Animal Scientist Provides Tips for Calving Management

Animal Scientist Provides Tips for Calving Management

Angus Publications E-list
Feb. 22, 2006

As anyone who’s been around a cow-calf operation knows, there’s nothing like calving season — both for the annual wonder of new life but also for the difficulties it can bring. To help producers avoid problems during calving season, Kansas State University (K-State) Research and Extension veterinarian Larry Hollis provides these tips:


Proper feeding management helps achieve three objectives: to get the cow to produce milk well, to get the cow to rebreed quickly and to have a calf born during daylight hours. Research has shown that cows in a body condition score (BCS) of 5.5-6.5 at calving will nurse well and breed back better than those with lower BCSs.

Research has also shown that the time of calving can be influenced by the time of feeding. Feeding late in the evening can result in roughly 80% of calves being born during daylight hours. This makes observation of calving easier and should provide for earlier intervention, if needed.


Once heifers/cows near their anticipated calving date, start bagging up, begin loosening in the vulvar area or start producing mucus, observation should begin on a regular schedule. Since heifers are more prone to dystocia problems, they should be observed every two hours to allow for early intervention.

Stage 1 — Preparation for calving can take up to eight hours. The heifer/cow will appear restless or uncomfortable and often separate herself from the rest of the herd.

Stage 2 — Delivery of the calf starts when the calf is lined up in the birth canal and contractions begin. Observation during this period is critical. Heifers should complete delivery of a calf within one hour of the time they are first noticed going into labor. Cows should complete delivery within 30 minutes after labor begins. If delivery is not complete within that time frame, the heifer/cow should be examined to determine if assistance is needed.

Stage 3 — Expulsion of the afterbirth normally occurs within 12 hours after delivery.


If proper bulls with appropriate calving ease and/or birth weight expected progeny differences (EPD)s were utilized, calving will normally proceed without the need for intervention. However, especially in heifers, intervention may be necessary to complete the process. Knowing when to intervene is critical. Intervention is recommended when:

1) the process is taking too long (longer than the times mentioned above);

2) when you see that the calf is in trouble (tongue or head swollen);

3) when you observe rectal bleeding from the heifer/cow;

4) when the heifer/cow quits trying to push the calf out after obviously beginning Stage 2; or

5) when you first detect that the calf is coming in an abnormal presentation (something other than nose and two front feet first, such as breech, leg back, head back, etc.).

When intervening, know your limitations. Don’t get in over your head. Use good sanitation. Tie the tail of the cow to the side, wash the area around the vulva and use an obstetrics sleeve when you work inside the vagina. Let the cow help you. Lay her down on her right side and pull only when she pushes. Pull the calf’s lower leg first, then the upper leg. Repeat the sequence. Pull the calf straight out, rather than pulling down toward the feet of the cow. Time yourself; if you do not have the calf out within 30 minutes, get professional help.

When the calf is out, do not hang it upside down. Instead, place it in a sitting position to enhance its ability to breathe. Calves may be stimulated to breathe by tickling their nose with a straw or splashing their face with cold water. Squirt iodine inside the calf’s navel, not just on the outside of it.

It is extremely important to allow the mother and calf to bond. Good signs of bonding are when the heifer/cow is vigorously licking the calf and coaxing it to stand and nurse. Observe the pair until you see the calf nurse. If the calf has not nursed within two hours, milk the cow and force-feed the calf to ensure that it gets adequate colostrum in a timely fashion.

More information about livestock production is available at K-State Research and Extension county and district offices or on the K-State Department of Animal Sciences and Industry Web site, http://www.asi.k-state.edu.

— by Mary Lou Peter-Blecha of K-State Research and Extension, which provided this article.