Daily Archives: August 28, 2006

High price of hay putting squeeze on ranchers

High price of hay putting squeeze on ranchers

Kansas City Star / Associated Press

NEOSHO, Mo. – Add the high price of hay to the burden on cattle producers coping with prolonged drought in parts of Kansas, Missouri and points south.

With hay production below normal and motor fuel prices soaring, ranchers are paying far more for the feed than they did a year ago.

Hay farmer Steve Roark, who also raises 200 beef cattle near Neosho in southwest Missouri, said the calls he has received from ranchers in Kansas and Oklahoma hoping to buy his hay suggest many face tough decisions before winter.

Timely rains and a surplus of hay from last year have allowed Roark to sell several hundred small square bales this year.


On The Farm: Program focuses on beef quality

On The Farm: Program focuses on beef quality


Special to the Eagle (TX)

Texas cattle producers are invited to attend Beef 706-College Station, a beef checkoff-funded program hosted by Texas A&M University, Texas Cooperative Extension and the Texas Beef Council (TBC). This free, two and half day workshop focuses on various factors impacting the safety and quality of beef in an effort to improve producer’s bottom line.

Taking place in College Station September 18 – 20, Beef 706 is an educational hands-on course for beef producers to learn about safety and quality issues affecting their product. Beef 706-College Station will reach Texas cattle producers with information enabling them to perform sound management practices that will increase consumer confidence in beef as a safe and wholesome product.


With hay dwindling, farmers look for alternative

With hay dwindling, farmers look for alternative

David Burton

News-Leader (MO)

Livestock producers use winter annual forages to augment pastures for feeding.

Dry weather and higher hay costs are making many livestock producers think about using a winter annual (like cereal rye, wheat or annual ryegrass) to supplement pastures this winter.

“That is the number one question I’m getting right now,” said Tim Schnakenberg, agriculture and rural development specialist with University of Missouri Extension in Stone County. “The use of winter annual forages can add to the availability of quality feed for cattle over the winter months, leading to reduced feed costs.”


Inspectors find feed was likely cause of mad cow

Inspectors find feed was likely cause of mad cow

Canadian regulators have tracked a case diagnosed in July to an Edmonton-area farm.

The Wichita Eagle / Associated Press

OTTAWA – An Alberta, Canada dairy cow that was diagnosed last month with mad cow disease probably contracted the disease from contaminated feed, federal regulators said.

The finding by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency came after an enforcement investigation was launched because the 50-month-old animal from an Edmonton-area farm was exposed to bovine spongiform encephalopathy after a 1997 feed ban was imposed.

“A particular incident was documented in one commercial feed facility that may have permitted the contamination of a single batch of cattle feed with prohibited material,” the CFIA said this week without naming the facility.

“The entire batch of feed was shipped to the BSE-positive animal’s farm. This particular batch of feed is the most probable source of infection.”

The announcement came just after Canada confirmed its eighth case of mad cow disease — this one in another Alberta beef cow thought to be between eight and 10 years old.


Range of rural veterinarian matters studied

Range of rural veterinarian matters studied

Panel will see if there’s a shortage and also the extent of the problem

By MORGAN SIMMONS, simmonsm@knews.com.

Knoxville News Sentinel

A blue-ribbon panel led by the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is conducting research into an apparent shortage of rural veterinarians across the state.

As its first order of business, the panel is holding a series of public forums to determine the extent of the problem in Tennessee, where animal-based agriculture accounts for 50 percent of the state’s more than $2 billion agricultural economy.

“We’re not sure about the empirical evidence, but there is a perception among farmers that there either is now, or will be, a shortage of veterinarians in rural areas,” said Patricia Clark, assistant commissioner for policy and legislation for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture.


Living up to Marbling Potential Starts Early

Living up to Marbling Potential Starts Early


Getting cattle to hit the higher quality grades takes effort at every link in the production system. From the cow-calf producer to the feedlot, all must be quality conscious for cattle to gain premiums on a value-based grid.

In a research review, Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) vice president Larry Corah and supply development director Mark McCully looked at early management factors that affect marbling, the intramuscular flavor fat.

“People used to think marbling was something that only happened in the feedlot,” says McCully. But research shows targeting a high-quality beef market should begin long before that.”

Cells begin developing into either muscle or fat, before a calf is even born. Once the calf hits the ground, the fat cells start to further differentiate into subcutaneous fat (back fat) and marbling.


Parasite Considerations in Times of Drought

Parasite Considerations in Times of Drought

By Dave Sparks, DVM

Oklahoma State University

Late summer and early fall are usually time of low impact from internal parasites because drying shortens the life span of the infective larvae. This year, however, due to dry weather the scene may be a little different. Although it is dry enough for anybody, we also have much shorter grass than is usual for this time of year. To review a moment, most round worms pass their eggs in the manure. The eggs are fairly resistant to the environment, but they hatch into larvae that change through developmental stages to reach the L3 stage, which is the stage that infects the animal. These larvae then move up the grass plants where they are ingested as the animals graze. When forage is of normal height for late summer they can’t crawl high enough to be a serious problem. Rarely are they able to move upwards more than 4 to 5 inches and 80% of the larvae are in the lower 2 inches of the forage. If your animals are grazing 1 to 2 ½ inch tall forage, they may be getting large numbers of infective larvae, even though it is dry. You can help to alleviate the problem by watching your animals graze. Try to avoid this danger zone if possible and/or modifying your de-worming program to fit the conditions.

In times of drought, as you well know, financial considerations change too. Mature cattle develop some degree of immunity to parasites so that the worms may not cause disease, but waste nutrition. In normal years when there is plenty of standing forage there may not be enough benefit to pay for the cost of the worming. This year every bite of standing forage is valuable, and many producers are already buying hay, often at inflated prices. Now nutrition that goes to feed the parasite burden has a real financial impact. In order for your cows to get all the feed you are paying for, it may very well save significantly on feed cost to eliminate any worms present.

This year, many producers are planning to early wean their calves. If you will be weaning and keeping your calves or purchasing calves for fall grazing or backgrounding, you might want to rethink your parasite control program for calves. While calves are not big shedders of parasite eggs, their mothers are, and by this time of the summer they should be grazing right along side the cows. Unfortunately, they don’t have their mother’s level of immunity, and an exposure rate that cheats the cow out of nutrition can cause poor performance or even clinical disease in calves and younger yearlings.

Every producer’s situation is different. Discuss your conditions with your local veterinarian to determine what, if any, changes you should make in your parasite control program.

Farmer finds it pays off to ditch traditional methods

Farmer finds it pays off to ditch traditional methods

From bog to barren and back again


Toronto Star

The land at Alfred, about 70 kilometres downriver from Ottawa, used to be known mainly for its bog, as level as a pool table, that farmers relentlessly stripped for its peat, until most of it was down to the underlying blue clay, good only for growing hay.

Just next to it, by Atocas Bay, where the bog ends and the land begins to undulate as it stretches toward a faraway ridge, farmers tried to grow crops for generations, doing what everyone thought farmers were supposed to do: install drainage ditches, smack commercial fertilizers and pesticides to it, grow corn and other monoculture crops, and pray that the commodity markets would smile on them.

One by one, in the 1970s and 1980s, they gave up and left. Nothing seemed to work. Now, all is changed, thanks to Ducks Unlimited and to one farmer who ended up questioning the foundations of conventional agriculture.


Livestock owners leery of animal ID program

Livestock owners leery of animal ID program

Johanns offers assurances that confidentiality will be protected

By David Twiddy

Associated Press / Grand Forks Hearld (NE)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns assured livestock owners Aug. 23 that information collected in a planned animal identification program will be kept confidential and used only in the event of a disease outbreak.

Speaking before a conference on animal identification technology and policy, Johanns sought to downplay concerns that farm information collected through the program could fall into the hands of competitors, animal rights activists or other members of the public.

He says private vendors would collect and maintain the data, making it off-limits to federal open-records laws, a concern that has led officials in some states, such as Vermont, to put their own data-collection efforts on hold.

“It is not data that is controlled and owned by the USDA, so we can protect confidentiality,” Johanns says.

Johanns’ assurances held little water with some of the 30 protesters picketing outside the meeting. They say the program violates their property rights, will cost too much and is aimed at helping large-scale producers who want to sell their livestock overseas.


to Tame the Grain-Fed Beast

to Tame the Grain-Fed Beast

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Pioneer Press


Where does a half-ton steer cross the road?

Anywhere he wants.

Getting a farm animal to follow a kid one-tenth its weight – that is no small feat.

According to 4-H students gathered at the Minnesota State Fair, methods to get an animal to follow a person’s lead range from the patient bonding, possible with a milker; to the more forceful behavior modification, required for steers.

Essentially, you’re either going to pet them or pull them behind the tractor.

‘That is such a last-minute-thing,’ Alysha Thompson, an 18-year-old from Nicollet, Minn., said of tractor training. ‘That’s desperation.’

And when all else fails, bring in the donkey.