Cattle Update: Fence Line Weaning
Calving season brings in newborns which can make for a loud, raucous fall when it’s time to wean. It’s surprisingly quiet, though, with a practice called fence line weaning. Call it a gentler, kinder way to separate a calf from its mother, it allows the pair to remain close and greatly reduces stress on both.
Mark Goes, an expert on the process, spends part of his time as an instructor at Southeast Community College in Beatrice, Nebraska and the rest of his time as a small cattle rancher. He got into the process, which he calls ‘pasture weaning’ while working with his students in 1998 in a Ranching for Profit class.
“We wean as early as possible,” said Goes. “”A calf’s rumen is inoculated to digest solid feeds by 4 months of age. This also coincides with the time that dam’s milk production begins to decline. We like to get the younger calves weaned and on a solid feed diet as soon as possible, thereby meeting the performance demands of the calf more effectively and freeing up more pasture to run more cows.”
High corn price makes DDG inclusion more important
by Peter Shinn
You might think Monday’s 18 cent rise in nearby corn futures would be nothing but good news for Nebraska Corn Board Executive Director Don Hutchens. But Hutchens says a sharp jump in the corn price makes him anxious about the impact on Nebraska cattle producers.
“We do know as the demand for corn goes up, evidenced yesterday with a big spike in corn prices, that that’s going to have a ripple effect on our number one customers here in Nebraska, and that’s our livestock industry,” he said.
That’s why Hutchens believes dry distiller’s grains (DDG) will play such an important role in the livestock industry as ethanol production expands. “We anticipate within the next two to three years, if the ethanol plants that are under construction and the ones that have a high probability of being built, in Nebraska alone we could see six million metric tons of distiller’s grains on the market here,” Hutchens said.
“And really it can be a win-win situation in the aspect that if any state can find its way to use high volumes of distiller’s grains, it’s Nebraska,” he added. “We’ve got two million head of cattle on feed any given day of the year, and we’re seeing inclusion rates as high as 40% in distiller’s grains in those finished cattle diets.”
Tyson Foods to reduce beef production
Tyson Foods Inc., the largest U.S. meat company, on Tuesday said it will reduce beef production for six to eight weeks because meat demand has been insufficient to cover what it pays for cattle.
The company will operate its U.S. beef plants 35 to 40 hours per week, instead of 40 hours, reducing production by about 12,000 head of cattle per week.
“Access to key export markets remains limited, competing meats such as pork and poultry are significantly less expensive, and we’re in the fall season when beef demand historically softens,” the company said in a statement. “As a result, we are scaling back production until the supply and demand situation gets back into balance.”
Sericea Lespedeza, a threat to grasslands
By JOHN WARD
McPherson Sentinel (KS)
Sericea Lespedeza is a perennial legume, native to Asia, which adapts to a wide variety of soil and climatic conditions.
The plant was introduced into the United States more than 100 years ago as a forage and erosion control specie.
Although still planted in southeastern U.S., it has become a serious weedy plant in native pastures on the High Plains including the Flint Hills of Kansas.
Six infestations have been identified in McPherson County and marked using Global Positioning technology.
Recently, McPherson County Weed Director Dan Schrag and Agricultural Extension Agent Dale Ladd began a treatment process, which will be monitored for effectiveness.
Law That Impacts Conservation Easements Discussed
by Esther Marr
On a warm, fall day still reminiscent of summer on the property of the historic Benjamin McCann House near Lexington, Congressman Ben Chandler and members of the Bluegrass Conservancy held a press conference Oct. 10 to discuss the expansion of the federal conservation tax incentive for conservation easements.
The new law, called the HR4 Pension Protection Act, was signed by President Bush Aug. 17 and raises the deduction a landowner can take for donating a conservation easement from 30% of their income in any year to 50%. It also allows qualifying farmers and ranchers to deduct up to 100% of their income, and extends the carry-forward period for a donor to take tax deductions for a voluntary conservation agreement from five to 15 years.
The legislation only applies to easements donated in 2006 and 2007, however, which gives farm owners a limited window to take steps toward protecting their land. Currently, about 3,000 acres of Central Kentucky land is protected by easements.
“I think we have more of a reason here in Central Kentucky to take advantage of this than most other places I know of,” said Chandler, one of the signers of the legislation.
Veterinarian: Don’t just look at grades
By Scott Fitzgerald
ENID NEWS AND EAGLE (ENID, Okla.)
POND CREEK, Okla. — Pond Creek veterinarian Harry James can tell people a few things about the critical shortage of rural veterinarians and what the solution to the problem may be.
He has been in the field for 45 years, practicing mostly in Grant County since graduating Oklahoma State University in 1960 with a degree in veterinary science.
“When rural areas don’t have someone caring for large animals, they will miss it. There’s a need for it,” James said.
He talks about nearby towns such as Waynoka and Caldwell, Kan., losing large animal veterinarians who haven’t been replaced.
“Some people are driving more than 80 miles to find treatment for their animals. It’s almost impossible to hire a young person in a rural veterinary practice,” James said.
James sees much of the veterinarian shortage problem starting from the academic process itself.
Her Working Clothes
By Clint Peck Senior Editor
The cow with her working clothes on — that’s what we all strive for in our cattle operations. Realizing the need to minimize production costs, cow-calf producers continue to place emphasis on cow function. Fortunately, as selection for functional traits becomes more important, technologies exist to allow producers to make better decisions on selecting a cow’s lifelong functional traits.
“Length of productive life is probably the most important trait in cattle breeding,” says Dave Seibert, University of Illinois Extension animal systems educator. “The longer animals remain productive in a herd, the fewer replacements are needed.”
CAB President Riemann Retires
Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) President M. James “Jim” Riemann recently announced his intentions to retire. Riemann has served as president of CAB since 1999.
At Riemann’s suggestion, the CAB Board of Directors appointed Senior Vice President Brent Eichar as interim President, effective Oct. 9. Riemann will remain through Nov. 15, focusing on transition and retirement activities.
“I feel very good about the things our team has accomplished in the eight years I have been privileged to be a part of the program,” he said. “The Certified Angus Beef ® (CAB®) brand has grown to be a highly respected brand throughout all segments of the industry.”
“The board is grateful for Jim’s dedication and loyalty to CAB and for his commitment to the mission, which is to increase demand for registered Angus cattle,” said CAB Board Chairman Bob Norton of Saint Joseph, Mo.
While retirement had been on the horizon for Riemann, he cited pending changes in the brand’s product specifications as a contributing factor in the timing. In a move to improve product consistency, the CAB board of directors voted this fall to adopt new requirements for ribeye size, carcass weight and trim not previously addressed by the yield grade standard.
Revolution in Feed
By Lora Berg
Farm Industry News
ETHANOL PRODUCTION has the potential to make a huge impact on what and how we feed our country’s livestock. If ethanol production continues to ramp up at the current rate, change will come like a fast-moving freight train, according to agricultural economists.
Livestock producers may face tighter corn supplies, especially in areas where ethanol production is concentrated. “There is a lot of concern about how the ethanol industry is going to affect livestock in general,” explains Jerry Shurson, University of Minnesota swine nutritionist and management specialist. “We’ve got areas in southern Minnesota that are corn-deficit areas right now, for example. If you are a pork producer buying your corn, you are competing with ethanol plants for that corn. Most ethanol plants I’m aware of have a breakeven price of $7.00 to $8.00/bu. for corn. If you are a livestock producer, you can’t compete with that. It can be difficult to stay competitive.”
At the same time, a much larger supply of ethanol by-product feeds, such as wet or dried distiller’s grains will be available for feeding. Beef and dairy cattle, as well as swine, can consume these by-products as a replacement for corn in rations.
Study: Small US Farms Miss Out On Government Research Dollars
WASHINGTON (AP)–Small- and medium-sized farms are missing out on the largest share of federal research and grant dollars for agriculture, according to a study released Tuesday.
Of $500 million spent on four Agriculture Department research and grant programs, only about 5% went to farmers with small- or medium-sized operations or beginning farmers, the Nebraska-based Center for Rural Affairs said.
Many projects that got funding “were essentially research and development initiatives for large food companies,” the report concluded. Analysts looked at funding in 2001 and 2002.
The nonprofit group argues the programs are crucial to traditional, independent family farms and ranches, which are disappearing across America.