Stay In The Black
The top 11 ways NOT to spend your money.
by By Karl Wolfshohl
Fabulous calf prices can make beef herds appear well managed the way a rising stock market creates brilliant investors out of mutual fund owners. But really doing things right never goes out of style, especially when it adds profit.
What is right, though? Decades of state cattle short courses and thousands of magazine articles have explained what you should do. So it might be easier to point out things that are commonly done but have no payback or a negative one. Even experienced cattlemen make mistakes.
Dr. Steve Wikse, a Texas A&M University veterinarian, has noticed money wasted as he and other pros have helped herds in A&M’ s Beef Partnership in Extension Program. He also spotted some management don’ ts when he ran his own private practice in northern California. Here are 11 mistakes that Wikse, forage specialists and animal scientists rank at the top of the list:
Cues From Consumers
By Kindra Gordon
What will 2007 hold for the beef industry at the retail level? No one can say for certain, but in marketing efforts, health will continue to be a big driver in positioning foods among consumers, experts say. Here are two trends that are already emerging:
Healthier Fare For Kids. Among the future generation of kid consumers, expect healthier food options from corporate giants like McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Walt Disney. Many fast-food restaurants are already offering oranges or apple slices in their kid’s meals instead of fries. And recently Disney Co. said it plans to lend its characters’ names mainly to healthful foods.
As an example, in its Disney theme parks, it will replace fries and sodas in kid’s meals with vegetables and juice. In its licensing deals, by 2009 Disney will limit portion sizes and in most cases refuse to tie its brand to foods that get more than 30% of their calories from fat, more than 10% from saturated fat or more than 10% from added sugar.
The Disney decision follows reports by scientific panels that blasted the use of cartoon characters to sell children food with low nutritional value.
Vet Advice: When to call for calving assistance
By Mike Apley and W. Mark Hilton
One of the beef producer’s biggest dilemmas during calving season is when to call for assistance for a cow or heifer that is calving. As a producer, the obvious goal is to get a live calf, but there’s always that worry of “calling too soon.”
Talk to veterinarians who do a lot of beef work and you’ll quickly discover “calling too soon” is something that seldom happens. “If I was only called a few hours earlier,” is a typical response from the veterinarian who delivers a dead calf.
Cattle Update: Using Animal ID As A Marketing Tool
There continues to be debate regarding the issue of a national animal identification system. Depending upon the publication you read, animal identification might be some government plot to drive the small livestock farmer out of business, or an absolutely necessary step to insure the safety and protection of the livestock industry, or maybe something in between.
Separating fact from rumor can be a challenge. However, stepping back from some of the emotional baggage that a national animal identification system brings, I want to consider just the issue of animal identification. For most beef producers this concept by itself presents no problem. Most beef producers have some system of identifying cows and calves. Are we at a place in the market and consumer demand where animal identification could be leveraged as a marketing tool?
University of Tennessee Center Completes 2006 Bull Evaluations
The University of Tennessee Central Bull Evaluation Center tested 112 fall-born bulls, 79 of which passed the rigorous requirements to qualify for the sale to be held at the Center on January 18, 2007. The tests, which began in July, were conducted at the Middle Tennessee Research and Education Center in Spring Hill.
The on-feed test identifies a bull’s ability to gain weight rapidly from weaning to one year of age. The ability to gain rapidly is influenced by genetics and is transmitted to those bull’s future offspring thus providing commercial cow-calf producers an excellent source for superior genetics to use in their herds. Breeds included in this year’s test were Angus, Charolais, Gelbvieh and Herefords.
Two different bulls from two different purebred Angus breeders were recognized as the high-gaining bulls. Richview Angus of Lancing, Tenn., and Bill Baird Angus of Blountville, Tenn., were the co-winners. Both of these yearling bulls were sired by the same purebred Angus bull, SA Neutron 377, and both gained 5.34 pounds per day while on the 112- day gain test. The overall average daily gain for all bulls in the test was 4.08 pounds per day and the average adjusted 365 day yearling weight of all bulls was 1244 pounds.
Kansas And USDA Join Forces To Fight Johne’s Disease
The state of Kansas is teaming with USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to help Kansas beef producers test their herds for Johne’s disease, a chronic and incurable intestinal infection of cattle and other ruminant animals.
The programs, funded by APHIS and sponsored by the Kansas Animal Health Department, as well as Kansas State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, also aim to help producers reduce and prevent the disease.
Cattle on feed up from last year
South Dakota’s 1,000-plus capacity feedlots reported 210,000 cattle on feed for the slaughter market on Dec. 1, up 20,000 head from last year and from November 2006, according to the South Dakota office of the National Agricultural Statistics Service.
Effects of Three Hay Feeding Methods On Cow Performance & Wintering Cost
The primary objective of this 3 year North Dakota Univ. project was to compare the effects of three different hay feeding methods on cow wintering cost. The three methods were: 1) Round bales fed by rolling bales on the ground 2) Round bales shredded with a power takeoff driven bale processor and fed on the ground and 3) Round bales fed by placing the bale in a tapered cone round bale feeder.
Big farms have big impacts—and solutions?
Environmental Science & Technology
A working group reports on environmental and human health effects linked to factory farms.
Farms that raise poultry, swine, and cattle at an industrial scale also have industrial kinds of environmental impacts. Newly published results from a workshop convened in 2004, cosponsored by the U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, address the major issues of such operations.
Large farms for pigs and other animals pose future environmental and human health threats for which solutions can be planned, researchers say.
Known as concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs), the farms can affect air quality, contaminate local water sources, and create other environmental and human health concerns. The authors forecast future problems from CAFOs and suggest solutions in an overview article and five papers published in Environmental Health Perspectives online November 14.
National Weather: Storm Provides Needed Moisture, Stresses Livestock
A major storm across the Nation’s mid-section provided much-needed moisture for winter wheat but severely stressed livestock and caused significant travel and electrical disruptions due to snow, ice, and wind. Blizzard conditions engulfed the central High Plains and adjacent Rockies on December 20 -21. Prior to reaching the Plains, the storm provided the season’s first widespread precipitation in the Four Corners region and drew chilly air across the West.
There were four consecutive mornings (December 18-21) of frost and temperatures near to slightly below the freezing mark in the San Joaquin Valley and several other valleys across interior southern California, although readings were generally not low enough to cause significant concern for citrus and winter vegetables. Meanwhile, showery weather persisted in the Northwest, maintaining abundant to locally excessive soil moisture for winter grains.
Feedlot rules loom for large operators
KFYR Radio (ND)
Feedlot operators in North Dakota are facing a federal deadline in the new year for handling wastewater runoff.
Officials say most of the operators are already working to comply.
Karl Rockeman (ROCK’-man) is an environmental engineer with the state Health Department. He says large feedlot operations face a July deadline to meet federal wastewater rules. A large operation is defined as one with one-thousand or more beef cattle, 700 or more dairy cattle or 25-hundred or more large swine.
Cattle Update: Trouble-Shooting Reproductive Failure
With fall preg-checking season well underway, some herd owners are surely pleased with their results. Meanwhile, others are looking for bred females to purchase.
The goal shouldn’t be to have 100% of your cows bred each year. Herds at or near 100% pregnant year after year generally represent one of two situations — a very extended calving season or overfeeding. Neither option is cost-effective for overall herd profitability.
Financial analysis indicates a pregnancy percentage of 90-95% in 65 days is both achievable and likely most profitable. If your herd is below this level, some investigation by you and your herd-health veterinarian is needed.
When I investigate a reproductive problem, I break it into the following categories: For bull problems, it’s Breeding Soundness Exam (BSE), overuse, or lack of libido. For cow problems, I look at nutrition, environment, disease and genetics.
It’s greener pastures for biogas power
By Scott Streater
Texans have always had a strange affinity for cow patties. They’ve been bronzed for trophies. They’ve been tossed for sport. And they’ve been used, however crudely, for art.
Now, cow manure is about to be used to power homes and businesses in Central and North Texas.
A Colorado company is building a $10 million plant near Stephenville, about 70 miles southwest of Fort Worth, that will extract millions of cubic feet of pipeline-ready natural gas from cow manure every day.
They call it biogas, and it certainly ranks as one of the most creative alternative sources of energy.
“We’ve got waste materials here that have a lot of energy, and it seems a shame not to capture as much of that as we can,” said Cady Engler, a biological and agricultural engineer at Texas A&M University who has followed the biogas trend.