Daily Archives: May 7, 2007

Fly Control topic of today’s of Herdcast

Fly Control topic of today’s of Herdcast

Today Dr. Ralph Williams, Entomology Department, Purdue University, begins his four part series on Fly control. Today’s topic is “Face Flys”

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BeefTalk: “These Cattle Were Very Interesting”

BeefTalk: “These Cattle Were Very Interesting”

Like it or not, the world changes gradually, yet there is enormous energy and effort expended to keep the status quo.

By Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

The closeout summary letter on Lot 4425 said, “These cattle were very interesting.” Most conversations that begin with these or similar words indicate a polite statement will follow indicating the cattle were outside the norm.

Lot 4425 was the first small-frame score (4.4) calves the Dickinson Research Extension Center sent to a commercial feed yard. The calves were small, compared with typical North Dakota steers, even if one didn’t understand what a 4.4 meant.

The norm can be confining. Sometimes it is fun to explore outside the standard norms. Ask some questions others thought they answered a long time ago. In this case, it’s the value of smaller-framed cattle.


Lead Poisoning of Cattle Can Be Avoided

Lead Poisoning of Cattle Can Be Avoided

Dr. Glen Selk, Oklahoma State University

Recently a regular reader of the Cow Calf Corner Newsletter suggested that we alert cattle producers of a potential danger to cattle on their operations. He had encountered an unusual sudden death loss of over 10 young calves and had wisely sought veterinary help. The investigation and diagnosis revealed that old car batteries had been buried in a ditch in one of the pastures. The calves had died from lead poisoning. After an internet search we find several important keys to prevention:


Cloning: Scientists Vs. Consumers

Cloning: Scientists Vs. Consumers

Thousands Of Consumers Have Voiced Their Opposition To Cloned Foods. Scientists Dismiss Them As “Luddites”


Should the U.S. become the first country in the world to allow food from cloned animals onto supermarket shelves? That is the debate that has raged at the Food & Drug Administration for four months, until the period for public comment on the issue closed on May 3. The FDA said on Dec. 28 that it was inclined to allow such foods into U.S. stores, based on the evidence it had reviewed, but asked for outside comment [see BusinessWeek.com, 1/11/07, “Cloned Beef Burgers: ‘Delicious,'” and 4/2/07, “Extra Innings for the Cloned Food Debate”].

With the public comment period closed, it’s clear that the cloning debate boils down to scientists vs. consumers. Thousands of individuals wrote to the government to voice their opposition to the prospect of cloned products being allowed into the food supply. In large part, they made emotion appeals that cloning was immoral or that cloned food was repulsive. “Unethical, disturbing, and disgusting,” wrote one consumer, Lea Askren.


Livestock operations are targets of threats and property damage

Livestock operations are targets of threats and property damage

High Plains Journal

A dozen of one farmer’s cows have been gunned down since August. Another lost a 370-head hog nursery in a January fire investigators believe was intentionally set.

Reports of vandalism to farm equipment, buildings and at livestock construction sites have been turning up across rural Iowa. Some farmers also say they’ve received threatening telephone calls and letters from people condemning the bigger-is-better approach to raising cattle and pigs.

The question facing law enforcement officials is whether the incidents are random acts or deliberate, orchestrated attacks by those with personal, political or social agendas.


How ethanol is made

How ethanol is made

Belleville News Demaocrat

Ethanol plants are basically oversized stills, producing alcohol from mashed grains that are mixed with yeast and water, fermented and distilled, just like yesteryear’s moonshine. The alcohol then gets blended with gasoline, with the leftover corn mash often fed to cattle.

The Renewable Fuels Association offers this look at wet milling and dry milling, the two ethanol-producing processes that differ mainly in how the grain is initially treated:


The corn kernel or other starchy grain is ground into flour, or meal, and processed without separating out components of the grain. The meal is slurried with water, forming a mash, before enzymes are added to convert the starch to dextrose, a simple sugar. Ammonia is added.

The mash is processed in a high-temperature cooker that reduces bacteria levels, then cooled and transferred to fermenters where yeast is added. The conversion of sugar to ethanol and carbon dioxide begins.


‘A shot in the arm’ — corn industry cranking up for ethanol boom

‘A shot in the arm’ — corn industry cranking up for ethanol boom



BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (AP) — From New York to California, and even parts of the Deep South, more acres of corn are expected to be planted this year than at any time since World War II as farmers rush to cash in on the surging demand for ethanol.

“It’s the price. The price is telling you to go toward more corn,” said Mike Olson, who plans to bump corn by 15 percent on his 2,750-acre Illinois farm. He harvested a 50-50 split of corn and soybeans last fall.

After hovering around $2 a bushel for a decade, corn prices have nearly doubled in the last year, pumped to near records by more than 100 ethanol plants that have sprouted as America seeks renewable alternatives to foreign oil. President Bush is talking up alternative fuels and companies like Illinois-based Archer Daniels Midland Co., the biggest ethanol producer in the world, are pouring money into research and development.


Two ways to make ethanol

Two ways to make ethanol

By The Associated Press


Ethanol plants are basically oversized stills, producing alcohol from mashed grains that are mixed with yeast and water, fermented and distilled, just like yesteryear’s moonshine. The alcohol then gets blended with gasoline, with the leftover corn mash often fed to cattle.

The Renewable Fuels Association offers this look at wet milling and dry milling, the two ethanol-producing processes that differ mainly in how the grain is initially treated:


Drought Conditions Hitting Farmers in Wallet

Drought Conditions Hitting Farmers in Wallet    


Drought conditions in Northeast Florida are affecting hay production in Duval County.

Duval County Extension Office administrators says farmers are having to pay big bucks for hay from other areas.

“Last year you could have bought a large bale of hay for about $15,” says Extension Agent Rick Godke. “Now they’re charging upwards of $60 and $70.”


Organic products turning up more often in WY grocery stores

Organic products turning up more often in WY grocery stores

High Plains Journal

Once the hallmark of specialty food shops, organic products now also can be found on the shelves at chain grocery stores.

Pine Bluffs resident Jessica Jessen said when she shops at stores like these, she keeps an eye out for the organic seal of approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“I feel safer feeding organic to my son and my family,” she said.

SuperTarget and Safeway have introduced store-brand product lines, while Burger King announced that its eggs and pork will only come from cage-free animals. With larger retailers getting in on the trend, there are more organic products to choose from.

“Anymore, you really have a choice, and you can afford to eat organic food,” she added.


Warming would affect agriculture

Warming would affect agriculture




Today is the second of a three-part series.

— Local and statewide efforts to address global warming

— Tips you can use to address global warming on your own.

If global warming progresses as experts forecast, local farmers raising everything from fruit to dairy cows — and local consumers buying everything from apples to milk — could experience some welcome and not-so-welcome changes.


Cow Calf: Length of Breeding Season Does Matter

Cow Calf: Length of Breeding Season Does Matter


A research analysis of 394 ranch observations from the Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico SPA (standardized performance analysis) data set provided insight into the age old argument about “leaving the bull out” or having a defined breeding season.  OSU and Texas A&M Agricultural Economists (Parker, et al) presented a paper at the 2004 Southern Association of Agricultural Scientists.  They found a positive relationship between number of days of the breeding season and the production cost per hundredweight of calf weaned.  Also they reported a negative relationship between number of days of the breeding season and pounds of calf weaned per cow per year.  


Ethanol craze causing fear, too

Ethanol craze causing fear, too


Barney Lavin ought to be the poster child for ethanol.

A fifth-generation corn farmer, working the land his family homesteaded in 1842, Lavin should see dollar signs over a proposed ethanol plant in this small southeastern Wisconsin town.

Instead, Lavin put down his pitchfork and picked up his cell phone, joining the ranks of other unlikely opponents organizing against ethanol plants, fearing air pollution, increased traffic and groundwater depletion.

“I’m unwilling to give up the obvious quality of life we have here for some added income,” said Lavin, who grows corn on a 300-acre farm on rolling hills that include a recently restored wetlands. “We feel very strongly about this area, and we don’t want it ruined.”


Corn Prices Decline for Second Month, But Cattle Are Up

Corn Prices Decline for Second Month, But Cattle Are Up

Wisconsin Ag Connection

Wisconsin corn prices were down from March’s average price. As of April 15, corn sold for an average of $3.15 per bushel in mid-March, a decline of 32 cents. Soybeans in the state held steady at $6.65 per bushel.

The state’s average prices for alfalfa hay and other types of hay held steady from the previous month. Alfalfa continued to sell for an average of $70 per ton, while hay of other types sold for $45 per ton.


Season of stress

Season of stress

Jon Knutson, The Forum

Leonard, N.D. – The young cow – preparing to give birth for the first time – lay down on a warm, dry patch of ground.

Paul Anderson, vigilant for danger, took a long, experienced look.

 “Well,” he said at last, “she’s coming along.”

For Anderson and other area cattle ranchers, spring calving is an exhausting, exhilarating season that could make or break their year.

FULL STORY Registration may be necessary

Castrating Male Calves Early Versus Leaving Them As “Cutter Bulls”

Castrating Male Calves Early Versus Leaving Them As “Cutter Bulls”


A survey conducted by Oklahoma State University of eastern Oklahoma sale barns in 1997 and 1999 showed that on average, bull calves are $2.00-3.00/cwt less expensive than steers of similar weight.  However, there is little information available to Oklahoma producers on the additional production costs associated with purchasing lightweight bulls vs. steers for use in a stocker operation.  Therefore, the objective of several OSU studies was to evaluate differences in performance and health status of steers vs. knife-castrated or band-castrated bulls.

Calves castrated prior to purchase (steers) had significantly improved daily gain (2.35 lb/day vs. 1.77 lb/day) and dry matter intake (8.85 lb/day vs. 7.59 lb/day) compared with calves castrated at processing (bulls).  No difference was observed in the feed:gain ratio.  The number of times removed from the pen for disease treatment was significantly less for steers vs. bulls suggesting a healthier appearance.  In addition, number of treatments and time of recovery tended to be lower in steers vs. bulls.  One third (33.3%) of the steers were treated at least once; whereas 59.3% of the “cutter bulls” were treated at least once.  None of the steers were treated more than one time; whereas 23.5% of the newly castrated bulls were treated more than once.


New Herd to Advance Research in Beef Industry

New Herd to Advance Research in Beef Industry         

Discover Moose Jaw

The federal and provincial governments are providing $1.1 million to replace the research herd and upgrade research equipment at the Western Beef Development Centre.

WBDC Vice President of Operations Paul Jefferson says the current herd being used for cow-calf research is a commercial, mixed breed herd with a varied background.  This can sometimes diminish the certainty of the results drawn from studies done on the cattle, particularly in some of the newer research fields that are becoming increasingly popular with scientific and technological advances.

“As we’ve been discussing more collaborative efforts with producers and our colleagues in the research community, it was identified that a herd with known genetic background would be useful for the type of work that’s going forward into the future, where molecular genetics would be applied to understanding the genotypes of the animals and how this affects their performance and other aspects of beef production,” Jefferson said.


Conaway, A&M officials plan million-acre Chinese ranches

 Conaway, A&M officials plan million-acre Chinese ranches

Bob Campbell

Midland Reporter-Telegram (TX)

Congressman Mike Conaway of Midland met recently in Beijing, China, with officials of Texas A&M University and the People’s Republic of China to lay plans for modernizing the beef cattle industry in the world’s most populous nation.

The stakes — and steaks — are intriguing for A&M, which reported Friday that it will be involved for at least the next few years; China, which wants to feed its increasingly affluent society better; and a Seattle company that wants to set up five one-million-acre ranches and even a horse racing endeavor.


Ethanol Enjoys Boom Despite Questions About Its Future

Ethanol Enjoys Boom Despite Questions About Its Future


ST. LOUIS (AP)–Corn-and-soybean farmer John Adams considered the pitch too good to pass up.

The 58-year-old Adams, who works 950 acres in central Illinois, didn’t immediately join the farmer cooperatives pooling together to build a 100-million-gallon-a-year ethanol plant. But when he dropped by an informational meeting a few months ago, he had to have a piece.

“I was impressed,” he recalled. “I had to do a lot of thinking about where the ethanol market was and where I think it’s going.”

Ethanol, for decades largely an afterthought in the global fuels market, is in the midst of a booming renaissance, despite a host of questions.

It is a hot topic from agribusiness boardrooms to Midwestern diners to world capitals including Washington. President George W. Bush says the fuel additive distilled from mashed and fermented grain is a cheap-and-easy alternative to high-priced foreign oil, and some say it’s already been an economic boon for moribund rural stretches.

Yet skeptics wonder if the rush to ethanol makes sense given the murky outlook for demand. They worry, too, about ethanol’s fuel efficiency – lower than traditional gasoline – and its effects on both the environment and food prices as corn chews up more farmland.