Daily Archives: May 10, 2007

Getting a Handle on Grade

Getting a Handle on Grade

Feeding sector discusses how to hit quality targets

Feedlot Magazine

Feeding Quality Forums in North Platte, Neb., and Amarillo, Texas, last November shed light on many of the factors that play a role in delivering higher quality beef to consumers. Opening remarks by cosponsoring Feed•Lot magazine editor Robert Strong set the stage by noting how far technology has advanced.

“Fifty-eight years after the transistor was invented, digital technology is still in its infancy,” he said. “But it looks like it is starting to help us in the beef industry and good things are yet to come. We’ll be able to track the complete history on each animal as well as the mass of data to separate any variable you can imagine. They all deserve more study, especially when reducing variability could make life more predictable and, hopefully, more profitable.”


What is a Breed? Is There Really Such a Thing as a Purebred?

What is a Breed? Is There Really Such a Thing as a Purebred?

By Roy Wallace, Select Sires, Inc. & Harlan Ritchie, Michigan State University

American Chianina Commercial Journal

In answering the question that serves as the title of this paper, it would seem appropriate that we begin by defining what a breed is. The late Hilton Briggs, the quintessential authority on breeds and author of the book, Modern Breeds of Livestock, defined a breed as follows: “A breed of livestock is a group of animals that, as a result of breeding and selection, have certain distinguishable characteristics.” He goes on to define a purebred animal as “an individual both of whose parents are duly registered in a Registry Association.” It is interesting to note that Briggs says nothing about “breed purity” or “percentage of blood” in either of these definitions. If one delves back into livestock history, it can be concluded that very few populations of so-called “purebred” cattle existed. Rather, nearly all breeds were developed by combining various strains of cattle within a region into a generally agreed-upon type.


Cow Calf – Heifer Development: Rebreeding

Cow Calf – Heifer Development: Rebreeding


Breeding heifers at puberty is usually easier than rebreeding them after their first calf. The greatest portion of females being culled for failure to rebreed are first-calf heifers. The main reason this failure is nutritional stress. First-calf heifers need more energy, protein and minerals after calving than mature cows because they are still growing. Feed analysis will greatly assist in how to feed these females. No supplement may be needed with good quality pasture. However some supplementation may be needed for fall calving or early spring calving heifers on poor quality hay. Ideally, save your best hay for late gestation and early lactation. In all cased a quality mineral-vitamin supplement should be provided.


Unlocking Bioenergy In Switchgrass

Unlocking Bioenergy In Switchgrass

Source: USDA

Hay and Forage Grower

Using genetic “snapshots” of switchgrass, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and collaborating scientists are gaining new insight into how this warm-season perennial plant could be harnessed as an ethanol resource.

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has deemed switchgrass a promising biomass crop to help replace America’s dependence on fossil fuels. Yet the amount of lignin – the cementing agent that holds plant cell walls together – in switchgrass has slowed the process down. ARS scientists hope the snapshots will show them how they can conventionally breed or genetically engineer new varieties of the grass with a diminished capacity to produce lignin.

The snapshots are actually fragments of genetic material called messenger RNA (mRNA), and they’re like molecular workhorses that do the bidding of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). One key task is delivering instructions to make proteins.


AICA Launches Charolais Advantage

AICA Launches Charolais Advantage

Cattle Today

Charolais producers can now take advantage of an age- and source-verification program designed specifically for Charolais genetics. The American-International Charolais Association (AICA) has launched Charolais Advantage™, an age- and source-verified program designed to add more value to Charolais genetics. Co-branded through IMI Global’s USVerified™ PVP program, Charolais Advantage will provide additional marketing opportunities to those producers using Charolais genetics in their herds.


Forage Focus: Chemical Weed Control in Pastures

Forage Focus: Chemical Weed Control in Pastures


The Problem. Well, it never fails. We go out with the perfect plans and plant the perfect pasture. In seemingly no time at all, undesirable plants find a way to grow with our crop. We used to say back in school that weed science held a lot of job security for us; weeds sprouting up in the wrong places are one of life’s certainties (along with death and taxes). The longer our pasture soils remain somewhat undisturbed, the more biennial and perennial weeds we will see. Some weeds are simply annoying, some aggressively crowd out our forages, and some can be downright deadly to our livestock. For this column, let’s discuss a couple of the principles of chemical weed control in pastures.


Hereford Youth Prepare for “A Hereford Celebration” in Denver

Hereford Youth Prepare for “A Hereford Celebration” in Denver

KANSAS CITY, Mo. ­­­—After the nation celebrates the 4th of July holiday, Hereford families will load their trailers and head to the Mile High City to take part in “A Hereford Celebration” at the National Western Complex. National Junior Hereford Association (NJHA) members are gearing up for the Vitaferm® Junior National Hereford Expo (JNHE), July 7-14, in Denver, Colo.

The Western Hereford Breeders are hosting this event in which hundreds of Hereford youth will not only exhibit close to 1,200 head of cattle, but also compete in numerous leadership and personal development events. More than 3,000 spectators will be in attendance throughout the week making this event one of the largest of its kind in the United States.

“The Junior National Hereford Expo highlights the best of both cattle and kids,” says Chris Stephens, American Hereford Association director of youth activities. “This is the culmination of months of hard work and it is rewarding to see the future of the Hereford breed coming together to compete and make life long friends in an enthusiastic atmosphere.”

            The week long event has something for everyone from 3-on-3 basketball competition to a white water rafting adventure. Participants not only show cattle, but also compete in educational contests, interview for college scholarships, run for leadership positions and network at social activities. In short, the event helps prepare NJHA members to be leaders in the beef industry and their respective communities.

            Show ring competition starts on Wednesday, July 11 with the steer show and showmanship. There will be four showmanship divisions with Matt Sims, Edmond, Okla., and Robbie Schacher, Ft. Worth, Texas, judging the peewee and junior heats and Alan Miller, Gridley, Ill., Cathy Jones, Elmwood, Ill., and Don Yoesel, Falls City, Neb., evaluating the senior and intermediate contestants. Jeff Mafi, Stillwater, Okla., has been selected to judge the steer show.

            The bred-and-owned bull and heifer shows along with the cow-calf pair show will take place on Thursday, July 12. Randy Daniel, Colbert, Ga., will evaluate these shows and Bill Conley, Clarksdale, Mo., will judge the owned heifer shows on Friday and Saturday, July 13-14.

            In addition to the traditional contests such as team fitting, photography and the judging contest, youth will also have the opportunity to get creative with Certified Hereford Beef recipes as they participate in the new Great American Hereford Grill-off.  The NJHA Mentoring Program also debuts this summer and will give juniors of all ages the opportunity to meet and interact with other juniors from different states and to learn about the many opportunities during the JNHE.

Texas Angus Breeders Rise to the Challenge

Texas Angus Breeders Rise to the Challenge

            More than 250 Angus breeders from Texas and elsewhere joined Klaus and Bonnie Birkel at their scenic Camp Cooley Ranch near Franklin, Texas, on April 28 for the “kick-off” of The Texas Challenge.  This event was hosted to raise funds to support Angus education, youth and research efforts through the Angus Foundation.

            In January 2007, the Birkels pledged $250,000 toward the Angus Foundation’s ambitious Vision of Value: Campaign for Angus goal to raise $11 million by December 31, 2011 if Texas Angus breeders and the Texas Angus Association raised $250,000 in matching funds at $50,000 per year the next five years.

            Impressive by any measure, including the Birkels generous challenge, outright gifts and multi-year pledges received now total more than $487,000 in support of The Texas Challenge while counting simultaneously toward the $11 million Vision of Value: Campaign for Angus goal.


Managing Finances With High Grain Prices

Managing Finances With High Grain Prices


Columns about financial management on the farm usually appear when commodity prices are low, interest rates are high, or some other condition puts a squeeze on cash flow. Over the long run, however, how we manage when prices are high may have even more impact on the economic viability of the farm business. No one wants to miss the boat when prices are good, but sinking the ship is even worse.


Is It Safe To Eat?

Is It Safe To Eat?

Philip F. Harris

American Chronicle

Editor’s note: Stories of this ilk are included in the blog to inform those in our industry how agriculture is being presented to and perceived by the public.

In my article called “The Poisoning of America” I talked about the issues regarding the safety of America’s food supply in light of the recent concern over imported grains from China that were contaminated with melamine. The recent Washington Post article by Rick Weiss added more concern to this issue since the actual contamination was found to be in not just the gluten but also wheat flour. Apparently, this flour has also made its way into food for fish farms raising new concerns that fish stocks may also be contaminated.

According to Rep. Rosa DeLauro who chairs the subcommittee that funds the FDA, “Our food safety system, is broken.”

This is not good news for the American consumer. “Our food system is broken” is actually an understatement. Not only are we being poisoned from without, but much of our problem comes from within our own food supply and processing system. The following is startling news regarding food produced in the U.S.


TransOva Could Play Pivotal Role In Cloning Animals For Food

TransOva Could Play Pivotal Role In Cloning Animals For Food


The Food and Drug Administration could approve meat and milk, from cloned animals, for human consumption. And, a Siouxland company could play a pivotal role.

Meet Noah. He’s a gaur… a rare species of ox that scientists at Sioux Center, Iowa-based TransOva Genetics cloned six-years ago. Noah died 48-hours after he was born… not from the cloning process, but of common dysentery.

The setback didn’t stop the scientists. In fact, this week, they showed off two cloned calves at the BIO conference, in Boston. “Cloning has continued to improve,” said Dr. Dave Faber, TransOva CEO. “It’s a reemerging technology.”

In fact, Faber says cloning is ready for farmers and ranchers to use. And, if the FDA has it’s way, the products of cloned cattle could be coming to a grocery store near you. “Better steaks, pork chops and more healthful milk,” said Dr. Barb Glenn, BIO Managing Director. Not from the cloned animal, however. “The cloned animal is indeed the breeding stock used to breed other cows in the herd. So, from this technology, we’ll consume the offspring.”


The Year of the Pig: Legislature leaves Indiana CAFOs unregulated

The Year of the Pig: Legislature leaves Indiana CAFOs unregulated

By Thomas P. Healy

Muncie Free Press

Since the Indiana General Assembly adjourned without passing legislation to regulate Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) in the state, I propose a Hoosier variant to the Chinese calendar, which declares 2007 the Year of the Pig.

Let’s call 2007 the Year of the CAFO.

Celebrations could take many forms. Jubilant agribusinessmen, unhampered by annoying rules and inspections, will spray plumes of untreated manure on saturated soils and expedite the flow of hormone- and antibiotic-laden waste into drainage tiles, where it can augment the abundant pollution in our state’s waterways.


Boomer and Bernie

Boomer and Bernie

by: Baxter Black, DVM

Cattle Today

There’s been a gradual change in the way we cowboys do things. It’s come over a period of years and coincides with anti-smoking regulations, a healthier diet, mandatory seat belts, bull riders wearing helmets, gentle horse training, improved cattle handling techniques, and not allowing our dogs free run of the pickup bed when we go to town.


Prion Infectivity Pinpointed

Prion Infectivity Pinpointed

A small section of protein turns out to be responsible for the infectious properties of prions.

By Erika Jonietz


Scientists have known for decades that infectious proteins called prions cause some neurodegenerative diseases, such as mad cow or its human variation, Creutzfeld-Jakob disease. When these proteins fold normally, they often play beneficial roles in biology; misfolded, however, they form tangled fibrils called amyloids that cause disease. What’s more, the misfolded prions have the bizarre ability to prompt other proteins to misfold. The result is the impairment or death of previously healthy cells.


What’s benefit of supplemental cattle feeding?

What’s benefit of supplemental cattle feeding?

David Bennett

Delta Farm Press

If not for an Easter freeze, research fields at the recent field day at the Livestock and Forestry Branch Station in Batesville, Ark., would have been much greener.

“We have here a demonstration on four practices usually implemented at this time of year when forages begin to green up,” said Shane Gadberry, Arkansas Extension cattle specialist whose primary responsibility is ruminant nutrition. “Some may not have such greenery available yet and are in a situation like we’re standing in right now — predominantly dormant bermudagrass — unlike the cattle across the road grazing on fescue.

“March surprised us this year. Bermudagrass wanted to begin growing, but Mother Nature caught up with us. The recent cold spell set forage production back.”

For the Batesville station demonstration fields, Gadberry’s objective was to “identify any benefit to supplemental feeding of these fall-calving cows. To compare the scene to your operation, you need to consider the cattle’s stage of production, body condition score and the quality of forage (hay versus pasture).