Daily Archives: May 14, 2007

When NOT to call your vet

When NOT to call your vet

In this audio podcast, Dr. Arn Anderson, Cross Timbers Animal Hospital, Bowie, TX, explains there are times to call you vet and other times not to.

Click Here to play podcast.

Cost Effective Feedlot Facility Design

Cost Effective Feedlot Facility Design

by Jeff Pastoor, Senior Cattle Consultant


 Summer is an excellent time for building, remodeling, or fixing up feedlot facilities because of fewer cattle in the yard and dryer conditions.  Proper facility design and maintenance has a very big impact on cattle performance in the upper Midwest, mainly through the control of mud.

This is the time to get the scraper out and groom your lots and mounds to ensure proper drainage.  Any time water has a chance to sit in the yard, a mud hole will be sure to follow.  Be sure to rebuild your mounds so that cattle have a dry place to lie during muddy periods, and that there is a dry path for cattle to get to the mound.  Mounds can also serve as areas for cattle to catch a breeze in the summer and to get out of the wind in the winter by lying below the crest.


COOL More Valuable As A Non-Reality

COOL More Valuable As A Non-Reality

Troy Marshall

Beef Magazine

Few issues have been more controversial and divisive in the cattle industry than country-of-origin labeling (COOL). With the 2007 farm bill debate heating up, its front-and-center position is assured.

There already have been attempts by some to link COOL in the upcoming farm bill to USDA’s 30-months-of-age rule regarding imported Canadian cattle. We can expect the issue to be raised in a number of ways both pro and con.

First, we must accept that COOL has never been about COOL. Everyone agrees the law is terribly written, but COOL supporters have never wanted it corrected because they fear its defeat if reopened. Meanwhile, COOL opponents don’t want the measure fixed because a more workable law might get it implemented.


Feeding Distillers Grains to Beef Cattle

Feeding Distillers Grains to Beef Cattle

Justin Sexten, Extension Specialist, Animal Systems/Beef

University of Illinois

According to the Renewable Fuel Association (2003) nearly half of the U.S. fuel alcohol production occurs in Illinois and states immediately adjacent. In 2001 approximately 1.8 billion gallons of ethanol were produced in the U.S. and ethanol production is projected to reach four billion gallons this year. Distiller’s grains plus solubles (DGS) is a feed co-product produced in wet and dry forms as a result of ethanol production. As ethanol production continues to increase optimizing DGS utilization in beef, dairy and swine rations will benefit Illinois livestock, corn and alcohol producers.


Nevil Speer, MMP: Fasten Your Seatbelt! There’s Ethanol Ahead

Nevil Speer, MMP: Fasten Your Seatbelt! There’s Ethanol Ahead


Steady money.  That’s been the overriding sentiment within the fed market over the past several weeks.   Recall last month participants were buzzing about $100 sales.  That appears to be the spring high:  the following week business trended $1-3 lower with most sales at the $98 level.   The market then knocked another couple of dollars off the top and fed trade plugged along at $96 for several weeks in a row.  And May’s first full week of business finished with cattle being valued at $96-7.  At the surface the market is seemingly comfortable at current levels.

A look underneath the surface, though, reveals some churning and disruption as it pertains to margins.  For example, fed trade’s $98 in mid-April came as cattle feeders relinquished $2 while the Choice cutout gained nearly a whopping $13 versus the previous week.   Needless to say, packer margins soared amidst that arrangement.   Turnabout is fair play:   the following three weeks witnessed the Choice cutout giving those gains back.   However, cattle feeders hung on to steady money. 


Creep feeds may not be beneficial for producers this year

Creep feeds may not be beneficial for producers this year

Western Livestock Journal

Many producers creep feed calves in an effort to increase weaning weights and, hopefully, increase the calf’s value when sold.

There are many advantages to creep feeding calves and many situations in which it can be a profitable practice. However, this year in particular, the changing economic factors can significantly affect potential profitability and it will be important for producers to consider many things before they choose to creep feed calves.

To ensure profitability, producers need to seriously consider all of the factors associated with creep feeding. When planning, be sure to consider feed and labor costs, pasture quality, cow genetics and potential, current sale weights, and body condition of cows.

“This is a situation where the last four or five years, the calf and grain prices allowed for creep feeding to be a profitable practice,” said Dr. Greg Lardy, beef extension specialist at North Dakota State University. “This year, however, will be a lot different in terms of economics.”

Creep feeding helps to supplement the milk from cows during the grazing season. It has the potential to increase weaning weights, it introduces calves to feed which may help to reduce shrink at weaning, the calf should come onto grain easier when placed in a dry lot, and the early introduction to different feedstuffs may help to increase the animal’s immunity. Additionally, the creep feed can be used to supplement feed nutrients that are lacking in the forage.


Cow Calf: The Principle Of “Value of Added Gain”

Cow Calf: The Principle Of “Value of Added Gain”


The decision to include a management practice that adds weaning weight to calves should be based on two parts of the business equation.  1) What is the value of the added weaning weight gain achieved from the new management practice?   2) How much did I spend on the practice to produce the added weaning weight available for sale?

The “value of added gain”

A commonly misunderstood principle in the cattle business is that of the “value of added gain.”  There is a natural tendency to believe that when the calf prices are good that any extra weight put on those calves will also have a very high price.  Likewise, many producers cut back on management techniques that would add weight to calves when cattle prices are low.  However, there are some financial principles during cattle cycles that make us constantly re-evaluate the current value of added gain.


Helpful tips on overcoming pasture ‘summer slump’

Helpful tips on overcoming pasture ‘summer slump’

By John Zinn and Ryon Walker, U of M Beef Team

Farm and Ranch Guide

You’ve seen it. Warm weather and high humidities can affect pasture growth. During the summer of 2006, hot and dry weather stopped pasture growth dead in some places.

Most of Minnesota’s pastures consist of cool season grasses which are particularly vulnerable to lower growth in periods of hot weather as a result of their metabolism. Pasture management can either reduce or exacerbate the effects of hot weather.

Rotational grazing, leaving a 3-4 inch stubble height after grazing promotes root growth, reduces soil compaction, reduces soil temperature, encourages water infiltration and retention, which results in more yield of the growing species in a particular pasture over time.


Feed Conversions Of Creep Feeds For Nursing Calves

Feed Conversions Of Creep Feeds For Nursing Calves


Feed conversions of calves fed creep feeds have been quite variable to say the least.  Conversions of 5:1 or 5 pounds of grain consumed to 1 extra pound of calf weight are very rare and the optimum that can be expected when producers are using a “typical” high energy creep feed.  Conversions may get as poor as 15:1 in some situations.  Therefore it is obvious that several factors come in to play to determine the amount of creep feed that is consumed for each additional pound of gain.

Cows that give large amounts of milk to their calves will provide enough protein and energy to meet the growth potential of their calves.  In that scenario, it is reasonable to assume that the feed conversion from creep feeding could be quite poor (10:1 or worse).  If however the milk production of the cows is limited for any reason, then the added energy and protein from the creep feed provides needed nutrients to allow calves to reach closer to their genetic maximum capability for growth.  Calves from poor milking cows may convert the creep feed at a rate of about 7 pounds of feed for each pound of additional calf weight.  Poor milking can be a result of genetically low milk production or restricted nutritional status.


Dakota Farms Natural Beef puts out call

Dakota Farms Natural Beef puts out call


Farm & Ranch Guide

In response to a growing demand for natural beef on a nationwide basis, North Dakota Natural Beef is just beginning to market its brand name, Dakota Farms Natural Beef, in several different parts of the U.S., and the company is looking for cattle that meet certain guidelines to meet this expanding market.

“We just started marketing Dakota Farms Natural Beef,” North Dakota Natural Beef CEO Dieter Pape said. “We are currently handling about 90 head per week to fill that demand, but by fall, with our expanding markets, we expect to be handling about triple that amount.

“The sales process is not an overnight process, but we are very satisfied with the progress we have made up to this point. We are well beyond where we thought we were going to be at this time,” he added.


May is beef month

May is beef month

By Richard C. Snell

Barton County Extension Agent–Ag.

High Plains Journal

We are gonna have fun all summer long. The warm weather is my time of the year. It’s time to get the grill out and start cooking outdoors. May is beef month in Kansas and throughout the United States.

While we are thinking of beef, we should be thankful that we can remain confident in the safety of U.S. beef despite stories that occasionally hit the news media about bovine spongiform encephalopathy or E-coli. Realizing that it’s a little bit like airplanes versus motor vehicles. Way more people are killed in car accidents than airplanes. When you consider how many flights happen each day, the number of airplane accidents is very small. But, boy do we hear about it when it happens! It’s the same with the beef industry.


Breeding Soundness Exams Are Vital To a Successful Breeding Program

Breeding Soundness Exams Are Vital To a Successful Breeding Program


Breeding season is just about here for spring calving herds. It is time to make those ever so important breeding decisions that will improve your calf crop for next year. Breeding success depends on the reproductive health of both the cow and the bull. Because a bull is expected to service various numbers of cows, the potential fertility of the bull is much more important than determining the fertility of any individual cow.


NCBA: Mice Tests Can’t Confirm BSE in Japanese Cattle

NCBA: Mice Tests Can’t Confirm BSE in Japanese Cattle

Wisconsin Ag Connection

A Japanese Health Ministry official has said mice tests conducted in Japan can not confirm that two Japanese cattle aged 21 and 23 months had a transmissible form of BSE. The two animals were processed in the fall of 2003 and were believed by Japanese safety officials to exhibit symptoms of BSE, despite the fact that BSE presents itself only in older animals. According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Accociation, tests conducted in Japan in 2003 allegedly confirmed that both animals had BSE, although the tests showed the cattle had only between 1/500 and 1/1000 of the amount of prion protein found in other BSE-infected cows.

Since then, a Japanese research group has worked to infect laboratory mice with the brain matter from the cattle, but the mice, even after extended periods of time, failed to contract the disease. The test results confirm that transmissible BSE likely does not exist in younger animals. This information could prompt Japan to consider expanding the trade of U.S. beef to include beef from animals older than 20 months of age.


Cattle Producers Offered Incentives To Enroll In Verification Program

Cattle Producers Offered Incentives To Enroll In Verification Program


North Dakota cattle producers have some new reasons to enroll in a program that verifies the age and source of the animals they sell.

Some meat packing plants are paying a premium of $25 to $30 per head for cattle that are age and source verified, according to Karl Hoppe, Extension Service area livestock specialist at North Dakota State University’s Carrington Research Extension Center.

Also, major beef-buying companies, such as McDonald’s and Wal-Mart, are starting to require verification of the source of the meat they buy. The Japanese market reopening to U.S. beef is increasing the demand for age and source verification as well.

Age and source verification programs allow agricultural producers to assure customers they are providing consistent, high-quality products.


2007 Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course Set for Aug. 6-8

2007 Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course Set for Aug. 6-8

Contact: Jason Cleere, 979-845-6931,jjcleere@tamu.edu

COLLEGE STATION – The 53rd annual Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course will be held Aug. 6-8 at Texas A&M University in College Station.

“Planning committee members from around the state have met with us and helped us put together another outstanding program,” said Dr. Jason Cleere, Texas Cooperative Extension beef cattle specialist and conference coordinator.

This year’s short course will address cost increases in fertilizer, fuel, equipment and grain and how they affect a rancher’s profits,” Cleere said.

“Increasing feed and fertilizer costs continue to put a lot of pressure on beef cattle producers to look for new ways to produce a pound of beef more economically,” he said. “In the near future, economics may override traditional ranch practices.”

The short course, sponsored by Texas Cooperative Extension, will address these issues as well as other topics during the three-day event, providing information for the novice rancher as well as for the most seasoned one, Cleere said.