Daily Archives: June 27, 2007

BeefTalk: Grass is Not Free

BeefTalk: Grass is Not Free

BeefTalk: Costs per AUM BeefTalk: Costs per AUM

By Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

The assignment of a value to pasture is important and relevant to the analysis of the total operation.

Summer in the beef business is turn out time. If we are not careful, some would conclude that it is the time of year when we don’t need to feed the cows.

Summer would seem to be the time when cash costs are less and the pocketbook is not being called upon as frequently to pay the bills. The summer focus is the processing, hauling and storage of next winter’s feed.

However, summer can be expensive. The costs of raising crops and forage are working their way into the system. The cow still is eating and those bites of grass in the pasture are not free.


Packers, Retailers Stoke The Heat On COOL

Packers, Retailers Stoke The Heat On COOL

Beef Stocker Trends

Country-of-origin labeling (COOL) isn’t supposed to go into effect until September 2008, but one of the nation’s largest trade organizations representing meat processors — American Meat Institute (AMI) — sent letters last week to 97 producer organizations advising them that their members may soon hear from meatpackers about what they will require of their suppliers as part of mandatory COOL.

“Although we adamantly oppose mandatory COOL, it is the law and it is our job as the meat industry’s trade association to help companies prepare for full implementation,” explains Mark Dopp, AMI cenior vice president of regulatory affairs and general counsel. “Given the fact that animals born now will be subject to mandatory COOL, we thought it was wise to begin preparing.”

In its letter to producer groups, AMI told its members that, in order to comply with the law and satisfy retail customers, packers should demand a number of things from livestock producers. This includes verified documentation of where the livestock purchased were born and raised, and an affidavit or declaration with each load of livestock purchases stating that there’s a verifiable audit trail in place that identifies where the livestock in each load were born and raised.


Hot weather to put freeze on cattle prices?

Hot weather to put freeze on cattle prices?

Illinois Farm Bureau

Cattle prices this summer could start to cool down as the weather heats up, according to one market analyst.

Chris Hurt, Purdue University ag economist, believes live cattle prices this summer could dip into the high-$80 range.

USDA reported on Friday in its monthly cattle on feed report that the cattle inventory, at 11.3 million head, was up 1 percent last month while placements in May were up 13 percent at 2.16 million head.


USDA offers hay, pasture relief

USDA offers hay, pasture relief


The Leaf-Chronicle (TN)

As a long-term rainfall deficit continues to affect Tennessee farms, officials with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA) and Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) remind producers enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) that opportunities for managed haying and grazing exist.

With a modification to producers’ conservation plans, certain CRP stands established for permanent grasses (cool-season and native warm-season grasses) are eligible to be cut for hay or grazed by livestock.

Beginning July 2, CRP participants who have received written permission can hay or graze these grass stands.

“Native grasses will be an excellent source of hay during this drought,” said Gregg Brann, NRCS grazing lands specialist.

“Due to deep rooting of natives they will be more vegetative and higher-quality than other forages that have dried up.

“It is important to harvest native grasses as soon as possible after the July 2 date,” Brann said. “The ideal height to harvest natives for hay is 30 inches tall or when the first seedhead appears.

“My calculations show if CRP yields four tons per acre and half of the hay is given to the contract harvester for cutting, raking and rolling the hay, the producer would still have four rolls of hay for a cost of only $4 per roll,” he said.


Cattle Health: What Is Trichomonosis & How Is It Transmitted?

Cattle Health: What Is Trichomonosis & How Is It Transmitted?


Bovine trichomonosis (a.k.a. trichomoniasis) is an important cause of economic loss in cattle operations that use natural service. Surveys in California beef cattle operations have shown that more than 15 percent of herds had at least one infected bull.

This disease is caused by a protozoan organism called Tritrichomonas foetus. This organism lives in the folds of the bull’s penis and internal sheath. In cows this organism colonizes the vagina, cervix, uterus and oviducts.


Hundred Percent Grass-Fed-Beef

Hundred Percent Grass-Fed-Beef

Tim Stark


Here’s a picture of Patrick Robinette’s Senepol cows in a North Carolina meadow, pausing from a round of grass chewing. The baby up front was born two nights earlier. The one on the left, now 17 years old, has had 16 calves. I have never encountered such curious cows. When I went into the field with them, they took turns approaching me and sniffing at me, tentatively, the way an inquisitive cat might sniff at a stranger. After tinkering with all kinds of cattle breeds, Patrick is partial to the Senepol. With origins on the island of St. Croix, Senepol cattle can tolerate the hot, humid North Carolina summers. “Your Black Angus will spend the whole summer day standing in the shade of a tree,” says Patrick. The Black Angus is also bred to eat corn, which is something Patrick never feeds his cattle, not even in the last months. From cradle to grave, Patrick’s cattle indulge their one great pleasure: munching fescue, rye, clover, orchard grass, and millet. But Patrick has more than just humane reasons for preferring Senepol cattle in his southern meadows. “I want my cattle to fatten up on all that lush grass,” he says. “When they’re standing in the shade just to survive, they’re not eating anything. And happy, unstressed cattle also produce more tender, flavorful meat.”


COOL battle heats up

COOL battle heats up

by George Lauby

North Platte Bulletin

A smoldering battle over food labels that specify the country of origin is heating up again.

The so-called COOL law (country of origin labeling) was signed in 2002, but never has taken effect, due largely to vehement objections from meat packers and processors.

Over the years, meat handlers have gathered opposition to COOL and are now advertising nationally against it.

COOL would require the origin of meats and other foods to be placed on the label. The law for beef labels was never funded. Meat processors say it is too cumbersome.

Cattle ranchers generally like the law, saying it would boost sales of USA beef, or at least give consumers a chance to select a homegrown product.

In the latest arguments, the rancher’s group R-CALF USA alleges meat processors are circulating misleading anti-COOL letters to Congress – making it seem as though an actual livestock producer had authored the letters.


Cattle Update: Beef Industry Seeks Management Priority Information

Cattle Update: Beef Industry Seeks Management Priority Information


More than 5,000 printed copies of Priorities First: Identifying Management Priorities in the Commercial Cow-Calf Business have been distributed since its initial release at the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) Cattle Industry Convention in Nashville, Tenn., earlier this year.  Requests for additional copies are received daily, and the document is downloadable from the Internet.  To continue its leadership position within the beef industry, and fulfill the mission to provide programs and services that will help commercial cattle producers improve their profitability, the American Angus AssociationSM  commissioned this in-depth study that provides a blueprint for prioritizing profit drivers in today’s cow-calf operations.

Tom Field, Ph.D., Fort Collins, Colo., conducted the study that includes responses from 217 industry experts and commercial cattle producers from across the nation.  The 28-page report ranks the top 15 management practices according to how each contributes to profitability and sustainability of the cow-calf enterprise.

 “This document does a great job of defining the basic categories of knowledge and skills needed and, just as important, their relative priority for the cow-calf phase of production,” says Joe Davis, a commercial producer from Westminster, S.C.


Ethanol demand outgrows corn

Ethanol demand outgrows corn

By Eric Kelderman,


Corn is king of renewable auto fuels, for now. But federal and state governments already are racing to find alternatives to corn as they look for ways to use ethanol to help break the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Georgia Gov. Sony Perdue (R) announced in February that a Colorado company would build the nation’s first commercial-scale ethanol plant using — not corn — but wood chips to produce 40 million gallons of fuel a year in the Peach State. A plant under construction in Louisiana is slated to produce 1.4 million gallons of ethanol annually from sugar-cane waste. Tennessee has sunk $18 million into research to convert prairie grasses into auto fuel, and New York has awarded $25 million to two companies to produce more than 600,000 gallons of ethanol a year from wood chips and paper waste.


Making Stockers COOL-Compliant

Making Stockers COOL-Compliant

Beef Stocker Trends

Up front, the final country-of-origin labeling (COOL) rule — scheduled to become mandatory in September 2008 — hasn’t been published. You might remember the law making it mandatory was part of the current farm bill and was originally slated to become mandatory in September 2004.

However, with trade groups advising their processor and retailer members to begin demanding the necessary information from producers (including a request for indemnification, according to one such letter), it makes sense to think about how you might comply. The last time COOL seemed imminent we put together a stocker fact sheet (you can find it at http://www.beefstockerusa.org), which still seems appropriate.

For instance, if you’re supposed to be able to tell someone what cattle you had, you need to be able to identify them. Until the final rule is written, we can only conjecture that a compliant identification (ID) and verification system could be as simple as brand certificates and tax inventory records or a pocket notebook with individual tag numbers and descriptions, or as elaborate as electronic ID with up-loadable purchase, sales and performance information.


Cattle Marketing Symposium – Buying & Selling Value-Added Calves, John Henn, Wyoming Verified

Cattle Marketing Symposium – Buying & Selling Value-Added Calves, John Henn, Wyoming Verified


“What advice would you give sellers and buyers of value-added calves and how do you market value-added calves?”

There are a number of layers of value that producers can add to their calves that would bring more potential buyers to the table.  The style of management of the ranching operation due to location, labor, cow herd management capabilities, and other factors, will determine what layers of added value are feasible. Some of these are preconditioning, BQA certification, genetics, performance records, source, age, natural, and NHTC verification.  Each producer will need to determine what value can be added, if it will change the way the calf crop has been traditionally marketed, and what the potential return will be.

Several marketing claims producers should consider that can be added to calves without much change in cow herd management are source, age, natural, and Non Hormone Treated Cattle (NHTC) verification.  By adding any of these claims to their calves, producers have opened the doors to additional potential buyers that, for many, were not accessible before.  The majority of cow calf producers already document in some way the date of the first born calf which provides the requirement for a group birth date.  Source verification can be obtained by documenting the source where the calves were born.  In addition to age documentation, most producers do record any treatment calves are given while on the ranch and can provide feed tags of supplements fed.  With these additional records, producers can take the natural claim to a higher level of value through the verification process.  As part of the natural verification process the NHTC marketing claim provides access to another export market for calves.


Writer explains ‘free range,’ ‘organic’ food labels

Writer explains ‘free range,’ ‘organic’ food labels



Kimberly Lord Stewart looked like a wise sage surrounded by adoring followers. A Castle Rock book group had brought in the Longmont author to answer questions and sign copies of her new book, “Eating Between the Lines — The Supermarket Shopper’s Guide to the Truth Behind Food Labels.” The club’s 30-something homemakers and mothers hung onto Stewart’s every word, making notes in their copies of the book.

“Eating Between the Lines” was a dramatic departure from the club’s usual selections — “The Devil Wears Prada,” “The Blessing Stone” and “Tender Bar.”

But club member Betsy Crawford, whose daughter lives next door to Stewart in Longmont, met Stewart and became fascinated with the research she was doing for the book. Crawford’s daughter would rave about the groceryshopping tips Stewart gave her to help her make more healthful food selections for her family. So when the book came out, Crawford suggested it to the book club and invited the author to their gathering.


Cattle Preconditioning Forum: Horn Flies – Fact Or Fiction

Cattle Preconditioning Forum: Horn Flies – Fact Or Fiction


Horn flies stay on cattle at all times and bunch around their shoulders, down their back and on their tail head. FACT

Horn flies lay eggs on cattle. FICTION. They lay eggs in fresh manure patties.

Horn flies will not migrate from one farm to the next. FICTION. They can, and do, travel throughout the fly season from one pasture to the next.

Horn flies can be controlled. FACT.

Serving our taste for fine beef

Serving our taste for fine beef

Mary Yeater Rathbun

The Capital Times

Highland cattle beef has proven to be an exceptionally good fit in the Madison area.

John and Dorothy Priske have been selling Highland beef produced at their Fall River farm at the Farmers’ Market on the Square for five years. And L’Etoile, a restaurant that features local, organic and naturally-raised ingredients, has been serving the Priskes’ beef for almost five years as well.

Highland beef is a staple of the sustainably-produced, locally-marketed, fine food industry the world over, and has found a special place in Madison, with its large collection of farmers’ markets and regionally-reliant restaurants.


Texas Ranchers Raising Japanese Cows

Texas Ranchers Raising Japanese Cows



Even by the standards of Texas – where beef is no trivial matter – rancher Jose Antonio Elias Calles has coddled his cattle.

The animals imported from Japan are guarded by off-duty Texas Rangers and kept away from American bulls that might contaminate their coveted gene pool. They were meticulously reared for 12 years before a single hamburger could be sold.

“We knew it was going to take a long time,” said Calles, whose interest in ranching was sparked by a grandfather who raised cattle for export in northern Mexico.


S.Korea: U.S. beef companies can export

S.Korea: U.S. beef companies can export

Houston Chronicle

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea lifted a suspension on imports of American beef from two U.S. meat companies Tuesday after the U.S. confirmed that three shipments meant for domestic consumption were exported by mistake, officials said.

South Korea shut its doors to American beef in December 2003 after an outbreak of mad cow disease in the U.S. It partially reopened its market last year, but agreed to accept only boneless meat from cattle under 30 months old, which are thought to be less at risk of carrying the illness.

Seoul in late May and early June suspended imports from six facilities of two U.S. meat companies: Minneapolis, Minn.-based Cargill Inc. and Springdale, Ark.-based Tyson Foods Inc. for exporting beef that was intended for U.S. domestic consumption.


Stocker Cattle Forum: Disease Detection & Diagnosis

Stocker Cattle Forum: Disease Detection & Diagnosis


Basic as it is, since stocker calves don’t come with an individual owner’s manual or ticker tape telling you how they feel, opportunity can easily be lost when diseases are detected later than possible, or when they’re misdiagnosed.

The key to early detection is knowing, and making sure those working for you know, how a healthy, normal animal looks and acts. Likewise, the only way to get a feel for what disease you’re dealing with is  by becoming familiar with how different common stocker diseases affect animals.


July Hay Cutting Adds Tons

July Hay Cutting Adds Tons

Beef Stocker Trends

When it comes to native grass, early July is the optimum time for cutting, based on research from Kansas State University (KSU). That’s according to a recent column from Glenn Selk at Oklahoma State University.

The KSU researchers harvested native grass meadows in early June, July, August and September. According to Selk, the June date produced about half as much tonnage as the early August cutting, while the September cutting had little nutritional value, between quality and digestibility. Compared to July though (2,400 lbs. of dry matter forage/acre), the August cutting was heavier (2,800 lbs.). But, with more crude protein (CP) — about 7% vs. 3% for August — the July harvest yielded more total digestible nutrients (TDN).