Daily Archives: July 10, 2007

Heterosis is Real

Heterosis is Real

Bob Hough, Executive Secretary, Red Angus Association of America

On July 9, the BeefBlog ran a column, “Is There Value Added Through Cross-Breeding or is Heterosis Just a Theory.” There are two benefits to crossbreeding, breed complementarity and Heterosis. Breed complementarity utilizes the genetic differences between parent breeds to achieve a higher frequency of desired genes for specific traits in the crossbred progeny than could be found within a single breed, hence the strong points of one breed can compensate for weaknesses in another. Heterosis is defined as the percent superiority expressed by crossbred progeny over the average of their straightbred parents. The author confuses the two.

On breed complementarity I will use his own extreme example from 30 years ago: a very large, hard doing Simmental mated to a short “roly-poly” Angus. In this case, you would get excellent breed complementarity with a resulting progeny right for the market. He rightfully points out that breeds look much more alike than they once did. However, this reduces breed complementarity not Heterosis.

Heterosis is just as valid now with today’s breeds as it was 30 years ago. Kress and Nelsen reported calving rate can be increased 6%, calf survival to weaning 4%, weaning rate 8%, weaning weight 11%, milk production 9%, and yearling weight 4%. These are real life numbers in which a crossbreed bred to a third breed increases lifetime production 20 to 25%. And this does not add in the breed complementarity that still exists (although to a lesser degree) in crossbreeding.

Is Heterosis just a theory? No it is a fact, and a grossly underutilized one.

7 Steps to Gentler Cattle

7 Steps to Gentler Cattle

Calm cattle aren’t just easier to handle. They perform better too, posting higher gains and better grades.

Progressive Farmer

John Stuedemann will not tolerate unruly cattle. He would not put up with wild cattle when he was working as an animal scientist, and he certainly won’t tolerate bad behavior in his own cow herd.

Stuedemann and his wife, Trish, have 100 cows on their Cold Spring Angus Farm at Comer, Ga. For many years, John worked with the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Center at Watkinsville, Ga.

“We found the fastest way to work cattle is to do it slowly,” he says. “We eliminated shouting, whistling or lunging at animals. We didn’t use hot shots or nose tongs or anything that inflicts pain.”

No one was all that surprised that the animals were easier to work after they had been conditioned using these calming techniques. The big surprise was the feedlot results that showed steers and heifers from the center outgained other animals. Of 804 animals fed over a five-year period, 774 graded choice or better, and 381 earned the Certified Angus Beef label.

These results only affirmed what John and Trish were doing on their own registered operation. The techniques they rely on to calm cattle can be summarized in these seven simple steps:


Annual Leadership Conference gives cattle producers industry insight

Annual Leadership Conference gives cattle producers industry insight

Mason Valley News

DENVER (June 28, 2007) — Lucy Rechel of Yerington was one of 47 young cattle producers recently participating in the 28th annual Young Cattlemen’s Conference tour, a comprehensive, nationwide tour of various industry sectors designed to enhance leadership skills in young cattle producers that is sponsored by the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), NCBA state and breed affiliates, Tyson Fresh Meats, Five Rivers Cattle Feeding and John Deere.

Rechel was selected by the Nevada Cattlemen’s Association.


Rancher describes how he began raising ‘beef without guilt’

Rancher describes how he began raising ‘beef without guilt’


Montana Cattlemen’s Association

Prairie Star

 “We like Highlanders – they taste better.” That license plate frame, from the AHCA Carcass Contest in Washington, sums it up nicely. Quality Highland Beef is just that – quality beef. This realization caused us to rethink what we do in the cow business. Traditionally, that is to raise cattle. In reality, we produce beef.

The ACHA Carcass Contest and QHB program helped us focus on and refine what we do. After exhibiting at fairs and Scottish Heritage festivals, and talking to hundreds of people about Highland cattle and beef production, we found good news and bad news.

The bad news – a majority of people do not want to know where their food comes from. The do not want to be burdened by guilt, having to make choices or pay extra for a better product. The good news – a growing number of enlightened consumers are interested in finding beef raised in an environmentally sound way that tastes good and is good for you.


Middle Eastern group bids on closed Tama meatpacking plant

Middle Eastern group bids on closed Tama meatpacking plant

Muscatine Journal

TAMA, Iowa – An investors group from the Middle Eastern country of Qatar is negotiating to buy the closed Iowa Quality Beef Supply Cooperative meatpacking plant in Tama, officials said.

Keith DeHaan, the CEO of the cooperative, said he’s cautiously optimistic a deal will be reached.

“We don’t want to get people’s hopes up. Hopefully we can call soon with a done deal, but we don’t yet,” DeHaan said.

The group made an initial offer about two months ago and both sides have been exchanging counter offers, DeHaan said.

The investors group wants the plant because it is already equipped to process cattle according to Islamic law.


Storing Large Round Bales

Storing Large Round Bales

Dr. Glenn Selk, Extension Cattle Specialist, Oklahoma State University

University of Tennessee animal scientists conducting a trial to compare different methods of storing large round bales of grass hay. The hay was cut and baled in June in Moore County, Tennessee. The bales were weighed at the time of harvest and storage. Then they were weighed again the following January at the time of winter feeding. The following table lists the type of storage and the resulting percentage hay loss.


Nevil Speer, MMP: That Doesn’t Make Any Sense

Nevil Speer, MMP: That Doesn’t Make Any Sense


Summer is here!  The fed market’s decline since mid-May leaves no doubt the beef complex is now in the midst of seasonal fundamentals associated with heat and sunshine.   Recall the market saw a near-term peak of $98 in mid-May.   However, since then fed cattle value declined weekly through the end of June:  the market receded $15/cwt over the course of just six weeks.    And the first half of the year ended on a sour note with light sales – northern trade established itself at $83-4 while southern feedyards refused to deal at that level and held out for steady money.   The second-half of the year opened on a brighter note with negotiations ending at $87-90 (mostly $90) with solid volume in both regions.  


Researcher: Feeding Distiller’s Grains Vital to Future Livestock Operation Success

Researcher: Feeding Distiller’s Grains Vital to Future Livestock Operation Success

Writer: Kay Ledbetter, Texas A&M University

Contact: Dr. Jim MacDonald, 806-677-5600,jcmacdonald@ag.tamu.edu

AMARILLO – There’s no reason the cattle-feeding industry in Texas cannot remain strong and viable if it incorporates distiller’s grains into rations, said a Texas Agricultural Experiment Station researcher.

“Our concern has been ‘Will there be enough feed?’,” said Dr. Jim MacDonald, Experiment Station beef cattle nutritionist. “Assuming all the distiller’s grains are available for livestock feed, clearly there will be.”

But, MacDonald said, the ratio of corn being fed vs. distiller’s grains could go from 11-to-1 today to 3-to-1 nationally in the next 10 years.  


Cattle Update: Second Anthrax Case Warrants Vigilance

Cattle Update: Second Anthrax Case Warrants Vigilance


A second case of anthrax in the Red River Valley drainage system this year means North Dakota livestock producers need to be vigilant, North Dakota State University Extension Service veterinarian Charlie Stoltenow warns.

South Dakota reported the first 2007 case in late April and Minnesota reported the second in early July. Neither of these animals was vaccinated.

Cases of anthrax develop in the region almost every year, but the occurrence is very unpredictable and highly dependant on environmental conditions.


Farmers continue to battle drought

Farmers continue to battle drought

The Tennessean

For the second straight week, a few rain showers brought short-term relief to farmers, but agriculture department officials say a good soaking rain is needed.

Here are updates from county agents across the state:

Tim Campbell, Dyer County (northwest Tennessee)

“All of Dyer County received rainfall this past Friday and Saturday in amounts of 1.5 to 2 inches in most areas. This has given crops new life and some temporary relief from drought. (It) should help stabilize or perhaps increase corn yields to some degree. Cotton growth has jumped tremendously with rainfall received. Soybeans progressing better since rain. However, we continue to need more rainfall into July and August.”


Missouri cattle and other tax incentives go down with veto

Missouri cattle and other tax incentives go down with veto

by Julie Harker

Brownfield Network

A tax incentive designed to grow the cattle industry in Missouri was vetoed by Governor Matt Blunt late last week. It was part of a larger economic development policy bill which the governor says was bloated and would have cost the state too much money for some causes that he deemed questionable.

The sponsor of the beef tax incentive, Representative Charlie Schlottach of Owensville, says he agrees that the bill was overloaded but that this tax break is unique, “It has to show benefit to the state of Missouri before the state of Missouri would pay out any of the tax credits. This is back-loaded, so to speak.”


Proper regulation of livestock markets is crucial

Proper regulation of livestock markets is crucial

The Tribune (CO)

Many U.S. cattle producers believe the core problem facing their industry today is that the overall framework, which defines how our cattle industry operates, is no longer adequate to ensure a balanced and properly functioning competitive marketplace.

A competition title in the 2007 Farm Bill could correct this.

The present framework — comprised of the statutes, regulations and policies that govern contracts, market competition and trade –has evolved under great influence by the multinational meatpackers, without sufficient counterbalance from producers. As a result, the balance of power tilts in favor of the packers, resulting in a pricing advantage for them, and an erosion of competition for the 800,000 cattle producers who depend on open markets for their income. We are being harmed by this imbalance.

National Cattlemen’s Beef Association — which represents packers, feeders tied to packers and producers — says U.S. markets are fine the way they are. However, R-CALF USA — which exclusively represents producers – is working to correct these anti-competitive practices.


Montana’s Cattle Faces Tough Deadline

Montana’s Cattle Faces Tough Deadline



HELENA, Mont. – The future of Montana’s cattle industry could depend on negotiations between the federal government and a ranching couple.

Ranchers and livestock groups from the state and around the country are anxiously watching negotiations between Jim and Sandy Morgan and federal officials over the couple’s quarantined cattle herd.

Seven cows from their south-central ranch tested positive for the cattle disease brucellosis in May, and Montana could lose its coveted brucellosis-free status if the Morgans’ herd isn’t slaughtered within 60 days of that discovery , or by July 17.


KLA: Study Assesses Ethanol By-Product Feed Use

KLA: Study Assesses Ethanol By-Product Feed Use


A new study conducted by USDA’s National Ag Statistics Service (NASS) showed less than half of the cattle and hog operations in a 12-state region, including Kansas, fed ethanol by-products last year. Thirty-eight percent of feedyards used corn gluten in the ration, while 46% of other cattle operations did the same. The survey found 19% of feedyards and 25% of other cattle operations fed distillers’ dried grains without solubles (DDG). Results showed 65% of cattle feeders prefer DDG in wet form, while 48% of other cattle operations favor pellets and cubes.

Among dairy operations, 38% reported feeding ethanol by-products in 2006, with another 22% considering doing so. Twelve percent of hog operations responding to the survey fed ethanol by-products last year.

Most beef cattle, dairy and hog producers reported purchasing by-products through feed companies and cooperatives, while a majority of cattle feeders purchase supplies directly from ethanol processing plants. Livestock producers not currently using ethanol by-products indicated availability is the primary impediment. Infrastructure and handling issues also were identified as barriers.


Roaming horses still concern neighbors

Roaming horses still concern neighbors

Michael Ferraresi

The Arizona Republic

Once every month or two, residents of the Desert Summit community near Jomax Road and 115th Street see horses crossing the street or ducking into the chaparral.

The animals maintained by longtime northeast Valley rancher George Williams sometimes slip past broken fence posts to wander away from his Pinnacle Peak Ranch.

Some neighbors in Rio Verde Foothills and north Scottsdale know Williams’ livestock roam the area and call him so he can round up the loose horses or cattle.

Other people are concerned the animals they see near their properties look malnourished. Some neighbors reported a dehydrated mare, which had to be put to sleep.