Weaning for Profit
John B. Hall, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, Virginia Tech
Vaccinating calves prior to weaning and selling them in truckload lots in programs such as the Virginia Quality Assured Certified Feeder Calf program has resulted in increased value of $25-$35 per head. Producers that have been willing to vaccinate calves properly have been rewarded. However, in the past two years, the demand and premiums for calves that are also weaned and vaccinated has greatly increased. In most programs, calves need to be weaned 45 days.
In Virginia, the most common reason for not weaning calves is “I don’t have a place to wean ’em”. With most of Virginia cow-calf operations on large boundaries with limited facilities, this comment is certainly true. In addition, chasing cows or calves that have broken out of a pasture looking for each other is not an enjoyable pastime. Recently, research and demonstrations have focused on low-stress weaning that keeps cows and calves in the same proximity. This reduces stress on the calves as well as stress on the owner.
Fence-Line Weaning: What’s All the Hype?
by Evan Whitley
The Noble Foundation
Over the last couple of weeks, I can’t count how many times I have been asked the questions “Does fence-line weaning really work, and is it really something that is practical to implement?” My response has been the old standby consultants’ answer “It depends.” Research suggests that there is a benefit to fence-line weaning, but the magnitude is dependent upon the study and therefore the feasibility of implementation is also variable. When I have asked long-time cattle producers their thoughts on this subject, most of them are in favor of fence-line weaning “if you are set up to do it.” What constitutes being “set-up to do it” has ranged from having facilities that are primarily pipe to those that are primarily portable panels and poly wire, indicating that being able to implement this type of weaning management is directly related to the temperament of your cattle (which can be directly related to how they are handled) and whether “athleticism” has been used as a selection trait in the past.
The infected seedheads contain three primary toxins, paspalinine, and paspalitrem A and B, which are tremorgenic alkaloids. The affected animals show neurological symptoms, including trembling of the major muscles and the head, jerky uncoordinated movements, and they also are spooky and sometimes aggressive. The animals will startle and run, and often will fall in unusual positions. In bad cases the animals will go down, and may stay down for several days. Convulsions and death can occur in extreme cases. The symptoms are somewhat like grass tetany, and this is often misdiagnosed, but they don’t show the sudden death characteristic of grass tetany, and don’t immediately respond to treatment for grass tetany.
Dallisgrass Poisoning Can Occur in Late Summer
North Carolina State University
Dallisgrass poisoning (also known as Dallisgrass staggers) occurs several days after cattle ingest a significant amount of dallisgrass seedheads infected with an “ergot-like” fungus called Claviceps paspali. The seedheads typically are infected with the fungus in the fall, as the seedheads age. Rather than flat looking seeds on the heads, the infected heads have gray to black swellings that have a sticky sap material on them. Some observers say it looks like little popcorn (see photos of normal and infected seedheads). Usually not all the herd is affected, and it appears that it occurs when some animals develop a preference for the tips of the seedhead.
Pounds Trump Quality Every Time
No chinks in the armor! Packers simply can’t catch a break given the leverage which cattle feeders currently hold in weekly market negotiations. August proved to be another lucrative month for sellers. Fed trade chopped along within a $90-to-$92 trading range during late-July and the first half of August. However, late-month action forced packers to give in to higher prices. Sales popped during the fourth week of the month as negotiations tacked on $3 in the south to finish at $93-$93.50 and $92-3 in the north. The spot market then jumped $1-2 ahead of Labor Day with sales occurring mostly $94-5 in both regions. Packers were able to fend off $97-8 asking prices as September opened for business; they held the market steady at $94-5 -uncertainty in the financial market coupled with weakness in the wholesale beef market squelched further advances for the time being.
The fed market’s decline from its spring high was $11-12 over the course of just 7 weeks. During that May-to-June transition Choice cutout values drifted in excess of $20 lower. Conversely, the fed market’s achievement of $95 marks a $10 advance since seasonal lows were established in late-June (from $83-4 in the north and $85-6 in the south with USDA’s overall average being $85.75). However, much to packer dismay the recent climb back to the mid-$90’s has been accompanied by meager gains in the wholesale market (the Choice cutout has added only $9-10) while drop credit has declined almost forty cents.
Drought Forces Producers to Make Tough Decisions
by: Stephen B. Blezinger, Ph.D, PAS
No doubt, many producers across the U.S. are painfully aware of the drought conditions affecting their part of the country. In fact, if you look at a map provided by the government (http://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/regional_monitoring/palmer.gif), it is obvious that more of the country is affected by the dry weather than is not. As such, once again, producers must decide how they are going to deal with drought conditions that leave forages and crops in short supply. When forage quality and/or quantity is affected by drought, livestock producers are faced with decisions about not only supplemental feeding but in many cases feeding in general – even the basics. In years such as the last couple in many areas producers had to purchase everything, hay or other forages, supplements, feeds. They had very little supply of what they normally fed that was grown on the farm. In drought situations, however such as these they must first determine whether they can afford to feed and or supplement, and if so, then decide what to supplement and how to manage feeding.
Prions And Retroviruses – An Unholy Alliance? – Expression Of Endogenous Retroviruses Is Changed After Prion Infection
Medical News Today
In work originating from the Bavarian Research Cooperation Prions (FORPRION), which ended in 2007, a team led by the scientist Prof. Dr. Christine Leib-Mösch has been able to show that prion proteins may activate endogenous retroviruses in infected brain cells.
In the Institute of Molecular Virology of the GSF – National Research Center for Environment and Health in Neuherberg/Munich, Germany (Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres), the group is continuing to search for cellular components whose make-up is changed as a result of a prion infection. In collaboration with colleagues from the Technical University of Munich and the University of Heidelberg, the group used micro-array technologies – micro-arrays are chips with thousands or tens of thousands of DNA or protein probes – and could demonstrate that the expression of endogenous retroviruses is influenced by infectious prion proteins in tests with mouse cells.
Preserving property: A tale of two ranches
By Scott Condon
September 8, 2007
Wendy McNulty and her family faced financial difficulties that threatened to force them to sell their ranch.
Mike and Kit Strang and their family faced no such financial burdens, but still felt compelled to settle the fate of their property.
Both families turned to Aspen Valley Land Trust to help conserve their Missouri Heights ranches despite their different needs.