Daily Archives: September 10, 2007

Weaning for Profit

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?

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

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

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

Drought Forces Producers to Make Tough Decisions

by: Stephen B. Blezinger, Ph.D, PAS

Cattle Today

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

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

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.


Hard Times for farmers

Hard Times for farmers


Jackson Sun

HUNTINGDON – This summer’s drought has dried up farmers’ pastures and poured business into West Tennessee stockyards.

“Usually this time of year, we’re not running that many cows, but with the grass gone, people are selling cows,” said Raymond Avramovic, who helps run the Paris Livestock Sales stockyard. “We’ve seen more cows come to market in the last 30 days.”

Avramovic bought cattle Tuesday at the Southwestern Sales stockyard in Huntingdon, where there were 600 head of cattle for sale.

“This time of year, we ship four to five loads of killing cows,” he said. “We’ve been shipping anywhere from 10 to 20.”

As of 4 p.m. Saturday, Jackson had received a little more than 19 inches of rain for the year, about half the normal amount, according to the National Weather Service office in Memphis. The drought has hurt crop farmers, lowered lake levels and hurt water supplies in some communities. For cattle farmers, the drought has dried up pasture grass, their normal source of feed. It has forced them to buy feed and to sell cattle to stay in business.

Longer lines at the auction sales have meant longer hours for stockyard workers. Montral Hall, 21, of Lexington works at the Southwestern stockyard. He has been working 18 hours a day.

“It wouldn’t be nothing to it if I wanted to be a farmer,” said Hall, who hasn’t been discouraged by the drought. ”I got a couple of cousins who have cattle.”

Hall said he has done farming work “on and off all my life. I love working with animals.”

Avramovic has seen sales run until midnight.


Frustrated deer hunters turn bows on cattle

Frustrated deer hunters turn bows on cattle

By Nathan C. Gonzalez

The Salt Lake Tribune

Frustrated that their August deer hunt was a failure, a pair of Orem teens turned to shooting at least nine cows with arrows, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources said.

   An anonymous tip led authorities to the two juveniles, who admitted to shooting the cows over a two-week period, according to DWR Conservation Officer Paul Davis.

   “The two teens were frustrated that they hadn’t harvested any deer during the archery deer hunt and shot several cows during the first weekend of the archery deer hunt in the Clyde Creek area near Strawberry Reservoir,” Davis said in a statement.

   The juveniles admitted to authorities that they shot more cows about a week later. They later confessed to shooting at least nine total cows with arrows.


Who’ll bring the hay for WNC’s cattle?

Who’ll bring the hay for WNC’s cattle?

by John Boyle

Asheville Citizen TImes

Plenty of soybean hay and corn stalks are available down east for mountain cattle farmers, but getting it here is the problem.

With that in mind, the N.C. Department of Agriculture is encouraging truckers who may be heading back to the mountains from eastern North Carolina without a load to contact its Hay Hotline.

The idea is that truckers could bring a load of hay to mountain cattle farmers who are in dire straits for this winter, putting money in the drivers’ pockets and hay in cows’ bellies.

With fall and winter looming, the statewide hay shortage has cattle farmers looking to unload animals instead of spending a fortune to feed them. A lingering drought has resulted in a statewide hay shortfall of 800,000 rolls.


Local Beef At The Crossroads

Local Beef At The Crossroads


Hartford Courant

I have two 15-year-old farm hats in my possession. Faded and sweat-stained, they still bear the John Deere tractor insignia and the name of the dealership in Bantam where I once bought a tractor. Now, all that remains of that dealership are those two hats. As Connecticut’s farm economy began to shrink, the John Deere dealer was forced to close, perhaps taking the honorable position that it wouldn’t cater to the sit-down lawn mower crowd that was now cutting grass on land that once grew crops.

In a place where the agricultural infrastructure was already contracting – fewer large animal veterinarians, fewer tree pruning companies, fewer feed stores – the loss of a farm equipment suppliers was one more blow to Connecticut’s fragile farm network. And if some imaginative solutions aren’t found soon, another key piece of farm infrastructure – the region’s livestock slaughter and meat processing facilities – may go down the same road as its former tractor dealers.


U.S. cattle industry rep raises concerns about China beef imports

U.S. cattle industry rep raises concerns about China beef imports

Wes Nelson

Capital Press

China could become a major exporter of beef despite concerns over health and safety and government practices that restrict imports to China, a U.S. cattle industry spokesman told the federal International Trade Commission Thursday.

Eric Nelson, representing the Ranchers-Cattlemen Action Legal Fund/United Stock Growers of America, testified on how Chinese government practices and policies could affect U.S. agriculture, particularly beef and cattle. Nelson is chairman of R-CALF/USA’s trade committee.

With reports of China using lead-based paint on toys and including deadly contaminants in pet food as a backdrop to the hearing, Nelson said China doesn’t currently export much beef to the U.S., but its policies are, in effect, preparing China to become a major exporter, particularly since China is working to discourage the importation of beef to its consumers.


The Corn Supremacy

The Corn Supremacy


Chicago Tribune

For the aging farmer on the hillside, the motions of planting are rote, timeless, almost mechanical, yet as human as the need to lay down roots, to experiment, to multiply. His thick hands never stop moving, even as he segues from grumbling about the government to chuckling at his own saucy jokes to fumbling through the names of his 22 children. Perched on the steep slope of his field, Jesus Garcia grips the sweat-shined shaft of his planting pole, called a barreton, and drives its rusty iron-tipped blade into the dirt. Then he levers the pole away from him, opening a divot in the earth. With two quick sweeps of his hand, he skims two kernels of corn from the tin can tied to his waist and aims them downward in an arc off the back of the blade. From there, they slide neatly and perfectly into the hole.


Following nature’s lead

Following nature’s lead

Rockin’ J Ranch finds niche in health-conscious food market with grass-fed beef

By Dan Olsen

Craig Daily Press

Craig — When the Rockin’ J Ranch was being restructured four years ago, new owners and partner/managers Keith and Wendi Lankister wanted to head in a slightly different direction with their beef.

“It’s a commercial cow herd with an emphasis on grass genetics,” Keith said. “There’s a growing market for healthier beef as people become more knowledgeable and health conscious.”

According to the new owners, hormones and supplements that speed up growth are nowhere to be found on the Rockin’ J Ranch, located in the Little Snake River Valley.


The Search for the Perfect Steak

The Search for the Perfect Steak

Aging your own beef. ‘Secret’ spices — from the supermarket. Our reporter’s quest for a steakhouse-quality meal at home.


Wall Street Journal

I’m standing in the kitchen of Brooklyn, N.Y.’s Peter Luger Steak House, inches from a wall of broilers, fearing that I, like the Flintstone-size porterhouses sizzling behind me, might be developing a heavy char. Waiters rush to pick up hissing plates of beef, while cooks spear steaks onto huge, pointy forks and, in a flash, dissect them into chunks.

After five years of attempting to perfect a method for cooking steak at home, I’ve come to one of the most renowned steakhouses in the country to learn how to make meat like a pro. The mission is personal: For all the hundreds of steaks I’ve set under my broiler throughout the years, I’ve never yet managed to duplicate that most irresistible of meals, the steakhouse steak.


Tyson Foods cutting beef production due to margins

Tyson Foods cutting beef production due to margins

The largest U.S. meat company and top beef producer, said on Friday it will reduce beef production on Saturday and Monday to manage its operating margins.

U.S. beef companies have been struggling lately because an abundance of beef has prevented beef prices raising enough to offset what they are paying for cattle, industry sources said.

Tyson said beef production on Saturday would be reduced and it will not operate three of its eight U.S. beef plants on Monday.

“The margins are a disaster,” Bob Wilson, analyst with the consulting firm HedgersEdge.com, said of the beef industry. “The whisper in the trade is that at least one other company may slow production.”


Nebraska explores new beef opportunities

Nebraska explores new beef opportunities

NBC News 5

The governor’s successful trip to Asia comes as good news to many in the state’s beef industry, especially right here in Central Nebraska.  Both cattlemen and businessmen are pleased to see the Governor continue to promote Nebraska beef.

They hope Friday’s success in Hong Kong is a sign of more to come.  It is the baby steps that push this Nebraska export into other untapped markets bringing home more dollars for the cattle business and the community as a whole.

Dick Hartman of “Hartman Angus” has worked the cattle business more than 30 years.