Monthly Archives: September 2007

Savvy producers can survive hay shortage

Savvy producers can survive hay shortage

Delta Farm Press

Management plans that include alternative feeding strategies for livestock and horses will be the key to survival for producers facing severe hay shortages this year.

A dry spring followed by an early summer drought caused producers to miss several hay cuttings, said Jane Parish, beef specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service. Rain in some pastures after July 1 renewed producer interest in making a hay crop, but dry conditions swiftly returned later in the month in many areas of the state. Hay harvests and yields varied throughout Mississippi because of varying moisture conditions, she noted.


Should Producers Invest In Preconditioning Their Calf Crop?

Should Producers Invest In Preconditioning Their Calf Crop?

There are many questions producers should ask themselves if they are considering whether they should invest in a preconditioning program for their calf crop. Here are just a few points to consider.

1. Do your homework! – Identify a legitimate program that fits your operation.

Cow/calf producers interested in investing in a preconditioning program must thoroughly research all preconditioning programs and identify the one that best fits with their operation.  As an example, readers may check out that a graduate student under my direction compiled back in 2004. I am referencing this dated list only to point out the tremendous number of programs that are in existence today. Please follow through each potential program you may be interested in with a visit to their specific website and contact their marketing person in charge! Ask the hard questions; what is the success rate of their program and the number of outlets (and buyers) where calves are offered for sale. For example, is there a market outlet in the vicinity of your operation?


Acorn poisoning could be result of the drought

Acorn poisoning could be result of the drought

Fauquier Times Democrat

When forages become short, like we are experiencing now with the drought, livestock will search out additional food sources. In some areas of the county this fall, acorns have the potential to make up a large part of the diet. The problem is acorns are poisonous to cattle, sheep and hogs. It also appears that there is a minority of individuals in the herd or flock that can develop a taste for them.


Southeastern Drought Drives Search For Hay

Southeastern Drought Drives Search For Hay

Hay and Forage Grower

The drought in the Southeast has livestock producers on a desperate search to find hay. “Lots of people have been or are selling cows,” says Tom Keene, University of Kentucky hay marketing specialist. “Many of our Kentucky beef cattle producers are being forced to think outside of the box when it comes to feeding their livestock. Logistically, I don’t think we could bring enough hay into the state to cover the feed needs we have.” Kentucky’s growing season started with the lowest hay carryover in recent memory. Four weeks of abnormally warm weather brought good early season forage growth. But an Easter weekend freeze damaged taller-growing legumes and new seedings, resulting in spring hay production that on average was 50% of normal. Then rainfall was below normal for two and a half consecutive months. Some rain in late June and early July helped pastures a bit, but the state is still very short on feed, Keene says. The economic consequences for livestock and hay producers are still being tallied. The University of Kentucky offers some economic estimates and a variety of resources in an online Drought Information page at


How Many Open Cows Will You Feed This Winter?

How Many Open Cows Will You Feed This Winter?

With the end of the spring breeding season coming to a close, it’s time to start planning the next step for the cows in your herd pregnancy evaluation. Pregnancy evaluation in cattle is an important and valuable management tool. Checking the pregnancy status of your cow herd allows you to make timely culling decisions and focus your resources on the sound, reliable breeders in the herd.

I hope “preg checking” is an annual ritual for your herd. If you have not incorporated this management practice in the past, the dry conditions this year and the need to get rid of a few cows may force you to do so. When it comes time to cull cows from your herd, pregnancy status is one of the first criteria that will determine whether a cow stays in the country or goes to town.


AAM opposes increase in beef tax

AAM opposes increase in beef tax

Prairie Star

WASHINGTON, D.C. n Larry Matlack, American Agriculture Movement (AAM) president, expressed his organization’s opposition to a 100-percent increase, or any increase, in the beef check-off program until the program is amended to allow producers the right of refund.

“We are hearing a lot of chatter coming from inside the beltway from those making big bucks on the federally mandated $1-per head check-off program who want a 100-percent increase the beef assessment,” said Matlack. “This is a 100-percent tax increase on everyone that sells beef in the United States. It is a tax because it is mandated to be paid at every point of sale for every animal, beef and dairy, and there are no provisions to allow producers the right to refund.”


Smithfield promises statement on plant

Smithfield promises statement on plant

by Justin Juozapavicius

The Journal Record (OK)

TULSA – After nearly nine months of delays and excuses, Smithfield Beef on Wednesday promised to issue a statement within two weeks on its plans to build a $200 million processing plant in the Oklahoma Panhandle.

The pledge comes amid growing concern from lawmakers and residents, who say they’ve been left in the dark far too long on the company’s plans and now believe the plant will never come.


Forage Costs Hold Back U.S. Beef Herd

Forage Costs Hold Back U.S. Beef Herd

Hay and Forage Grower

Historically high calf prices and improved forage conditions in some key production areas sound like the right ingredients for an expanded U.S. cattle herd. But producers so far have resisted, says Kansas State University (KSU) economist James Mintert. He says rising costs of production for forages and other inputs are curbing producers’ interest in growing their herds.


Cattle Disease Spreading to Ky. Herds

Cattle Disease Spreading to Ky. Herds


Associated Press

An insect-borne virus that has taken a toll on deer has spread to some cattle herds, presenting another problem for producers already struggling with a shortage of feed supplies, authorities said.

Wade Northington, director of an animal diagnostic laboratory in western Kentucky, said Wednesday that epizootic hemorrhagic disease, or EHD, was detected by his lab in 20 to 30 cattle that died in recent weeks.

‘A lot of people are very, very concerned,’ said agricultural extension agent Rick Greenwell in Washington County, where the virus is blamed for infecting some herds and killing several cattle.


Beef industry improves with age

Beef industry improves with age

Companies are making strides in technology and processing


Chicago Sun Times

“Chicago was the epicenter of beef,” said Food Network star Guy Fieri, speaking at the Sept. 13 awards ceremony for the 27th National Beef Cook-off at the Renaissance Chicago hotel.

The biennial contest, held here for the first time in its history, provided beef experts a showcase for the upgrades in their product since the days when the South Side’s Union Stock Yards served as abattoir to the nation.

That teeming square mile, noted John L. Huston, executive vice-president emeritus of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, once employed the largest concentration of workers in the world, some 18,000 people.


Argentine ranchers fear changes in gaucho country

Argentine ranchers fear changes in gaucho country

By Helen Popper


LOBOS, Argentina (Reuters) – Every year, rancher Gaston Caset leaves a little less space for cattle on his farm in Argentina’s fertile pampas plains, planting more lucrative wheat and soybeans instead.

As Argentines prepare to elect a new president next month, farmers in the South American country’s ranching heartland fear more of the government policies they say risk changing the face of the legendary prairies forever.

“It makes me sad … We’re going to end up losing this,” Caset said, gesturing toward the endless green fields dotted with herds of cattle.


Iowa Farmers in Drought-Stressed Areas Should Test for Aflatoxin

Iowa Farmers in Drought-Stressed Areas Should Test for Aflatoxin

AMES, Iowa – Aflatoxins have been found in some corn in northwest Iowa, according to Iowa State University (ISU) Extension field specialists. Farmers in drought-stressed areas are urged to test their cornfields and feed for its presence.

Alfatoxins are a group of chemicals produced by certain mold fungi and can be fatal to livestock. They also are considered carcinogenic to animals and humans.

 “We have had a few positive tests for aflatoxin – not a lot yet, and hopefully it stays that way – but we have had a few test for aflatoxin,” said Joel DeJong, ISU Extension field agronomist .

DeJong said the production of aflatoxins is related to drought stress. Warm, dry periods are breeding grounds for the toxins. He hoped the rainfall in August would reduce that risk, but there have still been a few positive reports of the toxins.


U.S. Cattlemen Launch Campaign To Amend Beef Act

U.S. Cattlemen Launch Campaign To Amend Beef Act

At a meeting held in Lewistown, Mont. on Tuesday, Sept. 25, the United States Cattlemen’s Association (USCA) launched a nation wide initiative seeking changes to the mandatory beef checkoff program that will permit a portion of checkoff funds to promote domestic beef.

Leo McDonnell, USCA Director Emeritus, Columbus, Mont., was the featured speaker at the Lewistown meeting. McDonnell told participants that the time is right for U.S. producers to ask Congress for modifications to the Beef Act that will permit development of national and international marketing programs supporting domestic beef actually derived from cattle born, raised and processed in the U.S.



Vet’s Advice: The value of calf health

Vet’s Advice: The value of calf health

By Mike Apley, DVM, BEEF Magazine contributing editor

American Cowman

We’ve all misread a few trends in life, some of which evolved into forces that drastically changed lives and entire industries.

Thirty years ago, who would have thought that the roughest, most mismanaged, cedar-infested grassland in the Flint Hills of Kansas would bring as much or more at auction than well-managed parcels? A lot of this market pressure results from the spillover of disposable income from urbanites looking for recreational ground, combined with some pretty reasonable interest rates.


Poll Shows More Americans Checking COOL Labels

Poll Shows More Americans Checking COOL Labels

More Americans are checking product and food labels after the proliferation of scares associated with Chinese imports, according to a survey conducted by the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute.

Nearly 69 percent of the 1,000 Americans polled indicated they check labels for nation of origin, up from 53 percent a year ago, the institute said.

Furthermore, 86 percent agreed with a statement calling for suspension of Chinese imports until China meets U.S. product and food-safety standards.

Meantime, 87 percent indicated they have confidence in American-made and distributed products and food.

But fewer than half of Americans surveyed (47 percent) agreed that the United States is doing a good job ensuring imports meet set safety and quality standards.


Headed in the Right Direction

Headed in the Right Direction

Angus Journal

 Miranda Reiman

Mother Nature affects most everything tied to agriculture. Weather can ruin a hay crop, branding day or feedlot performance. It can also have a positive influence on everything from calf health to calf prices.

For James Washburn and his son Tony, a wet spring accelerated plans to increase the number of cows in their herd near King City, Mo.

Before Tony came back to the farm in 1992, the cattle operation took a back seat to hogs and crops. The team had already decided to phase out the pork enterprise when an unusually wet year in 1995 hastened its dispersal.


Residual Feed Intake (Net Feed Efficiency) in Beef Cattle

Residual Feed Intake (Net Feed Efficiency) in Beef Cattle

Ropin’ the Web

            Benefits | Residual feed intake | Research | Results | Value of residual feed intake | Selecting for residual feed intake

Improving the feed efficiency of a beef cattle herd can mean big savings for producers. One way to achieve this goal is to select breeding bulls that are naturally feed-efficient, since 80 to 90 per cent of the genetic improvement in a herd comes through the sires.


On average, it costs $50 less over 112 days to feed an efficient bull compared to an inefficient one. An efficient bull will pass on superior genetics for feed efficiency to his progeny, which will be realized as feed savings for calves in the feedlot and for replacement heifers entering the cowherd.

Feed is a major expense for cattle producers, second only to fixed costs. With 75 per cent of the total feed cost used for maintenance in breeding cows, improving feed efficiency can have a big economic effect.

A 5 per cent improvement in feed efficiency could have an economic effect four times greater than a 5 per cent improvement in average daily gain. Improving feed efficiency will have an effect on the unit costs of production and the value of breeding stock, embryos, semen and feeder animals.


New technology may mean diseases can’t hide

New technology may mean diseases can’t hide


The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Washington — Scientists have glimpsed a near future when infectious diseases will be diagnosed almost instantly, and possibly even anticipated before they exist.

New instruments can race through a sample of blood, sputum, tissue or other biological specimen and spell out the genetic code of virtually everything present, including new diseases.

The new technology is comparable to the invention of the microscope and will cause a fundamental change in the way disease is identified and diagnosed, some scientists believe.

“It’s a whole new world,” said Ian Lipkin, a Columbia University epidemiologist and pathologist. “If we’d had this, we could have anticipated HIV. We could have had a blood test ready. Think about the millions of people whose lives would have been saved.”

Lipkin was part of a team of government and university scientists who recently used the new technology — called metagenomics, or sometimes “shotgun genomics” — to link an unusual virus to the massive die-off of honeybees last winter.


Beef Checkoff Program is Key to Export Efforts

Beef Checkoff Program is Key to Export Efforts

Cattle Today

Centennial, Colo., Aug. 20, 2007 — Exports of U.S. beef continue to increase, thanks in part to promotions funded by U.S. beef producers through the Beef Checkoff Program. These efforts are coordinated on behalf of the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (CBB) and state beef councils by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

For the Beef Board’s fiscal year ending Sept. 30, more than $4.8 million in national checkoff funds is budgeted for foreign marketing. This national money was combined with checkoff funds from state beef councils and further supplemented with funds from the Market Access Program (MAP) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, leveraging the value of producer dollars to the greatest extent possible. In fact, a $6.3 million checkoff investment by beef producers in 2006 purchased $15.5 million in total international promotions, when USDA MAP funds and contributions by grain and soybean producers were included.


Acting U.S. farm chief asks Japan to raise age limit on beef imports

Acting U.S. farm chief asks Japan to raise age limit on beef imports

By Tom Wray

National Provisioner Online

WASHINGTON – Acting U.S. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner asked Japan on Monday to raise the age limit on American beef imports.

 “The international standards for beef trade into Japan would allow us to ship all our beef products of all ages into that country given our safety measures that we have in place in this country,” Conner said in a teleconference monitored by Japan Economic Newswire.

 It was the first news conference held by Conner since assuming the post after Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns’ resignation last Thursday, the news service reported.