Daily Archives: December 13, 2007

Benchmarking EPDs

Benchmarking EPDs

Scott P. Greiner, Extension Animal Scientist, Beef, VA Tech

EPDs have proven to be the most effective tools for genetic improvement of beef cattle. Since the majority of the genetic progress within a herd is a direct result of sire selection, EPDs should be given careful attention when choosing bulls. With the vast number of EPDs that are available for use, selection goals must be carefully established to determine which EPDs are of primary importance. Additionally, EPDs should be combined with other selection criteria, such as structural and reproductive soundness (for which EPDs are not available), to determine which sires are most suitable.


Toxic Contaminants in Harvested Forages

Toxic Contaminants in Harvested Forages

Clell V. Bagley, DVM, Extension Veterinarian, Utah State University

Harvested forages are vitally important and commonly used for beef production. But contamination can occur which results in reduced forage quality and palatability or may even result in animal illness and death. Outlined below are some of the common problems that should be considered.


Forage quality is affected primarily by moisture damage, maturity at harvest, and contamination with other plants. The effect is reduced protein, energy and vitamin content. Under some conditions, toxins or poisons may also be produced.

1. Mold

Moldy forage is caused by growth of microscopic fungal organisms. Excessive moisture is always involved. The feed quality is reduced because fungal growth uses up the forage nutrients for its own growth requirements. The actual toxins produced vary depending on the moisture, temperature, forage involved, and nutrients present.


Packer Ownership: Let’s make a deal

Packer Ownership:  Let’s make a deal

By Holly Martin

High Plains Journal

The packer ownership provision is rearing its ugly head again in the Senate version of the farm bill.

There’s been a lot of talk about restricting the way cattlemen can market their cattle, but I’ve heard very little about controlling when a business may make purchases. No, the provision does not control how and when cattlemen may make purchases, but if Congress decides that it can control a packer’s checkbook, why not yours and mine?

So for the sake of illustration, why don’t we make a deal? If the packers should be restricted on how and when they can buy their inputs, so should it be for the cattleman. Think about how it might be should Congress decide to control a cattleman’s purchases. What if they said we could not buy inputs prior to 14 days before they are used, to protect the free market?


Limiting Hay Intake By Cows

Limiting Hay Intake By Cows


Several articles that the VT Extension Beef Team has written over the last few months indicated that one way to stretch hay supplies was to feed grain/by-products and limit feed hay.  Since those articles appeared, many folks asked for methods to decrease or limit hay intake.

How much is enough?

Long stem hay is important for healthy rumen function.  There must be sufficient “scratch factor” to stimulate rumen motility and salivation.  Rumen motility is important for proper mixing of feed with rumen microbes to enhance digestion.  Salivation is critical to maintaining the rumen at the correct pH.  A minimum of 5 lbs of hay per cow per day is needed to maintain rumen function.


Research shows feedlot deaths on the rise

Research shows feedlot deaths on the rise

Jeff DeYoung,

Farm & Ranch Guide

With advances in feedlot management and improved health care, Rodney Jones says it’s only logical to believe feedlot death loss has decreased.

However, recent research may indicate otherwise.

 “What we saw with the cattle we looked at in the Southern Plains feedlots was a slight but significant trend toward increased death loss,” says Jones, an Extension ag economist at Kansas State University.

The research, led by graduate student Abe Babcock, looked at Kansas feedlots from 1992 to 2004.

Jones says the study was designed to determine if there was any death loss trend, if any increase was gender-based and to evaluate if lighter weights had any effect on the death loss.


Beef cattle need minerals

Beef cattle need minerals

Mark Keaton

Baxter Bulletin

Minerals play a vital role in the health and productivity of beef cattle herds.

A mineral deficiency can reduce both the consumption and digestibility of feed.

Two symptoms of mineral deficiency often seen in beef cow herds are reduced milk production, which results in slower calf gains, and the failure of cows to breed regularly, which lowers the calf crop percentage.

Fewer and lighter weight calves mean reduced beef production. Feeding growing cattle a diet low in minerals reduces both the rate and efficiency of animal gains.

Minerals are classified in two groups: macrominerals and microminerals. Macro-nutrients are those needed in large amounts, including calcium, phosphorus, sodium, chlorine, magnesium, potassium and sulfur.


Summit of cattlemen held to discuss Foot and Mouth Disease

Summit of cattlemen held to discuss Foot and Mouth Disease

Montana’s News Station

Leaders in the cattle industry from all across the region met in Billings for a summit looking at Foot and Mouth Disease.

The disease has popped up in Great Britain recently but hasn’t been seen in the US since 1929. Nevertheless, the Montana Beef Council says it’s a disease that could grow from a local problem to a national crisis in a matter of hours.

“Actually, I think there is a level of comfort with producers that yes we are prepared in the event that we would ever have a foot and mouth disease outbreak,” said Charlene Rich of the Montana Beef Council.


Cutting the Wrong Corners Can be Costly

Cutting the Wrong Corners Can be Costly

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

Cattle Toady

Part 1

In the last issue, we discussed the unfortunate circumstance that many of the cattle producers inputs have and continue to increase in cost. Some of these increases have been amazingly high. With our nation’s fuel and feed markets now so closely tied, a movement in one can and does have an effect on a movement of the other.

With costs of transportation, feed and fertilizer increasing as they have, many producers are compelled to do everything they can to keep these costs down as much as possible in order to maintain their profits. While it is always important to keep input costs down in some situations, a producer will do this to his own detriment, i.e. cutting costs to the point that he goes beyond simply attempting to maintaining profits and actually reduces his performance to a level that actually hurts any profits that he might realize by making sure he was using a “best cost” and not a “least cost.” In many cases a best cost may be, and probably is, higher than a least cost. In many cases the reason that a given input is the lowest in price is because some key factor has been compromised. That is why it is so important to understand how to calculate the value of a given input as it affects your operation.


Learn About Feeding, Storing Ethanol Byproducts

Learn About Feeding, Storing Ethanol Byproducts   

Nebraska Farmer

The 2008 Nebraska stop on the annual 4-State Beef Conference will be in Tecumseh Jan. 9, beginning at 10 a.m.

Topics for the 2007 conference include nutrient quality, feeding and storage of distillers’ grains; and pasture renovation and interseeding. Tim Stuphin, a producer from Dublin, Va., will present tools that he thinks affects profitability.

In Tecumseh, the session will be held at the Community Building.


Death in the Afternoon

Death in the Afternoon

Killing a bull may be a necessity, but should not be a form of cheap entertainment


Harvard Crimson

Editor’s note: Stories of this ilk are included in the blog to inform those in our industry how agriculture is being presented to and perceived by the public.

In Madrid, it was with full enthusiasm that I bought tickets to a bullfight. After all, I came abroad to learn about Spanish culture, and what’s more Spanish than a bullfight? I’d read enough Hemingway to find the stone ring and the matadors’ colorful costumes—in short, the whole experience—dazzling and awe-inspiring. (Sentences such as, “Bullfighting is the only art in which the artist is in danger of death and in which the degree of brilliance in the performance is left to the fighter’s honor” can’t but make one want to participate in, or at least observe, said sport.) I was ready for death in the afternoon.

Yes, I knew that the bull dies. However, I told myself, being born a bull in today’s world is bad news regardless. In the United States, many bulls are raised as beef cattle. Such bulls are usually born on cow-calf operations. At six to 10 months, they are weaned, and after about a year they’re sold to a cattle feeder or stoker/backgrounder who then prepares them for the feedlot (gives them grain, etc.). At a feedlot, the bulls live in pens and receive hormones and more grain. Once a bull is 18 to 22 months old, it is taken to a slaughterhouse and killed. (USDA beef is graded according to two criteria, one of which is age of the cattle. According to the website “The BBQ Report,” “Beef is best in flavor and texture when cattle is between 18 and 24 months old,” which accounts for why most cattle are slaughtered at this age.) Most slaughters are two-step. First, the bull receives a bolt of electricity or a metal rod to the forehead, which stuns it into unconsciousness. Next, its throat is cut, at which point it dies of exsanguination. It’s not exactly a pretty process, but if—like me—you really like hamburgers, the reality of the process is just something that you have to swallow.


Colorado State University welcomes more than 700 cattle ranchers

Colorado State University welcomes more than 700 cattle ranchers

Colorado State University

FORT COLLINS – Colorado State University welcomes more than 700 cattle ranchers and others associated with the cattle industry to the 20th Range Beef Cow Symposium December 11-13 at the Larimer County fairgrounds in Loveland.

Topics will include industry issues, beef consumer products and marketing, cow-calf nutrition, management practices, reproductive management, animal health, cattle selection and genetics, range and forage management, and markets and marketing.

The biennial symposium, known as an excellent educational program, has offered practical production management information since the first symposium in Chadron, Neb., in 1969.

The 20th Range Beef Cow Symposium is sponsored by Colorado State University’s Department of Animal Science, South Dakota State University’s Department of Animal Science, Colorado State University Extension, South Dakota State University Cooperative Extension, the University of Wyoming and the University of Nebraska.


Cattle Feeding: Cows Face Mounting Nutritional Challenges

Cattle Feeding: Cows Face Mounting Nutritional Challenges


Cattlemen are looking at a much different scenario than they were presented with at this same time last year. And if they haven’t re-evaluated their feeding program in light of current conditions, it may be worth their while to do so.

The extremely hot and dry conditions found through much of the country last summer and early fall meant limited pasture forage for beef cows. As a result, many herds came off of grass a bit thin. Since then, these same cattle have been subjected to severe winter weather conditions – in many cases before they were even able to develop winter haircoats. Both of these environmental extremes have also impacted feed supplies; the drought obviously limited the amount of hay produced, and in some areas early snow cover cut off grazing of winter wheat and stalks. Hay supplies may be especially tight for producers who began feeding supplemental forage when summer pastures dried up.


Does Feeding Distillers Grains to Cattle Affect Carcass Quality?

Does Feeding Distillers Grains to Cattle Affect Carcass Quality?

Alfredo DiCostanzo, Ph.D.

University of Minnesota, St. Paul


In response to increasing concerns about effects of feeding distillers grains to beef cattle, a meta-analysis was conducted to determine to what extent distillers grains may affect beef carcass quality. The dataset was derived from experiments conducted in the US since 1992, and involved 21 studies conducted with a variety of ethanol processing co-products with over 100 treatment means reported in refereed journals and university research reports. Each study was characterized based on the type and concentration of co-product, grain and forage, and identification of each type as well as nutritional content of diets.


Cattle workshops slated across Iowa

Cattle workshops slated across Iowa

Quad City Times

Iowa State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics and Iowa Beef Center have teamed up with Kansas State University’s Department of Agricultural Economics to present “Iowa Cattle Risk Management Workshops.” Also sponsored by the Iowa Cattle-men’s Association, Iowa Farm Bureau and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Risk Management Agency, workshops are scheduled across Iowa for cattle producers, agricultural lenders and other cattle industry stakeholders.

The “cow herd” workshop focuses on management and marketing decisions pertaining to calves and stockers. The “feedlot” workshop will allow participants to make management and marketing decisions pertaining to stockers and finished steers.