Daily Archives: December 19, 2007

Video Feature: Protecting the environment

Video Feature: Protecting the environment

Trent Loos

The assumption has long been that grass-fed beef production is better for the environment than grain-fed production using growth-promoting hormones, but a scientific review suggests that, indeed, may not be the case at all.

Grazing Cornstalks

Grazing Cornstalks

by Ed Haag

Angus Journal

The cost of feeding cattle has taken a major turn upward, and grazing costs are no exception. Research conducted by the American Angus Association has confirmed that combined pasture, harvested forages and other feed costs have been increasing at the rate of $5 per beef cow per year since 2000, raising the estimated annual cost of feeding an animal from $209 seven years ago to $245 today.

In addition, a recent Kansas State University (K-State) survey revealed the cost of summer pasture (lease rates) had increased 16% during the past five years, reflecting a nationwide trend upward.


Restricting time of access to hay

Restricting time of access to hay


Given the high price of hay this year, there could be an economic benefit to restricting the amount of time cows have access to hay for feeding. University of Illinois researchers conducted two trials with Simmental cows in the last third of gestation to determine the effects of restricting access time to large round bales of hay on cow performance and hay disappearance. In one trial, researchers offered high-quality alfalfa hay either free choice or with access limited to three, six or nine hours per day.

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Programs reward producer for extra effort

Programs reward producer for extra effort

“To be effective, we need to have full loads,” Birk said.

By Doug Rich

Premium cattle deserve a premium price.

Glen Birk, a cow-calf producer from Jackson, Mo., participates in two programs that help him realize a premium price for his premium cattle.

Birk has been selling heifers through the Show-Me-Select Heifer Program since it first became available to producers in southeast Missouri.

“I guess we started preparing for it in 1997 and had our first sale in 1998,” Birk said.

Birk and his son, Dale, run about 150 cows on their farm: one-third are his Angus-cross commercial cows; one-third are registered Angus cows; and one-third are Dale’s commercial Charolais-cross cows. Out of the registered herd, they sell some seedstock and bulls.


Re-evaluate Traditional Postweaning Heifer Development

Re-evaluate Traditional Postweaning Heifer Development

Angus e-List

Traditional approaches to postweaning development of replacement heifers during the last several decades have primarily focused on feeding heifers to achieve or exceed a target weight to maximize pregnancy rates. But changes in cattle genetics, economics and research may suggest it’s time to re-evaluate those traditional approaches.

“Intensive heifer development systems may maximize pregnancy rates, but not necessarily optimize profit or sustainability,” Rick Funston of the University of Nebraska West Central Research and Extension Center at North Platte told attendees of the 2007 Range Beef Cow Symposium Wednesday, Dec. 12. The cooperative extension services and animal science departments of Colorado State University, South Dakota State University, the University of Wyoming and the University of Nebraska hosted the symposium Dec. 11-13 at the Larimer County Fairgrounds and Events Complex near Fort Collins.


Reducing feed costs is important for cattle producers

Reducing feed costs is important for cattle producers

Jennifer Bremer

High Plains Journal

In times of high feed costs finding ways to reduce those costs and be more efficient are important. Iowa State University Extension beef specialist Dan Loy provided producers with strategies for feeding cattle more economically during the winter.

Loy spoke to producers during a meeting, sponsored by the Iowa Beef Center, at the Madison County Extension office in Winterset on Dec. 3. He said a big factor in reducing feed costs is by keeping good records.

“By keeping track of feed consumption, you can determine if there are problems with your cattle,” he said.


Outspent and out-maneuvered

Outspent and out-maneuvered

By Greg Henderson


Remember the advertisements, “Is it live or is it Memorex?” That’s still the company’s catch phrase, though you don’t see those advertisements much anymore.

Today, whenever I hear about a celebrity campaigning for animal rights, or a teenager who claims to be a vegetarian, the Memorex jingle comes to mind. “Is this real?” I wonder, “Or is this animal rights/vegetarian movement just a fad?”

For some Americans, at least, it’s not a fad. HBO, the premium cable television channel, celebrated People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals’ first quarter-century last month with the premiere of the documentary I am an animal: The story of Ingrid Newkirk and PETA. Newkirk, of course, is the co-founder and president of PETA.

Directed by Matthew Galkin, I am an animal provides “an unprecedented portrait of a very private person committed to a very public crusade, and offers a glimpse into the inner workings of the animal rights movement.” (You can view the film at PETA’s Web site, http://www.peta.com.)

The film includes some very graphic video of animal cruelty that drives many of Newkirk’s campaigns against research facilities, meat-processing factories and clothing stores around the world. Newkirk is portrayed as a single-minded leader, who is both revered and despised for her uncompromising beliefs in the rights of animals.

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Fueling The Cowherd: Predicting & Managing Voluntary Intake

Fueling The Cowherd: Predicting & Managing Voluntary Intake


It’s pretty difficult to formulate or evaluate a diet for the cowherd without knowing how much of the ration the animals are going to eat. But despite years of observation and research, voluntary intake prediction is still an imprecise exercise. We do know that cattle tend to eat a particular level of dry matter, irregardless of the water content of the diet, so almost all prediction equations and models deal with voluntary dry matter intake (DMI). But the actual volume consumed appears to be driven by a complex combination of animal factors, characteristics of the diet itself, and environmental conditions.

We naturally expect larger animals to eat more than smaller ones, but this relationship is not a completely direct one. Maintenance requirements vary more with surface area than total weight, and intakes mimic this relationship. To account for this, expected intake is often expressed per unit of metabolic body weight, or body weight to the .75 power (BW.75). Other animal factors also influence voluntary feed consumption: condition – fat animals eat less; age – yearlings consume more than calves of the same size; breed type – dairy breeds eat more than beef, and crossbreds more than purebred cattle; sex – steers eat more than heifers; and stage and level of production. Beef cows tend to increase feed intake through mid-gestation, drop off just before calving, and then show as much as a 30% increase in intake with the onset of lactation. The magnitude of this increase is related to the level of milk production. As a general rule, each pound of milk produced equates to an additional .1 pound of DMI.


Sex, Lot Size, Color Still Lead Auction Value

Sex, Lot Size, Color Still Lead Auction Value

Source: North Dakota State University

American Cowman

As part of a three-state auction market study, Extension beef specialists from the Dakotas and Montana evaluated premiums paid for calves in those states across auction sales for three consecutive weeks (beginning the last week in October 2006).

All told, data was collected on 68,475 calves (6,251 lots). The average weight was 520 lbs.

Calves selling in the smallest lot size (five head or fewer) were worth the least on a hundredweight (cwt.) basis. Calves sold in lot sizes of 21 head or more commanded $6.20/cwt. more than those small lots. Lot sizes of 6-10 head and 11-20 head came in at $4.22/cwt. and $4.31/cwt. more than the small lots, respectively.


Packer Losses Can’t Go On Much Longer

Packer Losses Can’t Go On Much Longer

Troy marshall

Beef Magazine

Anyone who follows the margins for the various industry segments knows that losses in the packing industry have been mounting week after week, since about mid August. A relatively profitable week for the packing industry has seen them lose only $20/head.

Such an extended period of time of extended losses has been rare for the packing industry, which usually is able to correct its margins or at least narrow up its losses over time. This time around, however, there are a multitude of reasons the packing industry hasn’t been able to do this.


BeefTalk: It’s Not Cheap to Raise a Good Ranch Horse

BeefTalk: It’s Not Cheap to Raise a Good Ranch Horse

Annual Horse Costs Annual Horse Costs

By Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

If one wants advice, write a column. The advice and opinions are great and certainly help unfold the various impediments to understanding the world.

The reverse also is true. As a writer, one hopefully is helping the thought process as much as the action to follow. Many times the desire to act can precede the thought. At that point, we call it an afterthought.

The point of a previous discussion was that producing foals was just that, an afterthought. It is best to make sure that the breeding of mares and other species we may manage is not an afterthought. A management plan is needed, as well as all that follows, which includes marketing.


Winter Cattle Feeding Programs For Growing Calves

Winter Cattle Feeding Programs For Growing Calves


There are basically two different types of winter feeding programs for calves.

Backgrounding rations “hold back” calves or limit weight gains to 1.25 to 1.5 pounds per day. This type of ration is appropriate for calves going back on grass or to “grow out” animals before being placed on full feed. Calves should be fed to develop a good frame to take advantage of the more economical compensatory gain. Buyers discount over-conditioned or “fleshy” calves.

Full feed rations are designed to obtain high rates of gain. This program should only be used when the calves remain in a feedlot-type program until slaughter. Many producers now aim for a daily gain of 2.25 to 2.75 pounds for medium (500 to 800) weight calves, with gains increasing as the animal gets closer to finished weight. Large frame, well-grown calves have the ability to gain weight rapidly and still obtain acceptable grades at slaughter.


UMR professor develops communication model on cattle tagging

UMR professor develops communication model on cattle tagging

Springfield News Leader

What do cattle and technology have in common?

Plenty, if you talk to Dr. David Wright, a professor of English and technical communication at the University of Missouri-Rolla. For the past three years, Wright has been studying the cattle industry and developing a communications model from his research.

Wright developed his communications model after researching the effects of a new cattle-tagging system, called the National Animal Identification System introduced, by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).


Food costs linked to ethanol

Food costs linked to ethanol

Popular in Congress, grain-based fuel has its detractors

By Andrew Martin

New York Times News Service/ajc.com

Shopping at a Whole Foods Market in suburban Chicago, Meredith Estes said food prices have jumped so much she has resorted to coupons. Charles T. Rodgers Jr., an Arkansas cattle rancher, said normal feed rations are so expensive and scarce he is scrambling for alternatives. In Oregon, Jack Joyce, the owner of Rogue Ales, said the cost of barley malt has soared 88 percent this year.

For years, cheap food and feed were taken for granted in the United States. But now the price of some foods is rising sharply, and from the corridors of Washington to the aisles of neighborhood supermarkets, a blame alert is under way.


Canada finds latest case of BSE

Canada finds latest case of BSE

Peter Shinn and Tom Steever

Brownfield Network

Canadian officials confirmed the discovery of that country’s eleventh case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) Tuesday. The latest case involves a 13 year-old beef cow in Alberta.

The age of the animal represents good news for Canada’s beef industry, because the last several Canadian BSE cases involved cattle born well after Canada implemented a ruminant-to-ruminant feed ban in August of 1997. Canada enhanced its feed ban, with more stringent measures to keep specified risk materials out of the feed chain becoming mandatory in July of 2007, though officials denied the enhancements were related to finding younger cattle with BSE.

A release from the Candian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) said this most recent case was detected through Canada’s BSE surveillance program. In addition to the 11 BSE cases found on Canadian soil, America’s first case of BSE involved a dairy cow in Washington state that had been imported from Canada.\