Daily Archives: December 20, 2007

Method and Timing of Castration Influences Performance of Bull Calves

Method and Timing of Castration Influences Performance of Bull Calves

C.A. Lents, F.J. White, L.N. Floyd, R.P. Wettemann, and D.L. Gay

Oklahoma State University

In the United States, more than 17 million bulls between 1 d and 1 y of age are castrated annually.  However, many producers still do not castrate even though calves marketed at weaning as steers have a $3.56/cwt advantage compared with bulls (Smith et al., 2000).  Bulls that are castrated and given an estrogenic growth stimulant have similar weight gain compared with bulls (Bagley et al., 1989), yet producers often cite fear of reduced weaning weights as a reason for not castrating.  Castration decreases aggressive behavior and increases carcass quality (Seideman et al., 1982).  Bulls that were castrated at weaning had decreased weight gains compared with bulls castrated at 150 lb (Worrell et al., 1987; Chase et al., 1995), and castration of bulls that are older and heavier causes stress (Fisher et al., 1996).  Castration of bulls 6 to 9 mo of age decreased weight gain by 50% compared with intact controls (Faulkner et al., 1992; ZoBell et al., 1993).  Bulls can be castrated by surgical removal of the testes, banding of the scrotum with rubber bands, or crushing of the testicular chords with a burdizzo.  Minimal information is available on the effect of method or timing of castration on performance. 


Mississippi Cattlemen Are Profiting From “Natural Beef”

Mississippi Cattlemen Are Profiting From “Natural Beef”


Last month, beef cattle producers in southern Mississippi sold loads of 700-weight feeder steers to natural beef programs for $115/cwt. The calves were sent to Gregory Feedlots, Inc. who supplies finished cattle to Meyer Natural Angus. The Meyer Natural Angus program requires cattle providers to sign an affidavit verifying that the cattle have not been treated with antibiotics, administered any growth implants or synthetic hormones, or fed ionophores or animal byproducts. These cattle must have also been born and raised in the USA, be at least 50% Red and/or Black Angus genetics, display no Brahman or dairy influence, and ultimately be harvested at less than 30 months of age. Cloned animals or progeny of cloned animals do not qualify.


Beefy debate yours to decide

Beefy debate yours to decide

Linda Hoffman

The Coloradan

“Beef….it’s what’s for dinner.” This successful ad campaign for the beef industry coincided with the wild popularity of the Atkins diet. The Atkins diet lead to spectacular weight loss in many people, and gave rise to modifications found in the equally successful South Beach diet.

But is beef really a healthy choice? The answer is yes and no.

Traditionally raised beef, or grass-fed beef, is a very healthy choice, and traditional societies who consume this meat rarely experience the heart disease and cancer found in developed nations. Cattle come with 3 stomachs, making them uniquely able to process and digest the grasses and forage found in pastures.


Proper Calving Prep Is The First Step To A Profitable Year

Proper Calving Prep Is The First Step To A Profitable Year


Calving is stressful for all involved — the calf, the cow and the producer. But being prepared and knowing when to seek a veterinarian’s assistance can reduce losses and anxiety.

Calf death at or shortly after calving results in the loss of more than 3.5 million calves annually in the United States.4 Assuming the calves would be marketed for $1.20 at 500 pounds, that’s a loss of $2.1 billion in potential revenue. While a producer can’t save every calf, there are steps and procedures that can improve calf mortality rates.

 “The first, and arguably the most important, step for calving is to ensure cleanliness,” says Dr. Van Ricketts, Director of Corporate Accounts, Merial. “Bacteria can cause problems for both the cow and calf, so make sure OB chains, handles and other equipment have been disinfected and that clean, dry bedding is available in the birthing area.”


Senate Votes to Keep Cloned Meat Out of Your Burger, for Now

Senate Votes to Keep Cloned Meat Out of Your Burger, for Now

Alexis Madrigal


Cattle producers who hoped cloned meat might appear on dinner tables in the new year have been dealt a potential setback in the form of an amendment to the 2007 farm bill. The amendment to S. 2302 passed the Senate last week.

The amendment would require the Food and Drug Administration to study the safety of meat and milk from cloned animals before they’re sold to the public. HR 2419, the House version of the same bill, however, does not contain the same provision, which means the amendment could be axed in a closed-door committee meeting between the two chambers. Or, as often happens, the Senate and House will reach a compromise.

“It would be very surprising if the FDA flouted the will of Congress and moved forward on the cloning issue,” said Chris Waldrop, director of the Food Policy Institute of the Consumer Federation of America.


US biotech firms launch tracking system for cloned livestock

US biotech firms launch tracking system for cloned livestock

The Raw Story

US biotechnology firms launched Wednesday a program to track cloned cattle and pigs in anticipation of the possible end of a moratorium on meat and milk from cloned livestock.

The Biotechnology Industry Association (BIO), which represents leading cloning companies, said the system would allow food companies to track cloned livestock throughout the food processing chain and address market concerns.


Evaluate Hay Storage Losses On Large Round Bales

Evaluate Hay Storage Losses On Large Round Bales


Storage losses in any hay production system are unavoidable, but what level or degree of loss is acceptable with a large round bale? Like the answer to many questions, it depends. It may depend upon the price/availability of hay, how storage losses affect animal performance, alternative storage options, and may even boil down to the goals/objectives of the producer.

A drive around the roads that surround the fields and farms of Athens County will reveal a common sight; large round bales stored out in the open in fields and farmyards. Bales stored in this manner and exposed to the elements develop a weathered layer. The depth of the weathered layer and yield loss associated with outdoor storage of bales depends upon both weather and site conditions. Yield loss is highest on bales in direct contact with the ground and in situations of high rainfall and/or where water can collect in the bale storage site.


Take A New Look At Creep Feeding

Take A New Look At Creep Feeding


Historically, creep feeding beef calves has largely been a matter of offering free-choice grain to maximize weaning weights. While this approach can boost calf gains, it is seldom cost-effective. However, recent research has re-evaluated the place of creep feeding in beef herds, identifying not only more effective management schemes, but also additional benefits of creeping calves.

No one will argue with the fact weaning weights can be significantly increased when calves have unlimited access to grain; a review of over 50 university trials showed an average improvement of 58 lb per head. Efficiencies (pounds of creep feed per pound of additional gain), however, are often very poor. Typical F: G for grain creep is about 10, and values as high as 31 pounds of feed to one pound of gain have been reported! In these situations the creep is being substituted for forage intake, and at the same time being consumed at a level that will inhibit digestion of what grass is consumed. Acidosis can be a related problem.


USDA unveils new business plan for national animal ID

USDA unveils new business plan for national animal ID

Peter Shinn and Bob Meyer

Brownfield Network

USDA unveiled a new vision for the National Animal Identification System (NAIS) Wednesday. The plan focuses on the identification issues confronting each species and identifies seven key strategies to move the NAIS forward. Those strategies center on the need to improve data compatibility, technology, cooperation with livestock and breed associations and with state governments as well.

According to the new business plan, the U.S. commercial poultry industry already essentially has the ability to trace individual birds back to their original premises within 48 hours. But the plan said the beef cattle industry has the farthest to go in achieving the goal of 48 hour trace back, largely due to its diverse segments and lack of vertical integration.

USDA Under Secretary for Marketing and Regulatory Programs Bruce Knight told Brownfield premises registration remains the key to making the NAIS viable. He urged beef producers to “take the emotion out” of their decision to register their premises. And Knight pointed out there are compelling reasons for cattle producers to register their premises.


2008 Cattle Feeding and Marketing Short Course Offered

2008 Cattle Feeding and Marketing Short Course Offered

Debra Levey Larson

The Legal Record

URBANA – The 2008 Great Lakes Professional Cattle Feeding and Marketing Short Course will be held on January 21 and February 4, 2008, beginning at 6:00 p.m. at the DeKalb County Farm Bureau Building.

“We had so many requests from people last year who wanted to attend but couldn’t because of the distance. So, this year, in order to accommodate people who live in central and southern Illinois, in addition to the DeKalb location we are offering the course live via satellite at the Bond County Farm Bureau Building in Greenville,” said Richard Knipe, University of Illinois Extension Beef Specialist.

The first session of the shortcourse on January 21 will focus on techniques and strategies to minimize the consequences due to poor animal health.


USDA Issues Disaster Payments for Crop, Livestock and Feed Losses

USDA Issues Disaster Payments for Crop, Livestock and Feed Losses

Cattle Today

Acting Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner announced that USDA will begin issuing payments today to tens of thousands of farmers and ranchers across the country who suffered losses because of natural disasters.

“Numerous agricultural producers suffered financial hardships in recent years because of floods, wildfires, tornadoes and other weather-related disasters,” Conner said. “These funds will provide assistance to producers affected by these disasters.”

USDA is currently processing about $1 billion in payments under the Crop Disaster Program, Livestock Compensation Program and Livestock Indemnity Program. Sign-up for these programs is ongoing. The programs provide payments to agricultural producers who suffered crop, livestock and feed losses in 2005, 2006, and before Feb. 28, 2007. But, producers must choose one year for which to receive payments.


Winter Manure Application

Winter Manure Application


Over the past several years, manure nutrient recycling has come under scrutiny, particularly when applied on frozen or snow covered ground. Producers should take additional precautions when applying manure under less than ideal field conditions. This is especially true during the winter.

Protecting water quality should be a primary objective when applying nutrients. Sudden changes in weather that are typical of late fall/early winter and late winter/early spring increase the potential of manure to move off-sight. Sudden weather changes may lead to manure runoff from farm fields that can pollute nearby creeks, streams and waterways. This impacts the environment, the public’s image of production agriculture and reduces the available nutrients for the next crop. Ultimately, any manure entering our water resources is violation of the state’s agricultural pollution abatement laws.


Beef research review planned

Beef research review planned

Bismarck Tribune

The North Dakota State University Hettinger Research Extension Center will hold its first beef research review, “Developing and Enriching the Region’s Production Resources for a More Profitable Future” on Jan. 10.


Local donation program brings big beef to Billings tables

Local donation program brings big beef to Billings tables

Montana’s News Station

It may be the season of giving, but local farmers and ranchers are realizing there is need year-round in Billings.

Last December, Montana’s News Station’s Courtney Hanson introduced us to a new program, Cattlemen Feed the Needy, that provides families throughout the community with free hamburger.

Local rancher Levi Britton, who founded the program, said that it means big beef for the Billings Food Bank.


Beef packing houses once dotted the coast

Beef packing houses once dotted the coast

By Murphy Givens

Corpus Christi Caller

At the end of the Civil War, Confederate soldiers returned to South Texas to find huge numbers of almost wild, unbranded longhorns. They took those not branded and drove them to Kansas railheads where they were shipped to northern cities hungry for beef. In 1866, the year after the war ended, 260,000 longhorns went up the trail.

It was too much. This flood of beef glutted the market and prices fell to almost nothing. In 1867, only 37,000 head went north, for little gain. The value of the longhorn had been quickly reduced to the value of its hide, tallow that could be rendered for candles, horns and bones that could be used to make buttons and knife handles. Almost overnight, beef slaughter houses sprang up all along the coast, from Padre Island to the Rockport area.