Monthly Archives: December 2007

Dealing with potassium deficiencies

Dealing with potassium deficiencies

By David G. Hallauer

Meadowlark District Extension Agent, crops, soils, horticulture

High Plains Journal

Deficiency symptoms linked to potassium have been on the increase in northeast Kansas fields during the past few years. In some cases, a soil test indicated that K levels were, in fact, deficient and additional potash corrected the problem. In others, weather or soil moisture/stage of growth interactions combined to result in temporary deficiencies. And, while most of our soils are inherently high in K, about 25 percent of samples run through the KSU soil testing lab between 2002 and 2005 were low in K.


Beef’s Wake-Up Recall

Beef’s Wake-Up Recall

A Year of Problems Has USDA Rethinking Safety Rules

By Annys Shin

Washington Post

For beef lovers, 2007 will go down as another year of eating dangerously.

Since the spring, meat suppliers have recalled more than 30 million pounds of ground beef contaminated with the potentially lethal bacteria E. coli O157:H7, including the 21.7 million pounds recalled by New Jersey-based Topps Meat in September.

After three relatively quiet years, the 20 recalls this year have raised new doubts about whether the beef industry’s attempts to keep the pathogen out of ground beef, and the government’s oversight of those efforts, are working.


The Changing Seasons For Cattle

The Changing Seasons For Cattle

The shorter days and cooling temperatures signal a change in seasons. Those of us involved in feeding beef cows also need to be aware of ‘seasonal’ changes in the cowherd. As cows progress through the stages of their annual production cycle, their nutrient requirements fluctuate dramatically. Effective — and cost-effective — feeding management must recognize and respond to the changing needs of the brood cow.

A practical approach involves dividing the “cow year” into four distinct periods, or seasons. Each of these production stages can be associated with particular nutritional needs, supplementation goals, environmental and grazing conditions and a corresponding feeding plan.


Avoid abortion-causing respiratory infections

Avoid abortion-causing respiratory infections

High Plains Journal

After investing time and money into a broodmare the last thing you want is for your mare to abort.

A viral infection called Equine Viral Arteritis (EVA) has become more and more prevalent in the horse world, causing horse owners headaches–especially those invested in the breeding industry.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, EVA is an acute and contagious viral disease of the respiratory tract. When otherwise-healthy open mares or geldings contract the disease through respiratory secretions, it is unlikely for them to show any clinical signs of illness.

However, the virus is also a venereal disease, meaning if either the stallion or mare has the virus, it will be spread during the mating process. Unfortunately, it is not just live-bred mares at risk. The virus can also be spread by infected frozen or cooled semen.


Cellulosic ethanol movement could boost soil quality

Cellulosic ethanol movement could boost soil quality

By Tim Hoskins

Iowa Farmer today

The future development of cellulosic-based ethanol might help farmers increase their soil quality.

The more diverse the crop rotation, the better the soil quality, Doug Karlen, a research soil scientist with USDA’s ARS National Soil Tilth Laboratory in Ames, says in a study published in a 2006 Agronomy Journal.

 “It (this study) lays the foundation why we need to move to a more diverse landscape,” he says.


Beef herd health focus of Jan. 8 meeting

Beef herd health focus of Jan. 8 meeting

Perry County News

On Tuesday, Jan. 8, at the Perry County 4-H Fairgrounds, Purdue Extension and the Perry County Animal Hospital will host a meeting on beef-herd health. The Perry County Animal Hospital will be presenting at the meeting. There will also be a meal for those in attendance.

The health of the beef herd can affect the profitability of the herd. This meeting will give information on some diseases to be aware of in the herd and how to prevent diseases from showing up in the herd.

This program is the second program in a series of beef-management programs taking place on the second Tuesday of each month at the fairgrounds. The cost for each of the programs is $5, to be paid at the door of the meeting attending. Future topics will include forage management and understanding the cattle market.


Antibiotics in Feed, MRSA, & Factory Farms: Will We Let Corporate Agribusiness Kill Us?

Antibiotics in Feed, MRSA, & Factory Farms: Will We Let Corporate Agribusiness Kill Us?

Environmental News Network

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.

A new study published in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Emerging Infectious Diseases links a new strain of methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), once found only in pigs, to more than 20 percent of all human MRSA infections in the Netherlands (the study can be found at

The new strain of MRSA, NT-MRSA, emerged in the Netherlands in 2003 and increased steadily until by 2006 it accounted for more than one out of every five human MRSA infections, many of them in either pig farmers or cattle farmers. The NT-MRSA cases clustered in regions of the country with high densities of pig and cattle farms. The new strain has high rates of hospitalization, suggesting that it causes severe disease.


MCA launches feed Montana program

MCA launches feed Montana program

Tri State Neighbor

BILLINGS, Mont., – In Montana today there are 47,000 families that often skip meals or go to bed hungry.

Over 310,000 Montana residents (30% of Montana’s total population), including the elderly and young children, are at risk of food insecurity and hunger. This situation is totally unacceptable!

Montana Cattlemen’s Association Foundation for Research, Education and Charity “rides for the brand”, so in staying true to that old Western expression, we have organized the Grind-A-Cow program for cattle producers to donate beef to help feed our neighbors.


National ID model to identify tracing opportunities

National ID model to identify tracing opportunities

By Jeff DeYoung

Iowa Farmer Today

The USDA released a business plan this past week to boost the traceability component of the National Animal Identification System (NAIS).

The new model is an effort to identify areas of weakness and opportunity, establish benchmarks against which to measure success, and communicate a vision for the future of traceability, explains Bruce Knight, USDA under secretary for marketing and regulatory programs.

 “By creating a nationally integrated, modern animal disease-response system, like the NAIS, animal health officials quickly can obtain all of the information they need to locate as well as trace the movement of diseased and exposed animals, which will significantly minimize the spread of the disease,” Knight said in a news release.


Ethanol, cattle prices linked by corn

Ethanol, cattle prices linked by corn


Elko Daily Free Press

ELKO – As the price of corn rises – largely due to increased ethanol production – the price of feeder cattle falls, said Ron Torell, Cooperative Extension livestock specialist.

Cattlemen who want to learn how to combat this problem should attend the annual Cattlemen’s Update program Jan. 7-11 in various Nevada communities and by video conference.

 “Most of us have heard the phrase, ‘When you’re handed lemons, make lemonade,”’ Torell said. “Such is the case with the recent wake-up call for cattle producers when the rapidly growing ethanol industry revealed its hunger for corn. So, how can we make lemonade out of this? The answer is by using the co-products of ethanol production, such as distillers’ dried grains, which are becoming increasingly available and are usually an extremely cost-effective feed ingredient.”


BeefTalk: Would You Prefer Doggies or Dogies?

BeefTalk: Would You Prefer Doggies or Dogies?

By Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Santa made a mistake. Santa made a mistake.

Santa messed up, but it was not his fault.

The lists on the refrigerator (or mailed to the North Pole) add to the rush of the holiday season. Reviewing the lists for the naughty or nice check is noted and the rest is history. Or is it?

The huge package could be a dream come true. Having written and checked the list twice, what was in the box had to be what was on top of the list. The box shook and wiggled and even an occasional sigh could be heard.

Could it be those cute, lovable dogies from the neighbor down the road? One only could hope as the wrapping was hastily thrown aside and the top of the crate was about to be opened.


Christmas, And Life, Are What You Make Them

Christmas, And Life, Are What You Make Them

Troy Marshall

Beef magazine

I’ve never bought into the concept that there’s too much hustle and bustle around the holidays. And while one could make a good case for rampant materialism during this time, I’m a diehard capitalist. Plus, I like giving and receiving gifts as much as the next person. The biggest challenge of the commercialization of the holidays is to make sure that one’s priorities are aligned right.


Mineral Supplementation for High Grain Diets to Beef Cows

Mineral Supplementation for High Grain Diets to Beef Cows

Dr. Mark L. Wahlberg, Extension Animal Scientist, VA Tech

Feeding programs for beef cows this winter may use higher levels of grain or grain byproducts because the amount of hay available is limited.  Hay can be fed at as low as ½% of body weight each day, which converts to 6 or 7 pounds of hay daily, if the hay supply is extremely limited.  It is more likely that hay will be fed at 1% of the body weight of cows, or more.  Even at this level, though, grain or grain byproducts will be needed to provide a fair portion of the nutrition of the diet.  Diets of 10 to 15 pounds of hay each day, plus around 10 pounds of grain or byproduct, will provide adequate protein and energy for beef cows during late pregnancy.


IGENITY: DNA Technology — Helping To Build Value & A Better Beef Product

IGENITY: DNA Technology — Helping To Build Value & A Better Beef Product

Report cards let students know how they’ve done and where they need to improve. The National Beef Quality Audit (NBQA) serves as a report card to the beef industry, showing how well the industry is doing in meeting consumer demands for quality and value.

The fourth such audit was conducted in 2005 and identified several areas in which the industry needed to improve, including inadequate tenderness, insufficient marbling, excess external fat and excess carcass/cut weights — all issues that can impact a consumer’s enjoyment of beef products.

 “Approximately 20% of beef consumed as steaks is less than desirable10 or unacceptable in tenderness,” says Dr. Michael Dikeman, a professor of meat science and industry from Kansas State University. “When consumers have an undesirable eating experience, they often shift to some other meat protein source, either temporarily or longer term.”


The Cow-Calf Manager

The Cow-Calf Manager

Dr. John B. Hall, Extension Beef Specialist, VA Tech

Feeding Spring Calving Cows in Late Gestation This Winter Over the past several months the VT Extension Beef Team dedicated several articles to dealing with the drought (See Side Bar).  These articles discuss strategies in dealing with drought and animal feeding options as well as culling decisions.  Several producers and agents asked for a reminder on when these were published and the titles.  These articles can be accessed at then click on Livestock Update.

More recently, I received several requests for example diets that limit hay but meet the nutritional needs of cows.  Diets that use alternative feeds to allow limit feeding of hay are illustrated in Tables 1 & 2.  Both tables indicate amounts of feed needed per cow per day during the 60-90 days before calving.  Table 1 is for cows that need to maintain weight.  Table 2 is for cows that need to gain weight or heifers about to have their first calf


The Total Costs (And Returns!) Of Cowherd Supplementation

The Total Costs (And Returns!) Of Cowherd Supplementation

It’s a fairly straightforward process to develop or analyze a supplementation program relative to the nutritional needs of the cowherd. But once we get past the daily task of providing for the animals in our care, we also have to know how the cow/calf enterprise is performing as a business entity. Supplementation strategies, like all other management options, need to offer the best possible return on investment. That determination hinges on identifying all of the costs — and returns — of providing a given supplement.


Stock water and winter grazing

Stock water and winter grazing

Jim Gerrish

Beef Magazine

Providing stock water on winter pastures is one of the ongoing challenges of a year-round grazing program. Many cattlemen feel they don’t have the water resources to allow cattle to stay out all winter, so they end up feeding hay in just a few areas close to home. Feeding hay is a much more expensive option than winter grazing.


Cattle Feeders Flowing Red Ink

Cattle Feeders Flowing Red Ink

Estimated feedlot closeouts were flowing in red ink during November, continuing the trend of recent months.  In fact, for feeding-out a 750-pound steer in the Southern Plains that was sold in November, the estimated loss was over $80.00 per head, the largest negative number since January of this year.  Closeouts will mostly post red ink at least through February of next year.  As spring approaches, some positive returns may return.

Overall, 2007 was a year of losses for most cattle in feedlots but the year was much better than 2006.  Still, only three months posted profits for steer sales in 2007 — March, April, and May.  Cattle feeders faced rather high feeder cattle prices and very high feedstuff costs in 2007.  In the Southern Plains, annual average feed costs per steer were the highest reported since 1996.


Bluetongue and or Deer Virus Infect Virginia Cattle

Bluetongue and or Deer Virus Infect Virginia Cattle

Dr. Dee Whittier, Extension Veterinarian, Cattle VA-MD Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, VA Tech

The State Veterinarian’s office recently announced evidence that Virginia cattle had disease associated with a virus spread by a small biting gnat or midge.  Although little death loss occurred, cattle experienced lameness and mouth sores affecting their production.  Most reports of signs of the disease were in the mountain/valley regions of Virginia, especially the Shenandoah Valley.

Bluetongue is a disease that was first described in sheep.  It causes sheep to have sores in their mouths and also disturbs the feet and may cause abortion.  Some experts suggest that losses due to bluetongue in cattle may be greater than those in sheep.  The disease is spread almost entirely by a small gnat called Culicoides.


Room and reason to improve beef

Room and reason to improve beef

Steve Suther

Certified Angus Beef

During a seminar on the merits of high-quality beef, two industry leaders expressed concern over future supplies and short-term focus on pounds over quality.

Mike Connelly, vice president of Ruth’s Chris Steak House, which serves only USDA Prime, noted the potential impact of higher-priced corn on the already-declining supply of Prime.

Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB) vice president Larry Corah identified factors that threaten the ability to meet growing U.S. and global demand for premium beef.