Monthly Archives: January 2008

HSUS video a new headache for packers, USDA

HSUS video a new headache for packers, USDA

by Peter Shinn

Brownfield Network

The Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) released a disturbing video Wednesday that appeared to show the abuse of downer cattle at a southern California packing plant. The incident may well represent a fresh black eye for the U.S. meat processing industry.

To make matters worse, the abuse appeared to be an effort to get the downer animals into the human food supply, a practice banned by USDA. And to make matters worse yet, the packing plant involved is owned by Westland Meat Company, which supplies beef products to USDA nutrition programs.


Cattle Transportation: Management Follow-Through

Cattle Transportation: Management Follow-Through

Those who have been involved in baseball, football or softball realize the importance of follow-through. For example, a pitcher throwing a curveball has to start with the correct grip, regulate arm speed and angle, choose the most appropriate point of release, and finish the pitch with a full follow-through. These processes are not unlike managing stocker cattle. To optimize return on investment, stocker operators have to start with the correct cattle and receiving protocol, regulate health and performance, choose the most appropriate time to sell or ship, and finish by making sure the cattle reach their next destination without compromising profit (the follow-through). Most managers who have been operating for several years realize that even transportation from one pasture to another impacts cattle performance. However, one of the most crucial events for stocker cattle is transportation to the next phase of beef production, the feedlot. This transport has more impact on performance because the trip is usually more than 500 miles from locations in the southeast. Furthermore, it includes “middlemen” and a period of time when your cattle are not under your direct management.


Ware’s the beef: Litchfield farm’s cows are anything but mad

Ware’s the beef: Litchfield farm’s cows are anything but mad



One of the grass-fed beef cattle raised by John Morosani and business partner Jim Abbott in Litchfield. Jamison C. Bazinet Republican-American

John Morosani and Jim Abbott love to mountain bike. And Morosani’s Litchfield property is perfect for it. Miles of trails zip up and down the rolling hills of his acreage and stretch across scenic pastures. But there was just one problem — multiflora.

The thorny, bushy shrub isn’t easy to control, Morosani said, especially when it makes its home on the ledges of hilly meadows.


Ruminant Livestock, Facing New Economic Realities Programs Are Set

Ruminant Livestock, Facing New Economic Realities Programs Are Set

Certainly, 2007 was a challenge for cattlemen across the Midwest. On top of strengthening feed grain prices which began in the Fall of 2006 and have continued to the present, we’ve experienced a widespread lack of forage production. In fact, grain and feed prices are as high, and forage inventories as low as they’ve been anytime in recent history. Most Ohio cattlemen have improvised, in many cases by simply purchasing feed, utilizing alternative feed resources, employing a rigid culling program in their herds, or a combination of all of the above in an effort to get through until spring.


Mo. Beef Incentive: 10 cents a pound, here

Mo. Beef Incentive: 10 cents a pound, here

St. Louis Today

Missouri beef producers will be eligible to receive a 10-cent-per-pound incentive — in the form of a state tax credit — if they put more pounds on their cattle in Missouri rather than sending them to out-of-state feedlots.


Mark Keaton: Be on guard; grass tetany season nears

Mark Keaton: Be on guard; grass tetany season nears

Baxter Bulletin

Beef cattle producers can expect grass tetany to become more of a threat to animals as soon as green grass begins emerging in pastures.

Tetany isn’t unique to poorly run cattle and forage operations. It often occurs on better-managed farms, where the soil gets high rates of nitrogen and potassium from poultry litter or commercial fertilizer.

Grass tetany typically occurs in mature, lactating cows. It more commonly affects cows that are slightly over-conditioned and would likely be referred to as the “best” cows in the herd. However, it also can affect cows with a very poor body-condition score that are excessively thin. Younger animals in the herd rarely have problems with this disease.


Beef on Every Plate

Beef on Every Plate 

New Billings Outpost

Montana has 47,000 families who often go to bed hungry. There are 314,000 Montanans, from infants to the elderly, who often are malnourished. Ten percent of Montanans over 60 are hungry and approximately 45 percent of the hungry live in rural Montana. This state of affairs is unacceptable and unless more is done the problem may worsen.

Presently, the economy seems to be heading toward recession, foreclosures are at an all-time high, unemployment is rising, fuel costs are at historical highs, the inflation index for the month of December is at a one month all-time high, and the trade deficit for 2007 will be $800 billion.

Since 1998, 3.3 million jobs nationwide have been outsourced. What this means to ordinary hard-working Montanans is tougher times for all.


Conference encourages optimism in ag

Conference encourages optimism in ag

By Hannah Fletcher, Iowa Farmer Today

CORALVILLE — The 160 women who attended a recent ag women’s conference went home with an important reminder — be an advocate for agriculture.

Two speakers at “Overall Women: A Conference for Today’s Rural Women” held here this past weekend addressed the importance for a positive outlook and approach regarding Iowa agriculture.

State Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey spoke excitedly about the Iowa agriculture’s current position. He encouraged the women to be proud of accomplishments in Iowa agriculture.


New Report Underscores Need For Congressional Action To Limit Antibiotic Use In Animal Agriculture

New Report Underscores Need For Congressional Action To Limit Antibiotic Use In Animal Agriculture

A new report by the Pew Commission on Industrial Farm Animal Production ( documents the perils of antibiotic use in factory farms and the many strains of antibiotic-resistant E-Coli, Salmonella, Camphylobacter, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and other bacteria that these facilities cause.

The report release comes a few days after Tyson Foods and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agreed on a new label for their chickens raised without antibiotics: “Chicken raised without antibiotics that impact antibiotic resistance in humans.” Tyson announced in June, 2007, that it would stop feeding antibiotics important in human medicine to their chickens, a move that advocated hailed as “a great step forward.” But no other large meat producers have followed suit.


Nutrient Concentration & Variability Of Distillers Grains

Nutrient Concentration & Variability Of Distillers Grains

For beef cattle, distillers grains can provide a viable source of supplemental protein, replace some corn as an energy source, and improve average daily gain and feed conversion, depending on how much distillers grains is included in the ration. However, feeding distillers grains creates some nutrition management challenges, in part because most of the nutrients in corn become three times more concentrated in distillers grains. Nutrients such as sulfur are often added during ethanol production and can occur at even higher concentrations. Formulating rations to accommodate the nutrient composition of distillers grains is further complicated by the significant variation in nutrient content that has been shown to occur between ethanol facilities and even between batches from the same facility. These nutrient issues can limit or even prohibit distillers grains use in some feeding situations.


Income Tax Rules For Weather Related Sales Of Livestock

Income Tax Rules For Weather Related Sales Of Livestock

Weather often raise havoc with the income stream on a farm. This year’s drought is no exception as livestock farmers wrestle with short feed supplies coupled with substantial increases in feed costs. A common response is to reduce herd size by selling more livestock than in a normal year. However, this has the potential of creating dramatically higher taxable income. To assist farmers with leveling such taxable income spikes, the federal tax code has two provisions (elections) that address the issue of increased income when forced to sell more livestock than normal because of a weather related situation.



Central Beef Had ‘Willful Disregard’

Central Beef Had ‘Willful Disregard’

The state’s biggest slaughterhouse operator polluted neighbors’ land for nearly a decade. Why did it take the state so long to stop him?

Marshall Chernin has spent most of his career in the slaughterhouse business, earning a reputation as a skilled buyer and seller of beef.

When he left the Midwest for Florida in the late 1990s, he also left conflicts with previous employers like the Long Prairie Packing Co. of Minnesota. Between 1978 and 1982, when he believed Long Prairie reneged on promises to pay him bonuses, he transferred nearly $1 million from the company’s accounts to out-of-state bank accounts he controlled, according to court records. The company fired him and tried to get the money back. Chernin ended up pleading guilty to seven counts of wire fraud, income tax evasion, conspiracy to defraud and providing false statements to the government and served about three years in prison. But in 1990 a jury found that he was entitled to the bonuses he’d paid himself and awarded him both the bonuses and $6.5 million in damages for breach of contract, court records reflect.


Sick Cattle Used to Feed School Children

Sick Cattle Used to Feed School Children

Hidden Camera Investigation Finds Slaughterhouse Used Banned ‘Downed Animals’


ABC News

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 hidden camera investigation by an animal rights group has uncovered disturbing treatment of ailing cows at a California slaughterhouse that provides meat for school lunches.

The video, obtained during what the Humane Society of the United States said was a six-week undercover investigation, shows a sickly cow being dragged by a chain before being poked, prodded, rolled and lifted with a forklift. Workers also are seen hosing the faces of cows in a manner that HSUS described as “torture, right out of a waterboarding manual.”


Forage Focus: Preparing For A Not Quite As Dry Spring

Forage Focus: Preparing For A Not Quite As Dry Spring

Most forecasts indicate that Virginia will experience improvement in drought conditions during 2008. However, according to the National Drought Monitor and NOAA rainfall for the spring months may still be behind normal. They predict that it will not be as dry as 2007. February is a great month to prepare for this “not quite as dry” grazing season.

Pasture care and renovation: February is still a good time to put down lime and maybe some fertilizer. If you haven’t sent off a soil sample, do it now! The pH should be in the 6.5 to 7.0 range. This will help both legumes and grasses utilize nutrients efficiently. Late winter is early enough in the growing year to allow lime to make changes in pH before most of the growing season.


Cattle slaughter winds down at Tyson’s Kansas plant

Cattle slaughter winds down at Tyson’s Kansas plant


Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN.N: Quote, Profile, Research) said it has begun phasing out cattle slaughter at its Emporia, Kansas, beef plant, with the second shift of cattle slaughter ending on Wednesday and the second shift of beef processing to end on Friday.

Last week, Tyson said it was discontinuing cattle slaughter at the plant because of unfavorable market conditions and more beef industry slaughter capacity than available cattle.


Ohio Beef Newsletter Available

The January 30, issue # 572, of the Ohio BEEF Cattle letter is now posted to the web at:

Many of us have spent the past year simply managing until the next . . .
Next soaking rain . . .
Next spring when we can turn out . . .
Next hay cutting . . .
Next year when grain prices will come down . . .
Next spring when there will be more hay, at lower values . . .

Well . . . it’s apparent the “next” may not be here for a while . . . in fact, it could be years. Fact is, high grain prices are here to stay in the foreseeable future, forage inventories are depleted with many acres being attracted to row crops, and pastures are thinned and damaged from last years weather. It’s apparent those of us who plan to remain in the beef cattle business need to be prepared to face and react to a whole new set of economic realities in the coming years. With that thought in mind, find information on a new series of programs coming in February and March which address just that concept.

Articles include:
* Ruminant Livestock: Facing New Economic Realities Programs are Set
* Helping The Newborn Calf Breathe
* Income Tax Rules For Weather Related Sales Of Livestock
* Forage Focus: Preparing For a Not Quite As Dry Spring
* Weekly Roberts Agricultural Commodity Market Report

Protect your investment with semen tank management

Protect your investment with semen tank management

Michael Fisher, Area Extension Agent (Livestock), Colorado State University Extension

Many cow-calf operations have adopted artificial insemination (AI) as a key management tool in their business plan. The use of AI offers several advantages over natural sire service. It allows the producer a wider selection of bull power and genetic choices. Also, when using AI, the various genetic choices can be targeted at specific cows or heifers in an effort to exact the preferred change. The AI herd may require a few clean up bulls but this is significantly less than the combination of purchase, nutrition, and health costs of maintaining a full bull battery to compliment the herd. Additionally, a semen tank in the corner of the barn office is not likely to knock you into the dirt; while a pen full of salty bulls may consider this to be great sport.


BeefTalk: Don’t Overlook the Value of Cattle Hair

BeefTalk: Don’t Overlook the Value of Cattle Hair

By Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Hair – More Than a Fashion Statement Hair – More Than a Fashion Statement

Healthy cattle will tend to not have frost on their backs, even when the weather gets very cold.

Health never can be underestimated. Having been confined lately, that concept is even more appreciated. Comfort, the lack of stress and the need to allow time for recovery are important.

All three factors also are part of cattle management, so appropriate managerial reactions must be thought through. One concept often overlooked in good cow health is hair.


Cold weather calving, feeding time

Cold weather calving, feeding time

Richard C. Snell, Barton County Extension Agent, agriculture

High Plains Journal

This bitter cold snap causes me to remember how much I dislike winter. If it weren’t for basketball, I don’t know if I would survive it.

I was watching the football playoff game between the Packers and the Giants with 20 something below wind chill (just the third coldest game ever played). My mind drifted back to the ice bowl game between the Cowboys and the Packers on the last day of 1967 (considered to be one of the greatest games ever played). Then my mind wandered briefly from football to days gone by when I fed cattle in the cold weather and we had calves born on what seemed the coldest days.


Down Cows: Potential Problem for Cattle Producers

Down Cows: Potential Problem for Cattle Producers

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

A down cow is a dreaded problem for any cattle producer and almost always has a negative economic impact, sometimes one that is quite severe. Prevention is always the best approach to downers.  However, despite the best plans, the occasional down cow still occurs and the handling of the case determines the level of loss that will occur.

Down cows were in the national headlines after the BSE (mad cow) case a few years ago.  Repeatedly the media defined a down cow as one that “was too sick to stand up”.  While this definition fits some down cows, many of these cows have experienced injuries that prevent them from being able to get up.