Daily Archives: February 21, 2008

Nutrition, Birth Weights, & Dystocia

Nutrition, Birth Weights, & Dystocia


Dystocia, or calving difficulty, can increase both calf losses and cow mortality. A difficult birth can also set back a calf’s performance all the way to weaning, and frequently delays rebreeding for the dam. In research done at the USMARC (Meat Animal Research Center) in Clay Center, NE, young calf losses averaged 4% for those born with little or no assistance, and 16% for animals that required assistance. Furthermore, when comparing cows that experienced dystocia with those that did not, 14% fewer exhibited heat during a 45-day AI period, and 16% fewer bred back at all (70-day breeding season).

Multiple factors contribute to ease of calving, but one of the most obvious is of course calf size. Many producers work to manage birth weights through the use of bulls with low or moderate birth weight EPD’s. We also find cattlemen who try to reduce fetal size by limiting the cow’s nutrient supply during late pregnancy.


Black Ink: Herd in the balance

Black Ink:  Herd in the balance

Steve Suther

Most beef producers are conservative. Politics aside, we’re talking about cowherd management. If you had to pick a word to describe your ideal, it would be balance.

But can you have too much balance? We might as well ask if you can have too much common sense, love or justice. Still, a lot depends on interpretation. Balance does not mean always staying in the middle of the road when confronted with a range of options.

On the balance beam, sometimes you need to lean toward the left or right to stay the course and move ahead.

You don’t pick a balanced bushel of good and bad apples, or find an ethical average between good and evil. Balance at a low level may be no better than that basket of mixed apples. The scales balance at zero, but where’s the beef?


Proper Nutrition Makes Heifer a Momma Cow

Proper Nutrition Makes Heifer a Momma Cow

Clifford Mitchell

Cattle Today

There are many different fancy names for how people eat today. South Beach diets or the former Atkins craze are designed for worshippers to follow a strict plan of attack when it comes to meal time.

In elementary school all you heard was about the five food groups and how much of each should be consumed everyday. School lunch programs were designed to help growing bodies develop properly with the proper mix of nutrition that was put on the plate at noon.

In the beef business, cattlemen have to design a diet for growing animals that will help heifers grow into productive members of the cow herd. Much like the five food groups, a correct balance of protein and energy is needed to take these heifers from weaning to calving. One mistake could be very costly.


Beef Recall Latest in a Bad Year

Beef Recall Latest in a Bad Year

Kent Garber

US News & World Report

Of the 143 million pounds of beef being recalled nationwide, not a single potpie, patty, or dollop of meat sauce has caused someone to fall ill—yet.

But when the U.S. Department of Agriculture, responding to reports of safety violations at a California meatpacking plant, announced the largest recall of beef in U.S. history, Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa was moved to ask: “How much longer will we continue to test our luck with weak enforcement of federal safety regulations?”


SDSU Student Wins Cattlemen’s Scholarship

SDSU Student Wins Cattlemen’s Scholarship


A junior at South Dakota State University has won a scholarship from the National Cattlemen’s Foundation and the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Group.

Amanda Nolz is one of 10 students nationwide to receive the $1,500 Beef Industry Scholarship.


A Vegan’s Search Recipe: Beef Recall

A Vegan’s Search Recipe: Beef Recall


What do the Humane Society of the United States and “The New York Times” have in common?

Each purchased the keywords for “beef recall” on Google, giving the organizations the top placement this morning on Google’s search engine results page. By buying the keywords, each organization stands to drive traffic to their sites.


Down Cows: Potential Problem For Cattle Producers

Down Cows: Potential Problem For Cattle Producers


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.


Group asks federal judge to prohibit older Canadian cattle into U.S.

Group asks federal judge to prohibit older Canadian cattle into U.S.

Great Falls Tribune

Lawyers representing cattle, consumer and health interests urged a federal judge Tuesday to stop imports of older Canadian cattle because of the potential threat of mad cow disease.

An attorney for the government countered that U.S. District Judge Lawrence Piersol should not grant the preliminary injunction, saying rules and changes in the industry adequately protect American animals, people and markets.


Truth Or Scare? Recall Hurts Beef Producers

Truth Or Scare? Recall Hurts Beef Producers

Mark Whistler


An undercover video that exposed workers at a Southern California slaughterhouse kicking and dragging cattle and moving ailing animals with forklifts has triggered one of the largest recalls on record.

In all, the USDA is trying to recover 143 million pounds of beef that may have come from the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company slaughterhouse, some of which was distributed to schools. The wave of fear over possible mad-cow disease contamination could stifle beef consumption and cripple beef producers yet again. In this article we’ll examine the companies with the most to lose and a few that could actually profit from a scare.


R-CALF USA meeting for live cattle producers only

R-CALF USA meeting for live cattle producers only

Peter Shinn

Brownfield Network

The R-CALF USA annual meeting is underway in Omaha. But it’s certainly not for everyone.

R-CALF CEO Bill Bullard told Brownfield attendance is expected at between 400 and 500 cattle producers. That’s about a tenth of what shows up at the annual Cattle Industry Convention. But Bullard said the R-CALF annual meeting is targeting a specific segment of the cattle industry.

“We’re not here to talk about beef processing and the beef industry,” Bullard emphasized. “We’re here to talk about the live cattle industry and what changes need to be made so live cattle producers can remain independent business people in the United States.”


Make healthy meat profitable

Make healthy meat profitable

The Journal Times

In the wake of the latest recall of meat for possible contamination, there is the fingering of the usual suspects. A federal lawmaker wants to strip the U.S. Department of Agriculture of its responsibility for inspecting meat, saying that the agency’s twin mandates of food safety and industry promotion are contradictory. A consumer group accused the USDA of not having enough inspectors. A candidate talks about increasing the budget for the USDA inspection service. No one is talking about the issue in other than ordinary terms.


Questioning food safety

Questioning food safety

San Gabriel Tribune

BEYOND the obvious specter of animal cruelty raised by undercover videos shot in a Chino meatpacking plant, there are serious concerns about the safety of our food supply.

In addition, the effectiveness of the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspection process itself has been brought into question by events at the nearby Westland/Hallmark plant.

That’s why, in addition to bringing criminal charges as appropriate on the county, state and federal level, we agree with Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., who on Tuesday called for an investigation into the USDA’s ability to safeguard America’s meat supply. The Congress needs to thoroughly take up this issue, especially after the recent and numerous lapses in food supply safety (pet foods, bacteria in hamburger meat, etc.) that have plagued American and foreign suppliers.


U.S. farms getting bigger, but number falling

U.S. farms getting bigger, but number falling

Delta Farm Press

The number of farms in the United States continues to fall, while the average size of farms continues to grow, according to a report by USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The February reports estimated 2.08 million farms operating in the United States in 2007, 0.6 percent fewer than in 2006. Total land in farms, at 930.9 million acres, decreased 1.5 million acres, or 0.16 percent, from 2006. The average farm size was 449 acres during 2007, an increase of 3 acres from the previous year. The decline in the number of farms and land in farms reflects a continuing consolidation in farming operations and diversion of agricultural land to non-agricultural uses.


Slaughterhouse cameras proposed

Slaughterhouse cameras proposed

Mark Petix

San Bernardino Sun

A state lawmaker is suggesting that cameras be placed in the kill pen area of slaughterhouses.

State Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, said video cameras would serve as a deterrent to inhumane treatment of cows being led to slaughter and also help prevent sick or disabled animals from being processed in the food chain.

Florez, the chairman of the state Senate Select Committee on Food-Borne

Illness, will chair a committee hearing Monday in Sacramento on a Chino slaughterhouse at the center of the largest beef recall in U.S. history.

The video cameras at the spot where cattle are required to enter the kill pen under their own power would be a simple and relatively inexpensive way to avoid the troubles facing Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., he said.


Texas Cattle Raisers Say Abuses Rare Despite Beef Recall

Texas Cattle Raisers Say Abuses Rare Despite Beef Recall 


Some Texas ranchers and analysts say the current massive beef recall involves animal treatment that’s not typical in the industry.

The Associated Press reports most of those cattle raisers believe it’s unlikely the beef recall — the largest ever in the U.S. — will impact markets for ground beef.

Undercover video taken at Westland/Hallmark Meat of Chino, California, shows workers shocking, kicking and shoving debilitated cattle with forklifts.

That’s prompted the government to pull more than 71,000 tons of beef.

Texas Beef Council executive vice president Richard Wortham says the animals are the most important thing and as you look at that video is thatit paints the industry with a “black eye.”