Daily Archives: February 28, 2008

Trent Loos: Stop the fallout

Trent Loos:  Stop the fallout

As the fallout continues from the largest U.S. Department of Agriculture beef recall in history, I find it interesting to read and contemplate the future of meat consumption in this country based on the comments our urban neighbors have posted on media websites after reading the news of the recall. Sadly, our competition, those with an anti-meat agenda, have done a very good job of positioning the story and using it to garner support for their fund-raising campaigns and legislative initiatives.

While there is no excuse for the reprehensible actions of the packing plant employees that were caught on the video released by the Humane Society of the United States, there are many who are using it to their benefit.


BeefTalk: Bull Buying Basics – The Package Counts, Not the Wrapping

BeefTalk: Bull Buying Basics – The Package Counts, Not the Wrapping

By Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

A well-wrapped package sells well, but don’t forget, it’s what’s in the package that counts.

Buying bulls can be simple if we can separate the wrapping from the package. The package is what counts, but many times we get all “wrapped up” in the way the package looks.

This is very similar to buying the perfect gift and then spending hours picking out the wrapping paper. We spend a lot of time on the wrapping paper, so much in fact that we may run out of time buying the right gift.

In reality, we don’t keep the wrapping in the beef business. What is inside the wrapping is what gives the package real meaning.

The industry today has adopted and implemented a genetic selection process called expected progeny differences (EPDs). EPDs are based on a thorough statistical evaluation of actual data. The data started appearing in bull catalogs years ago.


Minimizing Calf Losses

Minimizing Calf Losses


Calving can be a rewarding time, with each new birth helping justify the time, effort, and financial inputs invested in the cowherd. But unacceptably high – and possibly preventable – death loss among calves can be economically devastating.

Nationwide, calf death losses run an average of 5-7%, with similar patterns emerging in studies done in Colorado, Kansas, Montana, and other states. USDA numbers estimate the total number of preweaning deaths near 2.7 million per year, with a value of nearly one billion dollars annually. One study showed that these ‘typical’ losses equated to taking 35 pounds off of each calf sold at weaning. The greatest concern, of course, is a jump in the death rate; a herd with a serious scouring problem, for example, can lose half their calf crop.


Make Your Vet An Asset

Make Your Vet An Asset

W. Mark Hilton

Beef Magazine

When you look at the balance sheet for any business, every item is classified either as an asset, a liability or owner’s equity. As a veterinarian, it bugs me just a bit that we are listed as liabilities.

Yes, vets are an expense, just like feed or fence, but with due respect to vet and cowboy poet Baxter Black, I don’t like being “out there” as a liability. I think most vets want to be an asset, and on many farms or ranches, the herd-health vet actually is a true asset to the business.


Make Sure your Operation is Run Like Other Businesses

Make Sure your Operation is Run Like Other Businesses

John Alan Cohan, Attorney at Law

Cattle Today

In hobby loss audits, the IRS sometimes views various types of ranching activities as a means of generating tax losses, rather than a profit-oriented venture. That was the issue in the Tax Court case, Ralph Wesinger, Jr., v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue [T.C. Memo 1999-372].

Mr. Wesinger owned a lucrative computer servicing business in San Jose, California. He purchased two parcels of unimproved land and started a cattle ranch. He had some experience helping out occasionally on two dairy farms near where he grew up.

He did not seek any professional assistance at the time he purchased the ranch as to its suitability for cattle ranching. He had no formal business plan detailing how a profit was to be made from the ranching operations. His plan was to buy, raise and sell cows. However, he learned that the grasses on the land would not support the cattle.


Best Beginnings

Best Beginnings

Barb Baylor Anderson

Angus Journal

Good endings start with solid beginnings. If you want to give baby calves the best opportunity to flourish, start with this list of top priorities from Extension beef specialists.


How A Little-Known Cattle Breed Could Revolutionize The Beef Business

How A Little-Known Cattle Breed Could Revolutionize The Beef Business


Maurice Boney is worried about the beef business. He says the U.S. cow herd is too diverse, comprised of too many breeds and too many gene-trait combinations, to ever produce consistently high-quality products for consumers.

So he’s spent much of his life trying to do something about it. Boney, who ranches near Johnstown, Colo., has been developing a linebred  breed of cattle called Irish Blacks and Irish Reds for nearly 40 years. The breed, trademarked by Boney and marketed under an exclusive  contractual agreement to a select but growing group of producers in 22  states, is gaining attention from cattle feeders, packers and  restaurateurs as an answer to many of the industry’s most pressing concerns. Derived primarily from Friesian genetics and a small amount of Black  Angus genetics (35 years ago) from the old “Revolution” line, the breed  has been close-herd line-bred for built-in genetic predictability to  transmit quality genetics for fertility, production attributes and  superior beef quality.


Pre-Planning Provides Map to AI Success

Pre-Planning Provides Map to AI Success

Clifford Mitchell

Cattle Today

Management protocol, at almost every operation, revolves around pre-conceived goals established by the firm’s principals. Most scenarios come together like a recipe for fine cuisine, one mishap and a setback usually occurs. The 21st Century beef industry offers little room for error; however, quick-thinking operations that can adapt and adjust usually find profits where other outfits declare a loss.

Many factors influence the management scheme. In some areas, few managers are in control of their own destiny. Genetic selection is one field where operator’s can have a firm hold on all the options available. Careful pre-planning will ultimately provide a map to success. Artificial insemination (AI) is often an under utilized tool available to cattlemen. Pre-conceived notions can undermine the potential for AI to add genetic improvement to the operation.


Looking Out From The Feed Truck

Looking Out From The Feed Truck

Use integrity when raising livestock

Bob Lindsey


Stop! Stop right now if you have a hard time with animals that are sick or injured and are having to endure pain. Okay, you have been warned. Last Sunday I received a phone call from an employee as he was checking some heifers we are calving.

The description that I heard over the phone was all too familiar. After the cattle were checked Saturday evening, a heifer went into labor. The extremely large calf was found lying dead by the mother. The mother was prolapsed and paralyzed. The mother could not get up because her sciatic nerve had been damaged during the difficult birth.


Van Wert County Residents Organize Against ‘Megafarms’

Van Wert County Residents Organize Against ‘Megafarms’


A group of Van Wert County Ohio residents is fighting the growth of a very popular trend in agriculture called megafarms. Megafarms concentrate large numbers of animals like dairy cows, beef cattle and hogs in one spot. Proponents say mega farms are a cheap way to raise a lot of animals at one time. But they also create immense amounts of animal waste that is often spread on nearby fields. That can pollute streams and groundwater and create an awful smell. Wednesday night a group of opponents to mega farms met in the Scott, Ohio fire station. They’re concerned about plans to build six mega hogfarms within a six-mile radius of each other.


Humane Society Sues U.S. in Cattle Case

Humane Society Sues U.S. in Cattle Case


New York Times

The Humane Society of the United States sued the Agriculture Department on Wednesday for creating a “loophole” that it said is permitting potentially sick cows into the food supply.

The lawsuit, filed in federal court in Washington, accused the department of violating procedural requirements when it created the provision, giving the meat industry a financial incentive to send unhealthy cattle to slaughter. As evidence, the Humane Society cited its widely publicized undercover videotape of workers at the Westland/Hallmark Meat Company in Chino, Calif., abusing cows that appeared unable to walk.


Beef Checkoff Research Programs Prepare for 2009

Beef Checkoff Research Programs Prepare for 2009

Cattle Today

Centennial, Colo. – It may not be found on the first page (or even in the footnote) of a beef history book, but it’s there. Behind new beef cuts, new products for consumers, nutrition and youth education, is checkoff-funded research.

The process of deciding which research to fund and when has always been in the hands of producer committees. Before their work can begin, however, it is important to hear from all segments of the industry to review what is needed, what work is already underway and where checkoff dollars can best achieve desired results.


Running Scared, Dealing with Another Big Recall

Running Scared, Dealing with Another Big Recall

Gary Truitt

Hoosier Ag Today

Oh, brother, here we go again – the second big beef recall in less than a year. The mainstream media is having a field day, and consumer and animal activist groups are piling on. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), a group I have written about before in this column, is smiling smugly and saying, “I told you so.” Meanwhile, the USDA, the cattlemen, and the Meat Packing industry, are in crisis mode doing damage control. While this crisis will pass, it will be just one more chip off the solid rock that had been consumer confidence in the safety of our food supply. It will provide just enough justification for a few more smug, sanctimonious, college students to go vegan.


Increasing The Digestion Of Forages With Protein Supplementation

Increasing The Digestion Of Forages With Protein Supplementation


Ruminant animals in grazing situations need to maximize forage digestion in order to increase performance parameters such as average daily gain or milk production. Factors that limit the animal’s ability to reach production goals may include the forage’s energy and protein content, or availability. These factors are impacted by the forage species, maturity, lignin concentration, and ruminal ammonia requirements of cellulose digesting bacterial species.

However, unlike grain-based diets, there is a time period, referred to as the lag phase, required for cellulose digesting bacteria to attach to forage particles. This creates a situation where protein availability in the rumen must match the timing of energy availability in order to achieve optimum microbial digestion.


Bovine Tuberculosis: Officials: Not quite ‘outbreak’

Bovine Tuberculosis: Officials: Not quite ‘outbreak’

By Stephen J. Lee

Grand Forks Herald

Minnesota animal health officials are hoping to persuade federal authorities to define the area where bovine tuberculosis has been found in 11 cattle herds as a relatively small region.

This week, state and federal animal health experts, led by Bill Hartmann, state veterinarian and executive director of the state Board of Animal Health, spoke to cattle owners at four meetings across the state. A fifth meeting, in Pipestone, Minn., had to be canceled because of bad weather.