Monthly Archives: March 2008

Hauling Along

Hauling Along

Mathew Elliott

Angus Journal

One of the biggest revolutions in the livestock industry might be right behind your pickup truck. As with the rest of the world, livestock trailers have evolved since their introduction to the business. Today you can customize your trailer to fit it to your needs and, more importantly, to your cattle’s comfort.


BeefTalk: EPDs Provide Knowledge, Producers Provide Wisdom

BeefTalk: EPDs Provide Knowledge, Producers Provide Wisdom

Kris Ringwall, Beef Specialist, NDSU Extension Service

Bull Buying Tip – Don’t Just Read the Tag, Open the Box Bull Buying Tip – Don’t Just Read the Tag, Open the Box

A sound beef program requires wisdom and knowledge.

“I have pretty much had it with the articles that talk about the importance of expected progeny differences and how great a tool they are for picking bulls,” wrote a producer who had read my column.

After several BeefTalk articles on EPDs, this e-mail got my attention, especially because there is no perfect answer. Every coin has two sides and those who survive in the industry need to realize that.

Sometimes the questions are twisted and turned so they fit the answers rather than the answers actually being direct responses. In reality, all questions do not have answers. Many times, the challenge is to allow producers the freedom to ask a question.


Fall Calving Makes Sense In The Tall-Fescue Zone

Fall Calving Makes Sense In The Tall-Fescue Zone

By Jim Gerrish

Beef Magazine

Spring may not seem the right time to be thinking about the virtues of fall calving, but if you live in the tall-fescue zone of the U.S., you should be thinking about it right now. Spring and early summer is when endophyte-infected fescue is at its most toxic level, and when your cows are most likely bred for spring calving.

Let’s review what’s going on with the cows and the fescue in a spring-calving scenario. We’re going to be kind of hard on these cows and make them eat infected tall fescue hay all winter and then go to infected pastures in the spring. This is the worst-case scenario for a cow-calf producer in the fescue region.


Foot Rot in Beef Cattle

Foot Rot in Beef Cattle

Iowa State University

Foot rot is an acute infectious disease of cattle characterized by swelling and lameness in one or more feet. It also is known as interdigital necrobacillosis, interdigital pododermatitis, and interdigital phlegmon. Foot rot can become chronic if treatment is not provided or is delayed.


This Is the Year to Start a Controlled Calving Season

This Is the Year to Start a Controlled Calving Season

The extremely expensive inputs of feed, fertilizer, and fuel costs have caused many cow calf operations to search for methods of becoming more efficient.  One place where many smaller herds could gain some long-term efficiency is by moving to a shorter, more confined breeding season.  When all the cows are bred at about the same time and are calving together, their nutritional needs are similar.  By contrast, herds with long or year-round breeding seasons, have cows in different production stages consuming the same diet.  Consequently, part of the cows are being underfed, or part of the cows are being over fed, or both.


Research Shows Benefit of Dry Aging

Research Shows Benefit of Dry Aging

Cattle Today

Do any of these words come to mind when you think of beef? Buttery. Rich. Mellow. Superb. Earthy. If traditional beef doesn’t have the taste buds screaming “intense,” then dry-aged beef might arouse the sensory beef experience you’ve been looking for.

Texas A&M University Regents Professor Jeff W. Savell, Ph.D., recently completed an executive summary titled Dry-Aging of Beef as a companion to the 2007 checkoff-funded Industry Guide for Beef Aging which explains the traditional wet-aging process.

Dry-aging enhances beef flavor and tenderness and is used by a growing number of foodservice and retailers for the high-end, gourmet market. Dry-aging is a process where beef carcasses are stored without protective packaging at refrigeration temperatures for one to five weeks to allow the natural processes to occur that result in improved tenderness and the development of the unique flavor that can only be described as “dry-aged beef.”


Health, environmental concerns fuel popularity of grass-fed beef

Health, environmental concerns fuel popularity of grass-fed beef


Palm Beach Post

“I was talking to people and giving it away,” Harris said recently from his White Oak Pastures farm near Bluffton, Ga., where his family has raised cattle since 1866.

Today, Harris, 53, has more demand than supply for his beef, which is born, reared and slaughtered locally. Unlike the vast majority of U.S. cattle, his animals spend their entire lives in pastures and are never trucked to distant feed lots to be fed growth hormones and corn.


Here’s the beef: Local producers find a widening market

Here’s the beef: Local producers find a widening market

Cornelia de Bruin

The Daily Times

San Juan County’s beef producers have a larger market open to them because an export ban recently was lifted.

A ban imposed by Mexico in 2003 because of an isolated case of “mad cow” disease no longer is in effect, U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman’s office announced Thursday.

“This will open the market up more to San Juan County’s major beef producers,” said Randy Nelson, a San Juan County brand inspector. “It’s a good thing for them.”


Morgan County Beef Association wins honors at Awards Banquet

Morgan County Beef Association wins honors at Awards Banquet

The Morgan County Beef Cattle Association of Morgan County (MCBCA) received numerous honors in the 2008 Indiana Cattle and Forage Symposium Feb. 15 at the Marriott East in Indianapolis.

MCBCA President Philip Down was awarded an Indiana Beef Cattle Association jacket for Outstanding Affiliate. The organization also received the Producer Education and Membership awards.


Mexico to resume allowing imports of U.S. breeding cattle

Mexico to resume allowing imports of U.S. breeding cattle

Robert Pore

The Independent

Mexico, the U.S. biggest beef importer, agreed Friday to allow importation of breeding cattle from the United States and Canada effective March 28.

According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Mexico had denied access to U.S. breeding stock beginning December 23, 2003, when the United States announced its first-ever case of BSE.

Since that time, Mexico has only allowed importation of registered U.S. dairy heifers under the age of 24 months, despite in-depth international negotiations to include breeding stock, said Gregg Doud, chief economist for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA).


Mendocino beef industry declining

Mendocino beef industry declining

By Linda Williams

Willits News

While cattle continue to be raised in Mendocino County, the numbers have dropped each year as ranchers struggle to make a living. Countywide in 2007 there were only 17,000 cows, less than half the population of 30 years before.

Most county cattle are sold at auction as either calves or yearlings, likely ending up in one of the large industrial feedlots in the state where they join the large-scale beef production system representative of much of the United States agricultural process. Current practices are based on cheap transportation and generic meat production.


How Manning Beef slaughters, processes a cow into a steak

How Manning Beef slaughters, processes a cow into a steak


The Press-Enterprise

The 1,300-pound steers are led into a 2-foot-wide concrete chute. They make little noise. Some stick their heads out, like dogs looking over a fence. The chute narrows. A gate closes behind the animal.

The steer is in the knocking box. A slaughterhouse worker — the knocker — waits with a stun gun. He cocks. He fires. Propelled by a blank round, a retractable rod penetrates the steer’s skull and brain. A revolving gate opens. The body hits the kill floor — lifeless.


Cattle Fly Control For The Beef Herd

Cattle Fly Control For The Beef Herd

The necessity for a fly control program for beef herds is inevitable and if you haven’t started a program in your herd, now is the time. The two major species of flies that cause the most serious decreases in beef production and require the most control efforts are the horn fly and face fly. The horn fly alone is estimated to cause animal losses to the US beef industry of $700 million. Tests have shown that the annoyance, irritation, and blood loss caused by flies can reduce weaning weights of calves nursing fly infested mother cows by 12 to 14 pounds; average daily gain of grazing yearling steers may be reduced 12 to 14 percent, or as much as 30 pounds, during the grazing season. Both face flies and horn flies annoy cattle, resulting in reduced grazing time and increased energy expenditure.


Meat Industry Faces Challenges in 2008

Meat Industry Faces Challenges in 2008

Cattle Today

After a decade of profitability, U.S. cow/calf producers face increased competition and costs, and a stagnant U.S. economy that may change consumer preferences, according to a new Rabobank report.

In its February “Beef Ag Focus,” Rabobank reports that factors such as higher feed costs, competition for land and weather issues have kept cow supply steady over the years. At the same time, an increase in disposable incomes and changing diets around the world has created strong demand for meats, which has kept prices and profitability high. However, as the U.S. economy falters some products will face a downward trend as consumers seek alternative products that are less expensive.


Weather difficult for Arkansas cattle producers

Weather difficult for Arkansas cattle producers

High Plains Journal

The ups and downs of late winter and spring-like weather have made things difficult for Arkansas beef cattle producers.

“The weather the last month or two has been unpredictable,” said Dr. Tom Troxel, professor/associate animal science department head for the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service. “In any given week, many parts of the state have experienced daytime highs in the upper 60s with bright sunshiny days followed by a drop in temperatures to the 40s with a cold rain or snow.”


Finish Weights Affect Feedlot Value

Finish Weights Affect Feedlot Value

Angus Journal

Every Angus breeder should have a good understanding of cattle-feeding economics. Breeders who market bulls to commercial cattlemen are providing important genetic inputs for the production of our industry’s feedlot-finished steers and heifers. There is, of course, only one generation between the bulls you sell and the feeder calves your customer sends into the beef supply chain.


Managing the Dystocia Calf

Managing the Dystocia Calf

By Geni Wren

Dystocia is defined as delayed or difficult parturition. General causes are fetal-maternal size mismatch, fetal malpresentation and maternal-related causes. Meyers et al reported that 50% of still-births were a direct result of dystocia. A slight calving problem increased the odds of stillbirth by 2.91 in heifers and 4.67 in multi-parous cows. More difficult calvings caused a stillborn in heifers to be 6.76 times more likely and 11.36 times more likely in multiparous cows. In 1996, Wells et al reported that a dystocia requiring forced extraction, compared with unassisted calving, was 4.22 times more likely to result in heifer-calf death within the first 21 days of life.


Trent Loos: Ending of an era

Trent Loos: Ending of an era

High Plains Journal

Labeling it the “Ending of an Era,” on April 11, the final livestock sale will be held at the South Saint Paul Stockyards in Minnesota. No one in agriculture, whether in livestock production or otherwise, can hear about this without feeling some level of regret. Originally built in 1886, the stockyards once covered 260 acres and today consists of a mere 27. Farmers who now use the facility must deal with suburban America in order to make their way to the market destination. You can understand why it makes sense to close such a historic part of American livestock history from a logistical standpoint.


No Humanity in Humane Slaughter Law

No Humanity in Humane Slaughter Law

With meat recalls due to bacterial contamination and the horrific handling and slaughtering of downer cows making headlines in recent months, consumers are increasingly aware of some of the problems occurring behind slaughterhouse doors.

But new documentation reveals how dire the situation really is. The Animal Welfare Institute (AWI) has released the first report of its kind to analyze humane slaughter enforcement at state, federal and foreign slaughterhouses.

Drawing from over 1,000 documents obtained from sources including 60 public records requests to federal and state agriculture departments from 2002 to 2007, the report exposes the lack of sound enforcement at plants throughout the United States and across the globe.


The Best Place to Feed Cattle: The Economics of Feeding Cattle in the Northern Plains†

The Best Place to Feed Cattle: The Economics of Feeding Cattle in the Northern Plains†

 Darrell R. Mark‡

Prior to the 1970s, Iowa ranked first in the number of cattle on feed (see slide 2).  Since then, the commercial cattle feeding industry grew rapidly in Texas, Kansas, and Nebraska.  Southern Plains (Texas and Kansas) cattle feeding in particular grew due to improved feeding performance resulting from more favorable weather and lower energy costs for steam flaking corn.  These advantages were sufficient to offset transportation costs for relatively inexpensive corn imported from the Corn Belt.  As corn prices reach sustained higher levels due to ethanol production in the Corn Belt and cattle feeders can utilize distillers grains as a value-added feed, the competitive advantage of Southern Plains feeders has, to some degree, been eroded.  The extent to which a structural change occurs and cattle on feed numbers appreciably grow in the Northern Plains will depend on several factors, especially cost of gain and feeding performance.