Daily Archives: March 4, 2008

Castration Dos and Don’ts

Castration Dos and Don’ts

Pointers to help producers sell heavier, healthier steers.

Sara Gugelmeyer

Hereford World

Castration of bull calves is a practice that most producers perform every year without question. And yet, there is still a percentage of feeders sold intact at a discount because they haven’t been castrated. Plus, even for those producers who do castrate, it’s important to be sure to use the correct technique and perform the procedure at a time when it is best for the animal’s welfare and ensures you will take home more money from the sale.


Udder Importance

Udder Importance

Kindra Gordon

Angus Journal

With the spring calving season around the corner, it’s time to get the calving book ready for recording calving date, birth weight, etc. But you might consider adding an extra column to the data you collect this year — teat and udder scores for the cow.

Sure, you’ve likely tracked those cows with “bad bags” in the past and culled them after weaning. However, because most udder and teat characteristics appear to be heritable, seedstock producers are being encouraged to score teat size and udders for the entire herd and use the information in future selection decisions.

The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF), which is made up of beef producers, breed association representatives and university researchers, is leading this charge. In June 2007, the BIF Board adopted guidelines to standardize future teat and udder scoring.


Trent Loos: It’s all a part of cycle of life

Trent Loos:  It’s all a part of cycle of life

There is a statement I have learned to live by for the past seven years in public life: “There is no such thing as bad PR.” Yet, recent events with a meat recall and animal cruelty charges at a California slaughter plant must make one wonder where the silver lining will be in this current storm.

The challenges continue to mount as animal rights organizations that want to limit our dietary choices pick up steam. The fact that the kid in the grocery store doesn’t know where his milk comes from isn’t even the real concern compared to the anxiety and lack of knowledge about how animals are treated in U.S. meat production facilities.

We were all shocked by the video footage from the California plant. One point, generated by the Center for Consumer Freedom, that most Americans haven’t thought about is that there is evidence that undercover investigations by animal rights groups have been taking place in packing plants since the first positive case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in 2003. It likely took five years and who knows how many spies to finally find this damaging video footage.


Charolais Viewpoint: The Transformation Of The Beef Industry Continues

Charolais Viewpoint: The Transformation Of The Beef Industry Continues   


If anyone is left in the cattle business who can’t see fit to acknowledge our role in the food chain, they just might want to reconsider, one more time, that line of thinking. As the beef  industry continues the transformation from a commodity-based system to a system that actually pays for quality, food chain connectivity becomes even more evident. And regardless of your choice of media, recent industry news is not good.


March Beef Management Calendar

March Beef Management Calendar

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

Spring Calving Herds

Move pregnant heifers and early calving cows to calving area about 2 weeks before due date

Continue calving

Check cows 3 to 4 times per day, heifers more often – assist early if needed

Keep calving area clean and well drained, move healthy pairs out to large pastures 3 days after calving

Ear tag and dehorn all calves at birth; castrate male calves in commercial herds

Give selenium and vitamin A & D injections to newborn calves


MT Cattlemen rounding up beef to feed the needy

MT Cattlemen rounding up beef to feed the needy


The Montana Cattlemen’s Association Foundation has launched the “Beef on Every Table” drive. The goal is to supply packages of hamburger to many hungry Montanans.

The foundation is asking its members, and any other ranchers, to donate. Their goal is to raise 100 cattle for the program this year.

So far, 18 cattle have been processed, with 20 more in the works.


The Winds of Change

The Winds of Change


I spent most of my life in Kansas; I can appreciate the use of wind as an analogy for strong, driving forces. That may also explain why I like this little observation from Despair, Inc.:

When the winds of change blow hard enough, the most trivial of things can become deadly projectiles. Change was the overriding theme at the NCBA convention earlier this month. Barry Dunn, Texas A&M Kingsville, put it this way: “The industry is about to face a confluence of economic conditions and policies that, taken separately, would be sobering. The fact that they will happen simultaneously over a very short period of time is almost numbing.” We know what the big changes are; we face them every day. The most obvious is probably the increase in input costs. Prices have jumped for almost every expense item, especially feed and transportation. The fight for acres is just beginning, and grazing operations will face increasing pressure from alternative uses for hay and pasture ground. The USDA projects a SEVEN MILLION ACRE increase in row crops this year, and loss of agricultural ground to development and dedicated recreation use continues to be significant, as well. The options available for marketing cattle, and the requirements to participate, are a moving target. The amount of information — and misinformation — that is readily available from ever more sources is almost mind-boggling. CattleFax has declared the traditional cattle cycle to be “on life support,” replaced by a ‘production and technology cycle’ that is driven by our ability to produce more pounds from fewer animal units.


So You Synchronized Estrus — Now What?

So You Synchronized Estrus — Now What?

Mel DeJarnette, reproductive specialist, Select Sires

Systematic breeding programs such as Ovsynch and target breeding have allowed many dairy producers to reduce days to first service and improve pregnancy rates to these early inseminations. This usually translates into improved overall reproductive performance in other traits such as average days open and calving interval. However, some herds have found that despite these improvements, other barometers of reproductive performance do not appear to have changed much. This is likely a result of assuming that these breeding programs eliminate the need for estrus detection.


Retracing the Beef-Supply Trail

Retracing the Beef-Supply Trail

After Recall, Swift Data Collection Is Paramount for Food Companies


Wall Street Journal

As food makers scramble to comply with the nation’s largest beef recall, their system of data collection — which can trace the origin of the contents in its products down to the individual can — is being put to the test.

H.J. Heinz Co. discovered over the weekend that it has one product — Boston Market lasagna with meat sauce — that contained beef from Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co. Yesterday, Heinz recalled 40,000 cases of the product.

Pittsburgh-based Heinz discovered that beef from Hallmark/Westland made its way into the 12.5-ounce cartons of Boston Market lasagna by conducting its own investigation, which involved looking at the source of meat for all of its U.S. products and then determining whether any of its suppliers or co-packers used beef from Hallmark/Westland. Because the beef Heinz used in its lasagna was blended with beef from other suppliers, it took some time to pinpoint the source.


Japan snafu won’t slow talks to boost beef trade-USDA

Japan snafu won’t slow talks to boost beef trade-USDA


A 20-tonne beef shipment to Japan that mistakenly contained extra boxes of meat intended for distribution in the United States won’t slow efforts by the Agriculture Department to fully reopen trade with it’s one-time largest customer, a USDA spokesman said on Monday.

The beef shipment included an additional 25 boxes that had not been ordered, but were being held in the same Arizona facility. The plant, operated by Smithfield Foods Inc (SFD.N: Quote, Profile, Research), has been temporarily banned from shipping beef to Japan.


Dark color doesn’t affect beef quality

Dark color doesn’t affect beef quality

Mike Surbrugg

Mineral Wells Index

Why are some cuts of beef in the meat counter dark?

Eldon Cole, University of Missouri Extension livestock specialist, said it is the result of physiological changes that take place after the animal has been harvested that causes meat to be dark rather than bright red. It impacts a small percentage of beef.

It could be attributed to animal stress prior to harvesting. It could be tied to summer heat or cold winters that can impact individual animals differently.


ISU receives grant to study grazing management

ISU receives grant to study grazing management


The Record Herald

Iowa State University has received a $399,770 grant from USDA’s Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service through the National Research Initiative Water and Watershed competitive grants program.

The Iowa State project will look at the effects of grazing management and pasture improvement practices that alter timing, frequency, duration and intensity of beef cattle grazing in or near pasture streams.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer said the grant is one of 14 totaling $5.2 million made to universities and the Environmental Protection Agency to conduct research into improving and maintaining healthy watershed habitat and water supplies.


Getting Ready For Breeding Season

Getting Ready For Breeding Season


Opportunities to manage cattle for breeding success pretty much begin at weaning (or even before) and are pretty much over with by the end of calving season. That is, by the time breeding season commences, it is usually too late to do anything to improve success. Supplemental feeding programs, forage programs, heifer and bull development programs, vaccination programs, etc. all take time in order to work.

Supplemental feeding is only a cost-effective means of managing herd nutrition when there is an adequate supply of standing or harvested forage available. Benefits of a well managed hay program last summer will be reaped during this spring’s breeding season. It is important to harvest quality hay and have it tested for nutritional quality; then store and feed it properly. Similarly, on native pastures, a critical time to do a forage inventory is in the fall – at the end of the growing season. Adjust stocking rates accordingly because in cooler, drier regions of Texas, this is typically all of the forage that will be grown (or available) during the critical winter supplementation period. In some areas of Texas, the opportunity to provide high quality cool season improved forage exists (ryegrass, clover, wheat, etc.). Plan and implement those programs in the fall.


Senators object to increased beef and lamb imports from Argentina

Senators object to increased beef and lamb imports from Argentina


Senators from Western ranching states are objecting to a Department of Agriculture plan they say would loosen restrictions on beef and lamb imports from Argentina.

Argentina has seen outbreaks of foot & mouth disease, a highly contagious viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals like cattle and pigs.