Daily Archives: March 10, 2008

Grazing System Improves Land and Benefits Livestock

Grazing System Improves Land and Benefits Livestock

Clifford Mitchell

Cattle Today

Most winemakers coddle their vines waiting for the exact time to harvest the grapes to produce that perfect vintage. Tobacco growers are constantly monitoring their crop adding water at the right time to make sure the plants yield that expensive cigar. Orange groves are protected from freezing temperatures to try and make sure whatever type, organic, extra pulp, no pulp or calcium enriched, is on the table come breakfast time at an affordable price. Even the do-it-yourselfer, who is unknowingly competing with his neighbors to have his flower beds alive with color and the highly manicured lawn for people to see as they drive through the neighborhood, brings forth a certain passion that can only be shared between man and the ground he works.

To the outsider, most would say the cowboy’s passion is to take care of the animals that walk his pastures. Giving his horse a good rub down and a bite of grain after a hard day’s work or making sure the newborns are sheltered from the next storm. These are jobs that, to most, regularly fall under the term “cow hand.”


Worth doing it right

Worth doing it right

Miranda Reiman

Black Ink

Buy one, get one free! The pitches and semi-annual sale ads pop up in the media continuously. Everybody has a deal for you, the latest stuff at the “hottest” prices of the season.

You can see through the hype. First, it’s not a deal if you don’t really need it. Second, if it’s half off, maybe it’s half value.

The cattle business is in an age of thin margins and rising costs. You don’t want to pass up a chance to save some dough, but it’s no time to get swindled, either. Sometimes it really is this simple: “You get what you pay for.”

Cattlemen certainly don’t lack options for spending. In the categories of supplements, wormers and vaccinations, you can compare costs for hours on hundreds of products. You could take the easy way out and just use the cheapest one, but what if the price point says something about quality or effectiveness? Maybe you need to do a little research of your own.


Carcass Ultrasound 101: Ultrasound vs. DNA testing

Carcass Ultrasound 101: Ultrasound vs. DNA testing

Western Livestock Journal

Ultrasound vs. DNA testing: Carcass tools, not choices.

At first glance, it might seem impossible for a person entrenched in ultrasound to publish any article about DNA testing without sounding biased towards ultrasound. Breeders often consider the two technologies as bitter rivals fighting for the same prize. However, a more in-depth look at each carcass tool reveals that ultrasound and DNA rarely compete directly with one another. Each technology can be aimed at the same genetic “question,” but give entirely different “answers.” Breeders and bull buyers alike need to be aware of what the results mean, not just what they say. In some cases, breeders may be spending money on technology for information their customers don’t want, and buyers may be placing unneeded emphasis on a trait that is not adding to their bottom line. Contrary to what some may believe, carcass ultrasound and current DNA technology can be harnessed together to assess the true genetic value of beef cattle.


Vets Weigh In On Calf Health

Vets Weigh In On Calf Health

Joe Roybal

Beef Magazine

Veterinarian John Peirce created a stir among cow-calf readers of BEEF magazine last fall when he chastised the job cowmen were doing in the health preparation of the calves he was seeing at AzTx Cattle Co. feedyard in Garden City, KS.

“Every pen of calves gives you a report card on its health-management background, and the grade is given in dollars and cents,” he told BEEF Senior Editor Burt Rutherford (“Are You Vaccinating Calves… Or Shooting Blanks?,” page 30, September 2007, BEEF). The grade Peirce was handing out that day was an “F,” saying that 80% of cow-calf producers — because of how they handle (or mishandle) modified-live viral vaccines — do a poor job of preparing their calf crops for the challenges that lie in their future.


Meth, Mazdas outfit the new cattle rustler

Meth, Mazdas outfit the new cattle rustler

Farmers, cows stalked as beef prices rise; Calif. loses $1 million in cattle


Two guys and a four-door sedan.

That’s all it took for cattle rustlers to relieve dairy owner Pete Wiersma of three valuable calves.

Once the province of outlaws and the bane of hardscrabble ranchers who grazed their cattle on the open range, cattle rustling has never gone away. Like the livestock industry, it has only become more efficient.


Care of the Newly Purchased Young Bull

Care of the Newly Purchased Young Bull


March is a time of many production and test station bull sales.  Good young bulls represent an important investment in any commercial beef herd.  Proper care of the young bull will help maximize the genetic improvement that he brings to your ranch.  Any rancher that purchases a young, well-conditioned bull should plan to gradually reduce the fleshiness of the bull before the breeding season.  To let these bulls down, it is a good practice to start them on a ration that is similar to the one to which they have been accustomed, but that is 60 to 70 percent of their previous intake.  The amount of grain can be reduced at the rate of about 10 percent per week until the desired level is achieved.  At the same time, substitutions should be made in the form of light, bulky feeds–such as high quality grass hay or alfalfa hay.  Ideally, this letdown should be completed prior to the time a bull is turned out.  Dramatic nutritional changes can have an adverse effect on semen production, so it is important that these ration modifications be done gradually. 


JBS expansion concerns two senators

JBS expansion concerns two senators

Greeley Tribune

JBS Swift & Co.’s expansion plans don’t sit well for everyone — especially a couple of people in Washington, D.C.

Some members of Congress have expressed concern about consolidation in the beef industry with this week’s announcement by JBS S.A. of the company’s plan to purchase two beef processing companies and the largest cattle feeding operation, which will be operated by JBS Swift of Greeley.

Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, in a press release from his office, expressed concern that further consolidation will reduce market opportunities for family farmers and increase prices and provide less choice for consumers.


Reliance on corn may signal future woes

Reliance on corn may signal future woes

Jerry Hirschm

Knoxville News Sentinel

Corn is a key element of the U.S. food supply. It is what dairy cows eat to make milk and what hens consume to lay eggs. It fattens cattle, hogs and chickens before slaughter. It makes soda sweet. As the building block of ethanol, it is now also a major component of auto fuel.

And that might signal trouble ahead.


Dairy, Angus, Waygu … ‘They’re all edible’

Dairy, Angus, Waygu … ‘They’re all edible’

By Mark Petix

Whitter Daily News

A steak by any other name is a Hereford, an Angus, a Waygu and, oh yes, dairy cattle.

After the recall of 143 million pounds of beef from Chino’s Westland/Hallmark Meat Co., some may be surprised to learn past-their-prime dairy cows are making their way into the food chain.

But while the Holsteins that dominate California’s dairy industry are best known for their milk, experts say beef is beef.

“They’re all edible,” said Jim Oltjen, livestock specialist with the department of animal sciences at UC Davis.


Relationship between Health and Nutrition is Critical

Relationship between Health and Nutrition is Critical

by: Stephen B. Blezinger, Ph.D, PAS

Part 1

Cattlemen, researchers, veterinarians and nutritionists have known for years that the health of an animal is closely tied to the nutritional plane the animal is on. Animals living with substandard nutrient intake are commonly seen to have any number of complications to overall healthfulness, having a greater problem with resistance to disease and in fact, simply maintaining a normal, productive existence.

An area that has gained quite a bit of attention over recent years is the relationship of mineral nutrition in this picture. Feeding of minerals, while generally accepted as necessary, is probably one of the most misunderstood components of a sound cattle production system. As you go across the country and talk to producer after producer, you normally find that they will have some type of a mineral program. These programs will be very diverse and unfortunately, in many cases, completely unsuitable for a specific cattle operation. And, in many cases, this may be true regarding any component of their nutritional program. In general, however, it seems most common in regard to mineral supplementation. It is vitally important for cattlemen, whether they are commercial or purebred producers, stocker cattle operators or feedyard managers to develop and adopt a sound mineral program in order to be productive and profitable. To help develop a sound program for your area contact a nutritionist specializing in beef cattle, either independent or one affiliated with a feed or mineral company. You can also talk to your veterinarian or local extension agent who should be able to give you some guidelines.


States aim to alleviate veterinarian shortage

States aim to alleviate veterinarian shortage

Chico Enterprise Record

Bill Bennett has spent 45 years feeding and herding the 2,500 cattle that roam his rolling eastern Washington ranch. Unable to find a veterinarian to come to his rural place, Bennett’s job has come to include doctor as well.

Farmers and ranchers across the country complain of a shortage of large-animal veterinarians. A federal program created in 2003 to try to help the situation sits dormant while the U.S. Department of Agriculture writes rules, and food safety experts cry out that public health is being endangered.

Veterinarians not only care for cattle, pigs, horses and chickens on the farm, they also monitor and inspect a large portion of the food supply and work as disease researchers. And a shortage has many experts calling the situation a crisis in animal care.


U.S. could approve Korean trade deal by summer: envoy

U.S. could approve Korean trade deal by summer: envoy


Congress could ratify an ambitious free trade deal with South Korea in the next few months, provided a simmering dispute over beef imports is settled, the U.S. ambassador to South Korea said on Monday.

South Korea and the United States in April 2007 struck a landmark free trade agreement (FTA) that studies said would boost their two-way, $78 billion annual trade by $20 billion. The deal has not yet been approved by legislatures in either country.


Cattle Processors Losing Money Took Opportunity to Sell

Cattle Processors Losing Money Took Opportunity to Sell

Surplus kill capacity plays role in JBS acquisitions.

Jason Vance

Farm Futures

JBS announced deals this week to acquire the National Beef Packing Company and Smithfield’s beef processing operation. One of the questions about the transactions is why?

According to University of Missouri agricultural economist Ron Plain the U.S. has surplus kill capacity in the cattle industry, which has lead to beef processors steadily losing money. That is expected to be the case for quite some time; last year’s calf crop was smaller, this year’s crop is expected to be down and Plain expects that trend to continue next year which means a lot of red ink for beef processors.


UPDATE: Dealmaking Sweeps U.S. Beef Market

UPDATE: Dealmaking Sweeps U.S. Beef Market


Ownership of U.S. meat producers is taking on a foreign flavor. The beneficiary: A top-producing meatpacker in Brazil called JBS S.A.

In separate deals this week, JBS, already the world’s largest beef producer, widened its U.S. footprint, making it the No. 1 player ahead of Cargill and Tyson Foods Inc. (TSN)

If the deals are approved, JBS, which has been helped by the rising value of Brazil’s currency against the U.S. dollar, will control around 30% of the U.S. beef packing market.

“JBS has outmaneuvered everybody,” said Steve Kay, editor of Cattle Buyers Weekly in Petaluma, Calif. “They’ve rewritten the history of the U.S. beef- processing industry, buying the third, fourth- and fifth-largest beef packers.”


A Case of Abuse, Heightened

A Case of Abuse, Heightened


New York Times

“We are playing Russian roulette with the American food supply,” thundered Wayne Pacelle.

It was a week ago Thursday, and Mr. Pacelle, the president of the Humane Society of the United States, was testifying before the Senate appropriations subcommittee on agriculture. The hearing was the culmination of an incredible month for the Humane Society. On Jan. 30, the animal rights organization had released a graphic and sickening video of so-called downer cows being horribly abused at a slaughterhouse in Chico, Calif. — leaking the video first to The Washington Post, to reap the maximum publicity (of course!), and then posting it on its Web site. The video, showing weak, emaciated cows being manhandled with fork lifts and repeatedly shocked, among other things, had been made by a Humane Society investigator who had infiltrated the plant. He shot the video over a six-week period in October and November of 2007.