Daily Archives: March 11, 2008

Ethanol’s hidden costs

Ethanol’s hidden costs

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

A customer at our restaurant the other day commented that he could not wait till we had lower-cost ethanol available at the gas pumps. Ethanol has been proclaimed by our political leaders as the answer to our country’s independence from foreign oil.

All of us would like to see gas prices where they were a few years ago. But few realize what the push for ethanol will really cost. Maybe we will see the price of gas go down a dollar with ethanol, but the increase in other prices for your everyday items will absorb those savings and much more.


Strategies & Scenarios

Strategies & Scenarios

Kindra Gordon

Angus Journal

The ranching industry has often found itself riddled with change over its long history. But today’s ranchers seem to be faced with change at an even faster pace.

Barry Dunn, director of the King Ranch Institute for Ranch Management, points out that prices for inputs like land, corn, transportation, labor, health care for employees and energy are all rising to historically high levels.

“Rarely if ever have so many key parts of the ranching business realigned themselves as rapidly as they are currently,” Dunn says. He adds that some of these changes — such as improved beef demand and record-high prices for feeder calves — are extremely positive. While other issues — such as viability of rural communities and high fuel and corn costs — present solemn challenges.


10 Tips for Better Handling and Administering of Vaccines

10 Tips for Better Handling and Administering of Vaccines

Hereford World

Vaccinations are an important key to proper animal health and herd health management. And, to ensure that vaccination is as effective as possible, proper vaccine handling and administration are very important. The following tips from Dale Grotelueschen, veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health, will help get you on the right path to better herd health management:


Fluid Therapy Keeps Calves Alive

Fluid Therapy Keeps Calves Alive


On many occasions, as a veterinarian, I receive the complaint that calves are dying of scours, in spite of the prescribed antibiotic therapy. My response to this scenario is…fluid therapy! In many cases, it is not the bug, be it virus, protozoa, or bacteria, which causes the death of the calf, but rather dehydration and acidemia (low blood pH) from the diarrhea. Calves have been snatched from the jaws of death by aggressive and effective fluid therapy.

A calf becomes dehydrated when losses are greater than intake, simply put, the volume of the scours is greater than the amount of milk the calf is nursing from its dam. When this happens, blood volume decreases and the calf has the potential to suffer from the effects of hypovolemia (low blood volume). One of the first of these effects, is lactic acid production by the muscles of the body, because they are not receiving adequate oxygen because there is not enough blood volume for normal circulation. Secondly, the kidneys require a constant supply of circulation, and if blood volume is low, circulation to the kidney may be  hampered, and lead to kidney failure. Because the kidneysare an integral component to regulating acid/base balance in the body, failure of the kidneys also creates an increase in blood acidity (acidemia).


Standards Change for Marketing Grass Fed Meat Products

Standards Change for Marketing Grass Fed Meat Products

Cattle Today

Once their livestock is ready to market, some producers are choosing to engage in the processing, packaging and marketing of meat products themselves. This increases the portion of the consumer dollar that goes back to the farm.

One method that is increasingly popular is the marketing of grass fed beef.

“Many producers are using claims that are associated with certain production practices to better meet consumers’ preferences and differentiate their product in some way,” said Jennifer Dutton, a University of Tennessee Extension marketing specialist with the Center for Profitable Agriculture. “Producers who are marketing these types of products need to be aware of the regulations,” said Dutton. “All product labels and labeling claims, including grass fed claims, must be approved by USDA Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS).”


Moldy Forages May Be Toxic

Moldy Forages May Be Toxic

Hay and Forage Grower

Hay growers should be aware of possible toxicity issues in legumes and grasses, reminds Mike Murphy, a University of Minnesota veterinarian. For example, yellow or white sweet clover that molds after baling can cause bleeding in cows and calves, he says. Mold converts coumerol, a natural component in sweet clover, to dicumerol, which causes bleeding by reducing clotting factors in the blood, Murphy says. Cows that consume the moldy clover may bleed at calving and have weak calves. Horses can also have bleeding problems. Hay containing sweet clover should be core-sampled to test for dicumerol. Testing can be done at the North Dakota State University Plant Diagnostic Lab, Murphy suggests.


Extension Service a vital resource

Extension Service a vital resource


My wife and I live out here in the country.

We are shocked to learn that we are in danger of losing the local Extension Service.

What a shame it would be to let this valuable resource slip away.

Consider what the 4-H program, Master Gardener Program, Master Food Preservers, Forestry and Livestock & Forages Programs bring to the community.


Expert on grazing land offers his predictions, perspectives on cattle

Expert on grazing land offers his predictions, perspectives on cattle
Mike Surbrugg

Joplin Globe

Jim Gerrish, a grazing land consultant, recently spoke at a forage conference in Springfield and offered several perspectives for cattlemen and farmers.

Cattle operations in countries that make more use of forages have positive returns despite low prices and they are not hurt by the rising corn prices linked to ethanol production, he said. Gerrish also predicted that in three years ethanol production will collapse.

A former University of Missouri forage scientist, Gerrish said ethanol requires more energy to produce than it provides, is less efficient than unleaded gasoline, hurts the environment by using more land to grow corn and hurts the agricultural economy.


Prepare for calving season

Prepare for calving season


Glasgow the Daily Times

Providing sound management during the calving season can mean more live calves. Excessive losses can mean the difference between a year’s profit or loss for a beef producer.

It is important to have a short calving period to allow frequent observation and assistance if needed. Some specific things a producer can do to limit calf loss include:

– Separate first-calf heifers from mature cows. Calving difficulty can run as high as 30 to 40 percent for 2-year-old heifers compared to just 3 percent for mature cows. Place them in a small, accessible pasture near a corral where assistance can be given if needed.

– Provide a clean area for calving. The calving area should be a well-sodded pasture or clean, dry maternity pen, not a wet, muddy lot. It should also be large enough for adequate exercise and offer protection from prevailing winds.


Heifer Nutrition: Starting Right

Heifer Nutrition: Starting Right


Replacement heifers represent a substantial investment in the future of a cowherd. Cow/calf enterprises simply can’t afford the reductions in productivity and longevity that can accompany poor feeding management of these young females. Nutritional requirements of heifers are significantly different than those of mature cows, and the two groups should be fed and managed separately. Heifer diets must provide for continued frame growth, as well as reproduction (cycling, pregnancy, milk production). Under-, or over-, feeding a replacement heifer will negatively impact her productivity, starting with her first calf crop and continuing throughout her lifetime.


Seminole Tribe taking a gamble on beef

Seminole Tribe taking a gamble on beef

Seminoles add beef brand to financial empire

By Arlene Satchell

South Florida Sun-Sentinel

Beef could soon be another big business for The Seminole Tribe of Florida.

On Monday, the tribe unveiled Seminole Beef, a commercial brand available now in South Florida at the Shake N Burger food court restaurant at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood. The eatery serves hamburgers made from Seminole beef.

The beef deal has been a dream in the making for about seven years, Richard Bowers Jr., president of the tribe’s board of directors, said.


Nevil Speer, MMP: It’s All In Play

Nevil Speer, MMP: It’s All In Play


Later rather than sooner, less rather than more – at this point at least, it appears that’s how spring highs are shaping up.   Normally, traders would be anticipating a significant seasonal bounce just around the corner.   However, given uncertainty surrounding the market, ’08 expectations need to be reined in.   All indicators are that the typical surge will be somewhat delayed and upside potential will likely be muted in months to come.

Last month’s Monthly Market Profile focused on fed trade’s range-bound dynamics between $89 and $91.   That scenario saw some incremental improvement as cattle weighed up during the first 3 weeks of February at mostly $91-2.   And February ended further into positive territory with negotiations settling at $92-3.  However, that quickly reversed with March’s first week of business; negotiations settled at $91.   At current levels cattle feeders are unable to dig out of a hole; closeouts are leaving $150-200 / head on the table. 


The cow who would not come home

The cow who would not come home

New River Journal/Roanoke Times

Jim Minick

For years an old friend admonished me never to raise livestock. John recounted his days of producing Angus beef, of always fixing fences and chasing runaway bulls. Then one year, he finally sold his cattle and turned to farming strawberries, wondering why he hadn’t changed sooner. With every telling, when John ended his parable, he leaned forward and added this: “Remember, Jim, plants don’t jump fences.”

I listened to his advice for more than a decade, but that all changed recently. On our farm we have 25 acres of pasture, open land too hilly to mow for hay but ideal for raising livestock. Through a friend we found Tim, a cattle farmer interested in grazing 20 steers on the acreage for the summer. Because Tim lives an hour away and operates two other large farms, we agreed to check on these bovines as part of the deal. An easy request, it seems, because we walk by the pasture daily, and because the fence, I thought, was in good repair.


Putting Them to the Test

Putting Them to the Test

Miranda Reiman

Angus Beef Bulletin

Hundreds of cow-calf producers across the United States take time to sort off a few calves that won’t move through their usual marketing routines. They’ll get on a different trailer, bound for “school,” or at least a learning experience for their owner.

Some cattlemen send their entire calf crops through these educational programs, so that they can graduate to produce better beef at home and, perhaps, feed their own pens in the future.

For many participants in “feedout” or futurity programs, these handfuls of cattle serve to represent the entire herd. Others use it as a way to market calves that would otherwise be discounted for small lot size at the sale barn. Regardless of the reason, producers who choose to enroll must do a little advance homework.


Animal ID in Australia: expensive chaos

Animal ID in Australia: expensive chaos

George Lauby

 North Platte Bulletin

The former president of the Australia Beef Association says it was a mistake to adopt a mandatory livestock identification system.

John Carter of Australia recently told a group of independent U.S. cattlemen that there are a myriad of problems with the Aussie’s National Livestock Identification System.

Australia, a desert island in the middle of a huge ocean, has the least disease of any continent. Nevertheless, in an abundance of caution, Australia adopted premise ID for cattle in 1980, using plastic wrap-around tail tags.

But those tail tags were later exchanged for a more modern system, using tiny radio frequency transmitters.

The result is “expensive chaos,” Carter said.