Grazing with Distillers’ Grains
If there is a single trait all successful ranchers share it is the ability to respond rapidly to changing conditions. Perhaps it is a necessity considering the tough economic realities associated with squeezing a regular income out of a less-than-predictable market environment. This tests even the sharpest among us.
Seizing the opportunity when first presented is an art unto itself, and those who have mastered that art usually manage to stay ahead of the pack by turning what appears initially to be a financial disadvantage into an economic opportunity. Today this is especially true for those individuals who have successfully integrated distillers’ grains (DGs) into their grassgrazing strategy.
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Changes in the Fuel Industry have a Big Impact on Production Costs
by: Stephen B. Blezinger, Ph.D, PAS
Without a doubt the most common topic of conversation for livestock producers at this point in time is the high cost of production. Not just feed, not just fuel, not just fertilizer, not just equipment but virtually every component of food animal production has escalated dramatically over the last couple of years. At the core of these cost increases we find the fuel and energy issue. Everyone has felt the effects of rising energy cost as it relates to fuel prices and the cost of a barrel of oil. A couple of years ago we discussed the implications as oil prices surpassed $60 per barrel with some expectation of even higher movement. Recently, oil prices passed the $100 per barrel mark with unleaded and diesel prices at the pump staring hard at $4 per gallon – in some instances having already surpassed that mark.
DNA Testing & Ultrasound: Conflicting or Complementary
Beef Quality Connection
Our previous issue focused on DNA testing, and application of the technology for improving genetic selection of beef cattle. Featured were comments, by University of Missouri geneticist Robert Weaber, explaining how DNA markers can be used to track the inheritance of simple traits controlled by a single gene, or complex traits controlled by many genes. Through marker assisted selection, parent stock known to carry a gene associated with a certain trait can be used to increase the frequency of desirable forms of the gene within a population.
According to Weaber, the potential benefits of marker assisted selection are greatest for traits that have low heritability, are difficult or expensive to measure, or cannot be measured before an animal is used for breeding. DNA testing may benefit selection for carcass marbling and tenderness, for example, by identifying young sires with desirable genetics. Progeny tests and data collection might then be focused on those animals.
Ten Years Later
The past decade has brought tremendous change to beef-production systems across the world. Nowhere is this more true than in South America. It’s these systems — and the changes in them — that draw a great deal of attention as North American producers try to understand what’s going on down south.
One of the most common mistakes is to assume beef systems in Brazil and Argentina are similar in character — and pose similar threats to U.S. beef producers. The reality is the two systems couldn’t be more different.
Creating Productive Cows
“The truth is, making a productive cow from a weaned heifer calf is the most intense and difficult thing that we do in the ranching business.”
Dr. Tom Woodward, Broseco Ranches,-2005 NCBA Cattlemen’s College
This statement emphasizes, in no uncertain terms, the importance of effectively managing replacement heifers. Words like “intense” and “difficult” remind us that these animals need extra care and attention if they are going to make it into the breeding herd, and remain there long enough to generate a positive return on the investment they represent. That includes taking care of basic nutrition, as well as being tuned in to new information that can improve the chances for success.
Mechanic’s lien filed against beef plant
A dispute over billed charges has led to a $2.1 million mechanic’s lien against a beef plant under construction south of Aberdeen.
Scott Olson Digging of Huron filed the lien with the Brown County register of deeds against the Northern Beef Packers plant.
An attorney for the digging company says the plant has paid some of the money but more is owed for work done. He says because of change orders, significantly more work had to be done than was originally agreed upon.
Concerns Mount Over Beef Industry Consolidation
Brazilian JBS Swift & Co.’s intention to buy National Beef Packers and Smithfield Foods’ (SFD) feedlots and beef plant has rekindled consolidation fears in the cattle industry. Some warn of too much consolidation, and the industry is being changed into one that closely resembles the chicken or pork industries.
They fear a situation where producers work their own land and capital for the packers who dictate what cattle to raise under what conditions and to what level of finish. For years, many cattle producers have railed against consolidation already in the U.S. beef-packing industry. They have grumbled at the reduced level of competition for their cattle.
Responding to inaccuracies of Time magazine cover story on biofuels
Responding to widespread inaccuracies in the Time magazine cover story that ran during the first week of April 2008, the 25x’25 National Steering Committee responded with a letter to the editors of Time expressing disappointment with the questionable characterization of biofuels and their role in the issue of greenhouse gas emissions in “The Clean Energy Scam,” by Michael Grunwald. The letter was authored by steering committee member and former Congressman Thomas W. Ewing, who is also the Immediate Past Chairman of the USDA-DOE Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory Committee. The entire letter follows:
While some producers are finishing calving, many are just getting started.
Reporter Sarah Gustin takes us out to one ranch where it isn’t about the size of the herd, but the size of the cow.
Neil Effertz says not only are the calves smaller, but the workload is too
(Neil Effertz / Lowline Producer) “We come here twice a day. Once in the morning, once in the evening and put new tags in the new born calves. And that is all there is to calving.” Effertzs were the first in the nation to start breeding Lowlines
Cattle Fly Control: Methods Of Estimating Horn Flies
Numbers of flies per 1/2 animal may be easily estimated in the field under sunlit or shade conditions. Animals should be selected randomly, and estimates should be made for 10 animals per herd. Experimental results indicate 100 flies/half beef animal is the economic threshold.
Cheers: If you are what you eat, be thankful for conscientious meat producers
Fon du Lac Reporter
Unlike our ancestors, we don’t kill our own meat. We don’t render it or clean up the aftermath. Simply put, we leave the wet work for others.
And, for the most part, most of us like it that way.
With that in mind, we appreciate the proactive approach exercised by Jerry Huth, Al Feucht and other area businesspeople who are committed to top-quality standards within the meat industry.
“Food safety is paramount to the success of our industry,” notes Huth, proprietor of Huth’s Cattle Co. in Oakfield, where he raises Hereford breeding stock and beef steers. “It’s our livelihood and we’re not going to abuse that.”
Spring Time Storms & The Cow Herd
Spring time is thunderstorm season across the Plains. Spring storms occasionally bring severe winds or even tornadoes. Cleaning up after a severe storm is difficult enough. Losing valuable cattle brings additional financial hardship to the situation.
Cattle loss can occur in several scenarios. Livestock may be killed, lost, or stolen during a stormy situation. An accurate accounting of livestock and property is essential to a cattle operation’s storm preparedness. Keep a CURRENT inventory of all animals and the pastures where they are located. Individual animal ID tags on all animals have several other purposes, but can become extremely valuable if cattle become scattered or even stolen. If these records are computer based, consider having a “back-up” copy stored at a neighbor’s or a relative’s house.
A Need to Weed
It’s the talk of the industry. Prices for nearly every input for beef production, from fuel to fertilizer, from grassland to grain, have increased dramatically over the past few years. This means higher production costs across the beef industry but especially in the feeding sector, where high grain prices have hit margins hard. In response, feedyard buyers are willing to pay less and less for cattle this year, squeezing margins for cow-calf producers.
The current economic signals point to a need for efficiency in beef production, and perhaps the best opportunity for better production efficiency is to fall back on the bovine animal’s greatest advantage — its ability to gain weight on forage.
April Beef Management Calendar
Dr. John B. Hall, Extension Beef Specialist, VA Tech
Spring Calving Herds
* Finish calving
* Check cows 3 to 4 times per day, heifers more often â€“ assist early if needed
* Keep calving area clean and well drained, move healthy pairs out to large pastures 3 days after calving
* Ear tag all calves at birth; castrate and implant male calves in commercial herds
* Give selenium and vitamin A & D injections to newborn calves
* Feed cows extra energy after calving; some protein may be needed also
* Implant calves at turnout if not implanted at birth
* Keep high quality, high magnesium, high selenium minerals available
* All bulls need a breeding soundness exam 30 days before start of breeding season