Daily Archives: May 12, 2008

Farm Bill Takes Prisoners

Joshua Zumbrun


Congress and the White House appear headed for a final showdown on a new farm bill this week. Lawmakers say legislation is ready for a vote. The president says he will veto it. Whether the bill has enough support to override–two-thirds from both the House and Congress–remains unknown.

No one is more anxious for an outcome than the nation’s food banks, which have found their future funding held hostage to endless rounds of political debate over the most controversial parts of the legislation, even as the lines at their doors grow weekly.


The Bovine Estrous Cycle

The Bovine Estrous Cycle

George Perry, Extension Beef Reproduction Management Specialist, South Dakota State University

The percentage of cows that become pregnant during a breeding season has a direct effect on ranch profitability. Consequently, a basic understanding of the bovine estrous cycle can increase the effectiveness of reproductive management.

After heifers reach puberty (first ovulation) or following the postpartum anestrous period (a period of no estrous cycles) in cows, a period of estrous cycling begins. Estrous cycles give a heifer or cow a chance to become pregnant about every 21 days.

During each estrous cycle, follicles develop in wavelike patterns, which are controlled by changes in hormone concentrations. In addition, the corpus luteum (CL) develops following ovulation of a follicle. While it is present, this CL inhibits other follicles from ovulating. The length of each estrous cycle is measured by the number of days between each standing estrus.


Prepare Calves for Transition

Prepare Calves for Transition

Kansas State University

As summer approaches, ranchers will begin moving their herd to pasture for grazing. K-State Research and Extension cow-calf management specialist Twig Marston says spring-born calves should be castrated and de-horned soon.


Molasses-Based Feeds and Their Use as Supplements for Brood Cows

Molasses-Based Feeds and Their Use as Supplements for Brood Cows

F.M. Pate and W.E. Kunkle, University of Florida


Molasses-based supplements have been fed to cattle in Florida for decades. In the early years these supplements consisted of molasses alone, but the formulation of molasses supplements progressed and now includes the addition of crude protein, minerals, vitamins, feed additives and intake limiters. A molasses-based mixture can be a high crude protein supplement added to concentrate feeds, a medium to high crude protein supplement fortified with minerals and vitamins fed in a lick-wheel tank or an energy supplement fed in open troughs to cattle grazing pasture or native range. It can be a simple mixture of molasses and urea, or a complex mixture containing molasses, other liquids, natural protein, non-protein nitrogen, phosphorus, several trace elements, vitamins or other feed additives.

While diversity of formulation has been a strong point of molasses-based mixtures, it has also created confusion. Each of the preceding examples can be useful under certain conditions, but of limited value in other situations. For a supplementation program to be successful the class of cattle to be supplemented and the quantities of nutrients supplied by other feeds (forage or other supplements) must be known. Then a proper molasses-based supplement can be selected and fed in quantities to supply needed nutrients.


Are cattle warming the globe?

Are cattle warming the globe?

Lori Weddle-Schott, University of Minnesota Beef Team

Paula Waggoner, Capricorn Communications

Consumers want to save the environment as long as it’s not inconvenient. Since the release of a United Nations (U.N.) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report in 2006, we’ve heard more and more about the carbon foot prints and the green house gases generated in livestock production. That report claims that, on a global basis, raising livestock generates more greenhouse gas emissions as measured in carbon dioxide equivalent than use of fossil fuels in driving cars and trucks. This factoid was picked up the media and has become the latest rallying cry of the anti-meat activist.

Managing Costs and Making Wise Investments

Managing Costs and Making Wise Investments

American Angus Association

Research reported in the Priorities First survey identified key areas important to commercial producers in controlling production costs. Respondents believed strongly that harvested forage and supplemental feed costs must be kept under control. This area was seen as the most critical cost control point. The need to monitor costs on harvested forages and supplemental feeds parallels with various industry research findings.


Early Summer Deworming Of Nursing Calves

Early Summer Deworming Of Nursing Calves


Five deworming trials were conducted at the Eastern Research Station located near Haskell, Oklahoma during the 1990’s. Crossbred cows and their Charolais sired calves were sorted by sex of calf, calf age and cow age, then randomly allotted to one of four treatments: 1) non-dewormed control, 2) deworm calf only; 3) deworm cow only; and 4) deworm cow and calf. Two or three treatments were applied each year including one control group. Each treatment was applied two or three years. Cows and calves were individually identified and weighed in early June. Treated animals received label-recommended dosages of ivermectin pour-on. Pairs grazed in rotation seven bermudagrass pastures overseeded with clover at a stocking rate of 2 acres per cow-calf pair during the 144 to 181-day trials. Initial studies indicated that a low worm infection rate was present in the first two years.


David Hendricks: Meat processing never will be free of abuse

David Hendricks: Meat processing never will be free of abuse

San Antonio Express-News

A new video of “downer” cattle emerged this week from the Humane Society of the United States, showing neglect and mistreatment of ill and injured cows at auction yards in four states, including Texas.

The video follows another widely broadcast in February that showed weak and crippled cattle being pushed toward slaughter by forklifts at California’s Westland/Hallmark Meat Co. The company supplied school lunch programs.

The earlier undercover video led the U.S. Department of Agriculture to recall 143 million pounds of beef, the nation’s largest recall ever. The Chino, Calif., plant was closed.


Forage Nitrate Poisoning

Forage Nitrate Poisoning

O. E. Olson, R. J. Emerick, and E. I. Whitehead

South Dakota State University

Occasionally forages accumulate nitrates in quantities that are toxic to some farm animals. As long ago as 1895, the literature reported cases of this. In the 1930’s heavy cattle losses from what was then termed “oat hay poisoning” were reported in the Great Plains and Rocky Mountain areas. These losses were found to result from the high nitrate content of the hay. It has now been well established that several forage plants and weeds accumulate nitrates in toxic amounts under certain soil and environmental conditions.

Nitrates, regardless of their source, can cause livestock poisoning. However, this pamphlet deals with the problem when forages are concerned. Some mention is made of the occasional involvement of livestock water since nitrates in water contribute to this problem.


Cattleman concerned that industry is not listening to customers

Cattleman concerned that industry is not listening to customers

High Plains Journal

I feel compelled to write this letter on behalf of the beef industry. We are a fourth generation family operation that derives our living from the beef industry. We are involved in every phase including ranching, cattle feeding and beef processing. My concerns are where and what we are producing. U.S. beef has a clear cut advantage worldwide because of our genetics and our feed, the only thing no other country has. Our meat processors also hold to the highest standards of any country in the world.

Livestock producers defend practices animal-rights groups criticize

Livestock producers defend practices animal-rights groups criticize

Accusations draw strong response


Modesto Bee

Depending on whom you ask, livestock farms house healthy, contented animals or dirty, little secrets.

Producers of beef, eggs and other products are defending their industries against accusations from animal-rights groups, some armed with undercover video cameras.

Tuesday, a group called Mercy for Animals alleged that laying hens at Gemperle Farms of Turlock have been pushed roughly into cages and otherwise abused by workers.


Anaplasmosis Prevention

Anaplasmosis Prevention


Anaplasmosis is an infectious disease of cattle caused by a blood-born organism. Anaplasmosis causes a severe anemia because of the destruction of red blood cells. Poor performance, abortion, and even death can result from anaplasmosis. The organism that causes anaplasmosis is moved from animal to animal by transmission of infected blood. In most cases, anaplasmosis is spread by biting insects that take on a blood meal from an infected animal and then move to a susceptible animal. Insects are not the only cause of anaplasmosis transmission. Unclean vaccination needles, and surgical tools (such as dehorners) have also been shown to cause outbreaks of anaplasmosis.


Ethanol only ‘borrows’ food

Ethanol only ‘borrows’ food

DesMoines Register

Very little of the Midwest corn production goes into food directly. Our corn enters the food chain primarily through pork, beef and poultry.

Ethanol only borrows corn from the food chain. Ethanol interrupts the use of corn in the food production for only a few days, at which time the protein originally received is returned to the food chain with no loss of protein. How then does the ethanol industry increase the cost of food for humans?

After the ethanol process is completed, the byproduct is distiller’s grain. With no loss in protein, all the protein is still available for cattle rations, and soon distiller’s grain will be a viable source of protein for poultry and hogs. Ethanol is not a competitor for the protein in corn.


UNL research: Vitamin E can offset beef oxidation on grocery store shelves

UNL research: Vitamin E can offset beef oxidation on grocery store shelves

High Plains Journal

Steaks from beef cattle fed a diet heavy in wet distillers grains may develop an off-color or off-flavor sooner in the grocery store, but the addition of vitamin E to cattle’s feed appears to reduce the problem, according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln research.

Wet distillers grains, a byproduct of the ethanol and corn-processing industries, are an economical cattle feed, and one that Nebraska is particularly well-suited to take advantage of, given its steady corn supply and well-established cattle industry.

“Distillers grain is a great feed for cattle,” said UNL meat scientist Chris Calkins.

However, UNL research found that wet distillers grains increase the amount of polyunsaturated fatty acids–PUFAs–in beef. And that leads to faster oxidation.

MMP: Same…But Different

MMP: Same…But Different


There’s hope on the horizon; after muddling through March, the spot market benefited from a late-April/early-May jumpstart. All the while, the deferred contracts also established some attractive premiums which help improve the outlook for summer providing both packers and feeders walked some near-term optimism: the June and August live cattle contracts have gained $6-7 during the past month with the August contract crossing $100 on May 9. On the cash side, feedyards were able to gain back some ground from March’s tough slugging after fed steers skidded to $86. April sales bounced back to $90+; May business opened with transactions of $92-3 and $94 during the first two trading periods (Thursday/Friday) of the month, respectively. Meanwhile, processor gross margins have hovered around $170 during the past six weeks with sizeable volume (6-week weekly slaughter and beef production is running nearly 5% and 7% ahead of last year’s pace, respectively).


Creekstone Shouldn’t Use Test for Mad Cow, U.S. Says

Creekstone Shouldn’t Use Test for Mad Cow, U.S. Says (Update1)

Cary O’Reilly


Creekstone Farms Premium Beef LLC, the Kansas-based meat producer, shouldn’t be allowed to test beef for mad-cow disease on its own because it could hurt the U.S. cattle industry, a government lawyer told an appeals court.

“They are creating a false assurance” because the test Creekstone wants to use can’t show that meat is completely free of bovine spongiform encephalopathy, or mad-cow disease, Justice Department attorney Eric Fleisig-Greene told the court at a hearing today in Washington.

“The test is not only unnecessary, but it has no value whatsoever,” Fleisig-Greene told the three-judge panel, adding that a “false positive” from the company’s testing would hurt the entire U.S. cattle industry.