Daily Archives: June 10, 2008



Ah, what a tangled web we weave in our search for market niches. What has caught my eye is the USDA-AG Marketing Services’ solicitation of comments regarding changing the requirements for livestock to be called, “Naturally Raised.”

I feel the need to explain that I am heartily in favor of grain growers, dairymen, poyoqueros (chicken cowboys), and ranchers, finding a niche market. One that has a perceived benefit to entice the consumer. For instance, “Florida Oranges,” “Seedless Grapes,” “Free Range Chicken,” “Wild Salmon,” or “Buffalo Shot in Yellowstone Park!”


Spaying Heifers as a Management Tool

Spaying Heifers as a Management Tool

Lori Weddle-Schott, U of M Beef Center

Daryl Meyer, DVM

Heifer spaying is a management tool with several advantages that outweigh the few disadvantages. For cattlemen unfamiliar with the procedure, here’s a quick review. Spaying (ovariectomizing) female cattle is the surgical removal of the ovaries, or female castration. This removes the primary source of estrogen, the hormone that causes estrus. It also, removes the source of ova, which combine with sperm cells after mating to initiate pregnancy and the production of the progesterone hormone. Spaying heifers maintains stocker and feeder heifers in an “open” or neutered status. This also enables early detection of pregnant stocker heifers accidentally bred at a young age.


Protect Your Herd From High-Sulfate Water

Protect Your Herd From High-Sulfate Water

Burt Rutherford and Lance Nixon

Beef Magazine

Connee Quinn’s terse note to herself from the summer 2002 is as searing as the drought that withered that year’s shortgrass prairie: “Hot and dry,” she wrote. “Lost 12 head.”

It wasn’t the first time she and her husband, Reuben, had learned how devastating the Great Plains environment can be on livestock. It was worse in 1998, when 15 head died of mysterious causes, while others got sick.

For the Quinns, who ranch in southwestern South Dakota and live near Chadron, NE, it was like a multiple-choice test question with no good answers. “The symptoms of the cows that were still alive indicated some type of central nervous disorder,” Connee says. At first they suspected poisonous plants.


Managing Bull Fertility in Beef Cattle Herds

Managing Bull Fertility in Beef Cattle Herds

Gary R. Hansen

University of Florida

Reproductive success is essential for cow/calf producers to be profitable. Research has shown that a one percent change in reproductive performance will generate up to 3 times more return on investment for cow/calf operators when compared to a one percent change in production and/or product performance. Fertility in a beef herd is a combination of cow fertility, bull fertility, cows detected in estrus, and cows mated, all of which are multiplicative. If one factor is low, the overall fertility of the cow herd is low (table 1). Assuming nutritional status and disease prevention is adequate, cow fertility is important on an individual basis while bull fertility is important across the whole cow herd as bulls can affect reproductive success across several females. This problem is exacerbated in single-sire herds where an infertile bull leads to reproductive failure of the cow herd which results in economic disaster.


Beef’s Place in Retail

Beef’s Place in Retail

Steve Suther

Angus Journal

Cattlemen must continually evaluate market conditions and make adjustments accordingly. It’s no different for businessmen on the other side of the beef chain.

Meat marketers completed a survey of 121 retail stores in metro areas across 34 states and compared it to a similar report from 2004. “The 2007 National Meat Case Study” identified the ways retailers are responding to their consumers.


Cattle Preconditioning: Strategic Deworming

Cattle Preconditioning: Strategic Deworming


Dewormers for beef cattle come in several forms including paste, injectable, drench, pour-on, bolus, and as a feed or mineral additive. Products also have various lengths of activity and costs.

Strategic Deworming

Strategic Deworming involves developing a program with the goal of maximizing the economic benefit of deworming cattle while also removing the larvae from infected pastures. Animals have often been dewormed at the start of the grazing season and at the end, but this is insufficient. One deworming in the spring is not cost effective because it does not prevent a buildup of the worm burden later in the grazing season. Deworming in the fall may prevent the “sleeping” larvae from doing damage the following spring. However, this is only the case if the right drug is used and cattle are kept off contaminated pastures following deworming. Newer deworming programs, based on current knowledge of the persistent activity of dewormers, provide for much greater benefits of deworming. Studies have shown that strategic deworming programs can provide 30-100 extra pounds of gain per grazing season. In order to be most effective, these programs should start when cattle are first turned on to pastures to graze in the spring, with subsequent dewormings depending on the length of persistent activity of the chosen dewormer. Studies have also shown that an adjusted strategic deworming program can be accomplished by deworming at turnout and midsummer.


A Chat With Randy Blach On The Beef Economy

A Chat With Randy Blach On The Beef Economy

Wes Ishmael

Beef Magazine

Summing up the state of the cattle business has never been easier: input costs are historically high and likely to climb higher, in a volatile manner that often defies logic.

Figuring a way to the other side has never been tougher: cow numbers are declining, the traditional cattle cycle is in hibernation, and dog-eared rules of thumb no longer apply.

“Though costs are at extreme levels, that doesn’t mean they’re as high as they’re going to get,” says Randy Blach, Cattle-Fax CEO. “None of us thought we’d see Minneapolis wheat selling on top of $20, but we have. None of us ever thought our economy could support oil prices at $120/barrel, but the market has marched right through it.”