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.”


Adding Value To Harvested Forages

Adding Value To Harvested Forages


Cost-effective feeding programs maximize utilization of available, low-cost forages, while still supplying the nutrition needed for profitable performance. But many of the roughages harvested for beef cattle lack the nutritional content — and intake potential — to meet the herd’s needs. Hay that is stored for an extended time typically has even lower nutritional quality. Yet basic economics encourages use of even the worst bales, especially in times of limited forage supply and high hay prices.

Treating low-quality hays and crop residues — in big bales, stacks, and processors — with a molasses-based liquid protein supplement will increase both intake and digestion of these feedstuffs, while at the same time providing additional key vitamins and minerals.


Researchers link E. coli, ethanol by-product

Researchers link E. coli, ethanol by-product

Mark Steil

Minnesota Public Radio

The number of E. coli-related beef recalls jumped last year. And now federal researchers are investigating whether cattle feed made from a by-product of ethanol production promotes E. coli growth in cows. Prior research has established a link between E. coli and distillers grain, an ethanol leftover that’s a popular source of cattle feed.

Obama Vs. McCain – What’s The Difference?

Obama Vs. McCain – What’s The Difference?

Troy Marshall
Beef Magazine

With the top of the two party tickets now seemingly fixed, we can now – from an ag and, more importantly, a ranching perspective – try to determine what their promised change is going to be. The answers may not be all that comforting, but it always pays to be proactive rather than reactive from a management standpoint.

First of all, the harsh reality is that ag is so far down the list of priorities of either candidate that we aren’t even on their radar screens. Some might consider such anonymity to be a good sign but the fact is their positions on many issues stand to seriously affect us.


Treating two activities as one for tax purposes

Treating two activities as one for tax purposes

Western Livestock Journal

Sometimes a farm, livestock or horse activity may be closely connected to one’s principal occupation, with certain tax advantages. If two activities are treated as one, deductions and income from each activity can be aggregated in deciding whether the taxpayer has the requisite profit motive under the IRS hobby loss rule. This is extremely helpful for many people involved in farming, ranching and horse activities.

For example, a livestock insurance agent might combine that business with his ranch, and aggregate the profits and losses. Or an architect of horse farms might combine that with his horse breeding activity. Or an animal supply business might combine that with its dog breeding-showing venture.


Second brucellosis case found

Second brucellosis case found


Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Brucellosis has been detected in a Paradise Valley cattle herd, the Montana Department of Livestock announced Monday.

That means the Montana beef industry loses its brucellosis-free status; it also means extra expense and labor for ranchers all over the state.

Gov. Brian Schweitzer said Monday he was saddened but not surprised by the news, an event he has predicted several times.

“It’s not a proud day,” he said. “But it’s not one that didn’t come without a lot of predictions.”


HEAT STRESS, Getting Back to Basics

HEAT STRESS, Getting Back to Basics

By Mel DeJarnette, reproductive specialist, Select Sires

It’s no secret that many areas of the United States (especially the tropical, subtropical, and arid zones) experience significant economic losses each year due to stresses suffered by cattle during warm weather. These losses are manifested directly as losses in milk production, weight gain, or indirectly as a result of decreased reproductive performance. This decrease in reproductive performance is usually expressed as an increase in services/conception, decreased conception rates, increased average days open and decreased pregnancy rates.


Idaho’s Bilingual Dairy Publication Helps Improve Cull Cow Beef Quality

Idaho’s Bilingual Dairy Publication Helps Improve Cull Cow Beef Quality

Western Farmer-Stockman

Sales of cull animals make up about 5% of a dairy income today, but a University of Idaho beef specialist says that figure could double by managing livestock for beef as well as milk.

While a lot of dairy beef still goes to make hamburger and bologna, Jason Ahola says more than half is fabricated into high-value products like marinated steaks, roasts, deli roast beef, Philly stakes and fajitas. To help dairymen capture more potential profits from these products, Ahola and UI Extension Dairy Specialist Mireille Chahine and others have released a 16-page training guide, Idaho Dairy Beef Quality Assurance, in Spanish and English.

Cattle Handling Techniques, Demonstrations Planned for Beef Cattle Short Course

Cattle Handling Techniques, Demonstrations Planned for Beef Cattle Short Course

Texas A&M

Cattle-handling, safety and chute-side work will be featured at the Texas A&M Beef Cattle Short Course Aug. 4-6 in College Station.

“The highlight of the Wednesday morning (Aug. 6) cattle demonstrations will be a discussion on low-stress cattle-handling principles and techniques by Curt Pate,” said Dr. Ron Gill, Texas AgriLife Extension Service livestock specialist.

“He’s a well respected stockman from Montana,” Gill said. “He’s a rancher that understands the importance of production efficiency and the economic benefit of handling cattle correctly.”