Daily Archives: June 18, 2008

Beef Production in the European Union – A Look into our Future?

Beef Production in the European Union – A Look into our Future?

By Jason K. Ahola, Ph.D.

American Cowman

Events in Europe over the past 20 years indicate that consumer perceptions and fears of disease could have a substantial impact on U.S. beef production

The European Union (EU), which now includes 27 member counties with nearly 500 million people, is a unique region in regard to beef production and consumption. On the supply side, the EU produces about 7.5 Million metric tons (mmt) annually. This makes the EU the fourth-largest producer of beef in the world, behind the U.S. (11.5 mmt), Brazil (9.5 mmt), and China (8 mmt). However, in the past 10 years, EU beef production has declined nearly 15% while the U.S. has been relatively flat and Brazil and China have both increased over 60%.


Penciling Bulls Vs. Steers

Penciling Bulls Vs. Steers

Beef Stocker Trends

Fewer pounds of gain and increased health costs demand running a sharp pencil if you’re considering cutter bulls rather than steers.

Oklahoma State University (OSU) compared 111 calves arriving as bulls (548 lbs.) with 204 steers (524 lbs.) during a 44-day backgrounding period at the Willard Sparks Beef Cattle Research Center. Calves were processed, including surgical castration after 24 hours.

According to Glenn Selk, OSU cattle reproduction specialist, 42.3% of the bulls castrated after arrival became sick at least once, vs. 11.3% of the steers; mortality rate for the castrates was 23.4% vs. 3.9% for the steers. Overall health cost for calves arriving as bulls was $12.30/head, compared to $2.65/head for the steers.

On the other side of the equation, the steers gained more—3.63 lbs./day—than the castrates at 2.97 lbs./day.

’08 and Beyond

’08 and Beyond

Beef Magazine

What a difference a year makes. Livestock Marketing Information Center data shows that last year at this time, Omaha corn was pricing at $3.46/bu., compared with just over $2 the year before. For the week ending May 10, 2008, corn price was $5.90/bu., a jump of 70.5%.

Pulled along in King Corn’s slipstream, prices for other grains were up dramatically as well. Kansas City wheat was at $8.01/bu., up from $4.74 a year earlier, a 69% jump; and southern Iowa soybeans were at $12.89/bu., up from $7.19, a 79.3% increase.

And if a livestock producer’s nerves weren’t already sufficiently frayed, USDA reported that, for the week ending April 27, planting was behind both in expectations and the five-year average for all crops except spring wheat, thanks to water-logged fields. Only 10% of corn was planted, compared to 20% for 2007 and 35% for normal.


Multiple-pasture system could save nitrogen and hay costs

Multiple-pasture system could save nitrogen and hay costs

Western Livestock Journal

—System recommended for most economical use of inputs.

According to experts, the biggest recent change to the cow/calf business has been rapidly inflating fertilizer and fuel costs.

To survive, livestock producers must change the way they manage pastures, said Dr. Gerald Evers, Texas AgriLife Research forage management scientist.

One change that could help livestock producers reduce inputs and make the most of their resources is to develop a three-pasture grazing system, Evers said.


Bovine Genital Campylobacteriosis

Bovine Genital Campylobacteriosis

M.B. Irsik, DVM, MAB and J.K. Shearer, DVM, MS

University of Florida

Bovine campylobacteriosis, formerly known as vibriosis, is a venereal disease of cattle characterized primarily by early embryonic death, infertility, a protracted calving season and occasionally an abortion. It is considered one of the two classical sexually transmitted diseases of cattle, the other one being trichimoniasis caused by Tritrichomonas foetus. The disease campylobacteriosis is caused by Campylobacter fetus venerealis, or Campylobacter fetus fetus both being motile, curved or spiral, polar flagellated, microaerophilic, gram-negative bacteria. Campylobacter fetus was previously named Vibrio fetus, hence the name vibriosis.


John Wayne’s Ranch

John Wayne’s Ranch

Roger Naylor

Arizona Highways

Just as our horses sloshed free of the river, a mule deer leapt from a thicket and bounded off in that effortless, stotting way they have. Jumping, all four feet landing in unison, then pushing off again. The only thing missing was a boing, boing, boing sound effect. Fortunately, thanks to years of cartoon viewing, I keep one in my head for just such occasions.

The muley declined obvious shelter provided by a nearby huddle of oaks, choosing instead to leap a slow, all-eyes-on-me half-circle through tall grass. We understood why a minute later when a small blur of fur blasted from under the hooves of Rose Whitaker’s pinto.

A spotted fawn, sporting comically-long ears, sprinted through a tangle of thistle and wild roses before clambering up a boulder. It crouched motionless. For a minute, we thought we had cornered the Flying Nun.


Grass-fed cows are what’s for dinner

Grass-fed cows are what’s for dinner

The Daily Kansan

Mel and Joyce Williams raise grass-fed cows as opposed to grain-fed, and said they are seeing a difference in taste, quality of the beef produced.

Mandy Earles
Local farm MJ Ranch raises grass-fed cows for local beef sales. The meat is available at the Merc and for individual purchase.

As the months warm up and the cattle gain more weight, owners Mel and Joyce Williams will start to package their unique beef. Joyce said their spring supply of beef had already sold out, but they would soon start to package for the fall months.

Mel and Joyce Williams raise 100 percent grass-fed beef on their ranch outside Lawrence. Joyce, who is a retired nurse, said that grass-fed beef is lower in cholesterol and saturated fats than other beef.

Dale Blasi, beef extension specialist and professor at Kansas State University, said grass-fed versus grain-fed was just a matter of consumer preference. Consumers may worry about the quality of grain-fed beef, but all grain-fed is FDA approved, he said.


All natural’ pays off for beef rancher, Angus herd lives up to label

All natural’ pays off for beef rancher, Angus herd lives up to label

Clinton Thomas

St. Joseph News Press

With costs rising, beef producers who hope to remain profitable must find their niche in a tough market.

Chris and Cas Derks showed how they make their all-natural Angus herd successful in rural Gentry County during the Missouri Agriculture Lunch and Learn Series on Tuesday.

For the Derks family, all-natural means the cattle never receive hormones or antibiotics, eat a vegetarian diet and receive humane treatment. So when the family works cattle, they can’t use the trusty old electric cattle prod.

“Do we have a Hot Shot? Yes we do, and it’s hanging up on the wall. My dad asks ‘Why don’t you put some batteries in that thing so we can use it?’”


Prostaglandins, Rumors and Facts

Prostaglandins, Rumors and Facts

Mel DeJarnette, reproductive specialist, Select Sires

Have you ever told a story at the coffee shop and heard it retold several days later with the details completely changed? Have you had first hand knowledge to an event for which friends or the media gave bogus or exaggerated reports? It’s sad to say, but it appears to be happening more and more these days. Sometimes, I wonder how much I can believe of anything I hear over the news wire anymore. Rumors and half-truths seem to travel faster than facts.

Such appears to be the case with prostaglandins (abbreviated PGF). Introduced in the ‘60s, prostaglandins (marketed as Lutalyse, Boralene and Estrumate) have been part of reproductive management programs through the years. Recently, however, the development of new methods of using prostaglandins in reproductive management programs has resulted in a renewed interest in this hormone. Unfortunately, rumors and myths based on previous experiences with prostaglandins seem to be traveling faster and are receiving greater acceptance than the actual facts. Prostaglandins themselves have not changed over the years, however, the ways we are using them and the types of cows we are using them on have changed dramatically.


Quality Has No Boundaries

Quality Has No Boundaries

Becky Mills

Angus Journal

It’s no secret. Southeastern calves generally aren’t at the top of feedlots’ most-wanted lists. Breaking news: Feedlot operators, especially those interested in quality, might want to rewrite their lists.

In a recent study, Darrell Busby, Iowa State University (ISU) Extension beef specialist, compared data from 27,538 calves in the Iowa-based Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity (TCSCF). All were preconditioned for at least 28 days before shipment to the feedlots. Comparing source of origin, Southeastern calves were treated 5.54% less (see Table 1).

The USDA Choice percentage was the same as that for Midwestern calves, but the Certified Angus Beef® (CAB®) brand acceptance rate was greater by 2.55 percentage points for the Southeastern calves, which beat their Midwestern contemporaries in net returns by $11.32 per head.


Cattlemen SPEAK

Cattlemen SPEAK

Joe Roybal

Beef Magazine

While U.S. beef producers are worried in the short term, they’re mostly optimistic in the long-term about the future of the industry. The majority also feel federal subsidies of grain-based ethanol production are responsible for rising grain costs, and government subsidies and mandates on ethanol production should be eliminated.

In addition, the vast majority is making changes in their management and procurement strategies to reduce feed costs, and about 70% say they will maintain or reduce their herd size in 2008. In addition, 80% say they prefer Republican John McCain over Democrats Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton come November.


Seventeen-year battle over public land grazing and property rights ends with $4.2 million award.

Seventeen-year battle over public land grazing and property rights ends with $4.2 million award.

Western Livestock Journal

One of the most important grazing rights cases in recent history has finally been settled after a 17-year battle between the estate of Wayne and Jean Hage and the federal government. The Hages faced a massive government “taking” of their grazing, water and property rights on their Nevada ranch and fought back for compensation, a fight that took nearly two decades to resolve.

The Hages filed their takings case in 1991, claiming the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) had denied their rights to graze their livestock on federal land and actively prevented them from accessing and maintaining their water rights.

Pine Creek Ranch was established in 1865 and purchased by the Hage family in 1978. The private fee lands encompass 7,000 acres, but as the court points out, “To raise cattle economically in such an arid region, Plaintiffs depend upon access to large quantities of land, including federal land, and to the limited water supply.”


Jessica Simpson’s ‘Real Girls Eat Meat’ T-shirt irritates PETA

Jessica Simpson’s ‘Real Girls Eat Meat’ T-shirt irritates PETA

Andrea Rivera

Arizona Daily Star

Jessica Simpson was recently photographed wearing a T-shirt with the slogan, “Real Girls Eat Meat,” written across her chest and boy did it piss off the people over at PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.


Cattle Rise to Highest Since at Least 1986; Hog Futures Decline

Cattle Rise to Highest Since at Least 1986; Hog Futures Decline

Alan Bjerga


Cattle futures rose to their highest in at least 22 years as the surging cost of corn renewed concern that U.S. feedlots will reduce the number of animals available for beef production. Hogs fell.

Corn, the main ingredient in cattle feed, jumped to a record for an eighth straight session as floods damaged fields in the Midwest. Feedlots lost $50 to $100 a head last week, said Bob Wilson at hedgersedge.com. Cattle futures are up 18 percent since March 31, partly on speculation feedlot owners will be forced to sell more animals at lighter weights.


Well-Known Angus Breeder, Well-Known Angus Sales Manager, Warn U.S. Cattle Industry of Perils if JBS Deals Approved

Well-Known Angus Breeder, Well-Known Angus Sales Manager, Warn U.S. Cattle Industry of Perils if JBS Deals Approved


Dear fellow Angus enthusiasts, U.S. cattle producers and U.S. beef consumers, we want to inform you of a proposal that would significantly change the competitiveness of the U.S. cattle industry.

A Brazilian meatpacker, JBS, recently purchased the third largest U.S. meatpacker – Swift & Co., making JBS the third largest U.S. meatpacker and the world’s largest meatpacker, due to its other global holdings. In March 2008, JBS announced its intentions to purchase the fourth and fifth largest U.S. meatpackers – National Beef Packing Co., and Smithfield Beef Group. This purchase would make JBS the largest meatpacker in the United States and would significantly reduce competition, particularly in areas like Dodge City, Kan., Liberal, Kan., and Cactus, Texas, where these packing plants currently compete against each other for fed cattle.

In addition to the purchase of U.S. packing plants, JBS also intends to purchase the largest feedlot operation in the United States – Five Rivers Ranch Cattle Feeding, LLC, which is currently owned under a joint venture by Smithfield Beef Group. Because Smithfield’s packing plants, which currently are located in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Arizona, are outside the region where most cattle are fed and slaughtered, Five Rivers does not likely provide Smithfield with large volumes of captive supply cattle. Instead, Smithfield likely sells most of its Five River cattle to other packers. However, if JBS purchases Five Rivers and the other two packers, it will become virtually integrated and all of the 2 million cattle fed annually at Five Rivers would be captive supply cattle available to JBS.

We are deeply concerned that the JBS plan to purchase two major packers and to vertically integrate the feeding sector will give JBS an unprecedented ability to manipulate and control cash cattle prices. This would directly impact U.S. fed cattle prices, which would lead to lower prices paid for all classes of cattle, including calves, bulls and replacements.

In December 2007, JBS publicly announced that it intended to increase its beef exports from Brazil by 30 percent. There can be no doubt that JBS intends to capture a large share of the U.S. beef market with Brazilian beef, and this proposed purchase will certainly help to accomplish that goal. The control JBS would acquire over U.S. cattle slaughter would be unprecedented, with experts estimating that JBS would control one-third of all the steer and heifer slaughter in the United States.

In 2006, we cattle producers in the U.S. produced approximately 86 percent of all the beef consumed in the U.S., which means approximately 14 percent of the beef consumed in the U.S. was from imported beef and beef from imported cattle. If a Brazilian firm is allowed to control one-third of U.S. slaughter, and because foreign beef already has captured 14 percent of our domestic market, then nearly 50 percent of all beef consumed in the U.S. will be controlled by foreign interests.

In early 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced that it intended to begin importing fresh and chilled beef from a South American country that borders Brazil (Argentina), even though Argentina had an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease as recently as 2006. If USDA persists in relaxing our current health standards, then the purchases planned by JBS could also subject us to serious animal health issues as well. Another issue of concern is the ongoing instability of South American governments and currencies, which could raise significant national security concerns if such a large volume of our beef production were to be controlled by a Brazilian firm.

Having expressed our concerns for the proposed JBS purchases, it is important that you know what is being done to protect the interests of U.S. cattle producers.

The U.S. Department of Justice is charged with reviewing mergers such as these to determine: 1) if they would lessen competition within the industry; and 2) if they would result in the exercise of market power (in other words, would the merger give the merging firms the ability to manipulate or control prices?). The Justice Department is currently conducting an investigation to determine the potential effects of these particular mergers. In addition, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee has indicated that it would likely hold a hearing to investigate the potential impacts from these mergers.

On April 3, 2008, the Justice Department indicated that while these mergers would greatly concentrate the beef packing industry, concentration alone does not violate antitrust laws. The Justice Department, therefore, must find evidence that the concentration would result in less competition or more market power, and it is going to need help from our industry to compile this evidence. We must look at this issue from a long-term perspective as well. What would we do if JBS later attempted to purchase Tyson Foods or Cargill Meat Solutions, or both?

If we look at what already has happened to purebred swine breeders when the U.S. hog industry became highly concentrated and vertically integrated, it is clear that purebred cattle producers would be the first in our industry to suffer the consequences of further concentration and further integration. This is because, like in the swine industry, vertically integrated firms want to control not only the volume of supplies they need, but also, they want to control the genetics of the supplies as well, often engineering their own genetics and requiring commercial cow/calf producers to purchase their semen or their bulls. This would put many registered breeders out of business.

What can you do?

1) Write your U.S. Representative and two Senators and urge them to take steps to prevent the proposed JBS mergers on the grounds that they will reduce competition in your industry.

2) Write the Justice Department and explain how the JBS mergers would negatively impact your operation. Write to: The Honorable Thomas Barnett, Assistant Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Operations, Premerger Notification Unit, Room 3335, 950 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20530.

3) Write to your state Attorney General and urge him or her to take steps to prevent the JBS mergers.

4) Our industry must immediately organize to stop these mergers. R-CALF USA has already stepped to the plate and provided the Justice Department, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and state Attorneys General with a white paper explaining why these mergers would harm our industry. You can obtain a copy of this white paper under the “Competition Issues” link at http://www.r-calfusa.com. R-CALF USA relies exclusively on contributions to protect the interests of U.S. cattle producers, so we ask you to contribute any amount you can afford to R-CALF USA so it can effectively fight this merger.

5)Also, because numbers mean power, we encourage you to help strengthen the voice of the cattle industry by becoming a member of R-CALF USA. Membership dues are $50 per year, or $140 for three years. You can mail a check for your membership and a contribution to the R-CALF USA office at P.O. Box 30715, Billings, MT 59107, or you can call 406-252-2516 and pay your dues with VISA, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover.

Please join your fellow cattle producers to help stop the JBS purchase of additional beef packing plants and feedlots in the United States.