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Friday, June 6,2008

Tyson chickens test positive for avian influenza

by WLJ
Tyson chickens test positive for avian influenza Tyson Foods announced on June 3 that a flock of chickens at a farm in northwest Arkansas have tested positive for a mild strain of avian influenza. The company said that they are working cooperatively with USDA and the Arkansas Livestock and Poultry Commission to manage the exposed flock of breeder hens. Preliminary tests on the flock indicate the presence of antibodies for H7N3 avian influenza, however, there is no indication the birds currently have the virus. The 15,000 chickens involved show no signs of illness and the situation poses no risk to human health. News of the virus caused Tyson’s shares to fall 7.9 percent lower, to $17, during afternoon trading. Market analysts fear that while the outbreak may be harmless, the economic effect to the U.S. poultry industry could be large if other countries ban U.S. poultry. Russia has taken similar measures in the past, and if countries such as Japan join in banning poultry from Arkansas, there could be significant effects. The discovery came as part of routine, pre-slaughter surveillance conducted by the company. The strain involved is low pathogenic H7N3. It is not the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus that has previously affected birds in Asia, Europe and Africa. Even though the affected birds do not currently have the virus, the flock is being depopulated as a precautionary measure and will not enter the human food chain. While the birds’ exposure to this strain of avian influenza poses no risk to human health, USDA’s policy is to eradicate all H5 and H7 subtypes. As a preventative measure, Tyson is also stepping up its surveillance of avian influenza in the area. The company plans to test all breeder farms that serve the local Tyson poultry complex, as well as any farms within a 10-mile radius of the affected farm. The increased surveillance is in addition to Tyson’s existing testing program which involves the company checking all flocks for avian influenza before they leave the farm. The test results are known before the birds are shipped to a Tyson plant for processing. — WLJ

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Friday, June 6,2008

How can retained placenta problems be prevented?

by Miranda Reiman, Certified Angus Beef
How can retained placenta problems be prevented? Since there are many causes of retained placenta, there is no simple answer. Some of the obvious answers include: (1) don’t allow cows to get too thin or too fat before calving, (2) reduce stress near calving as much as possible, (3) prevent exposure to pine needles, juniper trees, and pine trees (particularly ponderosa pines) before calving, (4) make sure your trace mineral and vitamin supplementation program is adequate, (5) prevent foothill abortion problems, and (6) maintain a sound vaccination program to minimize the chance of viral or bacterial abortions. Because calving problems often result in retained placenta, it is important to consider the appropriate selection of genetics for your herd as a part of prevention. One of the useful tools is birth weight Expected Progency Differences (EPDs). Lower birth weights will decrease calving problems if all other factors are equal. However, it is also important to remember that big cows with big pelvic canals can have big calves easily. So select bulls with birth weight EPDs in keeping with your herd. Also, remember to look at the bull’s actual birth weight data and remember that the birth weight EPD numbers are not the same between breeds. One breed can have a bull calf with a birth weight of 100 pounds and a birth weight EPD of 1.0 while another breed can have a bull calf with a birth weight of 80 pounds and a birth weight EPD of 5.0. Obviously, the second bull will tend to have calves with lower birth weights if all other factors are equal. Another tool available is pelvic measurements in yearling heifers. The value of this tool is to cull replacement heifers with small pelvic canals before breeding for the first time. Regarding birth weights, it is important to remember that the cow or heifer has 60 percent of the "input" into how large the calf is going to be. Therefore, genetic selection of the cowherd has more impact than the one time selection of the bulls. If you don’t have problems with retained placenta, that is excellent. If you do, there are a number of important items you will need to consider and discuss with your veterinarian. — John Maas, Extension veterinarian, University of California-Davis

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Friday, June 6,2008

Beef Bits

by WLJ
Tyson removes antibiotic-free label Under pressure from regulators and competitors, Tyson Foods Inc. recently withdrew its antibiotic-free chicken label awarded by the Agriculture Department barely a year ago. The company said in a recent news release that it was "voluntarily" withdrawing the label "due to uncertainty and controversy over product labeling regulations and advertising claims." Soon after USDA approved the label in May 2007, Tyson’s competitors cried foul. In September, Tyson was notified by the agency that it had made a mistake in awarding the label because Tyson was using ionophores, an antibiotic widely used in the industry. Australia eyes entry into Chinese beef market A recent delegation led by Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) to China has visited with more than 140 importers and retailers over the course of the 10-day visit. The trip is designed to create connections in the country, where Australia is pushing strongly to expand its exports of red meat. Glen Thompson, MLA’s regional manager for Southeast Asia and China, said the market is almost 100 percent supplied by domestic product, but that the sheer size alone offers marketing opportunities for Australia’s red meat industry. More burgers appearing on menus Whatever they’re calling it, however they’re dressing it up, restaurants are putting burgers on the menu with increasing frequency, according to market research company NPD Group and Datassential, a foodservice research firm. The two firms found that 7 percent more restaurants, from quick service to fine dining establishments, offered burgers on their menus in 2007 than two years earlier. In fact, burgers comprised 14 percent of all restaurant orders last year, or the equivalent of 8.5 billion burgers. In many cases, the ingredients have become more exotic. For example, cheddar cheese has been replaced in some cases by pepperjack, Parmesan and Tillamook. Restaurants with pepperjack burgers on the menu grew by 25 percent last year over the number in 2006. USDA on inspection trip to Brazil USDA officials will depart for the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina this month to assess fresh beef and pork production conditions there. The trip is a result of discussions which were recently completed by the U.S. and Brazilian delegates at the Consultative Committee on Agriculture held in Brasilia. The U.S. hopes to export cattle and beef to Brazil, and Brazil hopes to send fresh beef and pork to the U.S. USDA will determine the risk of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in the state of Santa Catarina. It has been one year since the state received official recognition from the World Organization for Animal Health as being FMD-free, though many in the U.S. fear that the country’s regionalization efforts are not effective. Global beef trade may expand 40 percent World trade in beef and pork is expected to grow by more than 40 percent by 2017 while poultry trade expands by just below 40 percent, according to the latest Agricultural Outlook from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Increased import demand for beef and pork will be dominated by OECD countries while Asian developing countries will drive poultry import gains, the study predicts. Between now and 2017, average global prices for both beef and pork are expected to rise by about 20 percent, while wheat and corn prices rise 40 percent to 60 percent, and oilseed prices increase by more than 60 percent, as compared to average prices from 1998 to 2007. AMI to host two webinars on COOL The American Meat Institute (AMI) will host two webinars in June about implementation of mandatory country-of-origin labeling (COOL), which is scheduled to go into effect on Sept. 30, 2008. AMI Senior Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and General Counsel Mark Dopp will discuss what meat products must bear origin information, how labeling should be written, as well as record-keeping and other requirements. The first webinar will be held June 10, 2008, at 2 p.m. EST, and will be an informational presentation, with Q&A as time allows. Participants may submit questions to AMI and these questions will be addressed in a second, follow-up webinar June 12, 2008, at 2 p.m. EST. To register, visit: http://www.meatami.com/ht/d/MeetingDetailsMO/mid/00000016. Australia’s beef exports to Russia more than doubled in May, from April, making it the second-biggest buyer, overtaking the U.S. and South Korea. Exports to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), chiefly Russia, in May rose to 17,557 boneless metric tons from 8,426 metric tons in April, both up from 87 metric tons in May last year, according to figures supplied by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. Exports to CIS in the first five months of this year rose to 30,749 tons, compared with 532 tons in the year-earlier period, figures show. Total Australian beef exports in May totaled 93,933 tons, up 6.4 percent on the month and up 5.4 percent on the year.   Australia doubles beef exports to Russia

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Friday, June 6,2008

Record $108.5 billion agricultural exports forecasted for 2008

by WLJ
Record $108.5 billion agricultural exports forecasted for 2008 U.S. Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer recently announced an updated quarterly forecast for U.S. agricultural exports—expected to reach a record $108.5 billion for fiscal year 2008. The upward revision is a $7.5 billion increase from February’s previous record forecast and $26.5 billion above the final 2007 exports. Grains and animal products account for two-thirds of the export gains. "America’s increased export volume in bulk commodities like corn, other animal feeds and soybeans make agriculture the bright spot in the overall balance of trade," said Schafer. "U.S. producers are on track to export a record 63 million tons of corn and set new export volume and value records for pork. Export volumes and values are also up for many horticultural products, with sales growth to Canada and the European Union being exceptionally strong." Asia continues to be an important growth market for U.S. agricultural commodities. U.S. exports to China are forecast to reach a record $10.5 billion, up almost $3.4 billion from 2007 levels. Canada and Mexico remain the U.S.’ top two markets worldwide with exports forecast to reach $30.5 billion in 2008—some $5 billion above 2007. "Trade agreements have a significant impact on our ability to sell America’s agricultural products in world markets," said Schafer. "Canada and Mexico, our two North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) partners, currently buy 28 percent of the value of America’s agricultural exports—up from 20 percent purchased 15 years ago when trade began under NAFTA. Unfortunately, Congress has not been acting in the best interest of the American farmer and rancher by stalling approval of the signed trade agreement with Colombia, yet along with approving trade with Korea and Panama, Congress could provide three extremely important markets for expanding the trend of increased American export sales for years to come." While agricultural imports in two-way trade with the U.S. will also increase—to a record $78.5 billion forecast by USDA—the $108.5 billion in export sales by American farmers and ranchers will net a positive agricultural trade surplus of $30 billion for the U.S. — WLJ

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Friday, June 6,2008

Ranchers file additional complaints against Montana Board of Livestock

by WLJ
Ranchers file additional complaints against Montana Board of Livestock In an effort to ensure the Montana Board of Livestock’s (BOL) future full compliance with the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP), ranchers, who were granted writ of mandamus ordering BOL to immediately remove bison from the west boundary of Yellowstone National Park on May 22, filed additional complaints with the 5th Judicial District Court of Montana on May 30 to seek relief from BOL’s chronic failure in meeting IBMP requirements. Following a court order from Judge Loren Tucker, BOL finally decided to haze 150 head of bison back into the park. However, ranchers believe that BOL has failed to adhere to the bison management plan in the western boundary area for the past three years. According to the IBMP, brucellosis-exposed bison must be hazed back into the park by May 15, and captured or lethally removed after the same date, to ensure none remain outside of the park during the time cattle begin to move into the area. Their refusal to follow the May 15 IBMP deadline is a breach of temporal separation, creating additional opportunity for spatial violation and increasing the likelihood of brucellosis transmission from infected bison. The lead plaintiffs, Bob Sitz and Bill Myers, both of whom graze cattle near the park, as well as the Montana Stockgrowers Association which represents ranchers in that area, have repeatedly voiced their frustrations with relation to BOL and their lack of compliance with the IBMP. Ranchers have expressed deep concern with BOL’s blatant disregard for protecting domestic cattle from the threat of bison infected with brucellosis by not properly adhering to their legal obligations to the IBMP. Discovery of brucellosis in a Montana cattle herd last May forced the state to acknowledge the severity of the risk posed by brucellosis. In a heightened state of awareness, ranchers responded with affirmative actions to protect their herds, assessing potential risks and developing mitigation plans. BOL has failed to equal this effort. BOL’s inactivity flagrantly defies the IBMP and agreements with producers who graze cattle in the affected area. BOL’s failure to take appropriate precautions has jeopardized Montana’s class-free status and subjected ranchers to unnecessary risk. The purpose of this legal remedy is to ensure BOL’s compliance with the IBMP and protect the Montana cattle industry from further hardship. — WLJ

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Friday, May 23,2008

New Products

by WLJ
New Holland introduces new bidirectional tractor New Holland’s new TV6070 Bidirectional tractor offers visibility and versatility that no other tractor in the market can offer. The TV6070 features a new 6.7L engine, a more efficient eight-range transmission, and other improvements designed to enhance the productivity of this unique tractor. Like its predecessors, the new TV6070 Bidirectional tractor can be operated cab-end or engine-end first to provide unparalleled versatility, productivity and exceptional loader performance. An operator can work facing either the engine or the rear because the exclusive Turnabout console rotates the seat and primary controls 180 degrees so the operator always faces the work. Both ends of the tractor can be equipped with 3-point hitches, PTO systems, hydraulic valves, and drawbars. Depending on the application, the TV6070 can push and pull implements simultaneously. Full-time four-wheel drive and 45-degree articulated steering provide excellent traction and maneuverability in any conditions. New engine Efficient hydrostatic transmission, eight operating ranges One tractor, many uses While not designed for heavy tillage work, the TV6070 excels at loader work, and mowing hay, spraying, baling hay, spreading manure, and most other chores around the farm. Because the TV6070 can carry implements at the rear and on the engine-end, many jobs can be done faster by "doubling-up" attachments. For example, two round bales can be carried with the loader and a third one on the engine-end 3-point hitch. Hay can be cut and conditioned up to 35’ at a time by pushing a sickle header and pulling another one. Snow can be cleared faster with a blower on one end and a blade on the other one. The TV6070 transmission now has eight operating ranges, with a total ground speed selection of 0 – 19 mph depending on tire choice. The operator selects a range, and then has infinite control of the tractor’s speed with the drive control handle. The range can be shifted on-the-go as needed. If the tractor encounters a steep hill or heavy resistance, the transmission controller will automatically downshift the range, and then return to the operator’s selection when the load is reduced. The TV6070 features a new 6.7L (411cu.in.) fuel-efficient diesel engine with mechanical fuel injection. This engine meets Tier III engine emission standards, and can operate on diesel fuel or any biodiesel blend up to B100 that meets ASTM 6751 fuel quality standards. The tractor is rated at 105 PTO hp. An optional reversing engine cooling fan helps keep the radiators cleaner when the tractor is used in applications where a lot of chaff or dust is present.

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Friday, May 23,2008

Tips for developing replacement females

by WLJ
Tips for developing replacement females To run an efficient and progressive beef cow production system, it is important to effectively develop replacement females. Developing a sufficient number of heifers that are cycling at the beginning of the breeding season helps to assure they will breed early in the first year. Early breeding translates to earlier calving and heavier weaning weights. "Because replacement females will not begin to produce an economic return until they are around 3 years old, when they wean their first calves, they are an expensive enterprise," says Glenn Rogers, DVM, Pfizer Animal Health. "Heifers are in danger of failing to meet their reproductive and economic potential if they aren’t developed correctly." To effectively develop replacement females, Rogers recommends focusing on two key areas: setting cost-effective goals and developing the immune system. Setting development goals Careful consideration should be given to the costs associated with on-ranch heifer development vs. the purchase of bred heifers. Cow/calf operations are sometimes ill-equipped to efficiently develop their own heifers and many times, high-quality bred heifers can be purchased for less than the actual cost of on-ranch development. If purchasing heifers, a careful analysis of the previous health and production history should occur. If a decision is made to develop rather than purchase, goals should be set to achieve growth, reproductive and economic objectives. Rogers encourages producers to consider the following tips when setting development goals: • Approximately 10 to 25 percent more heifers than needed should be in the initial pool to allow for heifers that fail to meet reproductive and growth targets. • Estrous synchronization and artificial insemination can lead to improved genetics, a tighter calving period, and may offer economic advantages in some operations. • The traditional target weight (65 percent of projected mature weight) for heifers at breeding has been assumed to be optimal for reproduction. However, it may not be economically sound in many production systems. Recent information shows satisfactory reproductive performance can be achieved after developing heifers to a slightly lower percent of projected mature weight than mentioned above. In light of drastically increased input costs, traditional target weight goals may need to be re-evaluated. Developing the immune system The heifer immunization program is the foundation for cow herd immunity. Substantial carry-over effect in herd immunity occurs when a sound health management program for heifers is in place. And, because heifers generally have less immunity to reproductive diseases than mature cows, a sound pre-breeding vaccination program is essential in order to provide heifers with protective immunity during breeding and throughout pregnancy. The vaccination program for heifers pre-breeding should include: • Modified-Live Viral Vaccine, such as Bovi-Shield GOLD FP, for protection against IBR abortions and BVD Types 1 and 2 persistent infection. It is recommended that heifers receive at least 2 doses, with the second dose administered approximately 30 days prior to breeding. • Leptospirosis Vaccine, including hardjo-bovis and Campylobacter fetus (vibrio), with a product such as SPIROVAC VL5. — WLJ

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Friday, May 23,2008

Beef Talk

by Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University
Cow size—How much more does the big cow eat? The green forage tends to be seasonal, while the grazing of seeds and dry grass is the non-growing season staple. Regardless of the season, a cow’s nutritional requirements need to be met. The challenge is making sure our production expectations are in tune with what Mother Nature provides. Our pastures and feed piles may be limited as we struggle to balance feed and cattle. When seasons are as now, the lack of rain (or other environmental restraint) highlights the need to plan. The quick and easy answer is to sell cattle. However, the astute manager does nutritional planning first. Recently, the Dickinson Research Extension Center sorted cow/calf pairs and two groups (herds) of cattle were sent out for spring and summer grazing. The first herd has 52 cows that average 1,216 pounds (856 to 1,395 pounds) and the second herd has 50 cows that average 1,571 pounds (1,350 to 1,935 pounds). The 355-pound difference brings up two questions. What is the difference in the nutritional needs of the two herds and is there an advantage of one group over the other during dry weather? I consulted with animal nutritionists to help explain the difference in nutritional needs of the two herds. Greg Lardy, North Dakota State University Extension beef specialist, and Chip Poland, Dickinson State University Department of Agriculture and Technical Studies chair, responded to the questions. The core issue is what cattle to feed if feed becomes limited. For ease of understanding, let’s discuss how much we would feed these cattle if we removed them from the pasture on June 1 when the calves are approximately 3 months old and fed them until the end of September, a period of four months. The first group of cattle (averaging 1,216 pounds), with milk production estimated at 20 pounds peak, would have an average daily need of just less than 28 pounds of dry matter of a ration that was 60 percent total digestible nutrients and 9.8 percent crude protein. The larger set of cattle (averaging 1,571 pounds), with milk production estimated at 20 pounds peak, would have an average daily need of just less than 34.5 pounds of a daily dry matter of the same previously noted ration. The total dry matter increase for the herd that weighs 355 pounds more on the average would be 6.5 pounds of dry matter (feed) per day per cow, or 780 pounds of feed per cow for the duration (120 days) of the summer confinement period. As the producer, one would need to estimate about 3,360 pounds of dry-matter feed per cow for the smaller cattle and 4,140 pounds of dry- matter feed per cow for the larger cattle. If each herd has 50 cows, the smaller set of cattle would need 84 tons of dry-matter feed. The larger set of cattle would need 104 tons of the same feed. Keep in mind that we need to return to Greg and Chip to actually balance the ration and make sure we fine-tune and match the cattle dietary needs with the actual feed stuffs we have. In addition, we will need to factor in feed waste for the feeding system. For now, know the weight of your cattle and feed accordingly. If you cannot find 104 tons for the heavy herd, perhaps you better shift gears and keep the lighter cows. We hope you can find enough feed for them. More later as we look at the grazing options of the two herds. — Kris Ringwall (Kris Ringwall is a North Dakota State University Extension Beef Specialist, director of the NDSU Dickinson Research Center and executive director of the North Dakota Beef Cattle Improvement Association. He can be contacted at 701/483-2045.) Feeding cows can be simple, but also complicated. In simplest form, the cow needs to fill up with grass or some other palatable green forage.

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Friday, April 4,2008

Fortifying Feed with Biodiesel co products

by WLJ
Fortifying feed with biodiesel co-products Biofuel research isn’t just a matter of finding the right type of biomass—corn grain, soybean oil, animal fat, wood or other material—and converting it into fuel. Scientists must also find environmentally and economically sound uses for the by-products of biofuel production. Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists Brian Kerr and William Dozier have done just that. Current biodiesel supplies are often made from the triglycerides, or fat, found in soybean oil. But processing biodiesel from soybean oil also yields crude glycerin, also known as glycerol, which has a purity level of about 85 percent. It also contains small amounts of salt, methanol and free fatty acids. If glycerol is refined to 99 percent purity, it can be used in many products, including pharmaceuticals, foods, drinks, cosmetics and toiletries. Kerr, Dozier and Iowa State University colleague Kristjan Bregendahl studied whether crude glycerin could be used to supplement the feed of laying hens, broilers and swine. They found that crude glycerin provided a supply of caloric energy that equaled or exceeded the caloric energy available in corn grain. Feeds containing up to 10 percent glycerin had little to no adverse effect on laying hen egg production or broiler body weight gain. Pig body weight gain, carcass composition and meat quality also showed little to no adverse change after equivalent levels of crude glycerin were added to their feed. Safe levels for salt, methanol and free fatty acids in crude glycerin consumed by nonruminant livestock still need to be determined. But as corn grain ethanol production and conversion soar, corn grain supplies for livestock feed are decreasing. Using crude glycerin to supplement feed supplies could provide livestock producers with a readily available, inexpensive and energy-packed alternative to corn grain. Kerr is an animal scientist at the ARS National Soil Tilth Laboratory, Ames, IA. Dozier is an animal scientist at the ARS Poultry Research Unit, Mississippi State, MS. They presented their findings last week at the 68th annual Minnesota Nutrition Conference in Minneapolis, MN. — WLJ  

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Thursday, December 20,2007

Research shows spike in E. Coli from feeding ethanol byproduct

by WLJ
December 10, 2007 Ethanol plants and livestock producers have created a symbiotic relationship. Cattle producers feed their livestock distillers grains, a byproduct of the ethanol distilling process, giving ethanol producers an added source of income. But recent research at Kansas State University (K-State) has found that cattle fed distillers grain have an increased prevalence of E. coli 0157 in their hindgut. This particular type of E. coli is present in healthy cattle but poses a health risk to humans, who can acquire it through undercooked meat, raw dairy products and produce contaminated with cattle manure. “Distillers grain is a good animal feed. That’s why ethanol plants are often built next to feedlots,” said T.G. Nagaraja, a professor of diagnostic medicine and pathobiology at K-State’s College of Veterinary Medicine. The growth in ethanol plants means more cattle are likely to be fed distillers grain, therefore harboring 0157 and potentially a source of health risks to humans, Nagaraja said. That’s why he and Jim Drouillard, K-State professor of animal sciences, have been collaborating on testing distillers grain-fed cattle for 0157. Nagaraja and Drouillard, who studied the carcass quality of cattle fed distillers grain, are joined by Megan Jacob, a K-State doctoral student in pathobiology. Through three rounds of testing, Nagaraja said the prevalence of 0157 was about twice as high in cattle fed distillers grain compared with those cattle that were on a diet lacking the ethanol byproduct. Food safety and animal health are research priorities at K-State which, since 1999, has dedicated more than $70 million on research related to animal health and food safety. More than 150 K-Staters are actively involved in these areas. Nagaraja said research in the next few years will focus on finding out why 0157 is more prevalent in cattle fed a distillers grain diet. He said it could be something that changes in the animals’ hindgut as a result of feeding distillers grains, or maybe the byproduct provides a nutrient for the bacteria.

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