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Monday, March 21,2005

Wild and Scenic Rivers Act could eliminate grazing

by WLJ
Recent court decisions regarding the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (WSRA) have heightened awareness of possible ramifications of a misapplication of this law on the beef industry. With another Wild and Scenic Rivers case decision pending, producers may need to advocate to maintain grazing in these areas. In the 1960s, Congress created the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System to protect and preserve rivers in response to concerns that rivers were being dammed, dredged, diked, diverted and degraded at an alarming rate. In October 1968, the newly enacted Wild and Scenic Rivers Act pronounced that, “certain selected rivers of the Nation which, with their immediate environments, possess outstandingly remarkable scenic, recreational, geologic, fish and wildlife, historic, cultural or other similar values, shall be preserved in free-flowing condition, and that they and their immediate environments shall be protected for the benefit and enjoyment of present and future generations.” The legislation continues on to say, “Each component of the national wild and scenic rivers system shall be administered in such a manner as to protect and enhance the values which caused it to be included in said system without, insofar as is consistent therewith, limiting other uses that do not substantially interfere with public use and enjoyment of these values.” Designating an area as a wild and scenic river is not like designating a national park because the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act does not generally lock up a river like a wilderness designation. The goal, as outlined by Congress, was to halt development and preserve the character of a river. Uses compatible with the management goals of a particular river are supposed to be allowed under the act. However, grazing seems to be a use that is not being recognized under WSRA. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) have become increasingly aware that grazing in wild and scenic areas is beginning to be eliminated altogether. Jeff Eisenberg, director of public lands for NCBA and executive director of PLC, said, “Numerous operations and families in Oregon and potentially many times more people throughout the western United States have been adversely impacted by the court decisions applying the WRSA to grazing.” PLC cited ONDA v. Green in which Oregon Natural Desert Association (ONDA) challenged federal agency management of grazing in Donner und Blitzen wild and scenic corridors from late 1990s to the present. With this case, the court ruled that grazing could only continue so long as it met the statutory requirement to “protect and enhance” the value for which the river designation was established. Then the court used this statute to authorize federal agencies to exclude cattle from the river areas. ONDA raised the same issue of cattle grazing in two other cases brought against the Bureau of Land Management involving the Owyhee River area. In the first decision, the court asserted that agencies have the “duty—not only to restrict it, but to eliminate (grazing) entirely” along designated corridors if it violates the “enhance and protect” standard. “More than 50 operations ran cattle along the subject area of the Donner und Blixen, Owyhee, and Malheur Rivers,” said Eisenberg. “These decisions affected hundreds of people if you consider that each operation often consists of several different families.” Currently, ONDA is involved in another case challenging grazing along the Malheur Wild and Scenic River. This case is called Oregon Natural Desert Association v. U.S. Forest Service. Eisenberg said about five ranching operations are at risk if the court makes the same decision as in the other three cases. “We respect the fact that Congress has passed that statute, but we want there to be a balance between respecting the existing uses and protecting the resources,” said Eisenberg. “The fact that cows are always getting kicked off because of the protected and enhanced statute is a problem.” NCBA is currently talking to different people to see what can be done to see that the balance between people and resources is restored.

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Monday, March 21,2005

Withdrawing ‘A20' rule pondered by USDA

by WLJ
Officials with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed with WLJ last week that they are considering pulling the 20-month-and-under cattle rule from Japanese consideration if the Pacific Rim nation continues to refuse to move forward with the process to reopen its border to U.S. beef. In addition, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns said his agency may not hand over any more documentation on the BSE issue until Japan makes that “good faith effort.” “We have done everything they have asked for and more as it concerns making sure BSE has no chance of entering their country,” one USDA trade official told WLJ. “We are very frustrated the Japanese haven’t had the courtesy to move forward in an expeditious and efficient manner to resolve this issue. It’s five months since we came up with the original agreement and they aren’t any further along in the process than they were in early October.” In meetings with members of Japan’s ministries of health and agriculture earlier this month, USDA representatives indicated the previously proposed “A20" rule could be pulled in an effort to try to get beef from cattle up to 30 months of age approved in the future. Under the A20 rule, USDA would be allowed to use current grading methods to determine cattle that are 17 months of age or younger with beef from those animals being eligible for export to Japan. In addition, cattle that have a verified paper trail showing they are 20 months or younger will also be eligible for export. However, USDA officials have said it appears Japan cares very little about international science that shows younger cattle are at very low risk of carrying the prion responsible for the disease and that they may pull A20 to go after a less restrictive export program. “It doesn’t seem to matter whether we go 20 or 30 months right now; the Japanese appear to want to play hard ball and we can do that,” a USDA spokesman said. “We have science on our side in both instances and we can call Japan out on that in the long run. “The concession to only ship beef from cattle 20 months and younger was a special marketing program. If the Japanese don’t ever act on that, we ought to go back to international standard which is you can safely trade meat from animals of any age and not test any animals under 30 months of age.” In addition, Johanns last Wednesday said if Japan doesn’t reciprocate in some manner over the very near future he will look into not complying with future requests for sending further documentation on the issue. He pointed out, during a press briefing, that it took over seven months for Japan to take the original documentation from USDA and come up with a preliminary decision from Japan’s Food Safety Commission (FSC) that younger beef presented a “negligible” to “very minimum” risk of being infected with BSE. “We need to have some preliminary action now,” Johanns said. If the FSC refuses to move forward with changing rules regarding testing of cattle for BSE, Johanns indicated he would stall the process even further by denying Japan’s ability to look at any further documentation.

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Monday, March 14,2005

Beef Bits

by WLJ
McDonald's reports sales increase McDonald's Corporation last week announced a 4.4 percent increase in February for global systemwide sales, compared with February 2004. Comparable sales for McDonald's restaurants worldwide increased 1.6 percent, marking the 22nd consecutive month McDonald's has reported an increase in global comparable sales. McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner said, "The ongoing strength of the strategic U.S. menu, marketing and service initiatives, as well as strong consumer response to our nationally advertised Chicken Selects sampling event, contributed to the monthly performance.” Wendy's reports weak February Wendy's International Inc. said its same-store sales last month were down 2.4 percent, compared to February of 2004. Last year same-store sales increased 9.9 percent for April. Wendy's franchises fared better, slipping only .7 percent to .9 percent, compared to last year's eight percent increase. The company's Tim Hortons restaurants posted a 6.2 percent increase in Canada to 6.6 percent, and an 8.1 percent increase to 8.5 percent in the U.S. Company CEO Jack Schuessler said Wendy's poor results were because of winter storms, particularly in the eastern half of the country. Fast-food burger traffic up Quick-service hamburger outlets served more than 500 million more customers last year than the previous year, a four percent increase in overall foot traffic, according to industry research group The NPD Group. By comparison, coffee restaurants served in excess of 200 million more customers in 2004, while donut shops served about 150 million more people than the previous year. Traffic at all restaurants in 2004 grew by two percent, the first solid growth since 2001, NPD said. By category, NPD said quick-service and casual-dining operators each grew by two percent, while mid-scale restaurants dropped one percent in traffic. Drought forces Aussie cattle sale About 11,000 head of cattle were auctioned off in the Australian city of Roma as the continuing dry conditions force graziers to sell-off stock Livestock agent Jason Carswell said cattle were trucked in from western Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. "The panic has sort of set in some places where it's drier than most and we're seeing that now with large numbers coming through that people have sort of waited for the rain and it's just getting to the stage to do something before it does get proper dry," he said. Chain restaurant sales growing The chain-restaurant industry has enjoyed more than a year and a half of sales growth, according to market research firm The NPD Group. Based on data collected from more than 40,000 units, for the week ending Feb. 21, same-store sales rose 4.6 percent from the year earlier period. The average increase in same-store sales for the 86 weeks was 4.4 percent. Chains also continue to erode the market share of independents. According to NPD, major chain restaurants captured an additional three percent of the market between 2001 and 2004. Texas targets genome project The Texas Beef Council board of directors, representing the state’s beef producers, approved funding of $100,000 in Texas checkoff funds for the international bovine genome project. This funding represents the second of up to three annual installments of $100,000 each that TBC has committed to this $53 million research. Other U.S. contributors include the national beef checkoff program, the state of Texas, the National Institutes of Health and USDA. Meat cutters may be replaced Tops Markets LLC and the union representing local meat cutters met in Cleveland, OH, last week to discuss the chain's plan to stock 49 Northeast Ohio stores with prepackaged meat, which would effectively eliminate the need for retail meat cutters. The company has already lined up a vendor to handle the meat packaging. Tops is going against the trend of other grocery chains to provide more and better service in its meat departments in order to compete with nonunion Wal-Mart Stores Inc. After meat cutters at a Texas Wal-Mart voted to join a union in 2000, Wal-Mart eliminated butchers in its grocery departments and switched to prepackaged meat. McDonald's launches fitness ads McDonald's Corp. is now encouraging customers to get fit with a new advertising campaign. The promotion leads with the slogan, "It's what I eat and what I do … I'm lovin' it," and features athletes, including Venus and Serena Williams. The campaign will use animation to show McDonald's drink cups, lettuce, straws and burgers performing exercises. One commercial even suggests, "Maybe you should spend less time with your TV.” The effort includes new packaging, an updated Web site and a series of videos featuring Ronald McDonald—the new fitness mascot—teaching children how to eat well and stay active.

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Monday, March 14,2005

Beef Bits

by WLJ
McDonald's reports sales increase McDonald's Corporation last week announced a 4.4 percent increase in February for global systemwide sales, compared with February 2004. Comparable sales for McDonald's restaurants worldwide increased 1.6 percent, marking the 22nd consecutive month McDonald's has reported an increase in global comparable sales. McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner said, "The ongoing strength of the strategic U.S. menu, marketing and service initiatives, as well as strong consumer response to our nationally advertised Chicken Selects sampling event, contributed to the monthly performance.” Wendy's reports weak February Wendy's International Inc. said its same-store sales last month were down 2.4 percent, compared to February of 2004. Last year same-store sales increased 9.9 percent for April. Wendy's franchises fared better, slipping only .7 percent to .9 percent, compared to last year's eight percent increase. The company's Tim Hortons restaurants posted a 6.2 percent increase in Canada to 6.6 percent, and an 8.1 percent increase to 8.5 percent in the U.S. Company CEO Jack Schuessler said Wendy's poor results were because of winter storms, particularly in the eastern half of the country. Fast-food burger traffic up Quick-service hamburger outlets served more than 500 million more customers last year than the previous year, a four percent increase in overall foot traffic, according to industry research group The NPD Group. By comparison, coffee restaurants served in excess of 200 million more customers in 2004, while donut shops served about 150 million more people than the previous year. Traffic at all restaurants in 2004 grew by two percent, the first solid growth since 2001, NPD said. By category, NPD said quick-service and casual-dining operators each grew by two percent, while mid-scale restaurants dropped one percent in traffic. Drought forces Aussie cattle sale About 11,000 head of cattle were auctioned off in the Australian city of Roma as the continuing dry conditions force graziers to sell-off stock Livestock agent Jason Carswell said cattle were trucked in from western Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory. "The panic has sort of set in some places where it's drier than most and we're seeing that now with large numbers coming through that people have sort of waited for the rain and it's just getting to the stage to do something before it does get proper dry," he said. Chain restaurant sales growing The chain-restaurant industry has enjoyed more than a year and a half of sales growth, according to market research firm The NPD Group. Based on data collected from more than 40,000 units, for the week ending Feb. 21, same-store sales rose 4.6 percent from the year earlier period. The average increase in same-store sales for the 86 weeks was 4.4 percent. Chains also continue to erode the market share of independents. According to NPD, major chain restaurants captured an additional three percent of the market between 2001 and 2004. Texas targets genome project The Texas Beef Council board of directors, representing the state’s beef producers, approved funding of $100,000 in Texas checkoff funds for the international bovine genome project. This funding represents the second of up to three annual installments of $100,000 each that TBC has committed to this $53 million research. Other U.S. contributors include the national beef checkoff program, the state of Texas, the National Institutes of Health and USDA. Meat cutters may be replaced Tops Markets LLC and the union representing local meat cutters met in Cleveland, OH, last week to discuss the chain's plan to stock 49 Northeast Ohio stores with prepackaged meat, which would effectively eliminate the need for retail meat cutters. The company has already lined up a vendor to handle the meat packaging. Tops is going against the trend of other grocery chains to provide more and better service in its meat departments in order to compete with nonunion Wal-Mart Stores Inc. After meat cutters at a Texas Wal-Mart voted to join a union in 2000, Wal-Mart eliminated butchers in its grocery departments and switched to prepackaged meat. McDonald's launches fitness ads McDonald's Corp. is now encouraging customers to get fit with a new advertising campaign. The promotion leads with the slogan, "It's what I eat and what I do … I'm lovin' it," and features athletes, including Venus and Serena Williams. The campaign will use animation to show McDonald's drink cups, lettuce, straws and burgers performing exercises. One commercial even suggests, "Maybe you should spend less time with your TV.” The effort includes new packaging, an updated Web site and a series of videos featuring Ronald McDonald—the new fitness mascot—teaching children how to eat well and stay active. © Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use,  without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. ©1996-2005 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.

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Monday, March 14,2005

BeefTalk: Tracking, backtracking and retracking—the saga continues

by Kris Ringwall, North Dakota State University
The Dickinson Research Extension Center is evaluating the process involved with tracking cattle. The results have not always been positive, but the data collection continues. The effort is important because the beef cattle industry needs information to assist with decisions relative to age and source verification. The data could be important in implementing a tagging system and a mechanism for tracking cattle as they pass through the many different enterprises involved in raising beef cattle. The center has accounted for the location of 89 percent of the CalfAID calves tagged last fall. The remaining calves are slowly being accounted for, but calf movement never stops, so numbers are relevant to the current date. While initial tracking is intensifying, one needs to remember that this initial step is simply a location step. (For example, where 100 percent of the calves are accounted for, it means producer A tagged 200 calves and the center simply knows 40 calves remain at home as replacements, 50 calves went to feedlot A, 50 calves went to feedlot B and 60 calves went to backgrounder C.) The location of an individual calf may not be known, as that phase of the study is just underway. Initial results indicate that finding individual calves by electronic ID is challenging. Thirty-two backgrounding operations have at least one of the 4,672 calves that originally were tagged. Total CalfAID calves accounted for in the backgrounding facilities to date are 955 calves. Not every facility has been contacted, but of those that were, 18 have 10 or fewer calves commingled with other calves, four facilities have 11 to 20 calves commingled and 10 background feeders have from 23 to 77 calves. The small number of calves in facilities located over the north-central region makes accounting for the tags very difficult. Of the 20 facilities contacted, 11 facilities have cut the CalfAID tags off. Five still have the tags in, but we don't have the ability to access the calves. The remaining four background feeders are making the CalfAID calves accessible to the center to scan the tags. The four background feeders represent 157 calves of the total 955 calves accounted for at backgrounding facilities. In regard to the feedlot side of the business, a similar scenario exists. Of the 2,114 CalfAID calves in 25 feedlots, nine feedlots have 20 or fewer calves from the 4,672 calves, while the remaining 16 feedlots have from 33 to 354 calves. To date, 23 of the feedlots have been contacted. Five feedlots have cut off the electronic CalfAID tags, one feedlot cut off the CalfAID tags and replaced them with its own tags, five still have the CalfAID tags, but we have no ability to access the calves and 13 feedlots have indicated the ability to make the CalfAID calves accessible for scanning. Of those 13 yards, five yards (four managed by one company) have the capability to utilize electronic identification technology. The 13 yards hold 1,331 of the calves tagged through the CalfAID program. If this were a basketball game, the halftime statistics would show that Team Backgrounders is shooting a little more than 16 percent, while Team Feedlot is shooting just less than 63 percent. These numbers reflect the percentage of calves traced to either a backgrounding or feedlot facility and still indicate a potential to read the electronic ID tag. As indicated earlier, these numbers will change. For many reasons, calves that were not available at one time become available and calves that were available become unavailable. It's only halftime, and the center's staff and others are diligently and methodically sorting numbers. If people tell you this is a simple task, they are simply not aware of the magnitude of the task. That's the bottom line. It would help a lot if the ear tags were not cut off. Stay tuned. May you find all your ear USAIP tags.

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Monday, March 14,2005

Beefnet to auction Mexican cattle

by WLJ
Beefnet, an Internet cash commodity exchange, announced a partnership with Union Ganaderas de Chihuahua. The Union, a cattle association in Chihuahua, Mexico, plans to market Mexican producer cattle over the Internet using the Beefnet Exchange. The complex world of purchasing cattle in Mexico has forever frustrated U.S. buyers. The development of the Internet and the ability to trade directly with the cattle owners will mean major improvements for both buyers and sellers, according to a Beefnet press release. A centralized marketplace will allow the best buyer to find the best seller resulting in improved pricing for both. Lower transactions cost created by the electronic exchange will complete the package delivering better prices and lower costs, the release says. “We have combined click and buy trading with electronic settlement and clearing on the financial side,” said David Huseman, Beefnet technical designer. “The Beefnet site allows members to match trades for the purchase of cattle and when delivery occurs to transparently watch the money flow after the parties have agreed to the final settlement.” Regular Internet auctions will be hosted on the Beefnet Web site. The trading fee will be $6/head with buyer and seller paying $3 each. “From the click of a mouse to make the purchase to the e-confirm purchase contract, transparency and efficiency will rule”, said Beefnet developer, Bill O’Brien. “U.S. buyers expect to receive what is represented to them, and we have built a trading platform to assure purchases meet those expectations.” “Our Mexican producers want a competitive market for their cattle and the centralized marketplace developed by Beefnet presents the future for livestock marketing,” said Bilo Wallace, association president. Membership in Beefnet will be free. All Members agree to be bound by the terms and conditions of sale posted on the web site. More information and sign up for membership are available at www.beefnet.org. — WLJ

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Monday, March 14,2005

BSE test for live animals researched

by WLJ
A team of scientists at Hokkaido University is developing an automated device to detect BSE using blood samples from live cattle, according to the Japanese press. The team, led by Mamoru Tamura, a professor at the Research Institute for Electronic Science at the university, hopes to develop the device by this summer. Detecting BSE in young cattle has been thought to be difficult because the type of protein found in the brain of infected cows, prion, accumulates as the animals age. The scientists said the new device will pave the way for establishing a faster and more accurate testing method for the disease, formally known as bovine spongiform encephalopathy. Under the current system, Japan tests all cows for BSE by taking brain tissue samples when animals are slaughtered. A method called ELISA, or Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay, is used for the initial test before government agencies verify the results during a second-phase test. The ELISA involves adding enzymes to brain tissue samples but requires some manual work and takes four to five hours to produce results. In addition, it sometimes mixes up negative cases with suspected ones. The method being developed by the Hokkaido team is done by adding prion antibodies and fluorescent dye to blood samples. The team then irradiates the samples with a laser to measure how fast the dyed antibody molecules move. The fully automated testing quantifies the speed of the molecules’ movements and displays it on a monitor. The team says prion, when combined with antibodies, is likely to grow into larger molecules and moves slower than the lighter, normal molecules. The test takes no longer than 90 minutes to produce results and is about 10 times more sensitive than the ELISA method, the team says. The team plans to make the device small, so cattle breeders can easily use it on the farm. Detecting BSE in cows younger than 20 months old was thought to be difficult. “But with the new device, we can detect BSE regardless of a cow’s age,” research team leader Tamura said. “It would be a groundbreaking achievement if the device can help prevent the spread of BSE by detecting the disease in live animals,” said Yoshio Yamakawa of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases in Tokyo. “But the team may need to work on enhancing the sensitivity of the test because an amount of prion in the blood is very small.” — WLJ

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Monday, March 14,2005

Bush selects Steve Johnson to head EPA

by WLJ
—If confirmed, Johnson would be first professional scientist to lead EPA President Bush elevated Stephen Johnson, the acting head of the Environmental Protection Agency, nominating him to the top job on a full-time basis March 4. Bush called Johnson “the first professional scientist to lead the EPA.” Johnson, a career government employee who has been with the agency 24 years, had become its temporary head six weeks ago. Bush announced the nomination in a ceremony in the White House Roosevelt Room. “He knows the EPA from the ground up and has a passion for its mission,” Bush said. If confirmed by the Senate, Johnson would become the first professional scientist to head the agency and would be its 11th administrator. “He will listen to those closest to the land because they know our environmental needs best,” Bush said of Johnson, 53. Johnson’s predecessor, Michael Leavitt, is now serving as the secretary of health and human services. Bush called Johnson “a talented scientist and skilled manager with a lifelong commitment to environmental stewardship.” Bush urged the Senate “to confirm this nomination promptly.” Bush said one of Johnson’s top jobs would be to “lead federal efforts to ensure the safety of our drinking water supply,” saying the EPA has “an important role in the war on terror.” For his part, Johnson told Bush, “We have made great strides in environmental protection.” “If confirmed, it will be my distinct privilege to serve you and our nation to continue to advance an environmental agenda while maintaining our nations economic competitiveness,” Johnson said. Bush’s top environmental priority is to rewrite air pollution laws and regulations, although his agenda could be overshadowed by an international climate treaty taking effect without U.S. participation. Bush, whose new federal budget would cut EPA spending 5.6 percent from the year before, hopes finally to persuade Congress to pass his stalled “Clear Skies” plan for curtailing power plant pollution but not emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas linked to global warming. Tough court fights loom on his easing of rules that require older industrial plants and refineries to add pollution controls if they expand. Under court order, the EPA is due to introduce by March the first national cap on mercury emissions. Bush plans to cut spending on low-interest loans for local clean water projects and to seek more federal support for development of a hydrogen-fueled car. He also wants to overturn a Clinton-era ban on 58 million acres of roadless areas and allow logging and road-building in them unless governors petition the federal government to preserve them. He would keep Yellowstone National Park open to snowmobiling, despite a challenge in federal court. “The Bush administration has the worst environmental record in history, and I am hopeful that given Steve’s background and experience, he can bring a fresh and new approach to the administration,” said Sen. James Jeffords, I-VT. Jeffords said he hoped Johnson’s appointment would “help repair and restore the credibility of the Bush’s administration’s environmental record with the American public, Congress and the world.” Though an independent, Jeffords is allied with Democrats and is their senior member on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Johnson had assumed the acting director post with the stated goal of promoting and maintaining the utilization of sound science while using collaborative, innovative approaches to solving environmental problems. The EPA implements and enforces the nations federal environmental laws and regulations; the Agency has over 18,000 employees nationwide and an annual budget of $8.6 billion. Johnson, a native of Washington, DC, has held a variety of positions at EPA, particularly working in pesticides and toxic substances.

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Monday, March 14,2005

Calving system to reduce scours

by WLJ
What do producers get when they have a full herd of cows in one calving pasture with calves ranging from one day old to forty-one days old? University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) animal scientists say for many producers, they get calf scours. As calving season progresses, calving pastures become more populated and some calves start getting scours. However, some Nebraska researchers have been studying ways to prevent calf scours. After five years of testing their method, UNL researchers are promoting a system they believe will help producers lessen or eliminate scours, if they have previously had scour problems in their herd. Dr. David Smith, UNL extension veterinarian, said the key to the scour system is to have the environment the same as it was the first day of calving. He explained that it takes two things to do that. One is to make sure the ground hasn’t already been contaminated. The second is to make sure a producer does not have calves that are already shedding the organisms that cause scours in high numbers. The way to accomplish these two simple goals is to subdivide calving pastures and properly move cows through them because, in a typical calving pasture, the concentration of bacteria and viruses that cause scours increase dramatically as calving season progresses. Smith elaborated on the calving system, saying that the cows all start out in one pasture for the first week of calving, and, at the end of that week, all the cows that have not calved yet are moved to a fresh pasture for seven days. At the end of the second week, cows that have not calved are moved to a third pasture, and so on. Therefore, the age range of calves in any one pasture is not more than seven days, meaning older calves are not exposing younger, more susceptible calves to massive amounts of pathogens. “They are all at the same level. They are kind of in-phase together,” said Smith. “This doesn’t eliminate the organisms, it just minimizes the dose load that they are exposed to.” Smith explained that scours is very age-specific. The peak period, as producers and veterinarians have noted, is between seven and 14 days of age, just about the time potential exposure to pathogens becomes high. Smith said veterinarians believe this is because the antibodies the calf received from the cow’s first colostrum have diminished at that point and they are exposed to more pathogens than they can handle, which makes them sick. Although called the Sandhills Calving System by researchers, the system will work anywhere. The system breaks up the scour cycle, and Smith and his colleagues believe this is because calves of different age groups are not commingled. Within a pasture, calves are still exposed to a low dose of pathogens from the cows, but they develop immunity to those pathogens and are not bombarded with pathogens shed by older calves shedding viruses, which overloads the younger calves’ immune systems. When the youngest calf is four weeks old, Smith said researchers feel it is safe to turn all the cows and calves out on grass together. Originally, Smith said researchers were going to test the theory of isolating calves that got scours to see if it would prevent others from scouring. However, in the past five years on the ranches that have been testing the calving system, there were not enough incidences of scours to try it. Smith noted that one of the trial ranches was historically experiencing a consistent 10 percent calf crop loss to scours, which is why the producer contacted UNL for assistance. Since implementing the Sandhills calving system, this ranch has seen the death loss due to scours drop to zero for five years. “I don’t think this is a system that is for everybody, because it is a little harder and requires more management,” said Smith. “If you’re not having problems with scours, then you probably don’t need to do this anyway. But, for ranches that are having problems with scours, this is something to consider.” Smith did point out that under this system, a producer only has one place to watch for calving and one pasture to watch for scour problems—the pasture with calves in the seven to 14 day of age range. Another advantage of the Sandhills Calving System is that it allows more bonding between the cow and the calf. Producers who don’t use the system typically move cows and calves when they are a day or so old. With this system, the cow is able to “nest” in one area, give birth to the calf in that area and remain there for at least four weeks without disruption. UNL forage specialist Bruce Anderson said, “Obviously, with this system, selecting the right pastures for calving that can be subdivided with water available in each subdivision is critical. After all, after eight weeks you could have cattle in eight different subdivisions.” Anderson also noted that the system could be beneficial to the pastures as well to help prevent overgrazing of any single area. “Subdividing pastures usually improves pasture health, but with the Sandhills Calving System, it can improve calf health as well,” said Anderson. “This might sound like a lot of work, but it likely will be less work than treating sick calves as well as reduce calf losses.” Anderson and Smith both advise producers to select a certain day to move cows, so that it is not overlooked. Smith further commented that the system does take considerable pre-planning. He encouraged any producer considering trying the Sandhills Calving System to consult a veterinarian and possibly even a forage specialist to map out the pastures and ensure appropriate management of pastures. Producers will need to think about how many calves are expected week by week. On a final note, Smith said this system does work better for producers who have a tighter calving schedule, such as those whose calving season is only eight weeks. He warned producers not to try to stretch out the age of calves in one pasture and get by with fewer pastures since that will break the system. “Somewhere between seven and 10 days is about right,” said Smith. “The further you get away from that, the more likely you are to start having scouring calves.” — Sarah L. Swenson, WLJ Associate Editor

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Monday, March 14,2005

Canadian pig duties set

by WLJ
The U.S. Department of Commerce announced last week that an investigation into Canadian pig imports confirmed that live hogs from north of the border were sold to the U.S. below the U.S. domestic price, and that Canadian hogs in the future should have a tariff against them of just over 10 percent. In its final ruling concerning its countervailing duty investigation, the agency said Canadian pig producers and hog exporters aren’t being provided with “countervailable subsidies,” but that the prices being paid for those pigs entering the U.S. were below U.S. costs of production. The margins of those “undercut” prices ranged from 0.53-18.87 percent, with the average margin being 10.63 percent. That average duty figure is down from a preliminary figure of 14.01 percent, which was set last October. It is now up to the U.S. International Trade Commision (ITC) to announce its final injury determination by April 18. If the ITC affirmatively determines that imports of live swine are materially injuring, or threatening to materially injure, the domestic industry, then the department will issue an antidumping duty order in April. If the ITC makes a negative injury determination, the antidumping duty investigation will be terminated. The current breakdown of producer/exporters and their dumping margins were Ontario Pork, 12.68 percent; Premium Pork, 18.87 percent; Excel Swine Services, 4.64 percent; Hytek, 0.53 percent; and all others, 10.63 percent. The decision applies to live hogs shipped from Canada, but not breeding stock or pork products. Commerce statistics show that 8.5 million hogs worth $529 million were shipped into the U.S. from Canada last year, up from 7.4 million hogs worth $389 million in 2003. — WLJ

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© Crow Publications - Any reprint of WLJ stories, except for personal use, without permission, written consent and appropriate attribution is prohibited. 2008 Crow Publications. All rights reserved.