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Friday, August 29,2008

Grazing workshop offers classroom and hands-on opportunities

by WLJ
Grazing workshop offers classroom and hands-on opportunities Livestock and wildlife producers, land managers, and others interested in learning about managing and optimizing their grazing lands are invited to attend a USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative (GLCI) workshop in Cresson, TX, on Sept. 10, 2008, at the Bear Creek Ranch. The "My Piece of Texas" grazing workshops are a series that will teach attendees how to estimate forage production, determine grazeable acres, set proper stocking rates, and other grazing management principles. This workshop is one of five in the grazing workshop series. There is a $25 registration fee which includes lunch and a copy of the newly published handbook titled Managing My Piece of Texas. The handbook was peer reviewed by ranchers throughout Texas after being developed by grazing specialists from the Texas GLCI, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, and NRCS. Attendees can expect to receive valuable information about managing grazing lands through classroom instruction during the morning session. After lunch, outdoor demonstrations will provide hands-on instruction targeting forage production and management presentations in the field. "Balancing animal demand with forage supply has long been a cornerstone principle of grazing management," said Jeff Goodwin, NRCS rangeland management specialist in Corsicana, TX. "This grazing workshop will not only reinforce those principles, but will cover an array of grazing topics that a rancher can take home and implement right away." Sponsors for the grazing workshop are NRCS, Texas GLCI, Texas AgriLife Extension Service, Parker Co. Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD), and Texas Section of Society for Range Management. For those who plan on attending the grazing workshop, please call the Parker Co. SWCD at 817/594-4672 and RSVP by Sept. 5, 2008. For more information, please contact Jeff Goodwin at 903/874-5131 Ext.3, or Randy Henry at 817/467-3867. GLCI information can be obtained at http://www.glci.org or Texas NRCS Web site at www.tx.usda.nrcs.gov. — WLJ

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Friday, August 29,2008

44 Farms and Ankony Farms merge Angus cattle operations

by WLJ
44 Farms and Ankony Farms merge Angus cattle operations 44 Farms and Ankony Farms announced the merger of their Angus cattle operations. The new combined Angus cattle program represents a total of 166 years in agricultural production in the U.S. and creates an inventory of over 3,000 registered Angus cattle. The merger provides grassroots purebred Angus operations from the Pacific Coast in Terrebonne, OR, to the Atlantic coast in Clarkesville, GA, to a home in the heartland of America in the Sandhills of North Platte, NE, to the rich river bottom land of 44 Farms deep in the heart of Texas. It is the vision and mission of 44 Ankony Farms to provide consumers around the world with the very finest eating experience through nutritious and delicious Angus beef. 44 Ankony Farms is blessed to be able to provide the highest quality Angus genetics and responsive customer service to cattle breeders throughout the U.S. and the world. The genetically strong and high performing Angus herds of 44 Farms and Ankony Farms were further enhanced by the 2007 acquisition of the entire Angus herd of Bill and Barbara Rishel of North Platte, NE. Their lifelong devotion to the Angus breed, teamwork and friendship have been and continue to be instrumental in the furtherance of the quality of the 44 Ankony Farms program and the Angus breed. The Rishel prefix of B/R is found in more than 1,500,000 current Angus three-generation pedigrees. "We are very excited about the opportunities, extraordinary product quality, and outstanding service that this alliance provides our customers. The knowledge, integrity and commitment to customer service that Virgil Lovell, Tom Hill and Bill and Barb Rishel possess inspires us all," said Bob McClaren, CEO of 44 Farms. The merged Angus programs of 44 Farms and Ankony Farms also includes the ownership of over 220 registered Angus females that record a Dollar Beef Index of $60 or more, which places those females in the top 1 percent of the Angus breed, and more than 274 females that score a Marbling EPD in the top 2 percent of the Angus breed. "I have been in Angus business all of my life and these combined operations represent some of the finest cattle that I have ever seen. It is a credit to Bill and Barb Rishel, 44 Farms and the wonderful men and women of Ankony Farms. These proven Angus genetics can help cattle breeders around the world and provide consumers a great tasting product," said Lovell, CEO of Ankony Farms. With the increased number of animal units, 44 Ankony Farms will be able to further enhance its ability to gather structured carcass data through its association with Prather Ranch in California. The merger also provides opportunities for the furtherance of marketing alliances with Niman Ranch Meat Company, Oregon Country Beef, Painted Hills Beef, Superior Livestock Auctions and Western Video Market. — WLJ

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Friday, August 29,2008

Help prevent scours with colostrum management

by WLJ
Help prevent scours with colostrum management Research shows scours can cause up to 18 percent of calf mortality, making it the number one calf killer. A calf’s best defense against scours is colostrum, which carries antibodies that help provide immunity against scours-causing pathogens. "To get the highest levels of colostrum antibodies, you need to start with a quality nutritional program for the mother cows during gestation," said Jon Seeger, DVM, managing veterinarian with Pfizer Animal Health. "Colostrum develops during late gestation at the same time major fetal growth occurs. These activities require significant quantities of energy and protein. Cow management should focus on quality nutrition to support this colostrum development." According to Seeger, colostrum management should also focus on enhancing antibody levels in the colostrum. Vaccinating a dam with a scours vaccine helps produce high levels of antibodies in the dam’s blood stream. The antibodies are then transferred to the calf through colostrum, eventually entering the calf’s blood stream through the GI tract. Cows transfer antibodies from their blood into colostrum two to five weeks prior to calving. Vaccinating against scours before this time helps build up the highest level of antibodies in the cow’s blood during the period that the antibodies are being transferred to the colostrum. "Vaccination timing is really important because all antibody transfer from the dam to calf is done through the colostrum," explained Seeger. "If the vaccination isn’t done at the right time to help build a high level of antibodies in the cow’s blood stream—and in the colostrum—the calf won’t get the best protection possible." Producers should also make sure calves nurse early and properly so they get an adequate quantity of colostrum within two hours of birth. Seeger recommends four quarts of colostrum within the first 12 hours of birth and an additional four to six quarts in the first 24 hours after birth. — WLJ

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Friday, August 22,2008

Grain, transportation costs continue to grip feeder markets

by WLJ
Grain, transportation costs continue to grip feeder markets Last week offered good insight into the current state of the cash feeder cattle markets, especially in the western U.S., as Western Video Market and Superior Livestock Auction both held large sales. As buyers in the Midwest begin to bid up for the higher quality runs of calves they find in local auction markets, the large video sales gave a good sample of what both lightweight and heavier feeder cattle are worth throughout the Plains and West. For weeks now, high grain prices have caused buyers to seek out heavy feeders to reduce the time required the finish the cattle out. Less grain in equals lower input costs, which can help feed yards cut heavy losses and in some cases, help the operation remain in the black. High fuel costs have contributed to a wide basis on cattle coming out of areas far removed from feeding operations and grain production, as evidenced by the heavy discounts on lightweight feeder cattle which often sell below the heavies on a price-per-cwt. basis. Darrell Mark, agricultural economist with the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says the current state of the feeder cattle market makes sense, given the high cost of inputs. "There are pretty understandable forces driving the feeder cattle market right now," he said. "It’s really Economics 101 in some respects. Softness in the cash market is to be expected, and it gets worse the further away you get from feed yards or grain." Volatility in the corn markets is not through yet, said Mark, who pointed out that even once harvest starts, grains will be on a roller coaster ride until a firm grip on the total harvest amount is established. "There’s so much risk right now in terms of what corn is going to do that the uncertainty in those grain markets will keep feeder cattle on the defensive. The projections are for a corn crop that will be adequate, but there’s still a lot that can happen between now and harvest. There may be some surprises, and the crop is not in the bin yet." High transportation costs and expensive grains are production factors that are not likely to go away any time soon, said Mark, who also mentioned the increased demand for heavier feeder cattle. "People are definitely responding to feed costs by trying to cut the number of days on feed down and especially in areas far removed from grain sources, the heavy feeders are selling at a premium to the lighter calves," Mark pointed out. "I don’t see any reason to believe that this trend will change within the next year. In certain local markets, there may not be a discount for lightweight feeders, but on a national basis, the economic forces that are causing this to happen will likely still be in place for awhile." Despite the way the numbers appear on the surface, Mark says he believes the discounted lightweight cattle may offer savvy buyers an opportunity. "Using numbers penciled out from a couple weeks ago, you may actually be able to take the lighter weight calves at a discount and get better returns on them, even though you’d have to feed them longer," he explained. "At the time, projections showed almost a $40/head difference in favor of a 550 lb. calf versus a heavy yearling." Even so, he adds, the risk in purchasing lightweight calves is high if you are unable to keep a tight lid on feed costs. "Maybe people should be taking a look at these lighter weight calves, but you can’t just throw caution to the wind. You definitely have to buy them at a discount, then hedge your corn and hedge the cattle. The deferred futures look good to be able to do that, but the risk might still be too high." Western Video Market’s Cheyenne sale offered 122,000 head, by far the most ever for that sale. Lots from all over the west and Plains were offered and were met by firm demand. Steers in a lot of 135 head coming out of Nebraska with a base weight of 840 lbs. brought $114.50. Steers with an 800 lb. base weight in a lot of 125 head sold at $114.10, also coming out of Nebraska. A large group of 800 head of Wyoming steers with a 925 lb. base weight sold for $108.60, while another good group of Wyoming feeder steers numbering 410 head sold for $112.50 at an 850 lb. base weight. A lot size of 272 head of Kansas steers weighing 810 lbs. sold at $114.50. Steers from South Dakota in a lot of 148 head sold for $113.85 with a 750 lb. base weight. Montana steers in a lot numbering 140 head and weighing 950 lbs. sold for $108.00, while a group of 109 steers from Idaho and a base weight of 975 lbs. sold at $101.50. Seventy head of weaned steers from Nevada with a base weight of 800 lbs. sold for $107. Oregon steers in a 218-head lot and an 880 lb. base weight sold for $106.10, while another group of 215 head from the same state weighing 900 lbs. sold for $104.25. Steers carrying a base weight of 830 lbs. in a lot of 295 head from California brought $108.75, while a load of 67 steers from the same state weighing 740 lbs. sold for $111. Weaned steers from Colorado in a 65-head group and a base weight of 670 lbs. brought $114.50. Superior Livestock Auction sold 84,000 head of cattle on the first day of their sale which offered 181,000 total head. Averages from region one, which includes California, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and Idaho, saw steers with a base weight of 700-725 lbs. sell between $95-110.50, and 850-890 lb. steers go for $101-105.50. Region two, which includes Montana, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Utah and Colorado, had 700-740 lb. steers selling for $104-115, while 850-885 lb. steers brought $106.75-113.50. Region three, which includes Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Louisiana, saw 700-745 lb. feeder steers selling from $95 to $116, while steers at an average base weight of 850 lbs. sold for $101.50-108.25. At the Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City, OK, a total of 7,223 head were offered, where compared to the week prior, feeder cattle and calves were steady with good demand for calves. Demand was moderate to good for feeder cattle, despite corn futures which closed sharply higher on sale day. The quality of offerings continued to be below average with many consignments of No. 2 cattle included. Steers weighing an average of 721 lbs. sold for $114.99, while 736 lb. feeder heifers sold for $108.78. The Joplin Regional Stockyards near Joplin, MO, offered 4,711 head for sale last week where steers under 500 lbs. were steady to $2 higher, with weights from 500-700 lbs. steady and weights over 700 lbs. steady to $2 lower. Heifers were mostly steady. Demand and supply were moderate and the bulk of the offering consisted of yearlings or weaned calves. Buyers paid $112.27 for steers weighing an average of 733 lbs. while 717 lb. heifers sold at $105.52. Last week’s Winter Livestock Feeder Cattle Auction in Dodge City, KS, saw receipts of 1,963 head where steers stayed steady on a light offering. Heifers also remained steady. Steers weighing an average of 707 lbs. sold at $114.50 while 745 lb. heifers brought $111. A total of 4,150 head were received last week at the Bassett Livestock Auction in Bassett, NE, where the only testable weights for feeders were for those over 750 lbs. In that category, steers trended fully steady, with heifers trading steady to $2 lower. Receipts included a fairly even mix of fall calves and long yearlings. Feeder steers weighing 716 lbs. sold for $127.41 while heifers weighing 711 lbs. sold at $112.77. Fed cattle Fed cattle trade was mostly lower last week as a sagging cutout and weak futures markets failed to provide any lift ahead of the Labor Day holiday. The majority of trade in the south came in $1-2 lower than the prior week at $98-99 live while the Corn Belt cattle feeders traded steady to $3 lower in a range of $153 to $156.50 dressed and $98-98.50 live last week. Nebraska trade was not fully developed at mid-day last Thursday, although light trade was reported at $155-156 dressed. Packers were buying for a holiday-shortened week and demand was reported to be moderate for cattle as most had already fulfilled orders to meet weekend demand. The lackluster consumer demand also translated into a weakening cutout which was led lower by the middle meat complex, with ribs and loins showing the biggest drop last week. Morning prices last Thursday stood at $162.67 on the Choice product, down 42 cents from the previous day’s level, while Select was up 26 cents at $157.30. Slaughter volume for the week stood at 505,000 head, down 7,000 from the prior week’s robust pace as packers slowed production to match demand and maintain margins ahead of what is largely expected to be slowing domestic demand. Analysts have been cautioning that the pricing structure this fall is most likely to be driven by the demand side of the equation. Fed cattle supplies are predicted to be tight through the fourth quarter, however, they cautioned that any weakness in movement on the consumer side of the equation could translate into weaker prices being paid for fed cattle supplies, regardless of supply levels. Export markets will continue to be a key factor in determining prices into next year as the domestic economy treads water and consumers direct grocery dollars to lower priced competing proteins. Ahead of last Friday’s cattle on feed report, analysts across the board were predicting on feed numbers would continue below year-ago levels while placement numbers and marketing volumes were expected to be significantly stronger than last year. Average estimates for numbers of cattle on feed were expected to be down about 3.5 percent from Aug. 1, 2007, while July placements were predicted to be 6 percent to 7 percent higher than a year earlier. Marketings were estimated 2 percent higher during July than in 2007. Some of that expectation was already priced into the futures markets last week, which were showing some strength. August futures were up 65 points at mid-day last Thursday at $101.35 while October was up 80 points at $105.80 and December traded 60 points higher at $106.95. The higher prices on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange came despite the higher placement expectations and surging corn markets. The belief that USDA’s corn forecast was off the mark, to the high side, added strength to the grain markets last week as crop tours got underway to examine actual crop conditions in the field across the major growing regions. Export sales last week continued to be very supportive of beef prices with net sales of 20,200 metric tons reported by USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service. South Korea has jumped back into the market as a major player despite reports in the press that demand was weak. Last week, the Koreans were the largest foreign buyers of U.S. beef, with shipments totaling 8,500 metric tons, besting Mexico, the former heavyweight, by 800 metric tons. Cow and bull prices have been one of the highlights during the first half of the year, however, prices were under pressure last week as focus shifted to other meats as a result of the higher prices being paid at the consumer level for ground beef and cow cuts. However, despite the backward slide in the market, prices remain very strong as a result of demand and a lack of significant imports of lean beef for blending from foreign producers. Last week’s cow beef cutout stood at $139.62, compared to just $117.86 a year ago. The 90 percent leans last week was also sharply higher than 2007 levels, trading at $175.08, nearly $30 higher than the same date last year. The 50 percent trim market last Thursday was more than double year-earlier prices at $100.16. — WLJ

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Friday, August 22,2008

USDA-NRCS announces ranch economics conference

by WLJ
USDA-NRCS announces ranch economics conference Landowners, ranchers and producers are invited to attend the Blackland Prairie Ranch Economics Conference which will be held at the Fletcher-Warren Civic Center located in Greenville, TX, on Sept. 19, 2008. The cost of the conference is $5 per person. Registration starts at 8:00 a.m. and the workshop will be held from 8:00 a.m. through 3:30 p.m. at the civic center. Lunch is planned for all registered attendees. All attendees will receive valuable information about ranch economics and profitability from presentations by conservation professionals. Additionally, three hours of pesticide applicator’s license continuing education units will be offered during the conference. The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) will present discussions regarding getting started with stocking rates, economical alternatives to inorganic fertilizers, and federal assistance through Farm Bill programs. Other conservation presentations include maintaining profitability in forage-based production systems, economics of forage fertilization and hay production, and adding value and marketing beef cattle. "The goal of the conference will be to address very timely issues and provide Blackland Prairie ranchers and landowners with the economic tools to help make ecologically sound decisions while remaining economically feasible," said Jeff Goodwin, NRCS rangeland management specialist in Corsicana, TX. To end the conference, a rancher’s panel will discuss staying profitable in your ranch operation. The panel will include Chip Merrill, who operates the XXX Ranch in Tarrant County, Kenneth Braddock, manager for Rosewood Ranches in Navarro County, and Jim Russell, owner of Jim Russell Hay and Sprig Farm in Hopkins County. Sponsors for the Blackland Prairie Ranch Economics Conference include NRCS, The Samuel Roberts Noble Foundation, Texas AgriLife Extension, Texas GLCI, Blackland Prairie GLCI, Upper Sabine Soil and Water Conservation District, and Hunt County Farm Supply. For those who plan on attending the conference, please RSVP by Sept. 12, 2008, at 903/455-6212 Ext.3. For more information, please contact Jeff Goodwin at 903/874-5131 Ext.3, or Randy Henry at 817/467-3867. GLCI information can be obtained at www.glci.org and www.tx.usda.nrcs.gov or contact your local NRCS service center for details. — WLJ

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Friday, August 22,2008

Research paves the way for improved animal health and productivity

by WLJ
Research paves the way for improved animal health and productivity The Agricultural Research Service’s (ARS) genomics and phenomics research is laying the foundation for future livestock production improvements. Understanding how inherited characteristics relate to specific genomes will eventually allow researchers to develop tools that can be used to guide animal breeding, selection, and management decisions. Throughout the U.S., ongoing ARS research projects are changing the way industry members breed, raise, and produce our nation’s most valuable agricultural animals. Identifying DNA markers and traits ARS scientists at Clay Center, NE, and Miles City, MT, joined an international consortium in sequencing the bovine genome in 2002. Today, ARS scientists throughout the country are using this information to improve beef cattle management and production. Some ARS researchers are using genomic research to improve animal health. This is particularly useful in situations with infected but asymptomatic cattle, says Mohammad Koohmaraie, former director of the Roman L. Hruska U.S. Meat Animal Research Center (USMARC) at Clay Center. For example, cattle can carry diseases like bovine respiratory disease (BRD) without having symptoms. This complicates attempts to assess their genetic resistance. Having ways to identify asymptomatic cattle or those at higher risk of illness would allow scientists to more accurately gauge how genes affect resistance. To improve their assessments, USMARC researchers led by geneticist Larry Kuehn are working with scientists at the ARS National Animal Disease Center in Ames, IA, to develop large collections of cattle phenotypes, or observable traits. These include traits such as general immune-system functionality, body temperature, respiratory rate, and feeding behavior. The phenotypes will be drawn from populations representing prominent breeds in the U.S. beef industry. "By examining a larger group of traits, we can more accurately classify animals into categories according to their potential disease risk or resilience," Koohmaraie says. This will enable researchers to identify traits that are most indicative of potential BRD risk and determine how those traits relate to genetic resistance to it. One tool that could help scientists in this and other projects is the Illumina Bovine SNP50 BeadChip—a glass slide containing thousands of DNA markers called "single nucleotide polymorphisms," or SNPs, which are used to find relationships between DNA markers and traits of economic importance. The BeadChip has research applications for both beef and dairy cattle. Design was led by ARS researchers at Beltsville, MD, in collaboration with scientists at Clay Center, the University of Missouri, and the University of Alberta in Canada. The chip is being used at all those locations and many others—a total of at least 23 locations in 11 countries. A single chip generates about 53,000 genotypes for each of 12 individual animals. DNA samples from the animals are applied to the BeadChip, chemically labeled, and scanned to produce genotypes. Statistical analyses of genotypes can identify relationships between DNA markers and economically relevant production traits. "Genomic tools like the 50K SNP chip will provide the greatest opportunity to transfer our genomic discoveries in a usable form to the industry," Koohmaraie says. Beef cattle: Fat and feed efficiency One project using the BeadChip technology is a USMARC investigation into the influence of genetics on feed efficiency. Research leader Cal Ferrell, geneticist Mark Allan, and their colleagues are identifying phenotypes that relate to postweaning feed efficiency and lifetime productivity in beef cattle. "One objective of the study is to determine the genetic variation in feed efficiency among individuals and breeds using quantitative and genomic technologies," Ferrell says. The researchers are also using the genotypes generated from the chip to find relationships between DNA markers and phenotypes that can be used to enhance genetic selection in beef cattle. "These studies could lead to development of genomic tools that could enhance the accuracy of breeding and management decisions," Allan says. "Genetic markers provide opportunities to improve selection for traits that are difficult to measure in an industry setting." ARS scientists are also using genomic research to improve beef cattle production at the Fort Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City. There, they have identified genetically significant areas called "quantitative trait loci" (QTLs) related to production traits such as beef quality and composition, feed efficiency, and reproductive success. "Our work has led us to loci with significant effects on beef quality and composition which have potential implications for human health," says geneticist Mike MacNeil. MacNeil, geneticist Lee Alexander, and physiologist Tom Geary have collaborated with USMARC geneticist Warren Snelling to analyze whole-genome scans of 328 cattle bred by crossing Wagyu and Limousin parents. Wagyu is a Japanese breed with substantially more marbling than the more muscular French breed, Limousin. In all, the team has identified seven QTLs related to tenderness, palatability, and fat composition. They found a region on chromosome 2 that influences the concentration of monounsaturated fat—believed to be healthier than saturated fat—in beef. With further research, in collaboration with USMARC chemist Tim Smith, they hope to develop genetic markers associated with the variation in this trait. That could ultimately lead to identification of the gene or genes responsible and allow for marker-assisted selection in other cattle breeds to alter the fatty acid content of the meat. — WLJ

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Friday, August 22,2008

Some weeds can be used as emergency forage

by WLJ
Some weeds can be used as emergency forage This year’s drought conditions in western North Dakota and eastern Montana have producers evaluating alternative forages they normally wouldn’t think of feeding their cow herd. Russian thistle, pigeon grass and kochia are some plants normally considered weeds that can be used as a source of emergency forage, according to Greg Lardy, North Dakota State University Extension Service beef cattle specialist and associate professor in the Animal Sciences Department. The best time to cut Russian thistles for hay is when they are in bloom, before the spines form or harden, Lardy says. Hay from thistles cut after the spines harden has very little feeding value and may prove harmful due to the irritation from the sharp spines. Russian thistles, cut in the blossom stage and carefully cured as hay, contain about the same amounts of protein as alfalfa. The total digestible nutrients (TDN) typically are 10 percent to 15 percent less than in alfalfa hay. Russian thistles also contain about twice as much ash as alfalfa or prairie hay, which results in the Russian thistle hay having a laxative effect. Lardy has these tips for feeding thistles: Do not feed Russian thistle hay as the only roughage. Blend it with other hays or silages; Limit Russian thistle hay to one-third or one-half of the roughage in the ration; Due to the laxative effect, feed Russian thistle hay with nonlaxative feeds, such as straw, corn silage or prairie hay. Management skills used to produce good quality alfalfa should be adequate to produce good quality kochia hay, Lardy says. Kochia’s long, narrow leaves are resistant to shattering in the haying operation. Kochia also can be harvested as a silage crop. Producers should follow good silage-making practices (for example, maintaining an anaerobic environment, harvesting at the proper moisture) to ensure good silage quality with kochia. Kochia hay is similar in nutritive value to alfalfa hay, but it has higher ash content than alfalfa. Ideally, kochia should be cut for hay or silage when it’s 20 to 26 inches tall and before it has produced seed. Protein content ranges from 11 percent to 22 percent, while yield ranges from 1 to 3 tons of hay per acre. Pigeon grass has a forage value similar to millet when harvested before maturity. When mature, it is relatively low in energy and protein. Pigeon grass can be difficult to windrow and harvest due to its relatively short growing height. One disadvantage of using kochia, Russian thistle and pigeon grass as forage is they accumulate nitrate. Ruminant animals, such as cattle and sheep, are susceptible to nitrate poisoning because their digestive process converts nitrate to nitrite, which in turn is converted to ammonia. Lardy urges producers to be sure to have these forages tested for nitrates before feeding them to livestock. — WLJ

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Friday, August 22,2008

Angus influence affects efficiency, carcass merit

by WLJ
Angus influence affects efficiency, carcass merit Successful producers have always tried to raise high-quality, high-performing cattle, but may have felt compelled to choose one ideal over the other. That’s not necessary, according to a recent analysis of data from the Iowa Tri-County Steer Carcass Futurity (TCSCF). What is the effect of percent Angus genetics on performance in the feedlot and on carcass merit? Mark McCully, supply development director for Certified Angus Beef LLC (CAB), worked with colleagues Larry Corah and Mike King at CAB, and Iowa Extension beef specialist Darrell Busby to present a research summary. The data came from 18,250 steers and heifers consigned to TCSCF from 2002 to 2007, and categorized into quartiles by their degree of Angus influence: Low, Half, Three-quarter, or Straightbred Angus (Table 1). After a minimum 28-day preconditioning period before arrival at any of 10 TSCSF feedlots, cattle were weighed and given initial implants, vaccinations and body scores within their first four days on feed. All were given similar implants and health treatments and fed the same energy level. McCully presented and discussed the data earlier this year at the Southern Section, American Society of Animal Science meetings in Dallas, TX. The results may have revealed the solution to producers’ dilemma. Research showed that Angus influence had a positive effect on a number of performance and carcass factors. "For years, breed composition has been recorded on cattle enrolled in the futurity," McCully says. "These data are now some of the most comprehensive available where genetics are quantified." Straightbred Angus cattle showed better feedlot health and lower treatment costs than cattle with less Angus influence. The straightbred average treatment cost of $4.60 per head was $3 less than that for the lowest-Angus-influence cattle. Moreover, that was less than the treatment costs for the typical crossbreds in the middle quartiles. Overall health significantly improved with increased Angus influence. Straight Angus cattle had a sickness rate of 14.8 percent, while cattle with low influence had a rate of 22.8 percent. "This is one of the most interesting findings in the analysis, but one we don’t have a thorough explanation for," McCully says. "The data showed less sickness and reduced treatment cost as the percent Angus increased, but pre-feedlot health protocols were prescribed to be the same for all cattle. So, this appears to be a genetic effect." Some of the earliest data on breed-type effect on health came from a 1984 doctoral dissertation on the effects of pre- and post-transit potassium levels, receiving diets and deworming on highly stressed calves, by Frank Brazle at Kansas State University. The published table referred to "Breed Combination," but the four descriptions noted only color, not uncommon for public research. "We can safely assume that the medium-frame solid blacks we noted back then were predominantly Angus," Brazle says now. In that study, the 2.79 percent mortality rate in groups of straight blacks compared to 18.39 percent in black baldies of the same frame size, 12.93 percent in all black baldies, and 6.34 percent in mixed-color lots. McCully adds there has been recent data showing that respiratory disease is genetically influenced. He says it is possible that an unintentional selection for respiratory disease resistance may have occurred through popular Angus sire lines. "It is certainly an area that needs more research," he says. The TCSCF study also noted relatively fewer days on feed for straight Angus, and the highest average daily gain of all groups. Finally, ability to earn premiums for carcass merit increased with Angus influence. Marbling scores trended higher in a direct correlation with percentage Angus influence. While nearly a third of straight Angus cattle achieved CAB acceptance or USDA Prime, the low-influence cattle made only 9.3 percent CAB and only 0.3 percent qualified for Prime. On the other hand, less than 1 percent of the straight Angus cattle were discounted as USDA Standard, compared to more than 5 percent of the low Angus. "Angus cattle are known for their carcass merit and marbling ability, specifically, so the improvement in quality grade due to increased Angus genetics came as no surprise," McCully says. Whether the data reinforced knowledge or revealed something new, he says, "We hope it will benefit producers when they are making genetic selections for their next calf crop." He notes that the numbers say producers can expect both higher performance and quality grades from straight Angus cattle. "Wise cattlemen will make sure they are looking at all the facts when they make decisions on genetics," McCully says. For the complete abstract and slide show, see http://www.cabpartners.com/news/EducatorMailing/SSAbstractEffectPercentageAngus.doc and http://www.cabpartners.com/news/EducatorMailing/SSEffectAngusMcCully.

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Friday, August 22,2008

Emerging clostridial disease targets calves

by WLJ
Emerging clostridial disease targets calves Clostridium perfringens "There are as many questions about this disease syndrome as there are answers," says David Van Metre, DVM, College of Veterinary Sciences, Colorado State University (CSU). "It’s a multifactorial disease. No one has found the complete set of factors that cause it." C. perfringens Type A is the most commonly isolated infectious agent in abomasitis cases, according to Van Metre, who presented to attendees during a symposium at the Western Veterinary Conference in Las Vegas, NV. Abomasitis occurs with an acute onset of gas accumulation in the abomasum. It typically occurs in calves less than two weeks of age. Clinical signs can include rapid progressive bloat and shock, colic, hypersalivation and a distended abdomen. Treatments may include penicillin, antitoxin serum, fluid support, oral adsorbents and oral antibiotics. "Unfortunately, most calves die acutely," says Doug Scholz, director of veterinary services for Novartis Animal Health. "Most times, the calf appears fine in the morning. When you come back that evening, you find a dead bloated calf." Van Metre recommends focusing prevention measures on enhancing immunity and using feeding practices that inhibit proliferation of C. perfringens in the gut. He recommends using good colostrum and milk/milk replacer hygiene; keeping consistent feeding schedules for dairy calves and maintaining consistency in milk/milk replacer composition and temperature; and avoiding feeding long-stem forage too early. Whenever possible during severe weather, encourage calves and dams to stand up to limit milk engorgement by the calf after the weather passes. Make sure animals have adequate copper and selenium status. If you are experiencing significant calf losses, vaccination may be an option to consider. Van Metre shared results of a trial he conducted with Clostridium Perfringens Type A Toxoid in a commercial dairy herd. The CSU researchers randomly assigned cows and pregnant heifers to a control or vaccinate group. Vaccinates received two doses of Clostridium Perfringens Type A Toxoid in late pregnancy. The study goal was to measure C. perfringens Type A alpha toxin titers in vaccinated dams and the calves fed that colostrum. "The cows and heifers receiving two doses of the vaccine generated significantly higher antibody titers to alpha toxin one week after the second immunization than did controls," says Van Metre. "Additionally, the calves ingesting colostrum from vaccinated dams had significantly higher serum neutralizing antibody titers to alpha toxin than calves born to controls." Scholz adds that vaccination with Clostridium Perfringens Type A Toxoid is anticipated to work best when you vaccinate the dam and get antibody into the calf through the cow’s colostrum. "If you are experiencing an outbreak and have significant death loss, you may also want to vaccinate the calf," advises Scholz. "The important thing is to involve your veterinarian and call as soon as you suspect a problem. If you aren’t tuned in to watch for clinical cases, you will likely be calling for a necropsy rather than a treatment." — WLJ Type A continues to garner researchers’ attention as a potential emerging pathogen. It’s often associated with severe calf disease, such as abomasitis, with fatality rates varying from 5 percent to 50 percent.

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Friday, August 22,2008

46BeefBits

by WLJ
FSIS releases new E. coli study USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) has published a report titled "Results of Checklist and Reassessment of Control for Escherichia coli O157:H7 in Beef Operations," a study that stemmed primarily from an increase in the number of E. coli O157:H7 positives and recalls in 2007. This report details the results and analysis of information received in response to an FSIS notice that instructed FSIS inspectors to collect data about establishments’ reassessment of their Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points plans. Inspectors also had to complete a checklist, collecting information about the practices at several types of raw beef operations. FSIS is seeking comments from stakeholders over a 30-day comment period. FSIS said it believes this report will help it develop additional risk mitigation actions to control for E. coli. Beef first choice of tailgaters One of the earliest stories about tailgating stems from the 1869 Rutgers-Princeton game when picnics were served from a carriage at the "tail end" of a horse. As pickups and other vehicles replaced horses around the football field, the term "tailgating" stuck. It’s now a fall phenomenon, with some 70 million Americans expected to host or attend at least one of these ultimate parking lot parties this fall. Beef was cited as the favorite food for al fresco stadium dining by 62 percent of avid tailgaters in a recent survey by Grill Freedom Inc. and www.tailgating.com. Steak reigns as king, chosen by 34.4 percent of tailgaters, while burgers ranked second, preferred by 27.7 percent of parking lot grill masters, according to the survey. Japanese officials visit U.S. beef plants Japan began inspection at U.S. meat packing plants recently after Washington concluded that human and computer error caused recent shipments of banned beef to Japan. The Japanese government was to send farm and welfare ministry officials to the U.S. for on-site inspections at 10 meat processing plants, according to ministry officials. The inspection will continue until Aug. 31 and reports indicate that Tokyo may lift a suspension of imports from the plants as early as mid-September, based on inspection results. Japan recently announced that USDA had sent reports to Tokyo on the cases, saying one of the two shipments of banned beef resulted from human error in the packing process in April. Brazilian beef exports to rise sharply Despite a loss of pastureland, Brazilian beef shipments will rise by 32 percent, to 2.9 million metric tons, by 2017, according to agribusiness consultancy Agra FNP. Higher Brazilian beef production will facilitate the rise in exports, Agra FNP said. It forecasts that cattle numbers will rise from 169.7 million head in 2008 to 183 million by 2017. However, during the same period, pastureland area is expected to fall by 42 million acres. Offsetting that loss, according to Agra FNP, will be gains in productivity due to improvements in feed practices (fattening time will fall from 30 months to 26 months within the next four to five years), expansion of feedlots (which will more than double to 6 million animals by 2017) and genetic improvements. Economy’s impact on meat purchases studied According to a study done by consumer products company Unilever using data from more than 47,000 Nielsen homes, a majority of shoppers are willing to pull frozen dinners from their grocery carts, but not fresh meat. The study showed that fresh meat and seafood ranked among the 12 categories that shoppers are least willing to abandon even in the face of a troubling economy. The only other food product to make the list of necessary grocery items was canned vegetables. Other priority items included deodorant, batteries and pet food. The study also found that more than 30 percent of consumers are eating at home more and dining out less, though when consumers are in the grocery store, they will continue to seek out trusted brands and will not switch to private labels to save money. Korean news agency apologizes for BSE snafu Seoul-based Munhwa Broadcasting Company (MBC) has issued a public apology over its erroneous report on the danger of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) which triggered massive protests against the government’s resumption of U.S. beef imports earlier this summer. MBC admitted it made six translation errors in the reporting of a story on the death of a young American woman. The story involved an interview of the girl’s mother who suspected, according to MBC’s translation, that her daughter succumbed to variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, the human form of BSE. The network also conceded it mistakenly identified images of non-ambulatory cattle as animals infected with BSE. The apology followed an order by the Korea Communications Commission, the country’s communications watchdog.

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