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Thursday, December 20,2007

BEEF TALK

by WLJ
June 13, 2005 The National Animal Identification System (NAIS) Draft Strategic Plan, as proposed by the USDA, has three key components: premises registration, individual animal identification and animal tracking. These three key components have only one purpose, which is to assist the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) “establish the animal information foundation necessary to support animal disease monitoring, surveillance, control and eradication programs.” As stated in the plan, the principal work involved with the plan will be the responsibility of the individual states, allowing for local direction. APHIS will monitor individual state performance. The first critical component is the national implementation of premises identification. Within the plan, the concept of premises is simply an address, essentially a surrogate address for computer storage and retrieval. At times considerable debate surfaces, but in the world of modern-day technology, computer bytes still count and efficiency of operation simply demands an efficient, space-saving process to track location data. Computer data may seem infinite, but data storage can be overwhelming and a small number that connects to a reference file makes sense. Several options are available for producers to register their premises. Simply contact your local state veterinarian or local producer association with your 911 address or physical map description of the livestock premises and the process should be complete. The second key component is a much more complicated issue. The NAIS plan calls for the assignment of a unique identification number to every animal in the country, unless the animals are always grouped with no possible opportunity for commingling with outside animals. The plan states that "animals will be identified either individually with a unique animal identification number or, if they are managed and moved through the production chain as a group, with a group/lot identification number." Once placed on the animal, the individual animal data requested (perhaps eventually mandatory) includes the following: a documentation of why the animal is being handled, the premises identification of the animal holder as well as premises identification of the destination, the event date and time, the animal identification number, the species, type of identification, birth date, age of animal, gender of animal, breed of animal, additional remarks relating to the animal, status of the animal and four potential alternate animal identification numbers. Alternate animal identification numbers could be used, but the plan appears to require that the animal be tattooed if an alternate identification is used. The third key component of the system is the combining of components one and two into a workable system "to achieve the 48-hour traceback objective." This is no small task. Is this achievable? It seems workable. The sun is, as yet, not shining on the end of 2008, the goal to have the plan in place. The closing date for comments is June 6. Since the draft plan was made available for public comment, 47 people have responded to the listening sessions. This is your chance to comment, so why not step up? The plan and submitted comments, as well as the ability to submit a comment, is available at http://animalid.aphis.usda.gov/nais/index.shtml. The primary contact for the USDA is Neil Hammerschmidt, eradication and surveillance team animal identification officer, APHIS, 4700 River Road, Unit 43, Riverdale, MD 20737-1231. Now is the time to read and comment. May you find all your NAIS-approved ear tags. — 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.)

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Thursday, December 20,2007

Cattle continue trend toward seasonal low

by WLJ
Trading and demand was moderate in the northern Plains and western Corn Belt by Wednesday last week. Trade and demand was reported in Kansas late Wednesday and Thursday. Compared to last week, Nebraska live sales traded $1-2.50 lower at $89 and dressed sales $4 lower at $140-141. Colorado live sales were reported $2-2.50 lower at $89 and dressed sales $4-5 lower at $139-140. In Kansas, early live sales last Wednesday traded mostly $2 lower at $89 and dressed sales traded $2-3 lower at $141. Texas trade last Thursday was reported at $90-90.50. Clearance levels were reportedly good, with most analysts calling the fed cattle trade complete for the week by mid-day last Thursday. Fed cattle prices continue to trend toward the seasonal low and boxed beef prices are contributing heavily to the slide, said Livestock Marketing Information Center Director Jim Robb. “We haven’t seen very good boxed beef movement since prior to Memorial Day. That’s resulted in additional pressure on fed cattle prices recently,” he said. “We expect that the industry might reach the seasonal low in late June or early July at the rate it’s going.” Last week, the boxed beef market continued to slide lower, however, it appeared to be reaching a price level that was promoting some movement. Thursday trade on the Choice boxed beef was down $1.47, to $146.11, while Select dropped 76 cents to trade at $139.94. Movement for the day, at 461 loads of fab and grind product, was called moderate on heavy offerings as packers tried to spur buying interest. Robb noted that demand for middle meats has been lackluster so far this year, particularly when compared with the same time period last year. That decline in consumer demand has been a significant drag on the cutout and a hand-to-mouth buying pattern at the wholesale level. “Packers have been less than willing to forward price beef until recently, particularly against the June live cattle, which was in the $96 range until just a few weeks ago,” he said. “We are starting to see an increased interest in buying now that the fed cattle market has ratcheted down some. The next two weeks will be very indicative of where the market is headed.” Robb said he expects some packers to begin cutting back harvest levels in an effort to support the cutout prices from sliding too much farther. Last week’s tally through Thursday was still running relatively high at 508,000 head, compared with 507,000 the prior week and 503,000 head for the same period in 2006. Although the market has softened faster than many analysts had expected, Robb said most economists aren’t ready to blame the trend on rising consumer prices, particularly fuel costs. “Middle meats are softer, in part, because there been some trading down in the meat complex and that has been supportive of the trim markets, despite heavy cow slaughter this year. Buyers are trading down from middle meats to hamburger.” He also noted that reports from restauranteurs are also adding some uncertainty to the beef market. “If you look at the results from the restaurant chains and talk to the restauranteurs, the reports aren’t looking very good right now. Nearly all of them are reporting same store results below year ago levels,” Robb said. “That drop has also led to a lack of buying interest from that sector, which is also a drag on the market.” However, despite sliding prices, Robb said feedlot closeouts have been particularly good for cattle feeders since early spring, with per head profits reaching as high as $150 per hedged steer during certain weeks. “Guys that were hedged on both their cattle and corn are looking pretty smart right now,” Robb said. “Even cash to cash feeders during the March to May time period were profitable by $54-67 per head.” The fall hedging opportunities for fed cattle have evaporated and Robb said September closeouts are projected in the range of $97. However, feed costs could take their toll as the corn market has been subject to wild swings as weather forecasts change. But, Robb said he expects it will take some serious deterioration in crop conditions to keep Omaha cash corn prices at the $4 level. Feeder cattle The positive margins being seen in feedlots have translated into some strong prices being paid for feeder cattle for fall delivery. Last week’s first big video feeder cattle auction featured more than 100,000 head from 28 states. According to market reports from Superior Livestock Auction’s Council Bluffs, IA, sale, demand was excellent on all classes of cattle. Yearling steers were called steady to $2 higher with heifermates bringing steady prices. The lighter weights brought prices $1-3 lower. Northern calves were called steady to $2 higher, while southern calves sold steady on the better kinds, while average brought prices $1-3 lower. Some examples from the sale include a weighted average price of $109.11 for 435 head of yearlings in the 800-840 lb. class, while 320 head of cattle in the 900-925 lb. range brought an average of $104.10. Meanwhile in the lighter weights, 190 head of steers in the 610-640 lb. class sold for an average price of $111.54 and 400 head of 485 lb. steers brought a weighted average of $137.44. Elsewhere, runs of cattle in much of the country remain light, with good pasture conditions being reported in much of the west, Plains, and Midwest. The two notable exceptions are the southeastern U.S. and California. Last week’s pasture and range condition report for California showed pasture and range conditions rated at 95 percent poor to very poor. Much of central California never received the needed spring rains and there are reports of a good deal of supplemental feeding in the area. In the southeast, some much needed rain fell two weeks ago after a tropical depression from off the Florida coast moved inland. However, pasture conditions there have improved little, with 70 percent of pasture rated at 70 percent poor or very poor. To the north in Georgia, 74 percent of grazing land was rated 74 percent poor or very poor. Those conditions have led to early sales of feeder cattle as well as heavy culling in many cow herds. Because conditions in much of the region are poor, a good number of those cattle have been showing up far from home, with producers opting to pay trucking costs to places like Oklahoma City, OK, where grass is more readily available. At Oklahoma City last week, where good rains have prompted a solid market for stocker cattle, prices paid for feeder cattle and calves were mostly steady to $2 higher last week. Joplin, MO, also added to the rainfall total last week. Prices at the sale were $1-3 lower for steers, while heifers sold steady to $1 lower on moderate supply. Meanwhile, in Hub City, SD, load lots of quality feeder steers and heifers were called steady last week, while the remainder sold $1-2 lower than the prior week. In Riverton, WY, as in much of the rest of the West, price trends were in short supply last week, although the few offered feeder cattle brought prices mostly steady with higher undertones noted in most markets with good demand for most classes of cattle on consignment.

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Thursday, December 20,2007

Japan finds no problems at U.S. plants

by WLJ
Trading and demand was moderate in the northern Plains and western Corn Belt by Wednesday last week. Trade and demand was reported in Kansas late Wednesday and Thursday. Compared to last week, Nebraska live sales traded $1-2.50 lower at $89 and dressed sales $4 lower at $140-141. Colorado live sales were reported $2-2.50 lower at $89 and dressed sales $4-5 lower at $139-140. In Kansas, early live sales last Wednesday traded mostly $2 lower at $89 and dressed sales traded $2-3 lower at $141. Texas trade last Thursday was reported at $90-90.50. Clearance levels were reportedly good, with most analysts calling the fed cattle trade complete for the week by mid-day last Thursday. Fed cattle prices continue to trend toward the seasonal low and boxed beef prices are contributing heavily to the slide, said Livestock Marketing Information Center Director Jim Robb. “We haven’t seen very good boxed beef movement since prior to Memorial Day. That’s resulted in additional pressure on fed cattle prices recently,” he said. “We expect that the industry might reach the seasonal low in late June or early July at the rate it’s going.” Last week, the boxed beef market continued to slide lower, however, it appeared to be reaching a price level that was promoting some movement. Thursday trade on the Choice boxed beef was down $1.47, to $146.11, while Select dropped 76 cents to trade at $139.94. Movement for the day, at 461 loads of fab and grind product, was called moderate on heavy offerings as packers tried to spur buying interest. Robb noted that demand for middle meats has been lackluster so far this year, particularly when compared with the same time period last year. That decline in consumer demand has been a significant drag on the cutout and a hand-to-mouth buying pattern at the wholesale level. “Packers have been less than willing to forward price beef until recently, particularly against the June live cattle, which was in the $96 range until just a few weeks ago,” he said. “We are starting to see an increased interest in buying now that the fed cattle market has ratcheted down some. The next two weeks will be very indicative of where the market is headed.” Robb said he expects some packers to begin cutting back harvest levels in an effort to support the cutout prices from sliding too much farther. Last week’s tally through Thursday was still running relatively high at 508,000 head, compared with 507,000 the prior week and 503,000 head for the same period in 2006. Although the market has softened faster than many analysts had expected, Robb said most economists aren’t ready to blame the trend on rising consumer prices, particularly fuel costs. “Middle meats are softer, in part, because there been some trading down in the meat complex and that has been supportive of the trim markets, despite heavy cow slaughter this year. Buyers are trading down from middle meats to hamburger.” He also noted that reports from restauranteurs are also adding some uncertainty to the beef market. “If you look at the results from the restaurant chains and talk to the restauranteurs, the reports aren’t looking very good right now. Nearly all of them are reporting same store results below year ago levels,” Robb said. “That drop has also led to a lack of buying interest from that sector, which is also a drag on the market.” However, despite sliding prices, Robb said feedlot closeouts have been particularly good for cattle feeders since early spring, with per head profits reaching as high as $150 per hedged steer during certain weeks. “Guys that were hedged on both their cattle and corn are looking pretty smart right now,” Robb said. “Even cash to cash feeders during the March to May time period were profitable by $54-67 per head.” The fall hedging opportunities for fed cattle have evaporated and Robb said September closeouts are projected in the range of $97. However, feed costs could take their toll as the corn market has been subject to wild swings as weather forecasts change. But, Robb said he expects it will take some serious deterioration in crop conditions to keep Omaha cash corn prices at the $4 level. Feeder cattle The positive margins being seen in feedlots have translated into some strong prices being paid for feeder cattle for fall delivery. Last week’s first big video feeder cattle auction featured more than 100,000 head from 28 states. According to market reports from Superior Livestock Auction’s Council Bluffs, IA, sale, demand was excellent on all classes of cattle. Yearling steers were called steady to $2 higher with heifermates bringing steady prices. The lighter weights brought prices $1-3 lower. Northern calves were called steady to $2 higher, while southern calves sold steady on the better kinds, while average brought prices $1-3 lower. Some examples from the sale include a weighted average price of $109.11 for 435 head of yearlings in the 800-840 lb. class, while 320 head of cattle in the 900-925 lb. range brought an average of $104.10. Meanwhile in the lighter weights, 190 head of steers in the 610-640 lb. class sold for an average price of $111.54 and 400 head of 485 lb. steers brought a weighted average of $137.44. Elsewhere, runs of cattle in much of the country remain light, with good pasture conditions being reported in much of the west, Plains, and Midwest. The two notable exceptions are the southeastern U.S. and California. Last week’s pasture and range condition report for California showed pasture and range conditions rated at 95 percent poor to very poor. Much of central California never received the needed spring rains and there are reports of a good deal of supplemental feeding in the area. In the southeast, some much needed rain fell two weeks ago after a tropical depression from off the Florida coast moved inland. However, pasture conditions there have improved little, with 70 percent of pasture rated at 70 percent poor or very poor. To the north in Georgia, 74 percent of grazing land was rated 74 percent poor or very poor. Those conditions have led to early sales of feeder cattle as well as heavy culling in many cow herds. Because conditions in much of the region are poor, a good number of those cattle have been showing up far from home, with producers opting to pay trucking costs to places like Oklahoma City, OK, where grass is more readily available. At Oklahoma City last week, where good rains have prompted a solid market for stocker cattle, prices paid for feeder cattle and calves were mostly steady to $2 higher last week. Joplin, MO, also added to the rainfall total last week. Prices at the sale were $1-3 lower for steers, while heifers sold steady to $1 lower on moderate supply. Meanwhile, in Hub City, SD, load lots of quality feeder steers and heifers were called steady last week, while the remainder sold $1-2 lower than the prior week. In Riverton, WY, as in much of the rest of the West, price trends were in short supply last week, although the few offered feeder cattle brought prices mostly steady with higher undertones noted in most markets with good demand for most classes of cattle on consignment.

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Thursday, December 20,2007

Broseco Ranch is 2007 BIF Comm’l Producer of the year

by WLJ
The Beef Improvement Federation honored Broseco Ranch with its Commercial Producer of the Year Award, June 7, during the organization’s 39th annual meeting in Fort Collins, CO. Broseco Ranch is owned by Broventure Co. Inc. and managed by Tom Woodward. At 30 feet of elevation, Broseco Ranch is sandwiched between the Sulphur River and White Oak Creek in northeast Texas. In 1961, Paul Pewitt sold his 45,000-acre spread to Broventure Co. Inc. During the past 46 years, Broventure Co. has operated a commercial cow/calf operation under the banner of Broseco Ranch. The bottomland hardwood timber and a pine farm have been sold, 11,000 acres were taken by the Corp of Engineers, and another 10,000 acres of upland have been sold, leaving 10,000 acres of upland improved pasture in the current operation. The cow herd consists of 2,700 cows that are exposed for a 60-day spring breeding season. Yearling replacement heifers are exposed for 45 days. Prior to turning out bulls, they synchronize and artificially inseminate. A normal year will have a breeding herd consisting of 300-400 yearling heifers and 300-400 mature cows. At weaning time, all cows are pregnancy-tested, and all open cows are rebred for fall calving, sold or removed from the herd. In 1981, the ranch infused Brahman genetics into its primarily English-cross cow herd. Then, in 1984, a three-breed rotational-crossbreeding system was established to stabilize the Brahman influence and optimize heterosis. Currently, the genetics used include Red Angus and two composites (SimAngus and Hollander). A 200-head Red Angus herd produces bulls for use on replacement heifers and “balance bulls” for mature cows. They balance the adaptation, maternal, growth and carcass traits to optimize performance at all phases of production. Since 1988, Broseco has retained ownership on a majority of its production. Calves are individually weighed, preconditioned and electronically identified at weaning. The calves go to a wheat stocker program in the rolling plains of Texas and are then finished in the southern Plains. The operation is Quality Systems Assessment qualified. Finished cattle are sold through a value-based grid-marketing system. Through the Ranchers Renaissance cooperative in partnership with Cargill Meat Solutions, the beef is marketed in the Ranchers Registry product line to several major food store chains. For more about Broseco Ranch, visit www.brosecoranch.com. The Red Angus Association of America nominated Broseco Ranch.

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Thursday, December 20,2007

Huffines, Northcutt receive Continuing Service Awards

by WLJ
The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) honored Craig Huffhines and Sally Northcutt on June 7 with its Continuing Service Award during the organization’s 39th annual meeting in Fort Collins, CO. Craig Huffines Huffhines has been the executive vice president and chief executive officer of the American Hereford Association (AHA) since 1997. He initially joined the AHA stall in 1992 upon completing a master’s degree in meat science from Colorado Slate University (CSU). His early responsibilities included director of feedlot and carcass programs for AHA’s Certified Hereford Beef (CHB) program. He was named CHB director in 1995, launching a fully aligned, breed- specific, branded beef program into the retail and foodservice sectors. During his tenure at AHA, Huffhines has assembled a great team of employees, combining a blend of professionals representing decades of experience in pedigree registry work with a young group of agriculture professionals leading the charge in innovative technological and marketing advancement. Under Huffhines’ guidance, CHB has become a true national brand. In addition, Huffhines’ team has instituted a fully aligned traceabilily system that tracks cattle from the ranch through the processing phase. A native Texan, Huffhines received his undergraduate degree in animal science from Texas A&M University prior to his master’s training at CSU. He was project leader for the CSU Hereford study, which formed the basis for the CHB program. He has since served in several industry capacities, including president of the National Pedigreed Livestock Council from 2003 to 2006, chairman of the BIF Emerging Technology Committee from 2004 to 2007, and member of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association National Animal Identification working group. Huffhines has served on the BIF board of directors. During his tenure, he was instrumental in forming the present working relationship between BIF and BEEF magazine. Chairing the Emerging Technology Committee, his leadership has been instrumental in the promising field of molecular genetics. The Emerging Technology Committee has assisted USDA with the bovine genome project through the collection of DNA samples. In addition, Huffhines has helped organize and has led BIF efforts in molecular genetic information validation, use, and database development. Under Huffhines’ leadership, the committee has begun to establish marker assisted selection protocols. He and his wife Mary Joe are the parents of three sons—Seth, Cole and Miles. Sally Northcutt BIF also honored Sally Northcutt with its Continuing Service Award. Northcutt is the genetic research director at the American Angus Association. She works with the Performance Programs Department in data analysis and the modeling and application of the National Cattle Evaluation. Northcutt also works with universities across the nation to coordinate the expansive research activities of the association. Under her supervision and guidance, the American Angus Association developed a suite of dollar value indexes ($Values). Since her arrival, the association has transitioned genetic predictions to an in-house system, developed online genetic evaluation tools like the Angus Optimal Milk Module, and established expected progeny differences (EPDs) tor Calving Ease Direct and Calving Ease Maternal. Before her work at the American Angus Association, Northcutt was an Extension beef cattle breeding specialist for nine years at Oklahoma State University. She is actively involved in industry organizations such as BIF, for which she has served in various leadership roles during the past 10 years. She has served diligently on the BIF board of directors and has helped with BIF activities, including guideline revisions, convention program planning, and general policy. Northcutt was a BIF regional secretary and the chairperson of the Producer Applications Committee. She eagerly helped record minutes at every board meeting. As a standing committee chair, her programming provided BIF convention attendees with cutting-edge information on such topics as EPD/selection criteria, animal identification systems, production system management, and genetic/environmental interactions. She is an avid golfer and runner, and she recently completed her first marathon.

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Thursday, December 20,2007

Industry pioneers honored

by WLJ
The Beef Improvement Federation (BIF) honored Rob Brown of R.A. Brown Ranch, Throckmorton, TX, David and Emma Danciger, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor and extension specialist Jim Gosey, with the Pioneer Award, June 7 during the organization’s 39th annual meeting in Fort Collins, CO. Rob Brown During the course of his career in the livestock industry, Brown has demonstrated vision, leadership and excellence. As an industry leader for more than 20 years, he has given freely of his time to the industry through numerous organizations. He served as a director to the National Cattlemen’s Association, for which he served as a member of its Executive Committee, chairman of the Membership Committee and chairman of the Purebred Council. He was instrumental in creating the Young Cattlemen’s Conference leadership program. In addition to his leadership legacy, it was Brown’s work on the ranch that established his reputation as a leading supplier of cattle genetics. R.A. Brown Ranch encompasses 58,000 acres in Texas and Colorado and has become known for its forward-thinking and trend-setting ways. Today, the ranch is recognized as a leader in innovative cattle breeding. The ranch, which began as a Hereford and Angus operation in 1895, keeps meticulous records on more than 1,000 head of registered cattle in four breeds and 1,100 commercial cows. During the 1990s, the ranch developed Hollander, a heat-tolerant composite breed. R A. Brown Ranch provides Angus, Red Angus, SimAngus and Hollander bulls and females to producers worldwide through their annual production sale each October. Brown was a leader with the Livestock Industry Institute and the American Society of Range Management. He has been involved with the American Angus, Red Angus, Simmental and Senepol associations, Texas Cattle Feeders Association, and the World Simmental Federation. At Texas Tech University in Luhbock, he has served as chairman of the Agriculture Dean’s Advisory Council and has served the Ranching Heritage Association Board of Overseers since 1982. Brown was appointed by Gov. George W. Bush and served as chair of the Texas Animal Health Commission for 10 years. Today, Brown and his wife, Peggy, are still involved with the daily operation of the ranch as they transition management to the fifth generation. Jim Gosey For 34 years, Jim Gosey was the Extension beef specialist and professor in the animal science department of University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL). He continues his ties to UNL as professor emeritus and helps with the teaching herd. Gosey received his bachelor’s degree in animal science from Oklahoma Slate University in 1965, his master’s degree from New Mexico State University in 1967, and his doctorate in beef cattle genetics from the University of Nebraska in 1976. He joined the University of Nebraska in 1971 as beef cattle Extension specialist, working in the area of beef cattle breeding, beef crossbreeding, bull selection, cow/calf management, beef cow efficiency, and beef cattle production systems. Gosey has taught beef cattle production/cow-calf management and beef cattle merchandising in addition to managing the university’s teaching herds, which include Angus and composite populations. Gosey is a member of the American Society of Animal Science, has written numerous magazine articles, and has given many invited presentations. Over the years, Gosey’s style and approach have continued to evolve, offering ever-changing educational programs to meet the needs of the cattle producers of Nebraska and the nation and to meet the needs of undergraduates.   Gosey has been a featured speaker at four BIF national meetings, nine Range Beef Cow Symposia, and four 4-State Beef Conferences, as well as numerous beef breed association programs. He organized the 2002 BIF annual meeting, which was in Omaha, NE. Like many, his impact went far beyond his research and education; he had a positive influence on many cattlemen. David and Emma Danciger The Dancigers have long had an interest in producing high-performing, environmentally adapted beef cattle. David graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics after serving with the Army Air Force in World War II. He began in 1951 with a ranch located south of Dallas, TX. There he started breeding Angus cattle and eventually became a life member of the American Angus Association. David was a scientist at heart, and he continually focused on improving his Angus herd.  Early on, he attended schools on artificial insemination, eventually setting up bull collection facilities and a laboratory on his Cedar Hill Ranch. In 1980, David and Emma moved lo Carbondale, CO, bringing 50 young heifers with them from the Danciger Tybar Angus Ranch (Tybar). They felt the move to a different environment was like starting over again, learning to cope with cold weather, altitude and intensive land management. Early in that experience they learned of brisket disease, or high-altitude disease, something they never experienced in Texas. The challenge of breeding cattle adapted to high elevation led David to voluntarily put his bulls in a research program testing for brisket disease. Since those original tests, Tybar has tested every animal for high-altitude disease at one year of age and continues to select animals adapted to the high-altitude environment.  Working with Colorado State University, Tybar data was used to develop expected progeny differences (EPDs) for pulmonary arterial pressure, or PAP, which is an indicator of brisket disease susceptibility. Tybar continues to work closely with Colorado State University, producing EPDs, using those in their selection program, and supporting further research into this problem. David’s motto was “Life—is a learning experience,” and he continued to act upon that motto until age 81. Since David’s passing, Mark Nieslanik has continued to manage the ranch and pass on David’s love of cattle and research.

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Thursday, December 20,2007

Pelton Simmental/Red Angus honored as BIF Seedstock Producer of the Year

by WLJ
The Beef Improvement Federation honored Pelton Simmental/Red Angus with the 2007 Seedstock Producer of the Year Award June 7 during the organization’s 39th annual meeting in Fort Collins, CO. The ranch is owned by the Lynn and Gary Pelton families and managed by Lynn Pelton. Pelton Simmental/Red Angus is a family-owned and operated seedstock business located near Burdett, KS. Gary and Donna Pelton and their sons, Jason, Aaron and Burke, and Lynn and Sue Pelton and their daughter, Shanna, and son, Dustin, began a partnership in 1976 which later was incorporated into a diversified farm and ranch operation. The Pelton business consists of 4,300 acres of grass, 800 acres in the Conservation Reserve Program, 4,700 acres of cultivated land and 500 head of registered Red Angus, SimAngus and Simmental cows. About 200 cows calve in the fall; the remaining 300 calve in the spring. Aaron, Dustin and Dustin’s wife, Kendra, have joined the business full-time. The purebred operation began in 1972 with 12 bulls being sold to local cattlemen. During the 13th annual sale March 22, 2006, 150 Red Angus, Sim Angus and Simmental bulls and 120 females were sold into 13 different states. Including private-treaty sales, a total of 180 bulls were sold in 2006. With the use of an extensive embryo transfer (ET) program and proven, predictable genetics, a genetically strong cowherd has been developed by utilizing every available economic and performance measurement. Along with a strong genetic base, a customer service program was developed and emphasized for the sole purpose of providing “value-added marketing opportunities” for customers. In the past three years, the commitment to helping market customers’ calves through various avenues has been especially rewarding. Two alliances, with which the Peltons are involved, provide feedlot and carcass data on animals going through each program. In addition, a Pelton Program Sale, conducted the first Friday of November, has proven very successful for providing customers an opportunity to market replacement-quality females and performance steers. In 2006, more than 1,250 head were sold during the program sale. Since Lynn’s graduation from Kansas Slate University in 1975, the program has become very hands-on. Whether it be day-to-day care of the cowherd, sire selection and mating decisions, heat detection and artificial insemination work, ET preparation, weaning and development of bulls and replacements, putting up and grinding feed, various aspects of sale management and promotion, financial and breed association bookwork, computer time, customer service and marketing options, or hosting tour stops and judging workouts—the family works together and utilizes the strengths of each person to better enhance the efficiency of the operation. The Kansas Livestock Association nominated Pelton Simmental/Red Angus.

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Thursday, December 20,2007

COMMENTS

by WLJ
June 20, 2005 The market broke last week. We were expecting it to become softer, but the most recent news on the ongoing BSE situation reared its ugly head again—and for no real good reason. The USDA held their BSE roundtable meeting recently in Minneapolis, MN, and a multitude of interested groups played their cards. Then, Friday evening, the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), which is USDA’s watchdog office, made the announcement that they wanted to send samples to Weybridge, England, for more testing on a suspected Texas cow that showed a false positive last November. OIG wanted all three preliminary positive cases in the U.S. tested again with the widely used Western blot test. USDA uses only the immunohistochemistry (IHC) test, which is considered the “Gold Standard” for BSE testing. I have been told that the IHC test is utilized by the USDA because it will specifically identify cattle for BSE, while the Western blot test will uncover a wider variety of prions, such as scrapie and other mutated proteins. This is why Japan has come up with BSE tests in cattle under 30 months of age. Canada also uses this test, which would be why they contend that their testing is better than the USDA’s chosen IHC test. It’s a little perplexing why OIG came out with this announcement the day after Ag Secretary Mike Johanns held his industry roundtable meeting on BSE. Of the nine representatives on the panel, seven felt USDA’s BSE surveillance and firewall systems are working and doing the job well. The two who disagreed that the surveillance and firewalls have been successful were—you guessed it—R-CALF and the National Farmers Union. One could speculate that someone in the OIG may have had an axe to grind. One speaker at the roundtable suggested, there may be a little budget building going on with the OIG. And we’ve heard some rumblings that the company that manufactures the rapid BSE test forced the issue and asked OIG to retest the preliminary positive samples to prove their test is 100 percent accurate. OIG is like Internal Affair in a police department trying to find corruption. Consumers Union had been bantering with USDA since February to test the suspect BSE samples with the Western blot test. OIG felt that since the Texas cow sample tested positive to the rapid BSE test and then tested negative to the IHC test that more testing was justified and decided to test all the samples. The Western blot test showed one sample testing positive and the other two negative. As a tiebreaker, they were trying to send the samples to Weybridge. Now we’re hearing that they may not have enough sample left to send to Weybridge for more testing. It is without question in every cattle producer’s best interest to get this BSE thing settled and agree on the rules. The rub with Canada is just causing more and more press on BSE and creating more market risk for all producers, and I don’t know anyone in this business willing to take on more risk. USDA has gone out of its way to find BSE; nearly 385,000 head of cattle have been tested for the brain wasting disease. One wouldn’t think that there would be any conflicting issues within the cattle and beef industry’s fight to combat the issue. When it comes to eradicating BSE, there is nothing more that anyone knows how to do to prevent BSE from going any further. Statistics show the systems in place are working. The feed systems and the surveillance systems have done a pretty good job. There are 150 people worldwide who have died from Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), the human equivalent of BSE. That tells us the odds of anyone getting CJD through BSE infected meat are almost nil. This thing is taking on an ugly complexion. On one hand we have the scientists saying that with these preventative measures in place, the product is safe and poses no human or animal health issues. On the other hand, we have lawyers and the judiciary saying: No, it’s not safe. Could it be possible that this entire issue is about money and not the consumer? My thought is to always follow the money. — PETE CROW

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Thursday, December 20,2007

LETTERS

by WLJ
June 20, 2005 Dear Pete: I just finished reading Steve Kay’s last article in the (June 6) Journal where he says the beef checkoff should be $2 or $3 a head. I heartily agree. In fact, when someone comes up to me and says, “What do you think of that damn $1 checkoff?,” I say I don’t agree with it. “I think it should be $2,” I usually say. That usually ends the conversation. I did think Steve had a point that LMA should get a small percentage, say 10 percent, of the checkoff for doing paperwork. Actually, $2 per head at today’s prices is less than the $1 was, percentage-wise, when it was put in. I do think the checkoff has done the most good on the research part rather than the advertising part. Sincerely, Bob Dickinson Gorham, Kansas

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Thursday, December 20,2007

PASTURE MANAGEMENT

by WLJ
June 20, 2005 Don’t monitor pastures after problems, monitor before they occur. This statement makes a lot of sense to me. However, most land monitoring is conducted after problems have occurred. Monitoring land health conditions has been a passion of mine for a long time. Conventional land monitoring, similar to what most government agencies do, usually is conducted after something has happened or changed. We taxpayers send out our range scientists to document environmental changes and conditions. We do a lot of monitoring this way to defend ourselves. I view this as wasteful, expensive and time consuming, which is totally non-proactive. Rangeland monitoring folks layout transects (a line or plot with points on the land). They inventory the vegetation’s ecological state, habitat types, plant species, plant density, plant frequency, canopy cover, basal area, trends and take a host of other measurements. They often compare their findings with ecological climax (peak) plant communities, particular plant species that would be growing in that spot if there were no disturbances. When they find big differences, they document a problem after the problem has taken hold. I know from experience—and it should be obvious—that this kind of monitoring is down-right slow in addressing, finding and fixing problems. I do know that certain organizations and people need to defend themselves. However, these studies can, and do, overlook obvious problems, such as new invasive plants, spot overgrazing, poor water cycling, inadequate organic matter or plants dying from a lack of disturbances. Instead of coming onto the land after livestock have left, wouldn’t it be worthwhile to simply observe animals while they are grazing? And wander around conducting what I call pasture walking to prevent problems? Try this as an example of proactive land monitoring: Get a pair of field glasses, get as close to the animals as you can and zoom in on what they are eating. Sit there for awhile and watch them closely. Then walk over to where they were grazing and closely examine the plants they were biting. If you find big patches of what was fast-growing, green grass, chopped off at ground level and the animals have been in that area for quite some time, I’d say, they are overgrazing. You have just found a problem. If you do this early enough in the game, and have an alternative plan to deal with these findings, you save badly needed future forage production. Proactive monitoring is really an ongoing effort to directly tie management to monitoring. Right now, on the spot, today, adjust your grazing management to prevent common problems from occurring or prevent them from becoming big. I know that this is somewhat time consuming, but perhaps by becoming an astute grass manager you can graze longer into the fall and save expensive hay feeding that greatly reduces wintering costs. In other words, give proactive monitoring a focused purpose that grows more grass, which becomes well worth your time and effort. Conventional land monitoring records end-results, collects data after treatment, determines what has happened, proves results and recommends change after problems occur. This is slow to make changes and does not fix problems. Proactive land monitoring controls results, collects data during treatment, monitors to make things happen and prevents negative results. Changes are made before problems occur or become significant. Here is a suggestion on how to make a proactive land monitoring program pay for itself. While the livestock are still in the pasture, observe them grazing. Note the location they prefer to graze. Your purpose is to visit these areas often enough to check the livestock grazing progression toward some predetermine early warning indicators. Early warning indicators to look for include: 3 Spot over grazing —Check for small areas where the livestock seem to concentrate. Use a quick portable electric fence to let these areas recover. 3 Down yellow colored litter—Look between the live plants to keep the soil surface covered. 3 Stubble height—Leave enough green grass leaves behind for quick regrowth so that you can come back to this area again. 3 Too much trampling—Prevent soil compaction and excessive livestock trailing from hungry cows. Move them often during fast plant growth. 3 Standing grass—Leave enough grass behind to prevent wind and water from removing valuable soils. 3 Gray-colored dead grass––Locate hard to graze spots and move livestock there to rest the overgrazed spots. Be innovative using low-stress livestock handling and herd placement. In other words, become a better herder. You want to prevent things like very short green grass, bare soil, or areas with no litter present. That is the future organic energy that healthy profitable grassland needs. Look for the right time to move livestock before they get hungry. Check to see if they still can get full-mouth bites of grass, and move them before they start wandering around pressuring fences looking for greener pastures. To do this you must have a flexible grazing plan that will allow for early adjustments. Proactive monitoring will also help you to know when it’s safe to come back to a previously-grazed pasture. I know that I came down hard on conventional land monitoring. I know conventional monitoring keeps track of long-term vegetational change. But, I also know from experience that this expensive data goes all too often unused. So please consider proactive monitoring and good grass management to prevent problems. This kind of on-the-spot monitoring can, and will, pay big time dividends. — Wayne Burleson (Wayne Burleson is a land management consultant working out of Absarokee, MT. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Wayne at 406/328-6808 or e-mail him at rutbuster@montana.net. He also has an educational Web site at www.pasturemanagement.com.)

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