Close
Home » Articles »   By WLJ
 
 
Monday, September 20,2004

Beef gene bank serves as disease safety net

by WLJ
USDA's Agriculture Research Service (ARS) is in the process of developing a gene bank of at least 50 unrelated sires from every recognized breed of cattle. These embryos and semen are being kept in case of a disease outbreak and also as a means for genetic research. Harvey Blackburn, geneticist and coordinator of the Fort Collins, CO, based National Center for Genetic Resources Preservation said the project is still in the process of getting things off the ground. The gene banking project first began with plants in the 1950s. It was not until 1999 that the center received its first animal sample. But, thanks to the efforts of producers and breed associations, Blackburn indicated they are well on their way to reaching the goal of storing genes from at least 50 unrelated sires from every breed. At the present time, the gene bank has samples from 450 bulls stored. Some material is still being processed, according to Blackburn, but a total of 500 bulls should be collected shortly. The semen from these bulls is stored in liquid nitrogen at the Fort Collins location. Congress mandated the National Animal Germplasm Program become part of the Fort Collins Center in 1990. Blackburn said the goal is to collect enough semen and embryos for regeneration of the entire beef population, if that ever were ever necessary. "Say if there was an outbreak of hoof and mouth disease, that could endanger certain lines or breeds of cattle. We actually saw this happen in the UK with sheep—a lot of their commercial viable breeds produced in one area of the country were almost eliminated because of the quarantine rings," said Blackburn. "We want to be in a position that if something like that were to occur here in the U.S., we wouldn't necessarily be scrambling to make sure we had these breeds secured." In order to be in a "safe" position, Blackburn says they need to collect at least 5,000 units of beef cattle semen. Currently, Salers are the only beef cattle breed that has been completed in the gene bank. However, Texas Longhorns will most likely be the next breed collection completed, with 55 percent of the bulls stored. Simmentals should follow, since the collection center is at 52 percent of where they want to be, and Herefords are expected after that, with 45 percent of its bulls already collected. With the enormity of the Angus breed, Blackburn said only about 25 percent of Angus bulls have been compiled thus far. Last year, Blackburn collected enough samples from Holstein cattle to reintroduce the breed, in the unlikely event that was ever necessary. This meant collecting semen from 850 bulls and 150 embryos from 25 cows representing the diversity of the breed. Granted this is just one breed of dairy cattle, but Blackburn used this as an example to demonstrate exactly how many samples are needed for each breed to reintroduce the population. A second benefit of gene banking is the potential for the samples to be used for genetic research. "The gene collection could serve as a place for industry researchers, university, or ARS researchers to come and utilize to do gene sequencing or gene discovery," said Blackburn. "If, for example, you have a breed, a line, or an individual that has unique genes, and a researcher wants to develop new lines that have a high frequency of those particular genes, they could search through the repository bulls and use those bulls to try and make that development." ARS researchers have accomplished a similar feat with the plant gene bank. Blackburn said they have had researchers looking for a resistance to a particular disease who have searched through their collection and tried several varieties to make the crosses they want to test to see whether or not they can develop disease resistant lines. Hypothetically from the beef prospective, Blackburn said the same principal could be applied to determine which bulls produce tender beef, or any of the other qualitative genes producers are now selecting for. In order for a breed to be used for genetic improvement or testing, additional samples will need to be collected. A good portion of the semen collected in the repository comes directly from producers. Breed associations have also been very helpful to the preservation center. According to Blackburn, this is done on a strictly voluntary basis and producers are not compensated in anyway. "The response from the beef cattle industry has been phenomenal," said Blackburn. The gene bank also contains samples from many varieties of chickens, cattle, swine, sheep, goats, farmed fish, such as rainbow and trout, as well as 450,000 seed types. Producers wanting more information on the gene bank or how they can submit samples to the gene bank for collection can contact Blackburn at 970/495-3268 or visit their web site at www.ars-grin.gov/nag/. — Sarah L. Swenson, WLJ Associate Editor  

Read more
Monday, September 20,2004

Auction reactions to ID wildly varied

by WLJ
— Cost, time, labor remain primary deterrents. Japan's announcement that they will open the borders to beef from animals proven to be under 20 months of age could certainly push along efforts to implement a mandatory national animal identification program (NAIP). But, is every segment of the beef industry ready for a mandatory ID program? One thing is for certain, auction markets are stuck in the middle between what is coming from the ground up from producers and what is being passed down from government and packers. Some auction markets are ready to take the leap into a NAIP and balance what is coming their way, while others choose to take a wait-and-see attitude. Dwayne Mays, co-owner of Ogallala Livestock Market in Ogallala, NE, is expecting a real problem in their area of NAIP. "If we had a livestock market that just sold a few head of cattle, and you could run them through the chute one by one, animal identification wouldn't be that much of a problem," said Mays. "But, when we sell such a volume, I can't see how it can be feasible." Last Thursday, Mays said they ran 5,600 cattle through the ring. "If you had to run everyone of those down an alley, for the process USDA is talking about, it might have taken us 24 hours to sell them," said Mays. The other dilemma he foresees is untagged animals arriving at the sale barn. He said that cost would be handed back down to the producers to cover their expenses and Mays doesn't think producers will be willing to incur the additional cost for the tagging service. "We live in an area that is pretty big country and sizeable operations where a lot of the ranchers don't even tag their cattle. So getting them to do something like that is going to be a different animal anyway," said Mays. "And, we don't understand why we have to do it because we don't have a BSE problem in this country anyway." Jim Schaben, part owner of Dunlap Livestock Auction in Dunlap, IA, also has some concerns. Schaben is very informed about the ID program since he is also a member of the USAIP working group. At Dunlap they sell fed, feeder and breeding cattle, so any changes in the industry Schaben said affects them all the way around. "The government seems to be on a fast track for animal ID and I understand that, but they are trying to set down all these standards for traceability and laying out parameters and they haven't given an okay to the funds," said Schaben. "What the government is projecting is just a drop in the bucket." As a market operator, Schaben also has concerns about revamping their facilities to make an ID system work. Schaben said it is very important for producers, market operators and dealers to be involved in the process of developing a NAIP. "It is something that is coming down the pipe and it will have to be addressed," he said. "You have two ways to deal with it. One is to get involved and have something to do with the decision making process as it goes along. Or, you can stand by the sidelines and complain about what comes out of Washington (DC) because there is a lot of work yet to be done." Schaben also hopes that producers and auction market operators make USDA aware that there is a lot more to talk about than just hardware cost—federal agencies need to be aware of shrink and what happens when each animal is run through a chute. Another economic impact Schaben thinks is being overlooked is the effect a NAIP will have on the small farmers and ranchers that have 25, 30 or 50 head of cattle. "These people make up the majority of the cow herds across the country," said Schaben. "I see a big flight of those people out of the industry if this comes along." Monte Bruck, manager of Fallon Livestock Market in Fallon, NV, is also not sure what to expect with a NAIP. Bruck said he hopes the state of Nevada releases funding for a pilot project and then hopes to learn from a pilot project how to make an ID program feasible. Dr. Gary Cole, an auction market vet in Nevada, said he met with cattle producers to discuss a pilot project and hopes some ranchers will agree to participate in the pilot project in the form of tagging cattle and following through on those tags to the slaughter facility. But, at this point, Cole said the sale barn may not be responsible to participate because there is not enough money at this time to buy the readers for the tags. Jack Robertson, manager of Producers Livestock Marketing Association in Oakdale, CA, also hopes to be one of the first auction markets to gain some experience with animal identification through a pilot project. Robertson said auction markets have been left in the dark because the government hasn't officially decided or told them what is going to be expected of them. With a pilot project, Robertson said he hopes the grants will help buy readers and equipment to absorb some of the cost they may have to incur with a NAIP. Andy Peek, general manager of Shasta Livestock Auction, said a national ID program is going to be a "jumbled mess." "The way that it is written now, it is all but unworkable," said Peek. "If I have 4, 5 or 6,000 cattle I am selling, to physically run each one through a chute and ID it, I just don't have the labor or the time. It would be time-consuming, labor intensive and cost the consigner." Peek added that any producer with a number of cattle will avoid coming to the sale yard and having their cattle checked. On the other hand, he does expect it will boost video sales business. "The technology is moving ahead very quickly, and if we can mass scan cattle, then it might be a different deal," said Peek. "But, I think we have to wait for the technology to get there before we implement a mandatory program." Peek added that national ID is still evolving, but the U.S. beef industry needs to take a very cautious approach to it. More favorable outlook Jim Warren, owner of 101 Livestock Market in Aromas, CA, has a slightly different take on a NAIP his livestock market has had an animal identification program in place for the past four years. This livestock market began an ID program by tying an animal identification number (AIN) to their vaccination program. The AIN would be activated with the vaccine information in the computer. When animals were sold, the records were available to verify vaccines and that the animals had been given shots in accordance with quality assurance standards. The first year, 101 producers were given the tags to start the program, according to Warren. Then if there was a problem with any of those cattle, Warren said they were able to access an immediate read back of where that animal came from. This year, 101 Livestock is moving to Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and hopes to have every animal that goes through their market identification, not just the ones in the vaccination program. "The tags will cost $3, but hopefully we'll be able to get our customer back 6, 8, 10 or $20 back for that $3 investment," said Warren. Since this is simply one step up for the Aromas auction market, Warren doesn't anticipate too many problems. He said they plan on reading the RFID tags only once, when cattle come off the scale, which will require some remodeling of their alleys, but shouldn't be much of a problem. Warren said right now their alley way is eight feet wide and they will narrow it to two, three-foot alleys to accommodate the reader capabilities. "Every market across the country is different, so it is not always going to work the same way," said Warren. "But, we need to have pilot projects across the U.S. to work out the bugs in each region." Warren added that all the negatives of a NAIP could be listed, but in order to provide the best quality product and protect the auction method of marketing, operators and owners will just have to bite the bullet and do it. "If it takes us a little extra time and costs us a little extra money, so what?" said Warren. "The reality is a national animal identification program is probably where we're going to go, so we just as well better figure out a way to get there as fast and as easy as we can." — Sarah L. Swenson, WLJ Associate Editor

Read more
Monday, September 13,2004

Bacteria holds key to less beef spoilage, pathogens

by WLJ
Researchers have isolated a strain of lactic acid bacteria (LAB) with the potential to not only reduce meat spoilage, but also reduce contamination by food-borne pathogens including E. coli O157:H7 and listeria monocytogenes. "Meat processors tell us that one of their biggest concerns is LAB," said Dr. Frances Nattress, an Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada researcher based in Lacombe. "Processors say that LAB are a frequent reason for product return, because some strains contribute to the spoilage of vacuum-packed meat, which is a $200 million per year problem for the Canadian beef industry." Nattress and colleague Dr. Christopher Yost used molecular genetics to successfully identify the specific LAB populations that grow on vacuum-packed meat and then conducted further research to determine if specific strains have any benefits. The research was funded in part by the Canada Alberta Beef Industry Development Fund (CABIDF). Currently about 80 percent of Canadian beef for domestic and international markets is vacuum-packed. Vacuum packing allows for a longer shelf life—vacuum-packaged beef stored at zero degrees, Celsius, can have a storage life of 10-12 weeks. For beef packaged in 100 percent CO2 stored at two degrees Celsius, the storage life can be as long as eight weeks. However, these vacuum-packaged environments often allow LAB to flourish. "LAB are a very hardy and versatile group of organisms," said Nattress. "Their growth is difficult to control and they are resistant to environmental conditions, such as low pH, refrigeration, and packaging in the absence of oxygen, that would inhibit the growth of most other bacteria." However, Nattress's research has led scientists to believe that one particular LAB strain could be beneficial in vacuum-packaged meat. "We've identified one LAB strain that prevents the propagation of other spoilage-causing strains and has the ability to reduce numbers of food-borne pathogens, such as E. coli O157:H7," she said. In week zero of the research, Nattress found a mixed LAB community on the beef, consisting of lactobacillus curvatus, lactobacillus sakei and leuconostoc spp. However, by week six, a single leuconostoc strain dominated, which demonstrated an antagonism towards the growth of all other LAB isolated during the study. Furthermore, it appeared to inhibit the growth of pathogens E. coli O157:H7 and listeria monocytogenes, both of which are significant food safety concerns. Further DNA sequencing suggested that the isolate was a l. gelidum strain. Using molecular typing methods, researchers will be able to further probe the benefits of this l. gelidum on vacuum-packaged meat. "Now we have to gain a better understanding of exactly how this and the other strains of LAB interact, so that we can make the best use of the positive strain, while reducing negative strains," said Nattress. "This research has opened the door to other projects aimed at inhibiting the growth of spoilage organisms on beef, which could lead to significant savings for Canada's beef industry," she added. "Heading into the fall, we'll be doing more trials with contaminated meat, to gain an even greater understanding of how this particular strain works to reduce spoilage and food-borne pathogens. Eventually we may be able to introduce it to the beef industry as an 'ingredient' that could improve their product." — WLJ

Read more
Monday, September 13,2004

Battle against irradiated beef in schools rages on

by WLJ
Public Citizen, a national nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, continues to play the part of the Achilles heal for the USDA and its effort to get irradiated beef fully accepted by the country. Since March 2003, before irradiated beef was approved for the National School Lunch Program, Public Citizen made four separate attempts to persuade the government to provide "more accurate information, about irradiated beef, to food service directors, school officials, and parents." The most recent request was made August 16. Irradiated beef became available to the National School Lunch Program in January 2004. School officials and food service directors for each district choose whether or not they want to purchase irradiated beef for their schools. Public Citizen advocates that before permitting irradiated beef in school lunch rooms and grocery stores that the public needs to be assured that the product is safe. In other words, that there are no long term affects the meat may have on humans, such as increased risk of colon cancer. Public Citizen has said it is not satisfied with the information the USDA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are giving school officials, directors, and parents. Public Citizen wants the USDA and FDA to go into further detail of past test results and current data about irradiated beef and its safety requirements for human consumption. FDA has evaluated the safety of irradiated foods for over 40 years and has found it to be safe for human consumption. Scientific studies have shown that irradiation does not reduce nutritional quality by a significant amount nor does it change the taste, texture, or appearance by any significant degree. American astronauts have eaten irradiated foods in space since the early 1970s and people with weakened immune systems eat irradiated foods to avoid the chances of a life threatening infection. Some spices sold wholesale in this country are irradiated to eliminate the need for fumigation to control pests. As a part of irradiated beef's approval, FDA requires that the meat be labeled "treated with radiation" or "treated by irradiation" and have the symbol for irradiation, a radura, on the package. Irradiation is not used as a substitute for improper meat manufacturing and handling, but is very affective in killing harmful bacteria and reducing potential hazards. In 2001 more than 80 grocery stores and meat markets in Florida and Wisconsin pulled irradiated ground beef off the shelves due to poor sales and low consumer interest, representing a test-market failure for the irradiated beef industry. — Matt Summers, WLJ

Read more
Monday, September 13,2004

Cal Poly Bull Test Final Report

by WLJ
The Cal Poly Bull Test final report from San Luis Obispo, CA, completed its 120-day weight period on September 4, 2004. There were 31 Low Birth Angus, with the Test Ave. ADG 3.74, and the Test Ave. WDA for the breed was 3.09. In the Multi-trait Angus there were 56 animals with the Test Ave. ADG 4.04, and the Test Ave. WDA for the breed was 3.21. Angus numbered 96, with the Test Ave. ADG 3.95, and the Test Ave. WDA 3.28. There were five Red Angus with the Test Ave. ADG 4.03, and the Test Ave. WDA for the breed was 3.58. Limousin numbered seven, the Test Ave. ADG 3.20, and the Test Ave. WDA for the breed was 2.84. There were seven Brangus, the Test Ave. ADG 4.38, and the Test Ave. WDA for the breed was 3.20. Hereford numbered 42 with the Test Ave. ADG 3.79, and the Test Ave. WDA for the breed was 3.12. There were seven Gelbvieh tested and the Test Ave. ADG 4.29, and the Test Ave. WDA for the breed was 3.30. Charlolais numbered nine, the Test Ave. ADG 4.19, and the Test Ave. WDA for the breed was 3.16. There were 13 Simmental Composite with the Test Ave. ADG 4.28, and the Test Ave. WDA for the breed was 3.27. The current results for the 2004 tests are as follows: (Owner, Sire, Index, ADG) Low Birth Weight Angus: Rollingwood Ranch, Potter Valley, CA, S A F Fame, 115.67 test index, 4.57 ADG; Hacienda Angus, Selma, CA, Bon View New Design 878, 114.56 test index, 4.17 ADG; Amador Angus, Modesto, CA, Bon View New Design 878, 114.04 test index, 4.42 ADG; Rollingwood Ranch, Potter Valley, CA, S A F Fame, 113.98 test index, 4.59 ADG; Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA, Bon View New Design 878, 111.98 test index, 4.34 ADG. Multi-trait Angus: Diablo Valley Angus, Byron, CA, Connealy Forefront, 118.35 test index, 4.77 ADG; Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA, Bon View New Design 1407, 116.28 test index, 4.87 ADG; Setter Cattle Co., Jackson, CA, Bon View New Design 1407, 113.05 test index, 5.11 ADG; CK Angus, Potter Valley, CA, Alberta Traveler 416, 112.93 test index, 4.93 ADG; Bruin Ranch, Gold River, CA, Bon View Bando 598, 110.74 test index, 4.64 ADG; Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA, V A R New Design 0140, 110.43 test index, 4.469 ADG. Augus: Circle 7 Angus Ranch, San Luis Obispo, CA, V A R Fame 906, 117.59 test index, 4.37 ADG; CK Angus, Potter Valley, CA, Vermillion Dateline 7078, 116.29 test index, 4.84 ADG; Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA, Vermillion Dateline 7078, 112.52 test index, 4.81 ADG; CK Angus, Alberta Traveler 416, 112.28 test index, 4.61 ADG; Circle 7 Angus Ranch, San Luis Obispo, CA, V A R Fame 906, 111.87 test index, 4.19 ADG. Red Angus: OR Cattle Co., San Ardo, CA, R Six 26 King Robbin, 115.43 test index, 4.89 ADG; OR Cattle Co., San Ardo, OR Red Smoke 003, 105.01 test index, 4.08 ADG; OR Cattle Co., San Ardo, CA, R Six 26 King Robbin, 96.11 test index, 3.75 ADG. Limousin: Wine Glass Angus, Napa, CA, Voml First Class 96H, 115.66 test index, 3.95 ADG; Highpoint Ranch, Marysvill, CA, Exlr Dakota 3530, 109.13 test index, 3.65 ADG; Highpoint Ranch, Marysvill, CA, Cole Wulf Hunt, 107.35 test index, 3.56 ADG. Brangus: Stardust Farms, Oak Run, CA, SDF Gladiator 314C, 114.67 test index, 5.16 ADG; Stardust Farms, Oak Run, CA, SDF Gladiator 314C, 102.85 test index, 4.43 ADG; Stardust Farms, Oak Run, CA, SDF Gladiator 314C, 101.57 test index, 4.44 ADG. Hereford: O'Reilly Polled Herefords, San Luis Obispo, CA, Remitall Online 122L, 128.81 text index, 5.05 ADG; Rollingwood Ranch, Potter Valley, CA, Remitall Boomer 46B, 118.49 text index, 4.83 ADG; O'Reilly Polled Herefords, San Luis Obispo, CA, Remitall Online 122L, 114.83 test index, 4.53 ADG; Rollingwood Ranch, Potter Valley, CA, Remitall Embracer 8E, 110.82 test index, 4.37 ADG. Gelbvieh: Hames Valley Cattle Co., Bradley, CA, SLC Freedom 178F ET, 109.85 test index, 4.88 ADG; Hames Valley Cattle Co., Bradley, CA, SLC Freedom 178F ET, 107.79 test index, 4.62 ADG; Hames Valley Cattle Co., Bradley, CA, SLC Freedom 178F ET, 105.14 test index, 4.48 ADG. Charolais: Fresno State University, Fresno, CA, M6 Grid Maker 104 Pet, 105.88 test index, 4.31 ADG; Fresno State University, Fresno, CA, LHD Cigar E46, 105.04 test index, 4.34 ADG; Fresno State University, Fresno, CA, CJC Trademark H45, 104.13 test index, 4.32 ADG; Simmental Composite: Circle Ranch, Ione, CA, Altas Blend 101L, 112.74 test index, 4.99 ADG; Butte Country Ranch, BCR Lucy Boy L1, 107.56 test index, 4.92 ADG; Circle Ranch, Nichols Prime Rib E160, 107.46 test index, 4.63 ADG; Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA, JJ Email, 105.21 test index, 4.61 ADG.

Read more
Monday, September 13,2004

CDN vets fired over BSE issue

by WLJ
—Truth is not being told, say scientists Three Health Canada veterinary drug bureau scientists fired in July for insubordination have suggested their real offence had been lobbying for stronger government anti-BSE rules, including an end to feeding animal protein to animals. The official reason for their dismissal has not been made public by Health Canada. The three scientists, Shiv Chopra, Margaret Haydon, and Gerard Lambert, say they and their union will challenge the firings. In his July dismissal letter to Chopra, deputy health minister Ian Green alleged the scientist was refusing to take orders and was deliberately making little progress in an assigned work project. "I have concluded that you have chosen to deliberately refuse to comply with my instructions," Green wrote. "Given your previous disciplinary record and your continued unwillingness to accept responsibility for work assigned to you, I have determined that the bond of trust that is essential to productive employer-employee relationship has been irreparably breached." However, in a recent letter to an Ottawa newspaper, the three scientists suggested the real story was related to BSE. They were responding to a published letter from the acting assistant deputy health minister Karen Dodds that hinted the firings came because the three wandered from the department's science-based drug and policy review system to promote their own opinions. She said the cause of dismissal cannot be revealed publicly to protect the confidentiality of the former employees. The three dismissed that as an offensive fabrication. "We urge Ms. Dodds to reveal to the public relevant correspondence and numerous other documents that we personally exchanged with her about the so-called mad-cow disease and how to eradicate it in Canadian cattle," said the Aug. 19 letter. Dodds had suggested the issue is sticking to the scientific review required for approval of veterinary drugs and procedures. "Teams of scientists with a broad range of scientific expertise review drug submissions," she wrote. "It is this breadth of scientific evidence, not the personal opinions of individuals, that is critical to scientific decision making." The three scientists first made names for themselves by complaining in the 1990s that Monsanto was exerting undue pressure on the veterinary drugs bureau to approve a bovine growth hormone drug meant to increase dairy cow milk production. They said scientific evidence about its potential dangers to humans and cattle was inconclusive and the precautionary principle should be invoked to block approval. They went public with their allegations and were disciplined by the department which said they should have followed internal channels to register their objections. The three went to court and overturned the punishment. Chopra also successfully complained to a human rights tribunal that he had been denied promotions because of racism. During an appearance before the Senate agriculture committee in 1998, they said they were being pressured by department managers on the bovine hormone issue, bullied by the industry and had their files stolen. Under political and public pressure, Health Canada eventually refused to approve the drug that is widely used in the United States. Later, the three publicly complained that the government was being too timid in setting rules to eradicate BSE.— Barry Wilson, Western Producer, Ottawa Bureau (Preceding story reprinted with permission of Western Producer.)  

Read more
Monday, September 13,2004

Cash feds at impasse

by WLJ
Last weeks fed market started out with packers and cattle feeders being $5-7 apart, which didn't produce much through Thursday, only 50,000 head had traded nationwide. Nebraska dressed trade was light and traded at mostly $80 live, $127 dressed, steady with a week earlier. Most cattle feeders were asking $83-84 live, and $132 dressed, while packers seemed content to bid $78-79 live, $126-128 dressed. Packers raised bids to $81 late in the week but still didn't produce much trade. Larger than expected beef supplies, and less-than-normal beef demand continue to wreak havoc on seller's abilities to reach cattle breakevens. "The past three months has seen U.S. net beef supplies as large, or larger, than a year ago, and we have 10 percent less demand because of no exports," said Jason Kraft, analyst with CattleHedging.com. "A major (positive) turnaround, isn't in the cards right now." Kraft and several market analyst colleagues agreed that beefed-up product supplies are resulting from Canadian beef imports into the U.S., with no ability to absorb them internally. "Domestic beef production is still well below last year," said Reed Marquotte, M&Z Livestock Analytics. "However, we are being taken over the top by the amount of beef coming from north of the border. It's not a matter that it shouldn't be coming across, but more a matter that the amount of Canadian beef is putting us in a beef supply glut, that we are having a hard time digging out of." There was a little glimmer of hope coming out of last Wednesday's boxed beef market, as almost 500 loads of fabricated cuts were sold on an immediate cash basis. Another 200 loads of grinding product and trimmings were also moved that day. However, the choice cutout was at 129.28, the lowest it has been for quite some time. Analysts said that last Wednesday's meat trade should allow packers to get back into the market and buy fed cattle for immediate processing and fill up some emptying cooler space. In addition, that movement was said to be an indication that consumers are about ready to increase their beef consumption, which normally happens following Labor Day, and kids getting past their first few weeks of "back-to-school." "We should be starting to turn this boxed beef market around, but it isn't going to be a real fast turn around, but we are close to bottoming out, or have already done so," said Marquotte. Along with boxed beef movement improving, packers are expected to get back to "more normal" processing rates starting September 13, particularly since it follows up a four-day kill week. Through Thursday, 375,000 head of cattle had been processed last week, and analysts thought the end-of-week total would be right around 525,000 head, including a moderate run on Saturday. The daily average of 125,000 head is 3-5,000 head below "normal chain speeds." While boxed beef volume was picking up last week, prices for beef in cold storage hadn't improved, and that was keeping packers from coming to the table at steady money earlier in the week. Additional price pressure was being put on fed prices due to concerns that showlists were 10-15,000 head larger than the previous couple of weeks, particularly in Kansas and Texas. Fed cattle marketings in those two states have been around 40-45,000 head each, the past two weeks. Market analysts said volumes needed to be 55-60,000 head the past few weeks to keep cattle feeders "remotely current." Live cattle futures were an up-and-down roller coaster ride last week, and were waiting on cash cattle to determine which direction to really go. Last Thursday, October closed at $82.60; December closed at $86.47; and February settled the day at $87.35. Feeders losing steam While prices for feeder calves and yearlings are still running $10-15 per cwt higher than the same time last year, they have fallen $5-12 over the past few weeks, including a $3-6 decline last week. Continued softness in the cash fed cattle market is resulting in cattle feeders starting their third straight month of significant losses, and that is forcing cattle feeders to rethink their ability to purchase feedlot replacements. Even though feeder cattle markets are softer they are still well in the $1 range. Superior livestock Auction showed 870 lbs. steers trading at $105, which is still respectable. The light calves are not seeing as much decline, ultra lights, 350 lb. calves are trading in the $160 range, and the 550 lb. are between $110 and $130 range. Feeder cattle futures have been under a great deal of pressure the past several weeks. With the fall contracts reaching a high of $118 and the September contract down to $110.55, subsequent months are discounting from there. The latest CME feeder cattle index showed average cash trade at $112.89 down $4 from a week ago. Ron Plain economist at University of Missouri points out that feeder cattle imports from Mexico in June were up nearly 84 percent from a year earlier. Feeder cattle imports for January-June were up 17.2 percent compared to the same period last year. However, total cattle imports were down 39.2 percent for the first six months of 2004 compared to 2003 because of the ban on live cattle imports from Canada. Questions are continuing to surround fall corn prices, USDA's corn production report released last Friday had market watchers on hold to see whether or not the 2004 harvest will be as large as once expected, or if it will be 200-250 million bushels below earlier projections. If the latter situation happens, traders expect corn futures could spike 20-30 cents within a week's time, which could put feeder cattle under additional pressure. — WLJ

Read more
Monday, September 13,2004

Chinese beef demand to grow, according to USDA

by WLJ
China's consumption of beef is forecast to continue climbing due to strong growth in per capita income, according to USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Since December 25, 2003, China has banned imported U.S. cattle and beef due to a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the U.S. It still remains uncertain when China will lift the bans. During 2004, USDA provided Chinese officials with information about the U.S. mitigation measures on BSE, and a Chinese BSE technical team visited the United States during September 2004. China is reviewing this information as part of its own risk assessment process. If China's BSE concerns on U.S. bovine products were alleviated, the Chinese Government would then revise its domestic law, a lengthy procedure involving the Ministry of Agriculture, the General Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), the Ministry of Health, the State Food and Drug Administration, and ultimately the State Council. FAS Beijing forecasts that bovine serum, embryos, and protein-free tallow-products deemed as non-risk under the OIE guidelines-will be the first products permitted entry. Live cattle imports during 2005 are forecast to increase sharply from 55,000 head to 60,000 head, an increase of 50 percent driven by the continued prosperous dairy sector. Australia and New Zealand are the dominant suppliers. China's beef production for 2005 is forecast at 7.1 million metric tons, a six percent increase from this year due to continued strong beef demand and rising incomes. Live cattle imports for 2005 are forecast to increase 50 percent from 100,000 to 150,000 head driven by China's surging dairy industry and the need for better genetics by both the dairy and beef cattle sectors. Beef imports in 2005 are forecast at only 15,000 metric tons, a significant decline from the previous high of 27,000 metric tons in 2003, due to China's continued ban on U.S. and Canadian beef coupled with higher international beef prices. China's beef exports are forecast to increase from 40,000-45,000 metric tons because of increased demand in Hong Kong. — Combined Reports  

Read more
Monday, September 13,2004

DNA helps solve cattle murder mystery

by WLJ
By Sarah L. Swenson WLJ Associate Editor DNA testing is becoming more and more familiar to the beef industry for use as a selection tool. But, what about as a means to solve crimes? Thanks to the efforts of a Montana sheriff department, this tool can and will now be used to solve heinous crimes involving livestock. Ken and Dawn Overcast were able to see first hand how effective DNA testing can be when four of their pregnant Angus cattle were maliciously shot and killed on their ranch in Chinook, MT. The Overcasts later recalled hearing shots fired the night before, but just thought it was their neighbors sighting in a riffle or target practicing. The next morning Dawn discovered that those shots came from someone target practicing on their cattle. The perpetrators had also taken a knife to two of the four cows. One cow was cut down her back and had her backstrap cutout. A second cow was only slashed down her back, but no meat had been removed. Overcast's theory is that someone was coming down the road and scared the assassins away. He said they live about a mile and half outside of town and the road is well traveled. Regardless, the Overcasts are certain the crime was not committed for meat since there are several other areas that are less traveled where cattle could have been killed less conspicuously. The other aspect which struck the Overcasts as being odd is that the suspects used a 9mm rifle, which was to small too kill the cattle, and they were shot in the bellies. Because bullets were left behind in the animals, law enforcement officials were able to use them to trace them back to the killer. "Killing something for the sheer joy of watching it die is a behavior that no one with a shred of decency can comprehend," said Overcast. "When I found out that DNA testing would be done, to hopefully find out who was responsible, I was optimistic there would be justice." DNA testing was able to play a significant role in this investigation because the cattle were slashed and obviously their DNA was transferred to the persons committing the crime. It was Blaine Country Deputy Sherif, Pat Pyette, who decided to use this method. The next step was to find a laboratory to perform the DNA testing. Overcast said this was difficult even though using DNA testing in human crimes is common practice. Many of the crime laboratories were uncertain about working with cattle blood. The Blaine County sherif's department was able to employ the University of California-Davis, Veterinary genetics Laboratory, School of Veterinary Medicine, to perform the testing since the school is proficient at performing other DNA testing. Pyette took samples from the cowhide of each of the cows that were slain and sent them in for DNA testing. The sample included hair and eight-inch sections of the rib bones. "The trend for DNA testing of animals was originally designed to keep the breeding records accurate, but with today's advanced technology, we can connect the animal's DNA to a weapon that may have been used at the crime scene," said Beth Holcomb, University of California Veterinary Genetics Laboratory. The Blaine County Sherif's Department was able to do just that—link the knife that was used to cut the cows to a knife in a local resident's possession. This was key in solving the crime since the most powerful tool used in a courtroom is linking a suspect to a crime, and the knife was one of the links. When law enforcement officials began asking around and questioning, they received an anonymous tip about who the suspect might be. Since they had DNA evidence to connect any weapons found, they were granted a search warrant to search a suspect's property for any items that may have been used in the crime. Sure enough, Overcast says the sheriff's department found and seized a pair of Sketcher work boots, a package of meat in the freezer, and a hunting knife from the home of the person they received the tip about. Sheriff Pyette sent these items to the Davis laboratory for analysis. When the results came back, the DNA profile indicated the blood on the defendant's boots matched the hide samples submitted from the first cow at every marker. In terms of the knife, the laboratory found the blood on the knife was a mixture of two or more cattle. The report further indicated that the package of meat in the freezer was venison, and not beef, but Overcast speculates the meat from his cow was probably already eaten. Without the DNA evidence, the Blaine County Sherif's Department and the Overcasts don't believe that they ever would have been able to see justice. Now, the Overcasts suspect that the defendant did not act alone, and believe that there is still another perpetrator out there, but are relieved that at least one of them has been caught. The defendant, Wesley J. Anderson, was brought up on four charges of felony counts of criminal mischief and one misdemeanor count of theft. Anderson pled guilty to a lesser charge of one felony count of Criminal Mischief by Common Scheme and was sentenced to 75 days in jail, plus restitution totaling $6,243.49 to pay for the cattle, the DNA testing, and court costs. The court determined $4,000 was the value of the Overcasts' cattle. "The financial loss to us was significant, but the bigger issue was that he learns he can't just run around shooting stuff and get away with it," said Overcast. The University of California-Davis veterinary laboratory was pleased with the role they could play in solving the case. Holcomb added, "From this day forward, DNA evidence will play an increasingly important role in solving malicious crimes against animals." Steve Pilcher, executive director of the Montana Stockgrowers Association was pleased with what this means to livestock producers in general. "Previously ranchers were not as successful at catching perpetrators involved in cattle killing incidents because there simply would not be enough evidence to prove who committed the crime," said Pilcher. "But the success of DNA testing during this case will now help prevent this horrible incident from happening again. It is setting a new standard for solving future animal cruelty cases." — WLJ

Read more
Monday, September 13,2004

China beef demand growing

by WLJ
China's consumption of beef is forecast to continue climbing due to strong growth in per capita income, according to USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS). Since December 25, 2003, China has banned imported U.S. cattle and beef due to a single case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in the U.S. It still remains uncertain when China will lift the bans. During 2004, USDA provided Chinese officials with information about the U.S. mitigation measures on BSE, and a Chinese BSE technical team visited the United States during September 2004. China is reviewing this information as part of its own risk assessment process. If China's BSE concerns on U.S. bovine products were alleviated, the Chinese Government would then revise its domestic law, a lengthy procedure involving the Ministry of Agriculture, the General Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), the Ministry of Health, the State Food and Drug Administration, and ultimately the State Council. FAS Beijing forecasts that bovine serum, embryos, and protein-free tallow-products deemed as non-risk under the OIE guidelines-will be the first products permitted entry. Live cattle imports during 2005 are forecast to increase sharply from 55,000 head to 60,000 head, an increase of 50 percent driven by the continued prosperous dairy sector. Australia and New Zealand are the dominant suppliers. China's beef production for 2005 is forecast at 7.1 million metric tons, a six percent increase from this year due to continued strong beef demand and rising incomes. Live cattle imports for 2005 are forecast to increase 50 percent from 100,000 to 150,000 head driven by China's surging dairy industry and the need for better genetics by both the dairy and beef cattle sectors. Beef imports in 2005 are forecast at only 15,000 metric tons, a significant decline from the previous high of 27,000 metric tons in 2003, due to China's continued ban on U.S. and Canadian beef coupled with higher international beef prices. China's beef exports are forecast to increase from 40,000-45,000 metric tons because of increased demand in Hong Kong. — Combined Reports  

Read more
 
 
User Box (click to open)
 
SEARCH IN WLJ
Get WLJ In Your Inbox!
   
 
S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9* 10 11 12
13 14* 15 16 17 18* 19
20 21* 22 23 24 25 26
27 28* 29 30 31
 
 

© 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.