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Livestock News

by WLJ
2008 August 26
The dog days of summer are just about over and the last big summer holiday for beef sales—Labor Day—is just about here. Generally, we see an end of summer rally in the beef, and we have to some degree. But with expectations of $105 fed cattle around the corner, it doesn’t appear that the beef cutout values will be supporting this type of fed market. The summer beef markets have been the best ever, and August fed cattle trading in the high-$90s has definitely set a new record price. While cash fed cattle have moved forward, the live cattle futures have
by WLJ
2008 August 22
"Slick" gene helps cattle beat the heat Pinpointing the chromosomal location of the Aslick@ gene identified by Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists could help breeders develop cattle with shorter, slick hair that helps keep them cool in the subtropical heat. In central Florida, excessive summer heat can take its toll on cattle, leading to reduced milk production from dairy cattle and higher death rates among beef cattle. But the discovery of the slick gene by scientists at the ARS Subtropical Agricultural Research Station (STARS) in Brooksville, FL, should help deal with these heat-related issues. Breeders could move the gene into other economically important
by WLJ
2008 August 22
Animal production practices upheld as humane by state court —Ruling could allow challenges in other states where certain production practices have been banned. Animal welfare activists suffered a rare defeat earlier this month in New Jersey after the state Supreme Court struck down portions of a law dictating farm animal handling practices. The law, originally passed by the New Jersey legislature in 1996, was similar to those passed in Arizona and Florida and those on the ballot this fall in California. The result of the New Jersey ruling could open the door to similar challenges of those regulations elsewhere by livestock interests. In
by WLJ
2008 August 22
Cargil reports quarterly profits Cargill Inc. reported a 67 percent rise in fiscal fourth-quarter net income amid a divestiture as the firm survived "the most volatile agricultural and energy markets in decades." The world’s largest agribusiness company by sales, and one of the nation’s largest privately held companies, said high demand for crops has led to growth in multiple segments. A portion of the increase also comes from the firm’s grain business, an industry that has been reaping huge profits in recent months as the prices of corn, wheat and soybeans have all soared on the back of increased demand for grain and
by WLJ
2008 August 22
Sweet potato better than corn for ethanol production In experiments, sweet potatoes grown in Maryland and Alabama yielded two to three times as much carbohydrate for fuel ethanol production as field corn grown in those states, Agricultural Research Service (ARS) scientists report. The same was true of tropical cassava in Alabama. The sweet potato carbohydrate yields approached the lower limits of those produced by sugarcane, the highest-yielding ethanol crop. Another advantage for sweet potatoes and cassava is that they require much less fertilizer and pesticide than corn. Lew Ziska, a plant physiologist at the ARS Crop Systems and Global Change Laboratory in Beltsville,
by WLJ
2008 August 22
Key sites aid in range management Monitoring can help range managers better understand rangeland ecology and health. "As a result, management decisions can be made to improve or maintain the productivity and sustainability of rangelands," says Chuck Lura, Extension rangeland specialist at the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Central Grasslands Research Extension Center near Streeter, ND. Because monitoring all the ecological sites and plant species in a management unit is not feasible, monitoring techniques may involve the selection of areas or species that are key to understanding what is happening to the entire unit. A key site is a portion of the range that
2008 August 22
Use of ultrasound when EPDs are unavailable The pile of sale catalogs glued, stapled, or wrapped in the monthly breed publications can get a bit overwhelming in the peak sale seasons, regardless of your breed preference. However, the real confusion sets in when one puts on their bull-buying cap and tries to find "the one" that will take their herd in the right direction. Expected Progeny Differences (EPDs) are still the only selection tool that truly allows a buyer to compare one sale catalog to the rest in the stack. Unfortunately, Carcass EPDs are not always readily available as you flip
by WLJ
2008 August 22
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
by WLJ
2008 August 22
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
by WLJ
2008 August 22
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
by WLJ
2008 August 22
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
by WLJ
2008 August 22
New BSE case found in Canada —Industry groups react The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) recently announced it has confirmed the presence of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) in a 6-year-old beef cow from Alberta. The agency maintains that no part of the animal has entered human food or animal feed systems. This latest discovery marks the 15th case of BSE detected in Canada. The farm where the animal was born has been identified, and CFIA says inspections of the farm are underway. The case was detected through CFIA’s national BSE surveillance program, which the agency says has played an important role in demonstrating
by WLJ
2008 August 22
Environmentalists sue to halt grazing in the Sonoran Desert National Monument At the end of President Bill Clinton’s last term, a number of wilderness areas were set aside for further study and potential federal protection. Those declarations have caused a number of headaches for ranchers across the west who depend on those public lands for cattle grazing and their livelihoods. One of the most controversial areas is the Sonoran Desert National Monument. Managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), it was targeted seven-and-a-half years ago for federal protection. Since then, however, BLM has worked to maintain grazing allotments and protect
by WLJ
2008 August 22
California ranchers lobby for fire prevention As a result of human intervention and shortsighted environmental laws, fires in the West continue to get larger and more destructive as their fuel loads grow. The removal of grazing and prescribed burns have left many areas loaded with dry fuel, rather than keeping them clear of dead material. In regions where wildfires have gotten out of control, cheatgrass commonly invades and turns once-productive rangeland into what some have called a "biological desert." Because a National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) assessment must be carried out before any prescribed burns are done on federal ground, it sometimes
by WLJ
2008 August 22
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
by WLJ
2008 August 22
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
2008 August 22
Now that hurts! The hay yard is empty for many producers and the traditional June hay was scarce or nonexistent. As the staple for cattle, the amount of hay one wanted to make has been replaced with the amount of hay needed to sustain the herd. Early indications suggest an upward shift in prices. Last year’s hay was abundant and visible from the road, at least in the case of the Dickinson Research Extension Center. A quick check of the records confirmed that the center purchased 318 tons of hay at an average price of $61.65 per ton. That will change this year. The
by WLJ
2008 August 22
Recognize your calves? Most of the calves now nursing cows will be weaned in the next few weeks. Some will shrug it off with little stress and, therefore, little negative effect on later performance. Others will enter a downward spiral of health from which they may not recover. Which calves are yours? Some calves—both crossbred and purebred—were the product of planned genetics and a managed calving season. They are uniform and predictable. Others are simply cattle of unknown genetics, and the best they can hope for is to be somebody’s "opportunity calves." Which calves are yours? In this time of elevated costs and risk, an estimated
by WLJ
2008 August 22
Hallmark/Westland plant has a buyer Marvin Roberts, a longtime Arizona rancher and livestock broker. has recently been linked to the purchase of the Hallmark/Westland Meat Packing Co., the facility now infamous for being implicated in an animal abuse scandal that triggered the recall of 143 million pounds of beef, much of which was bound for the National School Lunch Program. The Chino, CA, plant was given an order by USDA earlier this year to cease and desist operations when the Humane Society of the United States released undercover footage of Hallmark workers mistreating downer cows. In response to the public outcry stemming
by WLJ
2008 August 22
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


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